Hello everyone, January…my least favourite month to be fair. The (unnecessary) build up of Christmas helicopters us out of control and sometimes, some of us crash. I’ve had a pretty crazy month so far and so I thought I’d update you all on some unbelievable (to me) things which have surrounded me; the message I try to convey and the passion I endeavour to ‘catch on’.

To start of the end of the Christmas holidays I was nominated for (no idea who!) and was awarded Birdwatch Magazine’s ‘Local Hero’ Award. I honestly never expected that, thank you to whoever thought I was worthy of receiving this!

Ruth Peacey won the Conservation Hero Award, I think she is an amazing person, so it was fantastic to be featured alongside Ruth!

I really don’t like going on too much about rewards, awards and prizes etc, it makes me feel uncomfortable but I’ve also been encouraged to gracefully accept that these things are happening to me and that with them comes awareness – of nature and autism. The awareness is the result I’m after, me as the individual to bring it about – I’m still coming to grips with that. Here are some articles that I’ve been featured in over the last fortnight – there are lots of news tidbits in there, so I won’t have to mention them on the blog 😉

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-42664687

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/award-winning-asperger-blogger-raising-funds-to-tag-raptors-1.3357383

I’m really grateful to those journalists who choose to print stories of positivity and hope. I was also really pleased to be one of four ‘Young Conservationists’ to appear in the beautiful Positive News publication. The other three were Zach Haynes Mya Rose Craig and Sorrel Lyall It was a really wonderful piece – thank you to Lucy Purdy for the opportunity and to Ronan McGrade for the cool photograph!

Duing the last few weeks, I’ve been experiencing some autistic challenges. I won’t go into them now but Im trying to deal with them as positively as I can – with the help of professionals and my family. As usual, nature provides chinks of light and hope. I trekked around part of the trail I’m doing for my huge fundraising Ramble this weekend. The sights and sounds did much to reconnect me with the world in all its overwhelming beauty.

The garden birds are keeping me amused and lifting my spirits. I’ve been taking lots of notes on sightings and will be entering them into my BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) Garden Birdwatch records.

This weekend is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch too, so I will do that on the Monday after my long Ramble for Raptors! I’ve finalised my route and I’m ready to go!! My fundraising page will be available for another two weeks or so.

I hope you’re all having a peaceful yet wild January too and are blowing away the cobwebs, maybe up somewhere high, sometimes it’s good to have light sabers or laser guns to let off steam. I’m still a kid 😉

Thanks for reading

Dara