Apologies for the rather late blog this time round, every time I tried to do this something else just got in the way! But hey, better late than never, right?
July got off to a ‘wild’ start as I attended my first event of the month: Wild in the Woods at Auchnacraig Park – a family day organised by TCV. It was the perfect summery Sunday with the sun beating down and plenty of families turning up to take part in the many different activities we had on offer! I was very happy to be on pond-dipping duty as it was a glorious spot to spend a few hours; watching large red damselflies gliding over the pond and hundreds of tadpoles frantically wriggling around in the clear water. It was a sure favourite with the kids too, who all grabbed their nets with enthusiasm and seemingly never grew tired of catching tadpoles and snails over and over again!
On a not-so-sunny but rather more wet Sunday a couple of weeks later I was at RSPB Lochwinnoch for day two of Chris Packham’s UK Bioblitz! Throughout July, Chris and his team were visiting sites right across the UK to meet lots of conservationists and naturalists and to create a picture of the current state of the country’s wildlife. As he had so many different people to talk to and places to go, Chris was only at Lochwinnoch for a short time but I still got to meet him when he came along to see what we’d been finding during our bug hunts! A video of the day is now up on Chris Packham’s youtube channel and you can spot me (very briefly) chatting to him at 5:54!
Another exciting experience for me was running a mini workshop on pollinators for kids at Woodlands Community Gardens in the West End of Glasgow (which is a lovely little spot and I recommend that you all go and visit). Although I have done lots of school sessions by now and ran a couple on my own, this was the first time I’d led a session with members of the public and it went really well! I just had a small group of a few families but they all seemed to enjoy learning about pollinators, got stuck in to the activities I’d brought along and had great fun looking for bees, butterflies and hoverflies in the garden. I felt very proud of myself for only being a little bit nervous and had fun myself too!
And the fun days out in Glasgow didn’t stop there! I also had a great time helping Kirsty on her Wildlife Explorer sessions in Kelvingrove with families from the Chinese community. They were such a lovely and enthusiastic bunch of kids and we had a brilliant day playing nature-themed games and hunting for bugs in the park!
As well as lots of family events, I’ve out and about helping with practical work and surveys too. I had my first experiences of TCV corporate volunteer days where we were removing himalayan balsam from Corstorphine hill, got very muddy whilst digging new pond mud snail habitat with help from RZSS and spent a couple of days surveying a large peatland bog site for Black darter dragonflies with Buglife’s Conservation Officer, Scott and a volunteer. We counted so many dragonfly and damselfly larvae over those two days that I’m pretty sure I was seeing them in my sleep!
And finally, when I wasn’t rushing around running workshops or helping with other events and sessions, I got to be a student again on some Buglife courses on pollinators, hoverflies and leaf beetles! The hoverfly workshop was possibly my favourite – if a bit mind-boggling – as I just had no idea there were so many species of them! We found an impressive total of 18 species on the day and it was amazing to see the differences in colours and patterns between them, some of which are very subtle indeed. I can still probably only confidently identify a few of the easier hoverflies out of the whole two-hundred-and-eighty-something species, but that’s more than I could do before, so I’m happy with that! Practice makes perfect and all that…
Well I think I’ve finally updated you on the most exciting things I’ve been up to lately, so I’ll leave it at that for now and will try very hard to have my next blog up much sooner!
And as I don’t think I’ve actually said this yet – thank you so much to TCV, Buglife and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation for hosting me in this traineeship and making all of these fantastic opportunites possible!
Chow for now!
~ Jo 🙂