Category Archives: Science & Environment

Rare bee in Norfolk

Great bee news at Sheringham Park!

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Springwatch

I am LOVING BBC’s Springwatch this year, absolutely thrilling viewing! It makes you realise just how amazing Britain’s wildlife is.

Spotted whilst running this evening: fox and fox cub (separate sightings), beautiful!

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Filed under Life Goes On, Science & Environment

The one, the only…

Sir David Attenborough!

I had the honour and privilege to meet Sir David this weekend as he came to Norwich as part of his book signing tour.

Ok so I wasn’t the only person to meet him, a good two hundred others queued (even one lady who had brought her knitting with her to keep busy through the wait-genius) but he signed my copy of New Life Stories and had an ACTUAL conversation with me! Not about anything life-changing but for someone who was expecting just ‘hello’ and/or ‘thank you’, the enquiry into how I was and how long I’d been waiting basically sent me over the edge.

Sir David has to be the most famous person I’ve ever met and he was a true gentleman.

…. Oh and the books pretty good too! 🙂

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Popular Science? June Update

So….. Um….. FAIL so far!

Not that I haven’t been reading you understand, I just haven’t been reading what I set out to read… Other books seemed to jump off the bookcase into my arms, demanding to be read! So, in an effort to convince myself that it’s okay that I read these alternative books I shall justify my time by giving you a short review of each of those I read last month.

Our Tragic Universe – Scarlett Thomas, Canongate, pp425.

Our Tragic Universe

This story revolves around Meg, a writer stuck in an unhappy and disfunctional relationship who sets out to change the path her life is going down.

This book was brilliant. An unimaginative start to the review I realise, but true nevertheless.  How could it not be brilliant? It combines science, knitting and writing – surely a perfect combination for someone like me! That aside, the book is well-written in that once you start reading, you are drawn into the lives of the characters and you don’t want to put the book down. How will Meg deal with her relationship? Will she become the novelist she longs to be? Will she manage to put her problems before her friends for a change?

I loved this book and although the scientific content was slightly overwhelming at times, it is going to be my choice of read when it’s my turn to pick at Book Club! I definitely need to read it again to fully appreciate everything written in this novel. I have previously tried to read another of Thomas’ novels, PopCo, but found it much more difficult to get into than this.

8/10 – a great read that I would recommend to friends, but something that needs to be re-read to fully appreciate the detail.

I Am Legend – Richard Matheson, Gollancz, pp160.

I am Legend - S.F. Masterworks

Written in 1954, I Am Legend has been translated to film three times. The story revolves around Robert Neville, the only human left on Earth as he battles daily with vampires. Every other person on the planet has become a vampire and the book is spread across three years of Neville’s life as he struggles to come to terms with what has happened and research a possible cure.

Wow. This book was dark… Despite being written in 1954 and being set over twenty years later you felt as though it was very relevant to the present. It has been written in a timeless manner, with a subject that although is clearly Science-Fiction, really strikes a chord. The development of both his relationship with the vampires, the vampires relationship with him and the development of the vampiric society is extraordinary yet so close to the real-life relationships humans face today.

9/10 – A very clever book that should be on Book Club lists everywhere. Loses a point only because it made me feel a bit too scared to read it too often!

So there you go, two of the books I read instead of the books I should have read!

I also read this:                                          and I should have read this:

 The Book of Lost Things  The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

But hey, you can’t have everything I guess! Note to self: Must. Try. Harder!

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Norwich’s Peregrines

Back in March it was reported that a pair of peregrine falcons were using the dizzying heights of Norwich Cathedral as a potential nesting site on a specially built platform by the Hawk and Owl Trust. This was the second attempt at producing an area suitable for the pair and was built with consideration to the fabric of the historic building.

On Easter Sunday, a female falcon laid her first egg, making them the second pair to breed in Norfolk in 200 years. But in a twist to the story, this is not the original female, this is a younger female, who arrived a few weeks previously and ousted the first!

The Hawk and Owl Trust was founded in 1969 in response to the declining number of peregrines due to illegal shooting and use of specific pesticides.

Webcams have been set up on the Cathedral in order to monitor the falcons and can be seen here.

Chicks are expected to hatch in early June!

On a similar note, the Hawk and Owl Trust are also running a live webcam of a Marsh Harrier and her six chicks at Sculthorpe Moor.

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Save The Vulture!

Boyfriend & I took a trip to Banham Zoo this week, and it was BRILLIANT! We saw giraffes, cheetahs and tigers being fed and just had a fantastic time wandering around seeing all the animals.

But probably the highlight of the day (at least for me) was the free-flying birds of prey display. They really are magnificent creatures. It really brought home to me how they can be so mis-understood – so many people are frightened of birds and think that birds of prey are fierce predators to be scared of. Don’t get me wrong, they are fierce but mostly only if you are a small bird or mouse! Even the bigger eagles and owls are so much smaller than humans, and are guaranteed to be more frightened of us than we are of them. They will fly away rather than confront. Birds raised in captivity still shelter their food with their wings while they eat to prevent thieves.

My favourite bird had to be Boo the barn owl. A beautiful, friendly owl that likes showing off! Owls can’t see up close very well due to their eyes being fixed in position so they use their beaks to ‘feel’ around for food.

The surprise of the day came from the vultures. Well known for their part in the Disney classic, The Jungle Book, they are not attractive creatures at first sight, man of us will admit.

They have an incredible wingspan that caused huge gusts of wind as they flew in over our heads. Vultures feed on animal carcasses and are under threat of extinction, particularly those endemic to South Asia. Livestock are treated with a particular painkiller which even in small doses is fatal to these birds. Unfortunately the drug was in use for a long time before it was realised that it was the cause of the declining vulture numbers. Happily, the drug has been banned for veterinary use in South Asia and numbers of vultures are on the increase. There is still a problem however as a version of the drug designed for human use is still being used in cattle. Further work needs to be done and you can help by supporting the Hawk Conservancy Trust.

There is still a stigma attached to zoos about animals being held captive in small enclosures. I understand this feeling but zoos today are so much bigger and brighter than they used to be. So many are now involved in education, conservation, breeding programmes and rehabilitation that its worth a second thought before you dismiss them as wrong.

Just to finish, a few more of the pictures I took while we were at the zoo. It was a great day out and I thoroughly recommend a visit. We’ll definitely be going back again!

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My Norfolk Broads

As a resident of East Anglia I know that along with many other people I often take this amazing National Park right here on my doorstep, for granted. Other times however, I realise just how lucky I am to live slap bang in the middle of it! As an area it holds inspiration for many, including Arthur Ransome (best known as the author of Swallows and Amazons) who set his novel Coot Club here.

The Broads were formed through the extraction of peat and subsequent flooding, and are now the largest nationally protected wetlands in the United Kingdom. They are also a huge tourist attraction with over 100 miles of navigable waterways, several nature reserves and countless paths suitable for walking and cycling. No doubt wherever you turn you’ll spot several ‘twitchers’ excitedly watching the diverse array of birds to be found here. Can you spot the elusive Bittern or hear it’s booming cry that resembles the sound made when you blow across the top of a milk bottle?

This collection of channels, rivers and lakes sits mainly in Norfolk but spreads into parts of Suffolk. It is an area of great scientific interest managed by The Broads Authority, who regularly update their webpage with any urgent environmental news for the general public to be aware of. Of particular concern at the moment is the discovery of a non-native vicious shrimp in Cambridgeshire, Dikerogammarus villosus, that is feared may be transferred into the Norfolk Broads, and the spread of pennywort. Please do get in touch with the Broads Authority immediately if you spot either of these!

Check out the Broads Outdoor Festival running until the 15th May! As a National Park the Broads rely on visitors and tourists to help maintain it and the surrounding villages and businesses. It is a prime location for families on holiday and conservation volunteers alike.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures I’ve taken on recent visits. Enjoy!

References and Further Information:

The Broads Authority

NorfolkBroads.com

VisitNorfolk.co.uk

ArthurRansome.org

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