Darwin's Garden earthworm weekend

Sampling for earthworms in Doctors Field, ShrewsburyDarwin had a lifelong fascination with earthworms. A cartoon of the elderly Darwin shows him, deep in thought, with a large earthworm suspended like a question mark above him.  So it was a definite thrill to be setting out for a day of earthworm hunting in Darwin’s childhood garden, where the young Charles discovered and honed his fascination with the natural world.

Joy of Wildlife Walks - guest blog by Keith Fowler

Shropshire entomologists in action2018 will be the seventh year in which I have arranged wildlife walks within the county of Shropshire. These are attended by a number of individuals with a wide variety of interests and skills who like to enjoy what nature has to offer and each other’s’ company.   Read more...

Rewilding and recording - Knepp Estate

Meadows of fleabane at KneppA couple of weeks ago the Tom.bio team (myself and Rich Burkmar), plus FSC Biodiversity Manager Sue Townsend and Biodiversity trainee Sue Loughran, were lucky enough to spend a few magical days at Knepp Castle estate in West Sussex.  

Read on for more...

Learning to Love Spiders - guest blog by Sam Devine-Turner

On 27th May this year I prepared to attend the Learn to Love Spiders workshop run by Tom.Bio – for the second time! I enjoyed last year’s session so much that I just had return. I was a bit nervous, as I have quite a fear of spiders – a topic for another time – but having attended the first time I knew I would not be forced to be any closer to spiders than I was comfortable with.

Book review: Britain's Spiders - a field guide

From British Spider's coverBritain’s Spiders – A field guide by Lawrence Bee, Geoff Oxford and Helen Smith is a new book from the excellent WILDGuides stable, published in association with the British Arachnological Society. This book will likely fuel a revolution in spider identification in the UK that I believe is already underway. In this blog I will review the new book, but more than that I want to describe what it offers within the context of how people are learning spider identification and recording skills today.

Watch out, Natural Talent Trainee about!

Sue LoughranIt’s only a couple of months since I began my Natural Talent traineeship with the FSC Biodiversity team…but just like when going invertebrate hunting, my perception of time goes awry! The sun just keeps on shining in Shropshire and the rains seems to come mainly whenever I’m camping! The 5am dawn chorus has been my alarm call, and the days are full of wildlife from dawn til dusk.

NPMS habitat guides

Tom.bio has been working with Plantlife and ecologist Nick Law to produce a series of video guides to habitats classified by the national Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS). These films are designed to help NPMS volunteers decide which habitat type their survey plots are in. We have deliberately focussed on those habitats which can be difficult to distinguish from each other, such as dry heath and dry acid grassland.

We recommend you watch each pair of films together as they complement each other and will help you decide between the two similar habitats.

Clubtail Count 2017 - guest blog by Genevieve Dalley

Join the quest for this elusive dragonfly!  The Common Clubtail Dragonfly is a near threatened species restricted to a handful of unpolluted, slow flowing rivers in England and Wales. We desperately need to understand the population size and distribution of this dragonfly to conserve it.  Read more...

The Cladocera Interest Group - guest blog by Adrian Chalkley

Sample of Cladocera.  Photo: A ChalkleyThe Cladocera Interest Group have an entry in the ID Signpost section of the TomBio website, because we supply aids to Water Flea identification. This blog will explain more about identification aids available from the CIG website and a little bit about how the group started. But it's probably best to explain why Water Fleas are unfortunately one of the 'Cinderella taxa' of biological recording, and why they deserve more attention...

Photo Keys and a life spent paddling! Guest blog by Adrian Chalkley

A few of my most useful keys If you can't identify and therefore record what lives in an place then understanding and protecting its biodiversity is impossible.  But ID is much easier for some groups of creatures than others.  High street bookshops stock a plethora of books on birds or wild flowers, but usually only the most general of invertebrate guides. Thus people are often unaware of the number of species in an invert taxa and make mistakes, leading to frustration and giving up...

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