Meet Janet...   I’ve always enjoyed spending time in the natural world. As a child growing up in west London, I loved to go blackberry picking (we lived quite near the greenbelt), making daisy chains and telling the time with dandelion ‘clocks’.  I liked watching the birds in my aunt’s garden (although I could only recognise a few) and loved to visit the New Forest with my parents when we visited my dad’s sisters who lived near there.

Although I studied biology at university, I learned more about physiology, anatomy and reproduction than taxonomy so my ability to identify plants and animals by species was very limited. I learned more when my own children were small; we used to take out guidebooks to try to identify the plants and insects we were seeing. For the most part, birds were too quick or too far away to study in detail.

Even though I moved to East Kent in ’93, I only discovered the Observatory when we were exploring new places for our daily distanced walks during the lockdowns of 20/21. I’d known there was one but had no idea it was open to the public and put on so many educational walks and talks.  With my husband, John, I have attended a number of the walks and talks; we have been warmly welcomed and have begun to recognise a few more species.

As a recently retired special needs teacher, I was looking for things to occupy my time and initially volunteered for shop duty, then offered to help with educational events and suddenly found myself offering to take over from Nigel Hefford who was the Newsletter Editor for some years. Thanks to his guidance, I have been able to learn the ropes and am enjoying reading the submissions before collating them into the magazine. It’s been a steep learning curve – both learning how to put the magazine together and about all the birds and insects recorded in the area.

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