Of Moths and Men

31 05 2012

After a period of dormancy (is pupation a more appropriate term?) moth trapping has returned to Orielton!  Thanks to the construction skills of Rich ‘The Toolman’ Edwards we have our own fully functional and, it must be said, stylish Skinner light trap.


The Official FSC Orielton Moth Trap

As you all will know, many moths can be seen flying around lights at night, an aspect of their biology that the Skinner trap takes advantage of.  The bulb you can see in the middle is a mercury vapour bulb which emits an extremely bright light that can be seen from a fair distance – as anybody in and around the centre would be able to attest.  This attracts the moths who then circle the light and eventually land on the sloping perspex sheets before crawling down through a long opening and settling at the bottom of the trap.  Very kindly, we provide egg boxes for them under the perspex.  It’s not that they are fans of cardboard or anything (more fool them) but rather that the cartons give small, dark spaces for them to settle and hide underneath.

Enough of the mundane stuff, what did we find?  Here are some of my favourites.  Have a go at identifying them yourself and if you’re unsure, hover your mouse over the photos to discover the names.


Clue: Its larvae are known for being ‘crabby’.


Clue: One of the umbers.


Clue: Look at the position of the hindwings for identification.

All in all we recorded 14 species across 7 separate Lepidopteran families: Geometridae, Sphingidae, Notodontidae, Lymantriidae, Arctiidae, Nolidae and Noctuidae.  An alright haul for our first time.

Keep checking the blog to find out about any new species appearing here and, hopefully, see some cool photos illustrating the amazing diversity of the Lepidopteran order.


Snorkelling training de-brief

25 05 2012

Hello Martha here! One of the six newly designated snorkel instructors here at Orielton and Dale Fort. We’ve had two brilliant days at Dale Fort with Chris Cooke our trainer for the course. The weather was amazing for snorkeling: sunny and low winds for a calm sea. And of course Dale Fort is ideally situated for anyone wishing to access the shore or the sea – less than a minute and you’re actually on Jetty Beach.

I found the course informative and fun – we covered a lot of ground in two days. The first day we started off with some general introductions to the kit and theory, in the lesson format that BSAC use and recommend so that we could use it when we teach. We also did some practical sessions in the sea including practicing surface dives to get closer to the marine wildlife – plenty of sugar kelp! The water wasn’t as cold as I thought it might be… but it was still fairly chilly.

We covered the practicalities of teaching snorkeling and started preparing for teaching water-based sessions to one another. I found this the most useful section of the course to actually try and teach others how to snorkel whilst bobbing around yourself around and trying not to swallow too much sea water! The most fun part was practicing different water entry techniques, especially jumping in from a great height.

We also practiced teaching theory sessions indoors, covered safety considerations, took and passed a test to gain our qualifications. We have plenty of booklets, dvds and electronic resources, plus our own food for thought to fuel ideas for the snorkeling safari course in august and our own snorkeling adventures…

Bye for now 🙂

FSC Hack day down at Slapton.

25 05 2012

I was both nervous and excited as I travelled to my first “Hack” in Slapton. Nervous because I had very little idea what a hack was or what happens at one.

I discovered it was an event where lots of people interested in software and hardware development get together and try to solve some problems purely for the fun of solving said problem.

So after a morning of introductions and idea generating we organised ourselves into groups and set about developing. I became an honoury member of a group named FLAIR, and after some initial input the rest of the group set about developing the software to create an all singing all dancing data controlling uploading presenting app named Flair. In a day the team got it working and it was storing data (offline) sending that to a central source, whilst drawing river profiles. there is a web-based prototype you can view.


All in all I very much enjoyed my first ever Hack, and Slapton. There were some other very exciting ideas (personal favourite was the iPad extension to turn it into a bat detector for under £5)

Cheers Joe

Snorkel Training as we speak!

22 05 2012

Six FSC Orielton and FSC Dale Fort education team members are, as we speak, training for their PADI Snorkel Diver qualification in order to lead our FSC Dale Fort Snorkel Safari courses running this summer. Watch this space for an article on their experiences coming soon!

Biodiversity Training at FSC Preston Montford

22 05 2012

Last weekend two members of the Orielton education team attended a Biodiversity Workshop at FSC Preston Montford  delivered by the FSC Biodiversity Action Group Trainers: Sue T. (Head Office), Pete B. (Head Office), Jo H. (Rhyd-y-Creuau), and Milly P. (Orielton).

Activities included freshwater taxonomy, moth and small mammal trapping, understanding terrestrial invertebrate taxonomy, and having a general good rummage around the sites. As well as boosting our confidence with what we know already, we all gained new information about the habitats at Preston Monford and the life histories of some of the invertebrates we see everyday. The legend Pete B gave us a taste of what it would be like to attend one of his sought after life long learning courses he deliveries throughout the year, and was very patient with all of our questions and theories!

By the end we sat back and marvelled at the knowledge we had gained from only two days, and how nice it had been to spend that time focused purely on biodiversity. Big thanks to PM and the BAG ladies and gents….we are looking forward to the Coastal Habitat training at FSC Dale Fort!

Geography GIS Training April 2012

1 05 2012

Sarah and Milly from Orielton attended a meeting of FSC staff with Dave Holmes to share and absorb new skills in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and how we can use them more effectively in our teaching in FSC Centres. It was a really good day where our laptops buzzed with new information and online GIS activities. We discovered new websites that are easy access for all, as well as being amazed by some of the FSC staff who have created their own programmes to display visualizations of student data in Google Earth! My personal favourite website is attached below. CASA bike share map managed by UCL, pretty geeky but this amazed me as it is real live data and GIS happening in front of your eyes….try the time-lapse function….cool! So…watch out for some new wave GIS action in an FSC centre near you!

Milly Piggott, Senior Tutor, FSC Orielton