Estuary Edges Boat Trip

Over the past few weeks I have been busy organising a boat trip down the Tidal Thames to showcase Estuary Edges sites to waterside developers. We boarded the boat at Westminster and disembarked at Greenwich.

“What are the Estuary Edges sites?” I hear you cry.. Well strap in. You’re about to find out.

Replacing the harsh concrete, brick and metal tidal walls with lush green reed beds and a variety of habitats is what the Estuary Edges project is all about. Estuary Edges is a ‘how to’ guide on ecological design for softening these ‘edges’ to encourage wildlife into urban estuaries (fish, plants, invertebrates, birds – the list goes on). Sadly, within the Thames, only around 2% of the edges are natural. Increasing the habitat along the edges will have a significant positive ecological impact on plants, invertebrates, fish and birds.

The boat trip, I’m happy to announce, was a complete success! We had 50 people attend and the boat itself was gurt lush. We were even lucky enough to see a Grey Seal! I have a few upcoming meetings with developers who now have an interest in implementing these awesome habitats – yaaaaay! Blimey I love my job…

 

 

 

The Perfect ‘Hyde’ Away…

#LondonWildlifeChallenge

Picture this; You’ve finished work at the office. You’re tired. You’re in London and you need fresh air and a jolly good ‘earthing’. By which I mean ground yourself back to nature…. Nothing cheeky…. Naughty.

Well I may have your solution here; Hyde Park I truly believe is not hyped about enough. This is an utterly gorgeous spot, splat bang in the centre of London and a space where wildlife flocks to!

Within half an hour I had spotted Canada geese, Shag (cheeky..), Moorhen and Coot in the bird department (otherwise known as the lake). But the real head turner for me was seeing hundreds (maybe thousands, but you know… Didn’t stop to count!) of honey bees (Apis) busy buzzing around the lambs ear plant (Stachys byzantina) IN CENTRAL LONDON! I was so excited I had to sit down with a cup of tea…

The Royal Parks certainly look after this space and the wildlife appears to be extremely well catered for – which I just love and is so important with a third of all species currently in critical decline.

The walled garden is particularly lovely too, if scented flowers float your boat.

So go and check it out for yourself, if you haven’t already. I’m now beginning to see why London is this month becoming the first ever National Park City.

There we go! A positive post. B.E.A.Utiful.

Oh Shucks Guyths….

Repost from: Explore Marine Life With The University of Plymouth

What do our undergraduates go on to do after they complete their degrees? Meet Eve Angelina Sanders who left the SW for the bright lights of London to work for the Thames Estuary Partnership earlier this year!

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From September 2015 to June 2018 I studied at University of Plymouth on the BSc Marine Biology and Oceanography degree course. Although I graduated just over five months ago, I am now employed as the ‘Thames Citizen Fish Officer’ working for the Thames Estuary Partnership based at the UCL in London. My job requires me to develop methods for citizen scientists, helping them with things like monitoring fish nursery grounds, safeguarding the natural habitat for plants and invertebrates at different sites around the Thames Estuary and raising awareness of the wildlife in general. I love it!

Studying at the University of Plymouth did so much more than just give me the invaluable skills that I need for my new job. Alongside the engaging lectures, the teaching staff across the whole of the University of Plymouth’s marine biology sector were incredibly supportive and always willing to help where they could. This meant any questions I had (regarding not only the course content but also academia in general) were quickly answered. The practical side of the degree (field trip to a Swedish fjord in Kristineberg and the numerous research vessel trips in Plymouth Sound to study the physical, chemical and ecological aspects of the water) were a lot of fun and gave me the hands-on experience that employers in this field are often eager to see on a CV. Together I feel both of these course aspects (practical experience and the lectures) gave me well-rounded skills and a knowledge base which were crucial to me getting the job I’m in today.

Aaaaaand Relax – Mindfulness in Nature

With the risk of sounding like a middle aged hippy (who has a penchant for making sock monkeys out of dog hair… and indeed wassailing…) I hands down believe that submerging ones self in nature, be it in a small garden, or on the wild moors, has bountiful benefits for our mental and physical welling. The incredible combination of touching tree bark whilst listening to the bird song, or laying in a field and touching the grass around you (calm down, John Keats…) has always been my anxiety cure of choice. Perhaps this is why I’ve found moving to London so challenging? Richmond Park, although stunning, has nothing on the richly biodiverse habitats of the South Coast.. BUT, this is what has got me thinking recently (steady…)

I am the project officer (woooo!) for ‘Citizen Fish’, a new project initiated by the Thames Estuary Partnership which is aiming to create a citizen science environmental monitoring programme for the Thames Estuary. Part of what I want to achieve with this (and what the whole of the Thames Estuary Partnership is doing an amazing job of achieving – hats off to my boss) is changing peoples perspectives of the Estuary. People assume that the Thames (and most rivers and estuaries) is dirty, mucky, polluted etc… But no more my friends, no more! Sixty years ago, the Thames was declared biologically dead. Correct. Now it is one of the most biodiverse habitats in Europe! With over 126 fish species choosing to reside there. Pretty incredible stuff, aye?

My point of the above paragraph is; If we can somehow get people (even city dwellers) to reconnect to our rivers and natural spaces on a personal level, people may start to VALUE natural spaces more, leading to a mutually beneficial relationship for humans and wildlife. Engaging with wild spaces has proven positive effects on human health and wellbeing. If people value their wild spaces e.g. the Thames, then they will be more inclined to CARE for them. Right?

So get out there, get paddling, get bug hunting and see if you give a hug to our endangered natural spaces. After all, it’s down to us to protect them!

 

Two Scientists Walk in Into a Museum…

I know it’s not exactly London wildlife…. but they’re still in London? Aye?…. AYE??

The London Natural History Museum is truly a wonder. The feeling I get when walking through the doors is the same feeling a five year old gets on Christmas morning.. Pure excitement. If you haven’t been – do pay a visit. I visited today with a good friend from university and we had a ball. The pickled specimen section is my favourite. Ew.

As a scientist, visiting the NHM just makes me ask so many questions about the natural world. Why did birds evolve feathers? Why are so many butterflies brightly coloured?… It goes on and on… I’ll stop now. You’re welcome.

I also learned that a blue whale weighs 2027 times my body weight! Because I needed to know that…

Here are some smartly dressed butterflies for you… Pleasure..