When poetry and BioBlitz collide… | Citizen Science

It’s BioBlitz,

The greatest hits,

Of nature amidst London’s bricks,

That’s BioBlitz…..

Yesterday and today, scientists and visitors are working together in the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Garden to record as many different plants, animals and fungi as possible.  If you’re visiting today, come and join us outside (near the Orange Zone) and get involved in guided walks and surveys, or grab a plastic pot and and identification guide and go bug hunting!

BioBlitzflowerlogoThese wildlife recording challenges are called BioBlitzes and we’ve run lots of them all over the UK over the past few years.  A couple of years ago, when I was working with my friend Maria from Greenspace Information for Greater London to run the Brompton Cemetery BioBlitz, she happened upon the Poetry Takeaway at the Roundhouse in Camden and had an amazing poet, Laurie Eaves, write a poem for her completely off the cuff, about BioBlitz.  It’s an awesome poem so I thought I’d share it here…enjoy!

BioBlitz

It’s BioBlitz,

The greatest hits,

Of nature amidst London’s bricks,

That’s BioBlitz.

It’s botanists,

And naturalists,

Who capture ants and plants on lists,

Continue reading “When poetry and BioBlitz collide… | Citizen Science”

Wildlife Garden | Species review of the year 2017 – part 2: mostly beetles

In our previous Wildlife Garden blog we reviewed some of the new, and some of the returning species last year, focusing mainly on moths and bees – with a small mention of beetles.

Eleven additional species of beetle were found in the Wildlife Garden in 2017 and here Stephanie Skipp, a former Identification Trainer for the Future, comments on some of these finds:

Continue reading “Wildlife Garden | Species review of the year 2017 – part 2: mostly beetles”

Strange Strandings – The case of a Risso’s dolphin in the southern North Sea | Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme

A recent stranding gained media attention last week as a Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) washed up on a beach in Norfolk. The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) receives around 10 reports of Risso’s dolphins stranding every year, but most of these reports are concentrated in Scotland and the west coast of the UK. This unusual stranding in the southern North Sea meant it was crucial for the CSIP team to retrieve this animal for post-mortem. Post-mortems are essential for us to understand how the animal died, and the possible series of events which may have contributed or occurred leading up to its death.

WARNING: This blog contains photographs of dead stranded cetaceans and post-mortem findings which you may find upsetting

Continue reading “Strange Strandings – The case of a Risso’s dolphin in the southern North Sea | Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme”

Today is a great day to explore nature! |Citizen Science

April 14 2018  is Citizen Science Day,  the start of a week celebrating all the amazing ways that people around the world contribute to science.

Citizen scientists are people like you and me, everyone from school children, to families, to dedicated volunteers, to local nature groups. Some go out into the wild to find and record nature, but you can even do science by joining projects at home.

Continue reading “Today is a great day to explore nature! |Citizen Science”

Wildlife Garden | Species review of the year 2017 – part 1: mostly moths, bees and wasps

Whilst Joe Beale and Wildlife Garden bird recorder Florin Feneru were focussing on birds, as reported in our previous blog, it was also a good time to take stock of other species we’ve seen. They may not be visible during the early part of the year, but were very much in evidence in the warmer months of 2017 and hopefully will soon reappear – in between the heavy rain showers and cold spells…

Continue reading “Wildlife Garden | Species review of the year 2017 – part 1: mostly moths, bees and wasps”

A beach walkers guide to identification of whales, dolphins & porpoises | Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme

When a call comes in to the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) hotline, the details of a stranding can often be minimal and somewhat vague. An animal may be highly decomposed, inaccessible or lack features for it to be identified. As a research assistant for CSIP, my job is to investigate a stranding and try to gather as much information as possible so an accurate identification can be made. This blog post provides a simple guide for everyone to try and identify dolphins, whales and porpoises commonly washed up on British coastlines.

WARNING: This blog contains photographs of dead and injured stranded cetaceans which you may find upsetting

Continue reading “A beach walkers guide to identification of whales, dolphins & porpoises | Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme”

Watching Winter in the Natural History Museum Wildlife Garden

As we work through the Wildlife Garden on seasonal tasks – completing the clearance and shredding the huge numbers of London plane tree leaves, coppicing and hedge-laying – there are always plenty of wildlife distractions to remind us of the value of this urban oasis. Wildlife gardener/Ecologist Joe Beale describes recent avian activity in the garden:

Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker

‘As the autumn progressed, flying insects and flowers naturally become harder to find and birds  replaced them as the most noticeable feature of the Wildlife Garden.

Continue reading “Watching Winter in the Natural History Museum Wildlife Garden”

Newts in the Wildlife Garden

Pond in mid summer

The main Wildlife Garden pond in mid-summer © R Adams

At this time of year we start to prepare for our annual pond-clearing tasks which include pulling out some of the reeds along the pond margins and thinning water-lilies –  all to maintain our open water pond habitats.

In the meantime, volunteers Miles Äijälä, Rohit Bangay and Frances Dismore give an account of a very different pond activity in April this year:

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Scuba diving, singing and seaweeds: Meet museum scientist Juliet Brodie | Big Seaweed Search

The film below gives you a glimpse into the working life of seaweed researcher Prof. Juliet Brodie. Juliet is the lead researcher on the Big Seaweed Search project and part of the team that created the beautiful new seaweed display in the Museum’s Hintze Hall.

You can meet Juliet and the team this Friday evening at the Museum’s free Science  Uncovered event, part of European Researchers’ Night, but in the meantime, I interviewed Juliet to find out more about what really makes her tick and what got her into studying seaweeds in the first place… Continue reading “Scuba diving, singing and seaweeds: Meet museum scientist Juliet Brodie | Big Seaweed Search”

Tring BioBlitz | Identification Trainers for the Future

Our latest blog by Alex Mills from the current cohort of trainees takes a look back a few weeks to the BioBlitz in Tring, Hertfordshire:

‘What is it? What’s on me?’

‘Wow. It’s huge, Mum!’

‘What’s huge?’

‘Ah, cool. Hold still…’

Tring PlantWalk
Taking the Tring BioBlitz out into the field

Unconventional collection methods can work wonders during a BioBlitz. In this instance a mother accompanying her children on a minibeast hunt found herself functioning as a perfect interception trap for Stenocorus meridianus, a rather imposing longhorn beetle. The beetle was duly potted and admired. Everyone (including the mother/beetle trap…eventually) was transfixed by this magnificent beetle. And that was the order of the day at the highly successful Tring BioBlitz a few weeks ago: enjoyment and biological records, with kids and adults of all ages being transported by the natural world around them.

Continue reading “Tring BioBlitz | Identification Trainers for the Future”