Finding nature's treasures, the adventures of a young naturalist

05 August 2021 | Posted in Guest blogger
Finding nature's treasures, the adventures of a young naturalist

Seven year old Benjamin Fallow is a young naturalist and artist. ‘I love nature and drawing. Nature is the most amazing thing to learn about, and we have to look after nature and not harm it. All of the plants and animals and humans are connected, and we can’t survive without each other.’  

In this blog, his mum Nish tells us a bit about his love of wildlife:

My son Benji calls himself Benjamin Fallow (though it’s not his real name) after Fallow Deer, as deer are his favourite animals. We live in a village in Sussex, and have been here all of his life. In his early years we walked everywhere around the village, woodlands and fields. Benji loved to notice everything along the way. He draws all the time and loves to draw out in the countryside - he’s been carrying paper and pens in his backpack since he was three.

S1wnw17uwwc1h1f0120210725171505

Dameselfly by Benji, aged 6

At his first preschool, one of the teachers had trained to be a Forest School leader with Sussex Wildlife Trust. She created great experiences for the children, using incredible book about the creatures they would find on their woodland adventures. Benji was so amazed by it and now he has his own copy. 

Benji collects nature treasures and has taught us all so much about the natural world. He loves learning facts about animals, insects and plants, and collects lots of things. He knows exactly what each of these treasures is, and the story behind them. From a young age he started drawing and painting from nature. 

Sklv2l67c1lx8kiam20210725171505

Kingfisher by Benji, aged 5

He's never happier than when out in nature with his sketchbook, preferably also covered in mud.

Drawing and nature has been a constant through some challenging times, including ill health. We’re so lucky to live in the beautiful Sussex countryside, and Benji loves discovering the exact plants and wildflowers that grow in the lanes all around us. We went on long walks each day during lockdown, and every day something we spotted would be his ‘Nature Gift of the Day.’ Here are some examples: 

  • ‘Did you know butterflies have hearts in their wings to pump blood and control their temperature?! They have three hearts!’  
  • ‘It’s a Small Tortoiseshell! (that’s my favourite butterfly EVER!). When you see a butterfly you love you can get endorphins, and this makes you so happy that you’re full of energy!!!’ 
  • ‘It’s a barn owl feather! It’s my nature treasure for the day!’ It was a small flight feather, in perfect condition.  ‘Can you hear it?’ Benji flapped it up and down past my ear. ‘That’s how you tell if it’s an owl’s feather, ‘cause they’re silent in flight, such an incredible find!’ ‘People used to be scared of barn owls because they fly completely silently, and have such a piercing screech! But I think they bring good luck, they’re so beautiful and their hearing is incredible!’ Benji was explaining it all to me on our walk by the barn owl tree. 'The shape of their face reflects sound to their ear openings! The barn owls left ear is higher up on its head than its right ear. The Medulla is the bit of their brain that understands hearing, it’s the biggest of any creature because the hear so well!’  

S0ji3573g4b3tcai620210725171505

Owl by Benji, aged 6

I started sharing Benji’s artwork and nature discoveries on social media during lockdown, and we were able to connect with so many passionate naturalists and artists from around the world. He missed being part of Forest School groups with Sussex Wildlife Trust, and he is looking forward to joining in again in the autumn. But being able to share his love of nature with people all around the world has helped us all to feel connected to other people who care about nature too.  

We’re currently walking the South Down’s Way, over 100 miles along the hills near here, to raise money for charities including the Sussex Wildlife Trust. It’s a big challenge and Benji is loving discovering new landscapes and nature treasures, and I’m sure this will lead to lots more nature journaling along the way.

To support Benji's walk (for the Sussex Wildlife Trust portion) click here. Follow their adventures on Twitteor Instagram

Comments

  • carol williams:

    12 Aug 2021 12:13:00

    think Benji is a very lucky young man! I too grew up in west Sussex, at first wandering the woods and ditches in my gum boots and with our bull mastiff, Laker. When I was older, about fourteen, I travelled the downs with a friend, on our fat furry ponies, exploring so many mysterious places that I would otherwise not have found. I now live in a beautiful part of Ontario, Canada, where we have many wildlife species around us. Good luck Benji, and never lose your love of ‘treasures.’

Leave a comment