UN Climate Change Conference - Paris 2015

Today I have kept an eye on the live feed from the Paris Climate Change Conference in which, over the next fortnight, the leaders of the world will come together and decide whether to set limits and make pledges to save this world of ours, or not.

I have to say that in general, from the leaders' introductions that I have managed to listen to, I have been rather impressed by the optimism, passion and urgency that has been communicated.

In my opinion, and bearing in mind that the introductions haven't finished yet (http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop21/channels/plenary-1), I thought that Barack Obama's speech was the most inspiring and hopeful speech I have heard so far. With emphasis on the fact that this conference is our last chance to unite together to act with a common purpose “We are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change, and the last generation that can do anything about it” as well as the fact that my peers and I, the future world leaders and stewards of the Earth, are watching “The next generation is watching what we do.”

On the other side of the coin and I guess I must be a tad biased in my opinion, but I found David Cameron's ~3 minute drone quite simply, embarrassing.

This is the leader of our country, he who probably flew to Paris in his taxpayer-funded private jet, who has in recent times cut funding for green technologies, scrapped green bursaries/funding/grants and then spoke mainly about passing technology from 'developed' to 'developing' countries (rather avoiding the direct subject or curbing emissions within the UK don't you think).

He then came out with this laughable sentence “Instead of making excuses to our grandchildren tomorrow, we must take action on climate change today”. I thought that was one of the few things Cameron was good at - making excuses for his actions?

But anyway, much as I would love to believe that David Cameron will make firm pledges for the future of the planet and the continuation of the human race, the cynic in me thinks it is all a farce with the current low tax, low spend government.

In more positive news regarding #COP21, it is simply amazing that more than 570,000 across the world took part in the Global Climate Marches yesterday (29th November) and goes to show how important the subject is to communities across the globe.

Let's face it, it's not looking good for the future, but it isn't too late to change things for the better. We just need the world leaders to make tough decisions and make firm pledges to strive towards a better future for all of us, not just the wealthy or the poor, developed nations or least developed. We will all be affected by climate change so each & every country needs to take a responsibility in reducing their greenhouse emissions and protecting the planet for future generations.

I just hope they have the courage of their convictions to take the actions necessary to protect the environment for future generations. After all "We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children" (Native American proverb).

Nature apps for IOS

Nature apps for IOS ~ 24th November 2015 ~ 

So this post is all to do with citizen science and easy peasy ways you can contribute to it, simply by downloading and using apps on your smartphone!

Now, I am a little bias since I have an iPhone, so all the apps mentioned are definitely available through the App store, but I'm not sure whether they're available for android or other operating systems, so if anyone knows, please let me know in the comments at the bottom!

Also, if you know of any other nature apps that you'd recommend, do leave a comment with the name and price in the comments below!!

So, first up is Birdtrack. Birdtrack, as its name suggests, is an app where you can record your bird sightings. You do need an account to be able to submit your records but this is easy enough to set up. There are two types of records you can submit, casuals or lists. Casual records are used for the odd species you see, such as a Kestrel hovering above a motorway. In the app you simply fill in the fields in the screenshot below, click 'done' and that's it!

Lists can be complete or incomplete. Complete lists are used to submit all the species you record (hear/see) at certain place and incomplete lists are, as you might have guessed, an incomplete record of what you saw/heard at that location on that occasion. All you do is fill in the fields in the first screenshot and then click 'done'. This sets up your list so to add species to the list you simply click on the arrow on the right which brings up the list and then you click the '+' in the top right corner to add a species. You can then add a count and further details about the sighting. You simply add all the species you see/hear at that place and then you're done!

Next up is an app that I have particularly enjoyed using this summer as it is so easy to use and is also a great id guide to a group of insects that I don't yet have a 'proper' field guide to.

It is the FSC Shieldbugs app. It's really simple to use and within a few minutes you could id and have recorded the Shield bug you've spotted - excellent and free as well!!

You simply choose the main colour of the shield bug then scroll through the different species to match it up with what you've spotted and once you've done this and are confident it is what you think it is, you can enter a record of it by clicking on the species and then 'enter record'. You then take a picture of the shield bug using the camera on your phone and once you're happy with the picture click 'use photo'. It will then determine your location using the GPS on your phone and all you do then is click 'submit record'...all very straightforward! I think you have to enter your email address after you click submit record so that the app can email your record direct to iRecord at the UK Biological Records Centre. Once your record is submitted, records go to iRecord for experts to verify, and, if accepted, will go on to NBN Gateway.


The last couple of apps I want to mention I will only do so briefly as I haven't had much chance to use them, mainly because I forgot I'd downloaded them this summer which is annoying but oh well...I'll just have to remember for next year!

They are:

- iRecord Grasshoppers (this was recommended to me by another naturalist I know and from the quick whizz through the app I've just had, it looks superb - great illustrations and lots of info about the different species of Grasshoppers and related insects! Oh, and it also has recordings of each species which is awesome!!)

- FSC Trees Guide (this is the free version but there is another app called FSC Trees that is £1.49 but I haven't bought that as the free one looks pretty good from what I've seen!)

NOTE: Not all of the apps have the ability to submit records directly, some are just a useful identification tool for when you're out and about.

Anyhow, I hope you've found this post of some interest and as I said at the beginning, if you have any other suggestions of nature-related citizen science apps then let us know in the comments section below!

Autumnwatch Extra

Autumnwatch Extra ~ 4th November 2015 ~ 

Having appeared on Springwatch Extra back in June this year, I was delighted to receive an email a few weeks ago asking if I would like to be on Extra agin but this time via Skype to the Autumnwatch headquarters of WWT Caerlaverock.

Of course I said yes and thankfully technology did not fail me yesterday so you can find my appearance on iPlayer here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06p5b73/autumnwatch-extra-2015-9-afternoon-04112015 (I'm on from about 41:30).

Guest Post

Guest blog post ~ 4th November 2015 ~ 

A few weeks ago I was very kindly asked if I would write a blog post about my ringing by young wildlife photographer, birder & ringer, Mya Bambrick. Well I finally got my act together and wrote something which you can find on Mya's blog here: http://myathebirder.blogspot.co.uk/

Mya is a 13 year old wildlife photographer and birder as well as being a trainee bird ringer who also featured in my "22 Young Conservationists to Follow" blog post.

She is a great young photographer and you can find some of her photos on her Flickr here and hopefully below as well:

Little Egret