January is famously catch-up time for sins of omission the previous year and I can only apologise and indeed regret, that I didn't publish these lovely photos that were entered for the photography competition in November.
Above are Izzy's winning photo on the left, and Shona's runner-up on the right. Below are two more entries, from Reuben on the left, and Lydia on the right.
I don't envy the judges their task, I think they're all lovely!
We wish you a happy new year and we would like to invite you to our first activity this year, which will be a partly guided, partly self-guided, twig ID competition during the second half of the month. Please note that you can participate in different ways and you can attend only some of the numbered steps below if you wish so.
#1. Training session: Online (Zoom), Saturday 16th January 10-10.30 am. We will teach you how to identify key tree or shrub species in winter. We will have a handout to complement the session and for those who are interested but cannot make it. We will set up a challenge for you to complete for #2.
#2. Self-guided twig hunt: With the help of the resources we will provide you with, you are welcome to undertake a twig hunt at a location of your choice (remember, if you are going out of your garden, this needs to be part of your daily time out for exercise) anytime between the 16th and the 31st of January (before #3).
#3. ID verification session: Once you have collected your twigs for the challenge, join us on another online (Zoom) session on the 31st Sunday 4-5 pm to have your twigs verified. We will select a winner for the competition.
If you are interested in this, please email email@example.com so that Ines can send you the relevant information, and don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions.
Our Owl Pellet Dissection workshop on 13 December was a great success - go to our Facebook page for more details and photos of that.
As you can imagine, we had to transform our events into something appropriate to the new government regulations. However, this didn't mean we cancelled them!
Our Autumn leaves and fungi walk, was transformed it into a self-guided walk. The plan was to take lots of pictures of fungi and share them with us afterwards!
For photos of winning entries go to our Facebook page.
As always, contact Ines at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help.
Micromys minutus is such a gorgeous name for these enchanting creatures - and very happily, it turns out they are alive and well and living on our Chairman Peter Shallcross's Wallmead Farm.
Their nests are about the size of a tennis ball, and built into the stems of tough grasses and other flowers, usually about a foot up from the ground and often below brambly hedges or in reeds near round ponds. If you want to have a go at looking for nests yourself, there's a great website, Rushcliffe Wildlife, which has a lot of really useful information.
Such as, if you want to go hunting, don't choose a bright, sunny day because you won't be able to see into the depths of brambles or grass. So our day was just perfect - cloudy but dry and not a breath of wind. After briefing by Peter Thomson (an advisor to the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, who will be giving the talk at our indoor meeting on 19 November), we set off in our group up onto the hilltop where the lapwing nest site is and the pond. We spent a very happy two hours bent double, poring over tussocks of likely-looking grass and occasionally giving a triumphant cry at sighting one of these incredibly difficult-to-spot nests - difficult even if they had been 'planted'.
I'd love to see a female building - they hold the grass in their paws and tear it into narrow strips with their teeth, weaving from the inside out, pulling in new stems. A new nest is usually built for each litter, so the greener the nest, the more recent the breeding.
We tried to record where we'd found the nests, and although many had been 'planted' the teams together found several 'natural' ones. So we felt really good to have contributed in a small way to knowledge of wildlife in our area.
To encourage us to best efforts, there were winners ie each team's finds were logged. Announcing the results, the organisers said, 'We were almost going to declare a tie as several groups had found a very similar number of nests (19!) but after some difficult deliberation we eventually declared as winner the team lead by Peter Thompson, as it was the one who found more green harvest mice nests (and without his help!).
'The winning team was composed by Vanessa Harriss, Izzy Arundell and Henry, and Beck Barber and Martha. The runner ups were Elizabeth Forbes' group with Kaitlin, Ebony, John and Rufus, and Izzy; and mine (Ines's) with Sadie Flower + family. Congratulations, well done all of you!'
This was such fun, I'm sure we'll be keen to answer any other call for help.
Here's a message from Ines (from which I note almost unbelievingly, that it's scientific name is micromys minutus!! Sounds very un-scientific, although of course that's how names are established.
To makes things easier for those who are joining (and for those who aren't too), some info (you need to click once on the URL, and then again when the link comes up):
- and a delightful poem in this one, by an 18thC enthusiast
Recorded in Wilts this year (page 4):
This nature photography workshop was led by Abby Eaton, who provided the lovely bird photographs that have brightened the website pages. She was joined by Craig Morris, a wildlife and bird photographer who'd helped her get to grips with her own photography and was an RSPB guide at their reserve near Sandy in Bedfordshire. They invited people 'to learn some great camera basics with your mobile and try a DSLR while trying to snap something fly past at 90mph. We'll even tell you what it was.'
Izzy Fry, who is co-organiser for YNW with Ines and whose great blog brightens my own life, was among the small group who walked round Fonthill Lake, where there's plenty of opportunity to practise photography skills. She said, 'We learned how to use a camera and tried out different lenses. We walked through fields looking for bugs and butterflies, woodland for birds and leaves and round the lake watching grey wagtails and dragonflies. My favourite subjects were the ladybirds, leaves, brimstone butterflies, grey wagtails, blackberries and dragonflies! We tried our different lenses, including large zooms and wide angled and we were given advice and support on using the camera manual settings.'
'It was a really enjoyable morning and I learnt so much with the expert advice from Abby and Craig. It was a fab day out and we'll certainly be planning more.'
Abby and Craig challenged the group to take a photo of a 'clip-on' robin in the most unusual way (??!!). The winner was Izzy, the runner up Shauna. We can't show individual photos of them, but we can show the prizes! (I shall ask if we can also have the winning photos.)
But what was it flying past at 90mph?
Page header design by Izzy Fry.
Young TNHS is for under-21s and membership is free. To join and to register for events, email email@example.com.
21 and over Membership is £10 p.a. for adults or £2 per event for guests. To join, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Young TNHS is an historic development for the Society: Inés Lopez-Doriga, who last year gave a talk on The Archaeology of Plants, has now joined the Committee to lead the new group. And it is a huge bonus to us that she has been joined by Izzy Fry, whose blog is a riot of colourful photos of local wildlife.
Izzy has explained in the August Focus how she found us and what she and Inés are planning following the inaugural moth idenfiication meeting, to which over 30 people turned up.