3. Place
Focusing on human biogeography as a research endeavour may make sense to biogeographers, but in the academic world generally, this particular scholarly niche has long been filled by other rival disciplines such as sociology, human ecology, geography, anthropology and archaeology. It may be true that having so many ways of looking at ourselves as a species is a good thing, but it can also be argued that this academic fragmentation of effort has often nurtured the commonplace view that we as a species are `above' or `not part of' the `natural world'.
Henry David Thoreau is perhaps the most thorough of writers about 'humans in nature'. In his descriptions of his home in Walden, his journals, and his essays, Thoreau provides rationale and examples for getting to know one place well. He criss- crossed his long- settled community on foot throughout his life, becoming, as he said, “well traveled in Concord.” In his great essay “Walking,” he presents his methods of learning a landscape, beginning with a tongue-in- cheek explanation of the word “sauntering.” Thoreau’s walking is an art, involving an absolute concentration on the present and freedom from cares of everyday life. “What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?” he asks. Though he has walked almost every day for years in the same vicinity, he continues to discover new views, and “two or three hours’ walking will carry me to as strange a country as I expect ever to see.” He asserts that the landscape within a circle of ten miles’ radius, “or the limits of an afternoon walk,” provides enough material for new discoveries for a lifetime of walks. It is the walks which provide material and method for poetry: “He would be a poet who could impress the winds and streams into his service, to speak for him; who nailed words to their primitive senses, as farmers drive down stakes in the spring . . .; who derived his words as often as he used them, —transplanted them to his page with earth adhering to their roots.”
The few miles of footpaths criss-crossing Skomer contain all of Thoreau's requirements 'to impress the winds and streams' into a personal relationship between 'real place' and 'aesthetic place'.  Walking Skomer provides opportunities to learn more productive ways of seeing, making it possible to convey space as a temporal process. For example, the surprising cry of the Skomer pheasant reflects the aspirations of the 19th century tenants, Messrs Robinson and Davies, to be yeoman farmers, although whether the birds have continuity with these agrarian sportsmen remains a mystery.