2017, Fieldwork, FSC, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

My time at Juniper Hall

By Rowena

Hello! My name is Rowena. I have been at Juniper Hall for two years now as a tutor. However, now is the end of my time here- I am moving on to new things in the frozen North, at Newcastle University!

Prepare For Game Of Thrones To Get Really, Really Dark | Space

It’s going to be so cold.

As part of the tutor team, Juniper Hall has been a fantastic experience. From waking up every morning to this view…

The cows are back in my front garden for the Summer #moo

A post shared by Jack Starbuck (@thatstarbuck) on

I’ve taught some very interesting groups in my time:

  • Students that have found the free U2 album on the ipads and played music while recording river measurements
  • A-level biologists from London that have played hide-and-seek after class because they’ve never been to the countryside
  • “Miss, can woodlice fly? I bet they can.”
  • “Miss, is that a cow?” [Points at black & white horse]
  • A KS2 group that had to almost run back to centre from Box Hill after a freak thunderstorm, getting drenched by the time we were back (It was actually in Reigate)
  • A KS2 student that decided to make “leaf angels” with me (You rock!)
  • Every single student that’s sung the Banana song the next morning after a campfire
  • My last group that cheered so hard, and climbed on each other’s shoulders (in Bebbington. I feared for their heads)
  • All the students that have tried to jump the River Tillingbourne at Crossways, especially those that have failed (especially the ones that failed on camera!)
  • The students that have gotten stuck in Pagham Harbour with big muddy smiles
  • The students that wanted to spray paint rocks to investigate longshore drift (always a good idea!)
  • The KS2 children that made themselves beards out of burrs and stickyweed
  • The children that have fallen in the River Mole at the Stepping Stones (or leapt)
  • The Real Family Holiday families and children who have all been so curious- those that have climbed the starfish (I fear for you), the amazing red-haired super-mum who pushed a double buggy all the way to the shelter building area, the sweet kids that sat and made apple bird-feeders for hours last year, the huge set of families that made the most incredible shelter I’ve ever seen, that sat about 10 and didn’t leak a drop!
  • All the lovely schools that have brightened my days with thank-you letters…

It’s been said never to work with children and animals, and yet I’ve spent most days working with both (for better and for worse!)

 

 

 

animals

  • Once I found a mole in the River Tillingbourne
  • I’ve been headbutted by the goats so many times
  • I’ve spray-painted a chicken purple
  • A student once just straight-up grabbed a lizard from underneath a log and it was awesome
  • The horses at Crossways Farm have chased me around the field about 10 times in the last 2 months
  • The students that, instead of picking up an invasive crayfish after they dropped it, jumped on it, then threw it in a tree
  • The teacher that allowed me to scare their entire class with a pet stick insect (they all left the room entirely for 10 minutes)
  • The school that drove me to Leatherhead Animal Rescue to rehabilitate an exhausted brown long-eared bat and got me in the newspaper!

 

I’ve had such a good time while I’ve been here (in all weathers- sun, rain, snow, thunderstorms), with so many incredible memories. Perhaps one day I’ll come back to teach again! After all, I haven’t yet had a pond named after me like Kate (one of our recent Education Assistants).

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This is definitely the best spot to teach from

Thanks for all the great memories, Juniper!

2016, Biology, FSC, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

Bioblitz 2016

By Rowena

For half term, we ran our annual Bioblitz to record all the birds, bugs, plants and anything else on Juniper Hall’s grounds. In the weeks leading up, Daniel’s been busy handing out tons of flyers around Dorking and Leatherhead…

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So many leaflets!

Thankfully when the big day came the weather was kind to us! It all kicked off with opening our moth traps, which we had put out the evening before. Unfortunately there were only a few moths inside, as it’s getting to the time when they’re all tucked up and hibernating, but happily a few extras were brought along by the AES to admire as well.

Next we had Lisa and Saoirse open mammal traps in Templeton Woods. There were a couple of successes, with a water shrew, and then some wood mice later on in the ha-ha.

 Drawing quite the crowd

Later on in the lineup we had woodland and meadow invertebrate hunting. We got out the sweep nets, pooters and keys to see what we could find, scooping up grasshoppers, shield bugs, leafhoppers and moths. In the woods we had some fun charming worms too, making them wiggle to the surface to be identified.

The reptile mats didn’t reward any reptiles, but Lisa and a few families did find some hiding mammals and lots of insects- the ants just love colonising underneath the felting we’ve put down in our meadow.

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What’s Lisa found?

While Saoirse manned the ponds, looking for underwater critters, Rowena and Helen made some nettle tea with the kelly kettles, that took a lot longer than it should have…

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Putting on a brew!

Also throughout the day we had arts and crafts in the students’ common room, colouring moths and glittering invertebrates, and local societies joining us in the Templeton Room to promote bats, birds and bugs!

A big thank you to everyone that visited and helped, and to the lovely charities that attended; the Bat Conservation Trust, Surrey Bird Club, the Amateur Entomological Society and others!

We haven’t got final totals for everything we recorded on the day yet, but we’ll be sure to update once we do know what we managed to find.

2016, FSC, Uncategorized

State of Nature Report 2016

By Rowena

This week a groundbreaking report called the State of Nature has been published as the joint effort of over 50 environmental and wildlife organisations. Previously a State of Nature report was published in 2013, and this report builds on it- there’s more data, longer timeframes analysed, and case studies, as well as a call for individuals, groups and the government to get involved and stop the loss of nature.

State of Nature 2016 State of Nature 2016 England report State of Nature 2016 Scotland report

Some light reading

So far, my favourite summary of the report can be found on the BTO’s website (found here)- showing some of the key facts and figures outlined in the report. A lot of it isn’t great (56% species in decline; 165 species considered Critically Endangered in the UK) but there are some improvements as well. Species like the red kite, otters and silver-studded blue butterflies have increasing populations, while changes at progressive farms are making massive improvements to species populations in local areas.

An otter I spotted in August up in Arran, Scotland!

The big question is- how can you help with all this? It’s one thing looking at huge figures that spell doom-and-gloom for species, but quite another trying to tackle that. The BTO and Wildlife Trusts have a few different ideas on how to start making a difference in your own patch.

  • Create habitats for wildlife- this can be as small as a bee hotel, to transforming your whole garden into a meadow for bugs and butterflies!
  • Take part in wildlife surveys and recording- use Birdtrack for the BTO, survey water voles for the People’s Trust, learn to identify wildlife with a Field Studies Council course.
  • Choose environmentally friendly products; avoid products with microbeads and single-use items.
  • Volunteer for an environmental charity and help manage nature reserves and conserve species.
  • Get outside and experience and enjoy nature!

How can you get involved with Juniper Hall?

Bioblitz 2016 - FSC Juniper Hall

Monday 24th October– Put the date in your diary! Come and join in our annual Bioblitz to help record wildlife on site and explore the grounds. Find out more in a blog coming soon…

 

2016, Biology, FSC, Uncategorized

30 Days Wild & other exciting things

By Rowena

June is fast approaching (somehow!) and is the month for biodiversity, it seems. This morning I’ve been doing a little bit of research to promote three different fantastic biodiversity projects in June, and made ourselves a board with loads of information and resources for the coming month.

30 Days Wild- All of June

Set up last year, 30 Days Wild is an awesome drive by the Wildlife Trusts to get more people outside and interacting with nature. Individuals can sign up here for a pack, which contains things like a calendar for the month, stickers, a badge, and some ideas of what to do! There are loads of free activities that the Wildlife Trusts are putting on too, which is pretty cool as it means people really have the opportunity to get out and explore.

They also have an app, which you can download for some quick ideas to get outside in nature. I’ve not downloaded it yet (too many other recording apps!) but from a quick glance, it looks pretty fun.

 

National Insect Week- 20-26th June

National Insect Week is a bi-annual event run by the Royal Entomological Society promoting insects. There are tons of events occurring during the week all over the country, which is pretty cool really, as insects are sometimes undervalued- especially the ones that aren’t “pretty”.

The section of NIW’s website I like the best is the Learning Resources area (I guess that says a lot…)- there are loads of activities and things to do; worksheets and things to read, lesson plans, podcasts and websites. Fantastic!

 

Great British Bee Count- 19th May- 30th June

Run by the Friends of the Earth, the Great British Bee Count mostly revolves around an app used to count bees. When I first downloaded it only 10 bees had been counted- now it’s over 18,000! When you spot a bee, you can record it on the app. There are handy pictures too, which makes it easy to work out what you’re looking at. It even has a few non-bees that look like bees (like wasps and bee-flies).

Record all of the bees

You can also do a timed count, watching a 50cm area for 1 minute and recording all the bees that visit the flowers you’re watching.

Putting together all these cool biodiversity projects into one board was a bit of a challenge, and I might have gotten overexcited… But there’s so much to look forward to in June!

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So much biodiversity!