27 January 2015

BSBI New Year Plant Hunt 2015

Last year my wife and I completed the BSBI New Year Plant Hunt for the first time.On 2 January this year, we went out and covered the same area as last year to starting building up come comparative data for the plants on that particular lane.

This year we found:
Red Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)
Petty Spurge (Euphorbia peplus)
Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale agg.)
Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa)

In the previous plant hunt we had found Field Madder too, but this wasn't present this year. We noticed that there had been a lot of work done in the front gardens that open up onto the lane since we'd last been there (a few months previous). This may well provide a habitat for some new species next year.

While we only cover a small area, which only provides a few records, it's really nice that the BSBI recognise our efforts and this year we were awarded the New Year Plant Hunt Family Values award. This is because it's our second year sending in records for the Plan Hunt and because of Meeple (our baby bump). While he didn't have a choice about coming along, we're certainly hoping to get him into recognising species and joining us on future plant hunts.

I'm looking forward to next year's Plant Hunt, especially as our little boy will be joining us.

19 January 2015

Book Review: The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being by Alice Roberts

This book is a real education starting with the embryo and covering the current understanding of how each major body part was used by other animals and how they evolved to be the body parts that we recognise as being human today.

It covers the length of the human body, including chapters on heads and brains, speech and gills, and guts and yolk sacs. While delving deep into the biology, Alice Roberts seems to keep the technical terms to the bare minimum and explains each term she does have to use to keep the text accurate.

12 January 2015

Trunk of the Month: January 2015: Sequoiadendron giganteum

In this series, I'll be posting one or two photos of tree trunks that I really like along with a paragraph or two about why it's special.

In this first post I've chosen the trunk of Sequoiadendron giganteum. In Britain this tree is often know by the common name of Wellingtonia after the Duke of Wellington who had died just before the tree was introduced in 1853.

Although the Giant Redwood is not the tallest tree in the world (this accolade goes to the Coast Redwood), it can grow to around 100 metres tall and can survive for over 3000 years and mature specimens are certainly very impressive to look at. I found this trunk special because when you knock on the red-brown bark there is a real dull thudding sound. This is not surprising considering that the bark can be 2-3 foot deep in places; which not only makes the bark soft and fibrous, but also of no interest for forestry usage.

As you can see, this specimen is providing a habitant for other organisms, with lichen, moss and algae growing in various places around this