Sunday, 27 November 2016

A marginally better view

Whilst I haven't posted much of late I have still been undertaking my usual round of birdwatching and camera trapping. Nothing terribly exciting has occurred lately although I have got a little footage of a pair of Grey Squirrels tussling and some of a badger foraging.

I have set my newer camera up on the same tree as the main camera and have it pointing down at right angles to the view of the other, this is to look at how many move away from the path and to catch and behaviour.

Obviously, at this time of the year, the entirety of the clips are of Grey Squirrels, although this week I did get a Badgers rear end and a Muntjac. More excitingly is the grainy few of the behind of a bird species I have only ever seen very briefly as I flush it from the undergrowth, a Woodcock. The footage isn't great, it's short and it never turns enough to show its longer beak, there is also over exposure from the IR bulbs, but you can see diagnostic black patches on the rear of the head and neck as well as patternation on the wings.

To end with we have the squabbling squirrels

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Why Ecology?

It’s been awhile since I have posted and that is due to how incredibly busy I have become over the last few weeks. I decided last year to top up my skills and take a second Masters course. After some searching, I found an interesting course run by Ulster University in Environmental Management with GIS. This course started in September and coincided with two other short courses I was taking via Coursera – Capstone projects in GIS and Biodiversity (Theories, Measures and Data Sampling measures).

I find all this studying, which some might find laborious endlessly fascinating. In fact, I would say that studying is my second favourite thing after being outside in nature. It got me thinking about why I love the subject of ecology so much.

I have always been interested in natural history from a very early age. My parents would take me and my sister for walks in the country and my Aunt got me into birdwatching. The more I saw the more I wanted to see and the more I wanted to know. The amazing thing about ecology is its complexity. Every piece of behaviour and distribution of a species is a result of hundreds of variables, climate, altitude, shelter, food, and predation and so on.
Last week Attenborough’s sequel to Planet Earth started. I have seen thousands of hours of wildlife footage and read reams on animal behaviour and yet every time the BBC finds something new to enthral me. In particular, I became transfixed by the baby Marine Iguanas and the Racing Snakes of the Galapagos. The footage was incredible and the story riveting but as I watched I could feel the ecologist stirring in me, questions began to form. The snakes seemed to by laying traps, was this collaborative behaviour with reasoned thoughts or was their positioning purely luck as a result of failed chases.

Like all of science, ecology offers more questions to every solution and that is perhaps this depth that attracts me.