It’s that time of the year once again where I revisit my blog, sweep away the dust and make a resolution to get back into writing in the New Year. Here is a quick summary of what’s been happening in my PhD and life in the last few months, so that I can start afresh in 2017!
A lot of people say the first year of PhD is all about finding your feet. Well, after a somewhat uncertain start, and a couple of changes in direction, I think I have finally found them! I am pleased that I now have set questions in mind and am taking steps to get going with the meat of my research. I hope to write more about this in the future under my PhD tag called “Birds & Clocks”, so watch this space…
Part of the fun of doing research is telling other people about it. I’m so excited to be involved in the first issue of New Nature magazine, written by young naturalists and run by James Common . The magazine, including a piece I have written about my PhD topic and work, will be available to read online on the 2nd January 2017, so give it a read if you are interested!
As a PhD student, I am able to help out with some of the undergraduate lab practical classes that go on throughout the teaching year. In November, I was invited to demonstrate on some vertebrate anatomy practicals, where students had the task of comparing skeletons from different animal groups from the university’s museum collection. I am still fairly fresh out of undergrad myself, so it was a little strange to be in this position. I was also worried that I wouldn’t know the answers to student questions, but my memories of vertebrate anatomy soon came back! It was fun to chat to students about how animal skeletons can give clues to what lifestyle the animal led, from the food it ate to its movement. Also, it was great for me to take a break from birds and clocks to get back into the core of zoology, as working on a PhD often means focusing on a narrow subject area from day to day.
In October I had the fantastic opportunity to deliver a workshop on nest box studies during an ecology field skills day for undergraduates. I chatted to students about the general focus of our research, our field sites and the equipment we use to gather information on wild birds (such as nest box cameras). It was tiring delivering the same workshop six times in one day, but overall great fun and the students engaged well! Teaching is definitely rewarding and I highly recommend that you try it if you get the chance. I hope that at least one person has been inspired to be part of the nest box studies next year after coming to the workshop!
As an ornithology PhD student, I am lucky to get to train as a BTO ringer. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been out mist-netting much yet, but I hope to ring more in 2017. Highlights so far include a beautiful barn swallow, a male bullfinch and numerous goldcrests! Looking forward to see what future ringing outings bring us.
With the weather being fairly good this autumn, I have been venturing out into the hills of Scotland. I am by no means a seasoned hiker, being from the Isle of Wight which is a fairly flat place by comparison. So for me, hill walking is a great novelty and I’d like to do as much as possible while I am living so close to the Highlands in Glasgow! I am hoping to do more in 2017 and maybe tackle a few more of the Munros (so far I have climbed 2/282…).