Biology, Fieldwork, FSC, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

Invasives Week

By Rowena

This week is invasive species week on Twitter, and I’ve been watching a lot of really interesting stuff come up on my feed all week. It’s been organised by the NNSS (Non-native Species Secretariat) and DEFRA to try and raise awareness of invasive species, and get people involved in recording schemes. Each day has a different theme:

Monday – Welcome to Invasive Species Week!
Tuesday – Biosecurity
Wednesday – Identification and recording
Thursday – Local Action Groups
Friday – Other projects

My favourite resource I’ve found so far this week (although it’s only Tuesday that I’m writing this…) has been the Journal of Ecology’s virtual issue, with over 20 different papers about different invasive species and up-to-date research in the area. I’ve downloaded them to my laptop, but haven’t yet had the time to read them… Soon.

On the NNSS website, there’s loads of free training on biosecurity and identification of non-native species. To be able to tackle invasive species effectively, it’s important to have the distribution and evidence of where species are found- NNSS have developed a set of apps to record different invasive species, and help identify individuals. I’m not familiar with all of them, although Juniper Hall do record a lot of our species on iRecord. We also have a fantastic species list from the University of Cambridge who visit each year, and record literally everything they see. I’m also on a mission to get my Birdtrack back up to date, as I’ve been birding a lot recently but actually have no count of what I’ve been seeing!

Introducing BirdTrack Home | BTO - British Trust for Ornithology

Wednesday is identification and recording day- So a quick list of invasives I’ve seen at our field sites before…


Himalayan balsam, Signal crayfish, Rhododendron, Ringed parakeet, Harlequin ladybird

I’ve not got time to update this again after today (which is still Wednesday, although I scheduled this for the end of the week) but it’s a cool initiative that seems to be educating a lot of people. I’ve definitely found a lot of interesting stuff I’m planning to read in the future this week!

2016, FSC, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

Big Garden Birdwatch & Spring Index

By Rowena

This weekend was the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, apparently the biggest wildlife survey in the world! If you’ve not heard of it, you sit by a window and record the birds you see in your garden over the course of an hour. Easy stuff. At Juniper Hall, we have a pretty big “garden”, so Daniel Farnes took it on himself to spend his hour over the weekend watching what came past. Can you ID what he spotted too?

Answers at the bottom of the page. Images from Wikicommons

I didn’t get to do my own birdwatch this weekend as I suddenly decided to go away (it happens…), but when I spot birds around the centre- and out and about as well- I add recordings to the BTO’s Birdtrack list. This is a recording site for birders around the country, recording what they see in their local patches and on formal transects too. I don’t use it quite as much as I probably should do, as I tend to forget to upload common birds and get excited about recording rarer birds (a woodpecker will make it, whereas the blue tits always outside East & West classrooms might not), but it’s pretty cool. Over January, I’ve spotted some other nice birds around centre though…

Long-tailed tit, Greenfinch, Dunnock, Blackbird, Green Parakeet, Red kite. Images from Birdguides

You might have guessed by now, I quite like my birds. It’s true, and I love recording them! The FSC run something called the Spring Index, which is a long-term study looking at when Spring “officially starts”. The aim is to look out for iconic indicators of Spring. The FSC Spring Index records 4 spring indicators; the first flowering of hawthorn and horse chestnut, the first orange-tip butterfly, and the first swallow. The Woodland Trust take things a bit further and run the Nature’s Calendar, which has a whole load of different indicators they ask people to look for. If you like recording nature, definitely get involved!

Photo 01-02-2016 11 52 15.jpg

Some records filled in already!

There’s a bit of data on the movement of Spring already, and it seems to be getting earlier and earlier every year. Certainly I don’t remember seeing daffodils in December like I did at the end of 2015! The first snowdrops came out this weekend, so warmer weather is on its way… A tad different to a couple of years ago when there was snow on the ground.

ID Answers (from left to right); Carrion crow, Eurasian magpie, Feral pigeon

Buzzard, Black-headed gull, Ring-necked pheasant (female)