Last week I made my fourth appearance at the British Ecological Society Undergraduate Summer School with a welcome return to the Field Studies Council Centre at Malham Tarn. As a Yorkshireman I appreciate any excuse to get back to my roots, so I was very pleased indeed 🙂 I drove up from Harper Adams University in Shropshire with my car loaded to the gunnels with microscopes, sweep nets, plastic tubes, pitfall traps and covers, beating trays, a Malaise trap, a yellow pan trap, lots of insect keys and of course hand lenses and Pooters. I arrived late afternoon to find that my trusty co-tutor, Fran Sconce had arrived a few minutes earlier. Once settled in we set up the pitfall traps, the Malaise trap and a solitary pan trap, unfortunately missing what we learnt later was an excellent plenary by eminent ecologist Richard Bardgett of Manchester University and current President of the British Ecological Society. We finished just in time to sit down for dinner, which as it was meat-free Monday was great for Fran but less so for me 🙂
Fran digging in the very hard ground, a solitary yellow pan trap, the Malaise trap ready for action and Richard Bardgett in full flow.
It then rained solidly for four hours. Luckily, some of the pitfall traps had been set with covers so it wasn’t a total disaster. Our first entomology session wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon, which gave the grass a chance to dry and made sweep netting and suction sampling possible. I started the afternoon with a general lecture about the importance of insects and entomology and a brief introduction
The importance of entomology.
to some basic taxonomy, before we headed out to do some sampling and collecting.
How many different techniques can you spot?
Keen beans – the students enjoying collecting and identifying insects.
Back in the lab and the now obligatory late night “chase the fluorescent beetles” extravaganza 🙂
Two Outreach and Communication Officers busy Tweeting; both former students of mine, Fran Sconce of the Royal Entomological Society and Chris Jeffs from the British Ecological Society. Great to have had them there and many, many thanks to them both.
Monday through to Wednesday – the sun did shine in the end. Monday evening inspired a haiku.
Rising from the rain
Summer mist, slowly rolling,
Hides Malham Tarn
Entomology, although important, is of course only a part of the Summer School. The students get a chance to learn about other things too, including vertebrates and plants. I was very impressed with all the students and how much interest they showed in entomology. I look forward to seeing some of them on our MSc Entomology course at Harper Adams University in two or three years time.
The British Ecological Society Summer Schools are a fantastic idea and they are much appreciated by the students past and present, as the following Tweet from one of the students from the first ever Summer School shows.
Andrew Barrett extolling the virtues of Twitter and the BES Summer Schools. Incidentally, Andrew was one of the graduate mentors on the BES ‘A’ Level Summer School this year.
Next year the Summer School will be in Scotland at FSC Millport, Scotland, which is a bit of trek for me, but never fear, I will be there!