Addressing the generational skills gap

FSC BioLinks will deliver 60+ training courses per year over 5 years (c) Keiron Derek Brown In 2016 the Field Studies Council (FSC) was awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop a project to address the lack of people able to identify and record difficult species groups, with a focus on the West Midlands and South East regions of England. We spent nearly a year consulting with a wide range of professionals and volunteers involved in the natural history sector and something  become very clear: professionals and volunteers alike expressed their concerns that not enough young people were joining the ranks of biological recorders and it is widely recognised that a generational skills gap is developing in field and identification skills, largely due to changes in the way biology and ecology is taught at all levels of the education system.

Plugin the gap...reflections on teaching QGIS for the FSC. Guest blog by Matt Davies

Matt Davies, FSC Associate TutorI like maps. I always have. I can thank both my father, a town planner, and the Scouts for nurturing my interest. With such a background, it’s no surprise that that during my university degrees I developed an interest in GIS!

If you wish to live and thrive...

In 2017 Lesley Lancaster attended all three levels of spider ID courses: 'Learn to Love Spiders', 'Field ID of Spiders' and 'Spider ID With Microscopes'.  Read her account of her 'spider journey' here!

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 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.

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...


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