Winter Bird Ringing

Now that the winter months have drawn to an end, and all our winter migrants are leaving our shores, I thought I'd take this opportunity to summarise the highlights of last season's bird ringing.

Ringing during winter is often quieter than during the rest of the year, as birds become less active and our large numbers of summer migrants are no longer around. But despite this, we had good numbers of birds, and a few new species for me that were not only fantastic to see so close, but also to learn more about as I processed them.

When looking back over our photographs, despite the noticeably slower sessions, I realise we did catch a very good number and variety of birds.

Early in the season, at the end of November, we caught a particularly special bird that came as a complete surprise to us all. The site we ring at is mostly made up of relatively large patches of reedbeds which snake their way around the ponds. We caught many a reed and sedge warbler here last summer, but this speci…

Young Naturalists on Conservation - World Wildlife Day 2017

In 2013, the United Nations declared the 3rd of March World Wildlife Day, commemorating the date CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) was signed. Every year, millions of people across the planet celebrate Earth's flora and fauna, and help raise awareness of the natural world.

This year, the theme is 'Listen to the young voices'. The UN say that "vigorous efforts need to be made to encourage young people, as the future leaders and decision makers of the world, to act at both local and global levels to protect endangered wildlife", and this is the purpose of World Wildlife Day - to engage with young people, and to show the impact young people can have on decision-making regarding the natural world.

So, for World Wildlife Day 2017,I've decided to consult the inspiring and active community of young naturalists here in the UK for their views, and share them here in this post, to show how forward thinking young people can be when it com…

Searching for Short-eared Owls

It's that time of the year again when the Short-eared Owls are expected back at Papercourt Meadows for the winter. In fact, they should in theory have arrived about a month ago, but with none being reported (with the exception of a passer-by in mid-October) I headed down to the meadows on an overcast Sunday evening to see if any had arrived.

We arrived at just before 16:00, approximately 30 minutes before sunset. This would give us time to walk around the reserve for a short while to look for the owls before darkness fell. Unsurprisingly for a dull winters evening, there was very little about, with the exception of a few Mallards and Swans on the river, and the crows passing overhead.

It felt very peaceful, being out in the twilight, away from busy streets and noise pollution. But sadly, as darkness approached, there was no sign of any Short-eared Owls. It seems the winter of 2016-2017 may have to go down as another that failed to produce regular Short-eared Owls at Papercourt.

With …

My article for New Nature Magazine

Around the end of November last year, nature writer James Common tweeted about an idea that caught my interest. He was thinking of producing a monthly e-magazine, written and produced entirely by young naturalists between the age of around 12-30. Soon enough, a first issue was in the works - and I was given the opportunity to submit an article.

And sure enough, on the 2nd January 2017, the first issue of New Nature Magazine was released online - featuring my article on page 45.

You can read the magazine here.

My article, the last in the magazine, focuses on the CITES Conference of the Parties 2016, and the details and decisions that came out the end of it. It features information about Pangolins, Ivory and Sharks - all of which were discussed throughout the event.

As of the time of writing, the magazine has been downloaded over 5,500 times - a really impressive amount for the first ever issue. I urge you to download and read all the superb articles in the magazine. 'New Nature' wi…

2016 - A Year In Review

Now that 2016 is coming to an end, I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on the year, and highlight some of the best bits from the past twelve months.

So here, in no particular order, are my (wildlife-related) highlights from 2016:

1) Rainforest Trust Interview.
At the very beginning of the year, I was lucky enough to have an interview published on the American conservation charity, The Rainforest Trust's website - where I discussed Borneo and the threat of deforestation to the world's forest. This was the first time my work had been properly published before, so this was a very exciting opportunity and certainly led to me doing more of this kind of thing throughout the year.

2) Papercourt Meadows Short-eared Owls
Going back to Papercourt Meadows in Surrey in the winter of 2016 was fantastic yet again. We were greeted by beautiful sunsets and at least three individual Short-eared Owls - a great number for such a small reserve. It was a great winter for Papercourt - and…

Thoughts on Planet Earth II

10 years after the original series blessed our screens and introduced a generation to the wonderful world we live in, it's fair to say Planet Earth II has yet again enchanted the nation. Every Sunday night for the past six weeks, Twitter has been alive with people discussing the series, and evidently revelling in the incredible scenes being presented to them on their television screens.

I personally have thoroughly enjoyed the series. Some of the stories told by the BBC this time have been truly incredible. And what's been really encouraging for me is to see the statistics being released following the series. Namely the fact that "more young people are watching Planet Earth II than the X Factor". For me, this is a great sign that the next generation are more interested in the environment and the animals that live around them than ever before.

Sir David Attenborough and the BBC have yet again produced a nature documentary that has captured the interest of the nation, an…

Conservation: Latest 'Living Planet' Report Reveals Some Worrying Figures

The latest 'Living Planet' report, published by WWF, has revealed some very worrying statistics. The most shocking, and the one that stood out to me more than any other, was that global vertebrate populations have declined by 58% since 1970. In other words, in just over 40 years, we have lost over half of all birds, mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles. And by 2020, this figure is expected to have risen to around 67%.

These statistics are calculated using WWFs LPI (Living Planet Index), which is a measure of biodiversity based on scientific data from 14,152 monitored populations of almost 4,000 vertebrate species. And this data showed the dramatic decline mentioned above.

This, of course, is very concerning. In fact, when I first came across these statistics, I was shocked at how these could possibly be true. So what is to blame for this decline in global wildlife?

The report names habitat loss and degradation, species overexploitation, pollution, invasive species and disease a…

Bird Ringing in Surrey

First of all, I'd like to apologise for the lack of posts over the past month or so. Back to school for GCSE year has meant a lot more work than usual.

I realised recently that one thing I haven't discussed on my blog as of yet is bird ringing. In May, I started training as a bird ringer in Surrey. Not only has it been amazing to see birds I had only really seen before hidden in trees or reeds so close in the hand, but it has taught me so much more about British birds than I could ever had thought, and it feels great to be involved in some national science.

Learning how to handle, ring, measure and process birds in the hand has been not only incredibly enjoyable, but really interesting. Learning about fat and muscle, migration patterns, moult and ageing in birds, among other things, has been fascinating. I never realised before just how complex birds and their lives truly are. The methods for ageing birds varies from species to species and is determined through moult phases, fea…