It’s A New Life For Me

Two weeks can fly by, but here we are again. I believe I am settling in well here in Cambridge – working at Wimpole, attempting to do some gardening, and more baking!

At the beginning of this fortnight, there were still plenty of misty mornings and evenings. These were particularly dramatic at Wimpole, especially when the sun was setting behind the trees. I managed to catch some nice photos, although the churchyard one is rather spooky!

A few interesting invertebrates seen – a ladybird, something I don’t know and what looks like the pupal case of something? I believe the ladybird is a Harlequin (Harmonia axyridis).

On a different note, huzzah! I have ticked off another of my 2015 Wildlife Resolutions and it was wonderful! I have finally managed to visit the Grant Museum of Zoology, full of fascinating specimens to peer at and read about. But first, I peered at wildlife near the bus stop in Cambridge, including a rather soggy bumblebee! Poor thing. You can see it isn’t impressed at my peering – in the second photo, it is raising its leg as a warning sign to me. Wonderful behaviour of bumblebees, showing such politeness.

And so, onto the Grant Museum – glass jars of things (sometimes said things were made of glass which was very clever), mounted skeletons (including a quagga, which is an extinct subspecies of the plains zebra, Equus quagga quagga), and a walk-in closet type thing filled with microscope slides. What more could one want?

Well, except a glass jar of moles of course …

Onto the next day, where I needed to steel my nerves as I was giving a talk at the Orthopterists’ Meeting. Yikes! Unlike many of the other speakers, I am not an academic. In fact, I am not even an expert on Orthoptera (the grasshoppers and crickets)! But having discovered how fascinating these insects are earlier this year, I put myself forward to give a talk on how I got into them and how to get more young naturalists into insects. After all, a challenge is good for one’s self? It was good fun, lovely to meet the other attendees and match some faces to Twitter handles!

Back at Wimpole later in the week, and I had the chance to meet some of the animals down on Home Farm, including some gorgeous Shire horses and adorable piglets. I do so love pigs, they are fantastic animals!

A quiet day at the Garden Gate ticket office was soothed by the presence of the White Park cattle who I cannot resist taking photos of! They are gorgeous! Apparently this breed can be traced back to 5BC?! Also keeping me company were a variety of birds, again I couldn’t resist taking photos!

The quietness wasn’t to last for long as it was soon time for the Christmas Craft Fair at Wimpole! We were incredibly busy in the Ticket Office, but in the late afternoon we had a bit of a lull and I was able to have a quick wander around. Nothing really cried out to me to be bought, but I did see this wonderfully decorated gin! I mentioned to the stallholders that it would go down well at entomological meetings, so let’s see if they take that on board. I didn’t buy any of the gin (though tempted) as Matt and I have some sloe gin stewing currently.

A New Dawn

Well, I am all settled in here in Cambridge, and I have started a new job too! However, I shall come onto that momentarily, as I had some interesting wildlife sightings beforehand.

Before the live wildlife sightings, I took a train ride down to big old London town for a meeting at the Natural History Museum. A wonderful meeting, and in addition, I got a quick tour of Angela Marmont Centre – a resource for naturalists! When we went to look at the specimens, naturally I requested to see the Lepidoptera. How superb it was! I spent much of it just going “oh wow … oh look at that one … oh that’s gorgeous”!

Following this, my parents came to see where I am now living and we went for a lovely autumn wander in the nearby woods and fields. Toby had a wonderful time – lots of new smells to investigate! And then we enjoyed a scrumptious Victoria Sponge that I had made as a belated birthday cake for my mum. I suppose I ought to be modest, but it really was scrumptious.

I’m trying to learn how to garden as best I can. I am not naturally green-fingered but I am giving it a go nonetheless. The pond had been completely covered with grass, so I have been clearing that. I haven’t done all of it yet, I wasn’t sure if I should, but I have done a good proportion of it. And managed to spot a little frog (Rana temporaria) whilst doing so! A couple of days later I was pruning the hedge (which is attempting to take over the garden) and found the summer form of the Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale, the first generation in spring looks different). Matt and I are collating the garden list, I wonder what else will turn up? Domestic cat has – on numerous occasions!

A Saturday morning dawned bright and mostly clear of clouds, and we took ourselves to RSPB’s Fen Drayton Lakes where autumn had definitely taken hold. However, I did spot a couple of bramble flowers! At the end of October! Very odd, or perhaps not? I’m not sure. From what I remember, we saw almost 50 different bird species in just a couple of hours – including my first Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)! Strangely Matt spotted it from the car park within a minute of getting out the car! Other highlights included Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus), Devil’s Coach Horse Beetle (Staphylinus olens) and Ruby Tiger Moth caterpillar (Phragmatobia fuliginosa). For the latter, I risked life and limb to protect it from cyclists zooming past, before managing to safely relocate it off the path!

And so, suspense over – news of my new job! *drum roll* I am now working in the Visitor Welcome and Membership Team at National Trust’s Wimpole Estate. It’s a beautiful location and the team are absolutely lovely! Do flick through the photos below!