Soil sample month

by Ed Tripp, University of Nottingham

Two hundred and fifty-seven samples collected!

It took four weeks, and a good few thousand miles, but finally all the soil samples have been collected. These have now been placed in pots, and two heather seedlings are growing in each sample.

Currently the seedlings are less than 3mm high, but within the next six months they will grow slowly, to around 5cm!


Not such a mini-beast...

During a mini-beast hunt with primary schools at Countryside Live near Leeds last week, one of the children found this not-so-mini beast.

This is an adult cockchafer (Melolontha melolonthia for those of you who like Latin!), or May bug, so-called because they are often seen crawling or flying clumsily about during this month. They commonly fly into houses at night, disorientated by the lights.


Funding for your nature or wildlife group

OPAL has just launched a brand new small grants scheme for natural history societies and recording schemes in England.

The Natural History Museum will be distributing grants of between £500 and £2,000 to both local and national groups to help pay for equipment, events or promotion.


Join the bubble chase and help study urban climate

People in Manchester will be joining in two unique science experiments to explore the urban heat island micro-climate.

Developed by the Met Office and supported by OPAL, these experiments involve blowing bubbles, seeing where they land, and recording the findings online. The results will tell us a great deal about air flows throughout the city.


Soil Collection Begins

 by Ed Tripp, University of Nottingham

To start my nitrogen pollution experiments, I have to collect soil samples from every site.

I only need a small amount, so it won’t be damaging to the habitats. Each site has different levels of nitrogen pollution, so I am hoping that each soil sample with be different. Once I have collected the soil I will bring it back to my laboratory and grow heather in it for a number of months.


Is it a bee? Is it a fly? Actually it's a bee fly

I visited Chapman's Pond, Dringhouses (York) this morning, as the OPAL Water Centre guys were up doing some more water sampling. They visit the site every three months and do chemical, biological and physical analyses (See their pages on Aquatic Biomonitoring for more info).


Take a closer look at OPAL with our regional blogs

Learn more about the exciting things we’re up to and how you can get involved by following our blogs from the OPAL regions.

OPAL scientists in Yorkshire and Humber and East Midlands have now started blogs to tell you all about their work, events, research and what's on their minds.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts with the community by leaving comments on the posts. Keep an eye out for more blogs which will be coming soon.


Nature Live event - Discover earthworms with the experts

This Sunday you can join experts at the Natural History Museum and learn all about earthworms and why they are so important.

As part of the Museum's Nature Live series, two OPAL themed events have been organised that give you the opportunity to join in, ask questions, and learn more about the soil and earthworm survey.


Wonderful world of worms

A few months ago I knew next to nothing about earthworms - not a great situation to be in considering part of my job is to help groups do the OPAL Soil and Earthworm survey!

So I decided I'd better swat up. Lucy, who works for OPAL at the NHM , kindly pointed me in the direction of UCLAN Earthworm Research Group - this website has some great photographs of earthworms and some fascinating wormy facts.