Charlie Bell's blog

Three days of eight legs

Nuctenea umbratica.  C Bell Last week was a week of spiders. Spiders in the classroom, spiders in the field, spiders in the lab! It was all part of our spider training programme, which Tom.bio is running in conjunction with the Shropshire Spider Group.

Guest blog for Friends of the Earth

Four spot orb weaver Araneus quadratusTom.bio were recently asked to do a guest blog on spiders for Friends of the Earth. This is now live on their 'Green Blog' and will hopefully help convince more people that spiders should be admired, not feared! Many thanks to FoE for this opportunity.

NBN Youth Awards 2015

Children sampling freshwater invertebratesNominations needed for under 18s in the inaugural 2015 UK Awards for Biological Recording. Do you know a keen and committed young biological recorder who is under the age of 18? If so, why not nominate them for a UK Award? The awards recognise outstanding contributions to UK biological recording and being nominated could be a fantastic boost for a young naturalist.

Shropshire Earthworm Blitz 2015

Earthworms in hand.  Photo: M Noble Last weekend Tom.bio held the inaugural Shropshire Earthworm Blitz. This was designed as a follow-up to March’s Earthworm Society of Britain’s (ESB) field meeting, which we hosted here at Preston Montford. Read more...

With a little help from my friends

Attendees on the 2015 Soil Mesofauna course.One of the things which Tom.bio is interested in is how people can be supported in the weeks, months and even years after they attend a training course. Attendees on biological identification courses typically spend a few very intensive days learning about a new species group, building new skills and making new contacts. But all too often once the course ends, that initial enthusiasm is lost because there’s no follow up mechanism or on-going support to encourage people to build on their new knowledge.

Uncertain, or just Confused? The joy of moth trapping

Elephant hawk mothI started moth trapping for the first time this spring, and consequently am writing this with all the fervour of a new convert. For anyone unfamiliar with moth trapping, it involves simultaneously annoying your neighbours, your partner and your friends! Let me explain…

Learning to love spiders

How would you describe spiders? Of all the adjectives these fascinating creatures might inspire, ‘lovable’ is probably not up there in the top ten. Ask someone to describe a spider and you will more likely hear people say ‘scary’, ‘horrible’, ‘disgusting’ or ‘terrifying’. How wrong they are!

National Plant Monitoring Scheme course

Monitoring a linear plot along a stream. Photo: C Bell Last week I had the very great pleasure of visiting FSC Nettlecombe to sit in on a National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) training course. Firstly, Nettlecombe – what a place! The FSC centre at Nettlecombe is a beautiful Grade 1 listed 16th century manor house, nestled in a pretty Somerset valley, and it truly feels miles from anywhere. A brilliant place to forget about the rest of the world and concentrate on...a new, exciting, national citizen science plant monitoring scheme!

Soil mesofauna - scratching the surface

'Flying saucer' mite with smaller phoresic mite.  Photo C.BellAnother weekend, another invertebrate training course! Last weekend I attended the four day Soil Mesofauna course, a Tom.bio-supported training course delivered by the country’s top experts in soil science, springtails and mites.

‘…Through the Action of Worms’

Last weekend Tom.bio welcomed the Earthworm Society of Britain to Preston Montford for their latest Field Meeting. A young and dynamic group, the ESB have done sterling work over the past few years to increase participation in the Earthworm Recording Scheme.

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