2011 OPAL Grants Scheme – apply now!

Applications are now being accepted for the 2011 OPAL Grants Scheme. We are offering grants of up to £5,000 to help natural history societies and recording schemes across the country.

To date, OPAL has distributed a total of £112,000 in grants to more than 50 different natural history groups.

Societies have used the money in a variety of ways, from purchasing new equipment to running public events.

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.


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.


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:



Help shape the environment for future generations

What matters most to you about our natural environment? Is it the plants in your town centre, the fish in our rivers, or the air we breathe? What would you do to improve our environment? Perhaps you'd like to see more green spaces in towns, or is pollution a bigger concern for you?

Tell us your thoughts on the natural environment and you’ll help Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) shape environmental policy for future generations.

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.