Wednesday, 18 September 2013

A meeting at The Bear

A bear at The Bear
On Tuesday 16th July at about 4pm I got on a train to go to Wallingford to meet Helen, Sam, Scott and Jo, four PHD students who I was hoping might be able to tell me something about hedgerows from a scientific perspective... All four work at The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology with different specialisms and interests.  I wasn't really sure what might come out of the conversation (as I'm sure they weren't), but sometimes that's exactly what makes such meetings so interesting...

Our conversation in the main took place at The Bear (what a great name for a pub) and then we went for a short wander along a nearby hedge led by Sam, who was armed with an insect net.

My main impression from meeting the four of them - aside from how welcoming and knowledgeable they all were - was of how I needed to learn to look again at the hedgerow, with different eyes.  Sam as we walked kept finding different insects to show me - miniscule ones - ones I wouldn't have even noticed or paid attention to.  I was also made aware of all of the different species of plant that might make up a hedge, even the most basic of which I was hard pushed to identify.  If I come out of Rambles with Nature with one thing I hope it will be with a better eye for observing insects, animals and plants and a working knowledge of their  identification!

Other words/thoughts/images that stayed with me as the four of them talked were:

Corridor, barrier, an architecture (ways to describe a hedge).
The 'service' a hedge has.
A good hedge / a bad hedge.
The difference between a Natural Historian and a scientist.
Caterpillar eggs that hatch wasps.
A branch teaming with aphids.
An orange small worm on the tip of my finger. Barely discernable.
A moth that looks like a husk.
Techniques for measuring hedges, counting berries, sticks.
The need to talk to some falmers.
Cash incentives from the EU.
A nest of baby spiders eggs.
Beetles mating (literally stuck on one another)
A 'mother' - something taken over by another.
Managing hedges.
Agri-environment schemes.
The summer light fading.
Looking for reptiles hiding under old tin.
Being outside.
The sound of wings beating at the station and a line of track disappearing into the distance.
Being bothered by a wasp.
Standing opposite a man so drunk he looked like he might fall onto the track.
The Chilterns.

Aphid haven
Spot the Spider

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