How on earth is it the end of June already?!
It’s been another busy month for me at FSC head office and it’s gone by in a flash. Summer is finally here so I’ve been getting out and about all over the place.
As I mentioned in my last post, I went off to Dale Fort in Pembrokeshire on a spider identification course at the end of May/start of June. We were searching for spiders in the sun by the sea, it was lovely!
Suprisingly, I didn’t actually learn anything new on the course which I was a bit disappointed with initially but then after speaking to a few of the others who felt the same we figured out that all the time we’ve spent reading about and looking for spiders so far has obviously paid off – so I can no longer class myself as a “begginner”! It was still useful to go over things and spend time in the field and in the lab. I’m getting fairly confident with my microscope skills so I’m now trying to avoid killing things to identify them this way for a while so I can focus on developing my field identification skills instead. You can only identify a handful of spiders to species level in the field but if you’ve got the WILDguide to Britain’s Spiders and a good hand lens with you, you can get quite a few to genus level – or pretty close to there at least, so these spiders can run away free after I’ve had a look at them (I’m feeling a bit guilty about having to kill them to look at them under a microscope all the time).
Beetles and Bees
It’s nice to take a break from studying arachnids every now and then so I’ve been on a bumblebee and solitary bee identification course. This was with my local Wildlife Trust (Radnorshire), who I used to volunteer with for quite a few years, so it was lovely to go back to their Gilfach reserve (unfortunately I failed to take any photos, so I can’t show you any of the cool species we found but it was great, honest!).
I’ve also been on a field ID of beetles course and a longhorn and leaf beetles course (both of these were part of the BioLinks project going on at the FSC – where they’re subsidising courses to get more people interested in invertebrates, so I get to go along to quite a few of these – lucky me!). I’ve been getting to grips with the seed and leaf beetle keys and on the look out for more longhorns. I’ve been recognising quite a few of the beetles I’ve come across since then, which I’m very pleased about. Now all I need to do is to work on my identification skills for the other 100 or so beetle families we have in the UK and I should be an expert by the time I’m 70!
The half way mark
Again, how is it already the end of June?! This means I am now half way through my traineeship, which is a little scary. Time is going by far too quickly and I’m already dreading having to start looking for a new jobs/writing application forms in a few months time. To make this slightly less scary, Amy very kindly organised a half way meet up for us all to catch up and start to figure out what we’re going to do next. We went on a camping trip to Inchcailloch, a little island in the middle of Loch Lomund. This must have been the only week of this month that wasn’t gloriously sunny but we were very glad because the wind and rain kept the midges away!
We also got to spend a day sharing our knowledge/skills we’ve developed so far with each other through a range of different activities. Jo definitely came up with the best idea for this, we had to search around for mud snail clues… whilst wearing snails hats. This is an activity she usually does with school groups but we got really into it. This all happened when we were back at the visitor centre on the mainland, so we had quite a few funny looks from the other visitors as we were getting more and more competitive running around in our snail hats – but I think we’re all quite used to getting funny looks now because the life of a natural talent trainee is a weird and wonderful one.
All in all, it’s been a busy month, I’ve traveled all over the country and learnt lots of new things. July is looking equally busy so I’ll most likely be back here in a months time asking where on earth July has gone too!
Thanks again to TCV, the FSC and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation for giving me all of these great opportunities!