OPAL scientist's blog

The big freeze!

Brrrrr it's cold here in York! I battled through 5 inches of snow into work this morning and have been welcomed by a very beautiful sight:

Snow

Bit of a contrast to last month's post of the same view!

If you live in a part of the country which hasn't yet had snow and are feeling a bit left out, there are lots of snowy photos on iSpot at the moment - I particularly liked this Christmas card robin.

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Horse chestnut leaf miner

Last weekend I visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which is an odd mixture of sculpture and rather "human-made" nature, with lots of big trees in a parkland setting. There were a few horse chestnuts there, whose leaves seemed to be turning brown more quickly than some of the other species. I had a closer look and noticed that the leaves were covered in little yellow/brown blotches. This was evidence of the horse chestnut leaf miner, Cameraria ohridella, a moth whose caterpillar lives between the surfaces of the leaf.

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Lab-Field-Office Part 2

by Ed Tripp, University of Nottingham

The Thesis Begins

By May I was well into the second year of my project. The ultimate aims of a PhD are to produce new science, perhaps publish the data, and to produce a thesis for me to defend in a room full of experts at the end of the three years. The thesis will be a huge body of work, so it's best to start it earlier rather than later.

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One of the world's longest noses? Nope, not an elephant.....

Last month we went to the fabulous Wild About Wood Festival at Castle Howard, North Yorkshire, and ran "minibeast hunting" sessions. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and we found all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures. We lent nets for sweeping through grassland to a couple of lads, who came back with one of these:

Weevil

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Lab-Field-Office Part 1

by Ed Tripp, University of Nottingham

The varied life of a scientist

The end of my second year has passed, the third and final year of my PhD has begun. Time has flown by for two reasons: it's been extremely fun and rewarding, but also extremely busy. There is little time to take stock. My next few blog posts will summarise my experience as a scientist over the past six months.

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Fungi jargon busting

As the weather turns distinctly autumnal and I start to mourn the passing of the summer, the sight of fungi reminds me that the colder months can be great for enjoying nature too. For example, here are some beautiful Laccaria laccata, a toadstool also known as The Deceiver, apparently because they are so variable in appearance.

Laccaria laccata

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Kev's blog: 3 of a kind

 Today these 3 wise old birds were flying together from roof ridge to ridge enjoying the fabulous summer sunshine. Pigeons are really interesting birds to watch, and are actually the same family as the loveable Dove.  We have 5 different species of Pigeon/Dove living in the UK! Have you any ideas on which species these comical characters are?

Pigeons on roof

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Is that a fly on that flower? Nope it's a fly orchid

I went on a field meeting with the Yorkshire Naturalists Union on Saturday to Dalby Forest, a site owned by the Forestry Commission. Along with the usual mountain bike trails and lovely visitor centre, Dalby has some fantastic species on show, my favourite was a fly orchird (photo from Encyclopaedia of Life as I stupidly forgot to take my camera!)

Fly orchid

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