Thanks to the internet, the public can easily contribute to research about UK wildlife – in a multitude of areas. A large number of charities, conservation groups and research organisations offer ‘citizen science’ projects. Citizen science is volunteering centred around information-gathering. Some projects involve measuring data, some involve tagging images, and identifying species.
Many projects take the form of simple surveys you can do from home, or from your local area. Some surveys focus on whole ecosystems, like woodlands or rivers, while others concentrate on a single species. And there are a vast range of animals to survey too, no matter whether you’re interested in hedgehogs, seabirds, garden birds, moths or bats. There are so many different surveys to choose from, I’ve rounded up a selection below.
The roads and skies of the UK have been quieter than ever during the lockdown. The peace and stillness has been remarkable – and many of us hadn’t experienced anything like it before. That we felt this way reveals just how used we’ve become to incessant background noise. Even while walking in the deep countryside, you can hear the faint thundering of motorways and the rasping of jet engines.
There is emerging evidence that noise pollution is bad for our health. But what about how noise pollution might be affecting the natural world? Well, luckily, academic interest is growing in this topic, with many scientists and researchers now investigating how noise might be impacting various species. So what sort of noise is involved, which animals are affected, and how?
This article is designed to help you to take the first steps towards designing your environmental education programme. This is a huge area, but don’t forget, Wild Ideas can help without cost to your organisation.
The health and the breadth of our ecosystems is in steep decline. Species are becoming endangered and extinct at an alarming rate. And at the forefront of our battle with the degradation of nature is the environmental educator.
Slow worms (Anguis fragilis) are living evidence that names and appearances can be deceptive. The first thing anyone will tell you about a slow worm is that it is a lizard, not a snake. They look similar to snakes, because these lizards have evolved in such a way that they no longer need legs – a similar evolutionary process that gave rise to the snakes.
There are some tell-tale signs that these little creatures are lizards. They have eyelids, and blink; snakes, on the other hand, don’t. Slow worms’ tongues are rounded – in contrast to snakes, who have unmistakable forked tongues. Like many other lizards, the slow worm can detach its tail when trying to escape from a predator. And a slow worm’s head is usually the same width as its body – that is, there’s no narrowing behind their heads – whereas snakes have an obvious ‘neck’.
Common toads (Bufo bufo) are noticeably larger than our native frogs. Toads have drier-looking skin than frogs, and their skin is characterised by a rough covering of warts, ridges and bumps. Toads are usually brown or olive-coloured, and their eyes are often golden or copper in colour. Toads’ eggs are usually laid as a string of single eggs, in contrast to frogspawn, which is found in clusters. Frogs have much longer legs than toads. Look at the animal’s movement – if it hops, it’s probably a frog, whereas toads usually ‘walk’!
The country’s most recognisable yellow compound flower, great for pollinators and a fantastic splash of colour in our gardens, on verges and fields, everywhere… but what else can we do with it? Our Wild at Home Officer, Martin, explores this fantastic plant in more detail…