Breaking news: Christmas is coming. It’s kinda crept up on me, but I notice from the web stats that quite a few people have been looking at my previous posts on Christmas present ideas for wildlife lovers.
So I guess it’s time for the next installment.
The previous two lists cover some fairly broad ideas. This year I’m trying to give some specific ideas that fall under the categories mentioned in previous years.
- A Sting in the Tale: this is by far my favourite wildlife book that I’ve read this year. I’m not particularly into insects, but Dave Goulson’s evident passion for bumblebees, engaging writing style and fascinating facts held me entranced. I ended up underlining loads of sections that I knew I’d want to come back to again and again. I’d recommend this to anyone with an interest in wildlife.
- Trip to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition: I’ve not yet been to this year’s exhibition, but it’s always one of my highlights of the year. It’s on at the Natural History Museum in London until April.
- Wildlife Broadcasting on a Smartphone course: Surrey Wildlife Trust are putting on an intriguing course next year. Having recently been delving into filmmaking in my professional life, I’m keen to find out more about how I could apply it to wildlife. It doesn’t come cheap, but sounds fascinating.
- A monopod: having got myself a massive telephoto lens this year, and had to lug my tripod around, I can see the appeal of a lighter, sturdy monopod to take with me on walks.
- Some wildlife art: I’ve seen so much beautiful wildlife art this year – things I’d love to have around me at home to remind me of the wonders of nature. The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation has a good selection, with profits going to fund conservation. Try your local gallery as well.
- The New Wild: I bought this book because of its beautiful cover, and intriguing (and controversial) central argument: invasive species will be nature’s salvation. It’s certainly a thought-provoking read. (I’m planning a blog post on this soon, as there’s lots to mull over…)
- A subscription to Lynda.com: The Lynda.com website has a huge library of online courses, including hundreds of photography ones. I get access to this through my work, and have found the courses very informative. Useful for brushing up your skills during those long winter evenings…
- Wildlife photography courses: there’s a wide selection available. Local Wildlife Trusts or wildlife centres often run them. Birds, badgers, deer, fungi, reptiles, flowers – something to suit any wildlife photographer in your life! I’ve got my eye on David Plummer’s courses.
- Some sturdy wellies: I’ve really appreciated having comfortable, sturdy wellies this year, helping me through the muddier dormousing months and squelchy harvest mouse surveys.
- A good head torch can really make a difference for night-time wildlife surveys, camping or just walking back from a country pub. I’ve really appreciated my new one this year.
Go into any shop these days and you’ll see that Christmas is sneaking up on us. Last year I posted my Top 10 Christmas Present Ideas for Wildlife Enthusiasts. Since I’m sure you went out and bought all of my suggestions, here’s a few more ideas for this year (hint, hint, Dr C!), ranging from £3 to as much as you want to spend.
- Extension tubes for macro photography: Some of our most fascinating, beautiful and weird-looking wildlife is pretty small. The best way to photograph it is with a macro lens, but these cost hundreds of pounds. Extension tubes are a cheaper way of taking macro photographs, ranging in price from around £30-150. You fit them between your camera and your lens. I’ve never used them, so can’t provide advice on which ones to go for, but they’re on my Christmas list.
- Bat detector: I’ve had lots of fun this year trying out my bat detector. It opens up a whole new sonic world. I also have to admit I’ve had a bit of frustration as well, not being able to distinguish between some bat species. A basic heterodyne model like mine will set you back around £60, but you can get fancy ones with software that will help you tell which bats you’ve found if you’re willing to spend a bit more.
- Wildlife courses: I love learning more about wildlife, so a place on a course run by the Mammal Society, local wildlife trusts, Field Studies Council etc. would be a great present. There are so many to choose from. I quite fancy one of the Field Studies Council courses on Bushcraft. I could also benefit from learning a bit more about identifying bats (see previous suggestion).
- Go Pro Hero camera: Go Pro cameras have a reputation for robustness and portability. They make waterproof, dustproof cameras that can be mounted on headbands, helmets, harnesses or bikes. I’m hoping to go snorkelling with seals next year, so would love to be able to take some better quality photos than with the disposable waterproof camera I used last time. The Hero is their basic model, and you can get it from around £100.
- Field guides: The Field Studies Council produce an excellent range of laminated guides to help you identify different types of animals and plants. These can be carried easily (unlike a book), and you don’t need to worry about getting them wet. Most of them cost around £3, and there’s a huge range to choose from.
- Wildlife art: a thing of beauty is a joy for ever. Why not buy your loved one a piece of art featuring their favourite wildlife? It needn’t cost a fortune – if you’re a photographer, enlargements can be very reasonable, and if you mount it yourself the end result can look good at little cost. If you’ve got a bit more budget, there’s a huge amount of choice. I’m very pleased with the barn owl sculpture we recently bought. The National Trust gift shops have some beautiful bronze otters and hares – I’ve been dropping hints about the otters for several years. Jean Haines’ watercolours are stuningly beautiful as well.
- Books: as an otter fan, Otters of the World is on my Christmas list. I am also intrigued by The Hunt for the Golden Mole. The Bird Atlas is pricey, but could make a keen ornithologist’s Christmas. And Wildlife Photographer of the Year have published a 50th anniversary book.
- Whale-watching cruise: if you feel like pushing the boat out, why not treat your loved one to a mini dolphin and whale spotting cruise round the Bay of Biscay?
- Birdy plates & glasses: I’m rather a fan of these birdy plates, mugs, glasses and other homeware. I think they brighten up breakfast on a dull winter’s morning.
- Binoculars: a good pair of binoculars really helps with wildlife watching. Compact pairs can be surprisingly good, and easier to carry around.