On volunteering at the Archaeopteryx exhibit
Today was my first day of afternoon volunteering (as opposed to the opening evening, see 14th February). It was absolutely horrible weather so I don’t suppose many people came out for the stroll, but a few groups of visitors turned up. I got asked about the Old College more than the Archaeopteryx though!
On my visit to Chester Zoo
On Wednesday we (my Zoo Science class) had the chance to visit Chester Zoo! During my time at Shuttleworth College I had heard a lot about it, it is considered the best zoo in the UK for enclosures and welfare; one of my teachers had previously worked at the zoo and hoped to return to work there as head of reptiles one day.
We had 2x one hour ‘lectures’ on policies of the zoo, their conservation efforts, and engagement with the public. I don’t aspire to work in a zoo, but the engagement with the public and the work they did in foreign countries to reduce human-animal conflict was certainly interesting.
Our walk around the zoo was nice: it wasn’t very busy, it was cold but dry and we had four hours free. The task we had to complete was to look an enclosure of our chosen animal and use a DEFRA checklist to see if it met welfare standards, and to see how we might improve the enclosure if we were to design it. Obviously we spent most of our time looking around the zoo and not actually doing much work, but we did breifly discuss over lunch and agreed to change our animal from capybara to aardvark.
There was also a plastic mould of a Sun Bear skull, however there were two children interacting with the staff member at the table and time was quickly running out. So I let the chance go and visited more of the zoo before we returned to the coach.
P.S. The featured image is of a (later identified) White Naped Tit, we walked into the zoo next to the Painted Dog enclosure and he was lying right near the glass on the floor, so true to character the first animal picture I got at the zoo was of a dead one!
On my busy week and volunteering at the Jurassic Heritage Opening Night
On the 14th February (romantic I know!) I volunteered at the Archaeopteryx Exhibit in the Old College, Aberystwyth.
It’s been a hectic week from start to finish really! Monday I hosted a Vegan Valentine’s Cake Sale and raised £55 for charity, Tuesday was the project fair for dissertation ideas and my volunteering (5:30-9pm), Wednesday I visited Chester Zoo (6:30am-7pm), Thursday I attended an First Aid Course, and met up with a lecturer to discuss an open slot for my diss. choice and now I have successfully, if somewhat tiredly, made it through Friday’s lectures and practical session! Unforetunately I still have work tomorrow and some coursework to catch up on, on Sunday, and Monday looks to be quite busy too…but I think Tuesday calms down then back to volunteering on Wednesday!
After the project fair on campus I managed to walk down the hill eating some pasta from the union, make it home and shower and then run to the Old College in time! It was the openeing night and there was a guest talk by Iolo Williams (Welsh Naturalist and TV Presenter), first he hosted a children’s Q&A session where I acted as a guard for the expensive camera equipment, as a guide directing people in the right direction and as manual help when we had run out of seating and needed to add more.
This was followed by a brass band which played Jurassic Park songs and Pirates of the Caribbean! During the live music I was employed as a temporary waitress by the catering team (which was fine by me, as I’d worked as a witress for 3 and something years back home) to collect empty glasses. There was wine and canapés, all rather fancy! Iolo Williams had his speech and the visitors had a chance to talk and look around the Archaeopteryx exhibit.
After this there was another Q&A session but with a panel of 4 ‘experts’, they claim they didn’t like the term too much! Iolo Williams again, Dr Caroline Buttler (Head of Palaeontology, National Museum of Wales), Dr Ian Scott (IBERS, Aberystwyth University and one of my first year lecturers) and Dr Bill Perkins (DGES, Aberystwyth University). This was brilliant and I am glad I attended, it was very interesting to learn about the types of questions people wanted answers to, as well as the actual knowledge from the experts!
Once this was finished I went back into the main hall and helped the catering staff clean the rest of the glasses and talked with some of the other student volunteers, had a go on the VR goggles (supplied by a physics student) and finally went home to bed (before my 6:30am start to Chester the next day!)
On the finding of my Muntjac skull ft. Dover
Part 1: I was on a walk with my Mum, and Dover (our German SH Pointer) found a rather large spine. We tried to get it off of him but he spent a long while playing catch-me-if-you-can instead. Eventually he decided to give it to us, so we stored it in the workshop in a compost bag, hoping to remove the last bits of flesh.
Part 2: A few days later we did the same walk and Dover, the wonderful dog he is, managed to find the skull! He seemed to know that this was more important not to chew (or was just bored and wanted to run around instead) and brought it straight over with a proud little prance. I buried the skull, which still had a lot of flesh and fur covering it, in the garden. A few months later he was finally clean enough to take back with me to university.
This was all before Christmas as I took the photos before returning home, but never got around to uploading them!
The spine is still in the workshop as I haven’t yet been back! It’s on my to-do list!
On catching up and the gifting of my mummified swallow
So it has been 2 months since I last posted! Somehow life seemed to get quite busy with running the society (vegsoc), lectures, work, birthdays, the christmas holidays and finally exam revision!
I visited London and Brighton for my year anniversary with my boyfriend; hosted a Vegan Cheese and Wine Event for Vegsoc, that went well; then got consumed by lectures, coursework and going out for birthdays! The christmas holidays went quickly and I finished my first (1 out of 2!) exam today. As I have a week until the next I thought I’d relax a litte today, I attempted soap making again and thought I should probably update on here!
I have had my swallow for a year and a half, almost exactly! It was a leaving-for-uni present from my friend’s parents. They are a farming family and it was found in one of the barns, and kept for me! Which was nice a much more ‘me’ present than a lot of things and s/he is absolutely perfect!
On the gift of my Magpie skeleton ft. Collette
It was either my 21st birthday or Christmas of 2015, when I received my Magpie skeleton as a present from Collette; it was fully wrapped and one of my dogs seemed quite interested, so we assumed it must be food. We coud have not have been more wrong!
The Magpie was in a clear box, with a message written on the top and beautifully packaged. With tiny, loose vertebrae in a small sealed bag, and all other corresponding bones.
One day, if (or I like to think when, I can articulate skeletons, I shall build him* up to his former glory on a labelled plinth!
P.S. Latin name: Pica pica, which is also the beavioural terminology for eating/attempting to eat inedible objects.
*him* is just an assumption, I do not actually know the Magpie’s sex
On my blogging break , my favourite book and drawing skeletons
I have returned after a week’s break from blogging as last week was tremendously busy! I volunteered to be on a team for a RAG month charity racquet tournament and spent my free time praticing sports such as tennis, table tennis, squash and badminton. I won 3/4 matches (I lost squash by two points, so I’m happy with that!) so it looks to have paid off!
My phone which also broke just before I started blogging, has now returned from being repaired so I can take more, better quality pictures.
Now, to this blog’s topic which I decided to be about my favourite book: Evolution in Action, by Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu (and photographer Patrick Gries). It is a book compromised of mainly stunning black and white photographs of skeletons and skulls of a huge variety of different animals, and the text focuses on evolution and comparative anatomy. It makes me want to write my own book (which I may try and begin planning at some point).
One of the best things about this book for me is the subjects it gives me for drawing; the black and white pictures are so clear-cut and defined, I just want to try and draw all of them! It is like getting a glimpse into a range of European museums, not only what would be open to the public but also behind-the-scenes!