Wildlife Garden Autumn BioBlitz – Pond Species Review Part 1|Citizen science

In the latest BioBlitz which took place in the Museum’s Wildlife Garden, we had a look in the garden’s pond to discover what kind of animals live there! We were very excited to see many of you taking part in our pond dipping and we would like to share with you what we found.

Read on to discover what we found.

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Autumn BioBlitz in the Wildlife Garden | Citizen science

Come and join Museum scientists, naturalists and other nature enthusiasts for a fun day of discovering wildlife in the heart of London!

The BioBlitz is back at the Natural History Museum on Thursday 25 October 2018. Head to the Wildlife Garden in the Orange Zone of the Museum and prepare to step into a world full of wildlife ready to be explored.

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Butterfly survey with Museum scientist Geoff Martin

A BioBlitz is a race against the clock to find and record as many living things as possible within a specific area over a set period of time. These observations, which you will help to gather, are then used for scientific research and environmental monitoring by our wildlife garden managers and are shared with scientists in the UK and abroad.

We discovered 12 species that had never been recorded in the Wildlife Garden before when we BioBlitzed in May half term – three spiders, seven flies, an aphid and a moth. It just shows that if you look carefully, there are new and exciting things to discover even in our own gardens! What will we find this time round?

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97 year old fin whale vertebrae uncovered in Devon sand dunes

The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) was recently called out to the stranding of a harbour porpoise, Phocoena phocoena, in Westward Ho! in north Devon. The porpoise was a suitable candidate to collect for post-mortem, and so plans were made for the strandings team to travel to pick it up.

As part of the trip to Westward Ho!, a ranger from Northam Burrows Country Park asked if the Museum was able to provide an identification on three whale vertebrae they had, to allow them to display the bones in their visitors centre. Little did anyone know the full story behind the vertebrae was about to be uncovered!

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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,

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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:

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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.

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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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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…’

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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.

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Phase 2 update | Identification Trainers for the Future

Our trainees on the Identification Trainers for the Future project are now well into Phase 2 of their traineeship. Phase 2 is the section where our trainees spend much of their time developing their species identification skills, working with our curators through a series of specialist workshops, as well as helping out in the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity with everything from the Identification and Advisory Service, to getting out and about at events. In this first blog from Phase 2, Steph Skipp gives us an overview of how the first half of the traineeship has gone.

To begin our workshop phase, the ID Trainers had a crash course in lichens. April was in her element, having previously discovered the wonders of peatland lichens whilst working in Exmoor National Park. In contrast, I think the rest of us were taken aback by how interesting lichens actually are!

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Getting to grips with Phase 2 of training

The wealth of colours and forms were very visually exciting, especially under a microscope. After a trip to Bookham Commons, we came back to the lab with some specimens.

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The British Garden: Life and Death on your Lawn | Identification Trainers for the Future

Our adventure on the Identification Trainers for the Future project has presented us with some amazing opportunities. One such opportunity was assisting in the filming of a BBC Four documentary – The British Garden: Life And Death On Your Lawn (if you are based in the UK, you may be able to catch it on BBC iPlayer if you are reading this shortly after publication).

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Filming for the BBC’s British Garden: Life and Death on your Lawn

Looking at garden wildlife over the course of a year the project spanned four seasons and compared three very different gardens, considering factors that promote a maximal level of biodiversity. The second cohort of ID trainers filmed in Summer, Autumn and Winter while we, the third cohort, assisted in filming the Spring phase of the documentary for a week in April and what a week it was!

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