Welcome to my blog

This is where I post various musings about wildlife and ecology, observations of interesting species (often invertebrates)
and bits of research that grab my attention. As well as blogging, I undertake professional ecological & wildlife surveys
covering invertebrates, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some mammals, plus habitat assessment and management
. I don't work on planning applications/for developers. The pages on the right will tell you more about my work,
main interests and key projects, and you can follow my academic work here.

Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 on the Spot

It's that time of year - the dribbly brained devotees of Mayan stonework-paranoia were wrong and we're still here on New Year's Eve, which means it's time for a run-down of some of my favourite Ecology Spot posts of the last twelve months.

January included a series of four posts about my pet Macleays's Spectre stick insects - I'm not sure I have a favourite as such, though part 2 (the males) does include a shot of one of the boys taking off which was seriously tricky to capture, plus one of my wife's head while she was being used as a launchpad for their aeronautical adventures.

February shifted from tropical-terrestrial to polar-marine with a look at gigantism in Antarctic sea-spiders, inspired by a visit to the Oxford Uni Museum of Natural History.

March was unusually warm and this got me out in the field (well, a churchyard) looking at the bees of a grassy bank, and very pleasant it was too.

In April, more fieldwork led to an unusual aphid/gall find and needed consultation with an aphid specialist to work out - quality collaboration!

May included a variety of invertebrates, including more collaboration, this time in order to identify a tricky pseudoscorpion specimen - a group I've never looked at before.

June saw a rare example of my use of video, looking at the leaf-mining fly larvae in Solomon's-seal.

Into July, and despite the horribly wet summer, I continued to record bee species in our garden (despite the weather, a range of bee-friendly features still attracted them), and reached the grand total of twenty species and counting.

As the summer finally dried out a bit in August, I shifted briefly away from British invertebrates and looked at a poison-arrow frog - you'll see why when you get to the end...

September saw me get a bit speculative (or odd, depending on your point of view) as I looked at why Smurfs are like slipper limpets. Yes, really...

In October, normal service was resumed and I wrote a series of three posts about tarantula anatomy, the third of which looked at their various appendanges (e.g. feet and fangs) - not one for arachnophobes!

November was a busy month - not only did I go on holiday and come back full of ideas realting to things I'd seen during an unseasonally warm week in Devon, but my key to leaf beetles of the British Isles was also published, oh yes :)

And finally onto December where a rather unusual Christmas-party gift led to some unexpected microscope work and a specimen from an unexpected kingdom...

That's all from me for 2012 - back after the New Year celebrations which should involve a ridiculous hat of some sort...

Yup, that's me in a splendid hat with a gun of rum...

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