Halo around the moon

This evening about 8.30pm there appeared the most beautiful halo around the moon.

Today the moon is 91.2%, so nearly full. It rose at around 15.40 this afternoon.

I had just gone to let my dogs out in to the garden when I noticed a ring around the moon.

After doing some research I learnt it’s called a 22 degrees halo because the ring has a radius of approximately 22° around the moon. You can also see them around the sun sometimes.

The halo is a sign of high thin cirrus clouds around 20,000 feet up in the sky. The clouds hold millions of minute ice crystals that are refracted by light causing the halo to be visible.

Interesting how the sky surrounding the halo is darker than the rest of the sky and how there is a patch of colour just above the roof.

22 degrees halo

 

 

 

Posted in Blogging, garden, Local patch, Moon, outdoors, Oxfordshire, photography, sky at night, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Work Experience At CEH

Over the last week I have been doing Work Experience at The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.  I really enjoyed working here and I am very grateful for the opportunity.

Day one

Arriving at The Center for Ecology and Hydrology for my first day of a weeks work experience was nerve racking, but Monika put me straight at ease.

Our job for the day was to collect water samples from the River Thames and its tributaries, as part of Monika’s on going studies in to pollution.

She is particularly interested in the chemicals that are used during sewage treatment and chemicals that mimic hormones, and their effect on fish.

My main task was to throw a bucket, attached to a rope, in to the middle of the river, then pull it back in full of water. Making sure the water in the bucket didn’t contain bits of vegetation or mud, which if it did I had to repeat it.

This wasn’t as easy as it sounds due to the current.

Once the water samples had been collected, we walked back to the vehicle where we filtered some of the water in to bottles to take back to the lab.

It was really interesting work despite there being snow on the ground and an extremely bitter wind.

Water Testing

 

Day Two

During day two, I was set with the task to go through hours of film footage of a Kestrel nest box.

But to start off with I was invited to spend the morning listening to many talks on Bumble Bees and how some species vary up and down the country.

These talks were extremely interesting especially as to find out that a certain species of Bee was found half way up Mt Everest.

Once the talks had finished I headed up to start analyzing the Kestrel footage.

My job was to through the footage and make note of all the prey that both Kestrel’s brought back to the nest. Each time I saw prey being brought to the nest box, I stopped the footage, I had to identify the prey, then make a note of the date and time.

Their main diet was Voles and Mice, however the parents brought in a couple of species of birds such as a Blue tit and two Blackbird Chicks.

Marc  Botham was overlooking what I was doing and helped me to identify some of the Kestrels prey.

Even though I spent most of the day inside, it was really interesting to learn about Kestrel’s diet and how to record data.

Day Three And Four

Day Three and Four I was asked to meet up with Lindsey Newbold who is a Molecular Microbial Ecologist currently working on an project called the National Bee Archive

After Lindsey had given me a safety talk and explained what I would be doing, I entered the lab.

I began almost straight away by moving crates full of honey, which were going to be sorted through. Once that was finished we began testing for pollen levels along with water and sugar levels.

The main reason for the research is to look through honey from the same places throughout the world over a number of years to identify levels of pollution and pesticides, and how it affects the bees’ colonies.

I found this fascinating.

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Day Five

My Final day was spent with the Communications team to write this blog and learn how the team communicates with the public.

As my last day of work experience comes to an end I would like to say a 

HUGE THANK YOU to everyone at The Centre For Ecology and Hydrology 

for making me feel welcome, part of the team and for all the things I’ve learnt this week.

 

Posted in Animals, Citizen science, nature, Oxfordshire, science, survey, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, Work Experience | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Winter again

After seeing my first Brimstone Butterfly of the year on Friday my local patch seems to have returned to winter this weekend.

I do wonder how all the butterflies, bees, other insects and plants which started to emerge in the last week will cope with this sudden freeze.

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I spent a very cold but fun morning on Saturday in Brasenose woods near Oxford, filming a short sci-fi movie clip, filmed in the B-Movie genre. It’s about how the world might look if People’s Countryside TV are not successful in raising funds to give nature a voice.

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Posted in Local patch, mammals, nature, Oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, Woodland | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Starlings

The loud, constant chattering means the Starlings have arrived.

Over the past few weeks they have been gathering in a neighbour trees, but this particular evening the chattering and twittering was louder, together with the whoosh of wings and sudden pit pat of bird droppings indicated that the Starlings were very near.

Grabbing my camera I crept out in to the garden to find a huge number of Starlings congregating on a nearby pylon.

It was fascinating to watch as they squabbled for a position on the wire, some hanging upside down, others walking across the backs of the other Starlings, pecking and bickering to find a spot.

Every so often a large group would arrive causing more mayhem, then a group would be pushed off, circle and try to land again.

This carried on for around 20 minutes before a neighbours dog barked and in one giant black shadow, they all left.

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Posted in birds, Blogging, nature, outdoors, Oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Is Spring finally here?

What a change a week has made.

Last Sunday I was blogging about snow, while this weekend I was taking photos of hares, Spring flowers and ladybirds.

The woodland floor is changing rapidly, from the dull browns of the fallen leaves to yellows and greens of shoots, Primroses and Celandine.

Yesterday I saw my first ladybird, bumble bee and honey bee of the year.

Really pleased to see the hares again after their absence last year.

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Posted in insects, nature, Oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, Woodland | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Snow sculptures and footprints

Along the footpath between two open fields, the wind had swept the snow up against the brambles causing natural sculptures like waves breaking on the shore.

Rabbits determined not to let the snow disturb their daily life, climbed, slid down and fought their way to and from their burrows. Fresh tracks in and muddy tracks out showed the warmth and dryness of their chambers underneath the ground.

Larger mammals such as deers, badgers and foxes left their trails, giving a brief indication of their night time activities.

As I sit and write this, the snow is nearly all gone, the sun is shining and I’m glad for the animals that Spring could now finally be on its way.

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Rabbit burrow in the snow

Snow drift

First blossom

Posted in Animals, Badgers, Blogging, mammals, nature, Oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sub Zero

With the ‘Beast from the East’ in full swing, and temperatures hitting well below 0, the garden is packed with birds looking for shelter and a easy meal.

Looking out over the garden I can see 5 robins forgetting to be territorial as they share the food we’ve put out for them.

It is important this time of year not only to put food out for the birds but to make sure there is fresh water available.

Many birds that I normally only see in the fields have been venturing into the garden such as Fieldfares, Pheasants, Thrushes and finches as well as birds like this female Reed Bunting.

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Feeding time

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It has been a constant battle not only to provide freshwater but to keep our pond from freezing. Many aquatic creatures can been seen moving just under the ice.

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I have had the trail cameras out the last few nights but the badgers seem to be torpid, which means they will do the minimum amount of moving around, just using the latrines, small amount of scent marking and patrolling territory, while looking for food. Most of the time will be spent sleeping.

Badger sett

Posted in Badgers, birds, garden, Local patch, Oxfordshire, Ponds, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment