A second month of nature and events!

Another busy month with several important events to organize and celebrate!

Encountering the unexpected

This project is a recent development set up to engage people aged 60 and over, with nature that they can find local to them, as part of Nature on your Doorstep.

The project is delivered in sessions and I was part of the Seaside themed second session. This was a huge success, everyone really enjoyed it and learnt a lot. I could show my beach finds, gathered from surveying, and listen to others share their memories of the beach.

Conchology specialist Ian Wallace gave a talk on shells, both ones you could find on our beaches and many from the Indian Ocean. Something that fascinated me was a shell that had been carved. I had no idea that Cameos are made in this way, chiselling away the outer layers of shell.

30 Days Wild

Throughout June I have been completing the 30 Days Wild challenge, set by The Wildlife Trust, on my twitter account. The aim is to engage in some sort of ‘wild’ activity each day. This can be as simple as photographing an animal, to wearing animal themed clothes, or something bigger such as running an event. The idea is to get people more involved and more appreciating of nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Oceans Day

At the Liverpool World Museum, we celebrated World Oceans Day over three days and the whole event was a huge success. On Thursday 8th June, we ran a stall alongside The RSPB, Surfers Against Sewage and Veolia. We interacted with over 300 people, informing them about species in our oceans and the dangers they face. Our plastic pollution display case fit in well with this event and having Veolia there to inform people how to recycle plastics was very useful.

 

 

On Saturday 10th June, Veolia returned to do storytelling based on a jellyfish and a plastic bag. This was a busy day with just under 300 people joining in. On Sunday 11th June I and Kate West ran a jellyfish making craft session to round off World Oceans Day. We interacted with 316 people, making around 100 jellyfish from paper bowls and assorted materials.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the three days the interaction figures neared 1,000 people. That is 1,000 people better informed and more interested in our oceans. Whether it is through recycling, beach cleans or simply reading and passing on information to others, these people could make a huge difference.

Over at The Wildlife Trust

After high winds the Tern nesting rafts, which have been put out in the middle of the water at Seaforth, had unfortunately blown nearer to shore. This puts the chicks and eggs at risk as terrestrial predators such as foxes can then climb on board. I was part of the cavalry, armed with waders and a rubber dinghy, sent out to pull them back out to be anchored. We were able to count chick and egg numbers and unfortunately found some dead chicks.

Another amazing job I was tasked with was the feeding of some Red Squirrel kits. This little family had been displaced from their drey when the tree holding them was felled. The Wildlife Trust have an excellent set up for Red Squirrels like this, Rachel Miller does an incredible job of nursing the young until they are big enough to be placed in a pen. This pen allows them to adjust to the outside world before they are then released back into the wild.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading! Keep up with me daily by following my Twitter account!

Thank you as always to The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, my mentors and TCV.

Bye for now, Annan.

 

My first month in Mudflat Madness

Hello I’m Annan, a Zoology graduate, and I am completing one of the TCV traineeships based in Liverpool. My traineeship explores the flora and fauna found on a Mudflat, I am working with Liverpool World Museum and Lancashire Wildlife Trust to do this.

What are mudflats and why are they so important?

Mudflats are areas found on beaches that are more of a wet and muddy consistency than sandy. Areas of mudflat can actually move, and do so regularly at one of my survey sites Crosby, this movement is dependent on the tide and currents.

Although they may look barren, mudflats are teaming with life and are very nutrient rich. They reduce erosion by absorbing wave energy, soak in pollution from the sea and provided habitat for many species particularly wading birds.

Highlights of my first month;

On my first day I met my two mentors Geraldine, from Liverpool World Museum, and Sally from the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. I had tours around the Botany, Zoology, Entomology, Geology and Conchology departments in the museum. Over at Seaforth I met the Wildlife Trust team and had a tour around the reserve. This reserve is home to extensive wading birds and coastal wildlife but is buried in the corner of Liverpool’s busy port.

Crosby

In my second week I and my mentors began scouting the Sefton coastline for potential survey sites. The first was Crosby beach, home to the Iron Men created by Anthony Gormley. Some of these men stand in the middle of mudflat area and are great for discovering fauna. Common Barnacles, Australasian Barnacles and Mussels covered this statue. The height at which the species grew also gave a good indication of the zone that it inhabited. In the pool surrounding the statue we used sieve sampling and caught small shrimp species and flat fish.

Evidence of burrowing species could be seen all across the surface of the mudflat, and after investigating with a shovel we unearthed White Catworms and Lugworms

‘Another Place’ Iron Men

Flat Fish

Southport

A second survey site I have been exploring is Southport beach. Southport had a much more muddy composition but also contains grass banks, threatening to naturally create a salt marsh habitat. There is a noticeable difference in species across these two sites because of this, which could be an interesting project topic!

Evidence of burrowing was also clear here but the species doing so varied. Digging below these unusual siphon prints we discovered a Peppery Furrow Shell. The inhalant and exhalant siphon tracks visible are used for feeding and waste removal, siphoning food from the surface of the mudflat is what creates these unique patterns. Once exposed the shell tried to burrow further by using its foot, this is the white appendage coming out beneath the shell.

Siphon tracks on mudflat surface

Buried Peppery Furrow Shell

 

These site surveys and collecting flora and fauna samples proved very useful in expanding my mudflat knowledge. When back in the lab I spent time identifying the species in order to learn more about them. My favourite finds include a thorn from the back or tail of a Thornback Ray, and a male and female Masked Crab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beach Clean

In my third week I was out and about a lot more with the Wildlife Trust, I was lucky enough to take part in a couple of sea and muddy shore training sessions. These sessions were part of the ‘Our Irish Sea Project’ and were with the Marine Champion volunteers. As well as learning with the volunteers I aided in a corporate group beach clean on Crosby beach. The clean was very fruitful; bags of rubbish and thousands of nurdles were collected. Nurdles are very small plastic pellets that pollute our seas and beaches, killing many wading birds and marine animals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Museum Display

Learning about these nurdles coincided well with the museums latest display window on plastics in the ocean. Myself and Kate West were in charge of collecting specimens, text and other objects to highlight the plastics issue.

I was able to make use of my nurdles in the display, using them to show how similar to fish eggs they are, causing sea birds to eat them. My very first museum display was a success and very exciting to do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fascination of Plants Family Fun Day

To celebrate International Plant Day, Liverpool World Museum held a Fascination of Plants event day. This was a huge success, along with Ness Gardens and the Wildlife Trust, we enthused people and got them talking about plants. I used the microscope and all different specimens to engage with people and we attracted over 850 visitors throughout the one day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out with TCV Merseyside

At the end of my first month I ventured out with my local TCV group. This was a great day constructing and filling raised flower beds for a church garden. I am looking forward to many more fulfilling days out with a great group of volunteers.

 

Thanks for reading about my busy and exciting first month!

You can follow me on Twitter for all things mudflat related, and check our TCV Natural Talent website to explore all 6 traineeships.

Thank you to Liverpool World Museum and Lancashire Wildlife Trust for making me feel so welcome in my first month.

And a big thank you to Esmee Fairbairn Foundation for making these traineeships possible.