End of an era

This week is my last as a Natural Talent trainee. I have just posted my last blog post for them, which can be read by clicking on the photo below

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2017: Plans + Resolutions

All in all, 2016 was a great year for me, I had a great time on my traineeship. I learnt a lot of survey skills and learnt a lot about things I never expected to learn about. 2016 was also the year that I fell in love, but I harp on enough about that on Twitter.

2017 is looking like it will bring new opportunities and challenges and I am trying to be positive about what it may bring. The start of a new year also gives me a chance to think of targets for the year ahead. As always I would like to submit more records and record more species this year. More specifically though I would like to try again at bryophytes as they are a lovely group and I have a few shoeboxes full of them that need identification. I also have a backlog of insects to identify so I would love to clear that in 2017. would also like the records I submit to be of higher quality, giving more information about numbers, ecology etc. I would also like to use the iRecord app more as it is great and will help track more specifically where I walk when recording wildlife. I have set myself a target of recording 500 species this year that I have never seen before, I think this will be quite a challenge. The table at the bottom of this blog post shows how many species I have recorded in each taxonomic group and where I would like to try and focus on recording new species in 2017. Trying to record new species is more than just for fun though, it pushes me into new groups and in the end makes me a more rounded naturalist.

My role with Buglife and Natural England has been great, but is sadly coming to an end towards the end of February. This position really increased my self-confidence, so I would like to continue to  improve upon this by running more workshops, doing more talks etc and helping more people. I have been lucky enough to be taught by lots of great naturalists, so it will be nice to do more to pass this on while strengthening my own identification and outreach skills. I am now on the look out for new opportunities.

This year I will also continue to help influence recording and conservation with my positions on the BWARS, BSBI and AFON committees, and look forward to the challenges that 2017 will bring.

I would also like to climb more fells this year, I have had the most amazing time when I have been in the Lake District with Sophie, so I hope to conquer more of the Wainwright fells in 2017.

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Total Before 2016 2016 Total Number of Additions in 2016 2017 Target
Algae 2 3 1 10
Slime Moulds 1 1 0 1
Protists 0 0 0 0
Lichens 39 40 1 50
Fungi 63 64 1 75
Bryophytes 45 50 5 100
Vascular Plants 478 531 53 600
Sponges 0 0 0 0
Comb-jellies 0 0 0 0
Cnidarians 3 3 0 5
Molluscs 59 62 3 75
Bryozoans 0 0 0 0
Annelid Worms 4 4 0 10
Platyhelminth Worms 1 1 0 1
Sea-spiders 0 0 0 0
Arachnids 40 42 2 50
Myriapods 7 7 0 10
Crustaceans 14 15 1 20
Springtails etc. 4 4 0 10
3-tailed Bristletails 1 1 0 1
Odonata 21 25 0 30
Orthopteroids 15 19 4 20
Hemipteroids 81 87 6 100
Hymenoptera 122 155 33 200
Coleoptera 121 233 112 310
Diptera 120 146 26 185
Butterflies 37 37 0 40
Moths 306 328 22 410
Remaining Insect Orders 16 17 1 30
Echinoderms 0 0 0 0
Tunicates 0 0 0 0
Fish 6 6 0 10
Reptiles 4 4 0 4
Amphibians 5 5 0 5
Birds 164 178 14 200
Mammals 17 29 2 35
Other Animals 0 0 0 0

Overall

1806 2097 291

2597

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Guest Blog Post for BSBI

My blog post for the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland was published yesterday. It talks about A Focus on Nature, the largest youth nature network in the UK. Why not have a read.

 

Latest Traineeship Blog Post

To see my latest blog post, please click on the photo below 🙂

 

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The Beginning of the End

At the end of January I started a position which would change my life in more ways than I imagined, a role that has given me more confidence in my abilities and myself. A position that I didn’t think I was good enough for but applied on a whim and was chosen out of hundreds of applicants. This coming Monday I am going to the Natural History Museum in Oxford to check / identify my final specimens from Blenheim Palace and Woodwalton Fen. After this I will be spending most of my time writing everything up and aiming to get my Blenheim Palace survey work published in a journal. I only have a few months left of my traineeship and am now looking for new opportunities, I am very thankful for all that TCV, Natural England and Buglife have done for me, and Esmee Fairbairn for funding my internship. I have learnt an incredible amount about myself, invertebrates and people too. The work I have done will influence management of two nationally (if not internationally) important sites and that has been a real motivator for me. This last year or so hasn’t been easy, but it has been rewarding. I hope to keep blogging in the next few months with my progress. I will leave you with some lovely dead wood associated beetles from Blenheim Palace 🙂

 

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What about the little things?

A few days ago BBC Science and Environment posted a rather infuriating article entitled ‘World wildlife ‘falls by 58% in 40 years” . Not only is this infuriating but misleading too. The data is based on vertebrates. I have nothing against vertebrates at all, but they do not encompass wildlife as a whole. It may not surprise readers of this blog to hear that I love all wildlife, especially the things that others dismiss and think unimportant. I have always been interested in the things that I feel matter most, the smaller things in life. I have been lucky enough to have been paid for the last 9 months to care about invertebrates, and hope to find a role that will allow me to continue recording wildlife when my job finishes in 3 months time.

We know a lot about vertebrates relatively speaking, but that doesn’t mean that plants, lichens, fungi, invertebrates (the list goes on and on…) should be dismissed. We cannot protect what we do not know exists though, which is why biological recording seems to have become my life over the last few years. I have rather enjoyed studying minuscule beetles this year that spend most of their lives as larvae in dead wood in trees, recycling nutrients and going unnoticed. The State of Nature Report this year has gone a long way to highlight declines in less well known groups, and I am pleased to see lots of biological recording projects are looking at trickier groups now including the up and coming Biolinks and WildSide projects. But more needs to be done to end this vertebrate bias. It is really not healthy for us or the environment. All life is wonderful, all life can be charismatic, all life matters.

 

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Dung Is Fun

If you would have told me a year ago that I would spend time digging around in poo looking for dung beetles, I would have said you’re mad. But here we are…

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During the first week of my traineeship I met up with Ceri Watkins who was just finishing her traineeship. While we were at Wytham Woods looking for dead wood associated beetles, she introduced me to dung beetles. I was a bit weirded out at first, as it is feels a bit weird grabbing handfuls of poo and sieving them. But seeing a glipse into the lives of these creatures got me hooked. I then went out with Ceri and Darren Mann (the god of dung beetles, and most other things really) to the New Forest to look for dung beetles, along with Lorna, another trainee. This was an amazing day which I will remember with fondness for years.

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Since then, when noone is looking and I have the time, I search for dung beetles. I didn’t find much this year and am yet to identify most of my finds, but I have enjoyed it. But why do it? Well many species of dung beetle are in decline and by recording them that we can help build up a picture of these declines and help conserve these species. The Dung Beetle UK Mapping Project (DUMP) has been set up which helps conserve these species through monitoring, education and research. Check out their website for more info and ID guides!

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