At present, I'm trying to teach my eldest son what real awareness is outside; and why perhaps it's best NOT to become a "birdwatcher". (I know... there'll be some "birdwatchers" reading this who I will shortly offend. Again).
By that I mean (I always have) birdwatchers (or as they often call themselves, "birders" *cringe cringe*) tend to look upwards, very often skywards - and miss everything interesting at ankle level or below - worse still... stand on and crush the tiger beetle / bee orchid that they've not seen beneath their feet as they peer at a "lifer" in the sky high above their £3000 spotting scope.
Again, I've been labelled many things in my life, some of which I can't put in print here... but I've always recoiled at being thought of as a "birdwatcher". I'm just not. Never have been. I watch EVERYTHING outside - and that, more often than not, is crawling in nature, rather than flying.
I see and LOOK at things in the sky and on buildings and under logs and in ponds and in the grass and on leaves, close up and at distance. Very different to a (n often-blinkered) birdwatcher.
So yes.... my eldest is taking "awareness lessons" from me right now (God help the poor sod). Where he needs to look. What he needs to listen to. Where he needs to ALSO look. How to really USE his eyes. And his ears.
Will he notice that dead rose chafer wing case in the long grass over to his right?
Will he hear the nuthatch calling in the oak tree behind him?
Will he spot the ripples on the surface of the levelling pond to his left, ripples thrown up not by a carp - but by a grass snake.
Will he smell that nearby badger latrine?
Will he see those swifts, 500 foot above his head?
Will he notice those dark clouds on the horizon, scudding this way?
He's fortunate in some ways that his father is hyper aware. And.... unfortunate in others.
Today's lesson was to watch out for things right under your feet (hundreds and hundreds of toadlets) and also (at the same time!) things in the far, far distance.
Ben took the photos below of the toadlets (I'm teaching him how to use my wee pocket camera too) and I took the photo of the two peregrines.