“World Earthworm Day” in mid October, and I fittingly found myself on an earthworm i.d. weekend in Darwin’s garden in Shrewsbury. Run by Kieron Brown (the new BioLinks project lead), and supported by Sara Lanyon (Biodiversity Education Officer),we had a full day of learning more about Darwin’s childhood home, his family and his own fascination with earthworms. Shropshire Wildlife Trust have bought the steep remains of part of the garden, and are keen for biological recording to take place, and so we carried out possibly one of the first earthworm surveys since Darwin’s day! The second day was spent in the lab using the i.d. key and trying to identify specimens. We soon discovered that the claim it “was just about counting” (segments), was a little simplistic!
Swiftly following this, it was a trip up to Leeds for the Natural Talent half way meeting. All six trainees met for two days of sharing, planning and learning tips about useful things such as mentoring, writing grant applications, planning for the new trainees who will start in January and thinking about our end of year “showcase” event. For me, it brought sharply into focus the fact that I am now more than half way through my traineeship. It was great to see everybody for a catch up and to share food in the new “Hobbit House” in Skelton Grange.
The focus of the meeting stayed with me, and I reflected a lot upon what I need to do to prepare for “post Traineeship”. Who knows where we will all end up? What will we do without Amy to gently remind us of important things we need to do? What ARE space carrots?? I considered deeply and disappeared into the TomBio library to do some outstanding catalogue checking….and lots of thinking.
Whilst working on my master plan, I had a fantastic trip back to the Green Gym in the Countess of Chester Country Park (where I was placed as a Natural Networks Trainee last year). At first, I thought things were so different…the group now has a Ranger hut in which to gather. (No more sheltering from the elements under the boot lid of my car!) However, within about three minutes of everyone meeting, it was straight into the usual banter of putting the world to rights, laughter and pooling of confectionary for Brew Time. I’m glad to say that some things never change, and it was really wonderful to catch up with everybody and hear how things are progressing.
I had a fresh infusion of sphagnum on a one day “Introduction to Sphagnum” course run by Martin Godfrey (Mancheter Metropolitan University) at the Gateway in Shrewsbury. I was delighted to realise that I am building up my knowledge, and enjoyed making slides for microscopic i.d. Similarly, I spent a day with Lucia Ruffino (North Wales Non-Flowering Group, BBS) on a Bryophyte day course run by the Snowdonia Society, in which I got more to grips with the acrocarps and pleurocarps. The west coast of Wales has particularly good conditions for mosses….a great advantage of having all that lovely fresh rain! I’m hoping to be able to attend a few more days with Lucia, and then spend some days in the lab, assisting with identification in the new year. I’ve been surprised by how I’ve really taken to botany, and I am going to enrol on an FSC online “Identiplant” course which will run for the whole of next year.
I’ve had a good dose of soil invertebrates this month…a day’s course on Millipedes and Centipedes, run by Paul Richards (Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust). Once again, I’m going to have to do some consolidating and then get out there and get practising!
Just as it seemed like it couldn’t get any better, I got the chance to travel down to Cardiff together with the rest of the TomBio team for the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Conference in the museum. Two days of inspirational speakers, a fascinating “behind the scenes” tour and the chance to catch up with Liam Olds, Ryan Clark (previous Natural Talent trainees) and Phoebe (my counterpart in Cardiff museum). It was fantastic to see Liam receiving an NBN award for his work on colliery spoil heaps….plenty for Phoebe and I to aspire to!
It’s been a mad day today. The HLF were visiting at the same time as interviews for the new 5 year “Biolinks” project were being carried out, so everyone has been on red alert. I hid in the Biodiversity library and continued cataloguing……..still looking for the space carrot….
As always, my very grateful thanks to the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, TCV and the FSC for helping me live the dream….