At this time of year, we find a ‘first flower’ of the season almost every day. Last week, a guelder-rose (Viburnum opulus) I had been watching closely in one of the hedges came into flower (nearly a month earlier than last year) and on the bank below it a columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) came into flower joining greater stitchwort (Stellaria holostea) wood millet (Milium effusum) and red campion (Silene dioica).
Guelder-rose in blossom
Just a couple of months ago when these plants were not even in bud we were completing our winter coppicing and hedge-laying programme. Coppicing continues on rotation. Some of the coppiced hazel is used for stakes and binders for hedges as illustrated below.
Our next post for the Identification Trainers for the Future project introduces our third new trainee for this year (meet Alex and Steph in our earlier posts). April Windle found out about the project at the NBN conference in 2015 and applied for the final group of trainees. We were very impressed with her ‘bog in a box’ display at selection day in December looking at plant composition in restored and unrestored bogs in Exmoor.
Hi, my name’s April. Zoology graduate, nature lover and aspiring conservationist from Devon. To me, the UK’s natural environment is absolutely fascinating, whether it’s the overwhelming openness of the moors or the secluded nature of a wooded combe, every aspect of our British wildlife never fails to amaze me.
Having grown up in the South West, it’s difficult not to have an unrequited love for the countryside, and all the wildlife wonders that you can find there. On my doorstep, there has always been plenty to explore, and ample opportunities to see the most stunning array of biodiversity.
At the end of February we waved goodbye to our second cohort of trainees on the Identification Trainers for the Future project. Kristina, Jaswinder, Sophie, Joe and Niki are now off finishing their final projects and starting their careers and we will update you on their progress shortly.
In the meantime, our next few posts will introduce our third and final cohort on the project. Alex, April, Matt and Steph joined us on 6 March, and Laura will be joining us in the next week. Over the next few posts our new trainees will introduce themselves to you. First up is Alex Mills:
Curiosity and care. This is why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m fascinated by the natural world and by how best we can conserve it. We rely upon the organisms and systems which constitute our environment for everything: wildlife is our life.
Be a digital volunteer for the Museum and help transcribe scientific data from microscope slides… We are so very excited to launch our latest citizen science project Miniature Lives Magnified.
As part of our Digital Collections Programme, we have imaged 100,000 microscope slides of some of the world’s smallest insects and we need your help to unlock the data from the specimen labels, so that we can uncover more of nature’s secrets.
Spot the wasp: we have 6,000 microscope slides of Chalcid wasps, that we would like you to help us to transcribe data from.
In partnership with our good friends from the online crowdsourcing platform Notes from Nature, today we launch our first collection called ‘The killer within: wasps but not as you know them’.
We are so grateful for your contribution to the project and have one last, very important task for you. We need all Orchid Observers participants to complete a short surveyabout your level of experience at plant identification and online transcription/classification before taking part, to understand how knowledge and information was shared amongst volunteers within the project. We’d be really grateful if you would spare 10 minutes to complete the survey by 31 July 2016.
The pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) adds a splash of colour to the alkaline grasslands of high summer. Keep an eye out for it in June and July.
The bog orchid (Hammarbya paludosa) is our smallest UK species. It usually grows on mountain peat bogs and can be found from July to August.
The beautiful bird’s-nest orchid, (Neottia nidus-avis) in woodland
Green-winged orchid (Anacamptis morio) at Stonebarrow Hill
It is part of our ongoing research into citizen science as a tool for scientific research but also for skills development and knowledge exchange. Orchid Observers was a new and innovative type of project combining outdoor recording and online transcription activities – it was the first of its kind.
The Orchid Observers project is closing at the end of July (so if you can help us out with the last few classifications then you have just a few days left!). We’d like to say a huge thank you to all of the volunteers who photographed orchids, identified photos online or transcribed and classified our museum specimens. Your time, expertise and enthusiasm is really valued, so thanks for being part of the Orchid Observers team.
A big thank you to everyone who has volunteered to help us with the Orchid Observers citizen science project!
The project had two main research questions:
Firstly, the climate science research: Are orchid flowering times being affected by climate change?
Secondly, the social science research: How do volunteers interact and share ideas and knowledge with one another, within a project that combines both outdoor and online activities?
The second question was of particular interest to our funders, the Arts and Humanities Research Council. We are asking all Orchid Observers volunteers to answer a short survey to help us address the second question, so keep an eye out for that coming soon. Here I’ll update you on the science research outcomes and how we are analysing the data you’ve collected.
To coincide with the opening of our Colour and Vision exhibition and #WorldSnakeDay, Museum researcher Dr Bruno Simões tells us about recent fieldwork he undertook in Australia to learn about vision in snakes.
As a vision biologist, I’m interested in how animal vision has evolved and how it functions. The dramatic impact living in an aquatic environment can have on visual systems led me to become particularly interested in sea snakes.
Sea snakes are part of the family Elapidae, along with kraits, mambas, cobras and taipans. The family consists of more than 360 species, including some extremely venomous species that live in aquatic and terrestrial (land-based) habitats in Australasia, among other places.