Do you really have to be in the wilderness to experience the magnificence of nature?

For many of us, the words “urban” and “wildlife” are not natural associations. Moreover, a city is hardly a place we would imagine a National Geographic photographer to be working on location. It turns out, though, the animals that call our built environments home can have a lot to teach us!

For our readers that tune in regularly, you may remember the speaker in today’s video from a series we featured, National Geographic’s wild_life. Bertie Gregory is a wildlife photographer and filmmaker who has been to many extraordinary places around the globe bringing the remarkable animals of this planet into our homes.

For one of his earliest photographic journies, Gregory was not venturing off into distant lands, rather, turning his lens to the creatures that call us neighbors in England’s urban jungles!

This Saturday Around the World we venture out with Bertie Gregory once again, this time, to a location we all might find a little more familiar…

Our Big Backyard…

Becoming aware of our connection to this planet and the other animals that call it home begins with acknowledging its presence in our daily life. Whether we live in the country surrounded by nature or have to walk a few blocks over to the nearest park, interacting with the natural world and remaining curious about is fundamental.

The other day I was walking through a park in New York City with a friend, as we walked, a red-tailed hawk swooped down on a branch that stood rather close to the path. Even as it whooshed through the undergrowth, I was the only one that paused to look at it. Everybody else continued walking, oblivious to the enormous hawk sitting ten feet away from them. Now, I live in the country and grew up seeing red-tailed hawks almost daily, but I had never been this close to one before. So, here I was, a country mouse, having the closest experience I had ever had with this species in the middle of one of the planet’s busiest cities. I could only describe the encounter as surreal.

I tell this story to point out how much of a connection we can have with nature if we take the time to do so. I could have seen it and walked and instead, I stood there, in some ways hoping that others would join me in this wonderful little moment with the natural world.

Bertie’s final point about the importance of recognizing and appreciating wildlife has rung in my ears since first hearing it and I think it’s worth repeating:

“That’s the power of urban wildlife. Most of us will never see a polar bear, will never see a lion. Modern day society is so disconnected from nature. Urban wildlife provides a bridge to that gap.”-Bertie Gregory

If we want to preserve wildlife for generations to come we have to bring in all kinds of people from all backgrounds and make wildlife inspiring and worth protecting. That mission can begin with celebrating the little natural wonders in our own backyards.

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

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Notes:

  1. Gregory, Bertie. “Adventures in Photographing England’s Urban Wildlife | Nat Geo Live.” YouTube. National Geographic, 01 Nov. 2016. Web. 03 Nov. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v90nD2Fe5k>.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO Ever Widening Circles

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—yoga lover. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV