National Citizens Service

Sorry I haven't written for a while, I've been really busy with events over the past week or so.  Coming up we have filming for the National Lottery Awards - that's taking place in Birmingham tomorrow.  OPAL is through to the finals for Best Environment Project, so make sure you vote for us when the competition opens in September!  The film shot tomorrow will be played on the National Lottery draws in September and at the awards ceremony.

Also this weekend, it's Seashore Day at the Natural History Museum.  On Sunday (7th August), museum visitors will be able to meet the OPAL team and other museum scientists to discover more about the seashore and see some of the museum's collections that aren't normally on dispay.  They'll have the chance to make their own seaweed herbarium specimen, and take home their own copy of the Big Seaweed Search ID Guide.  Come along if you're free this Sunday!

Looking back at events that have already happened, yesterday John and I did a Nature Live talk at the Museum, which had John in the studio doing a live link up to me in the Wildliffe Garden!  It was really good fun and the audience were very keen, all taking Bugs Count survey packs away with them.  It was swelteringly hot in the Wildlife Garden, but the live link up was really good fun and worked well so we'll try that one again some time.  You can see a programme of up-coming Nature Live talks here.

And the activities don't stop...last week I was running Bugs Count with a group of teenagers who were taking part in the pilot of the new National Citizens Service.  It's a government initiative to give teenagers the chance to find out more about volunteering and the different voluntary activities they can get involved with. They then take these ideas away and run a 'social action' project in their local community.  I was there with the OPAL Air Centre team to promote wildlife recording. Here are a few photos of the day.

Doing the Bugs Count - Challenge 1 - looking on soft ground surfaces

Then Challenge 2, looking on human-made hard surfaces

The building was absolutely covered in harvestmen, which are close relatives of spiders.  The difference is that harvestmen have only one, quite rounded body part, whilst spiders have two.

We also got hands on with our 'pet' Leopard Slug which we've been showing people at events so they know what to look out for.  The Leopard Slug is one of the Bugs Count Species Quests.

Excellent news too - some of the lads found a Devil's Coach Horse (another of our Species Quests!).  In fact there were loads of ground beetles - you can see a couple in the pot with the 'Devil'.

And the Devil's Coach Horse is now on the results map - I've zoomed in to the Tonbridge area so you can see the exact spot we found it!


Keep those sightings coming in, especially with photos.  We're also working on a new mobile phone app for Bugs Count which should be ready later this month, so keep an eye out for that too!