Eleanor’s Blog – Week 10 & 11
Happy New Year everyone! The first couple of weeks of 2019 have involved looking at lots of data as well as the first visit to a new school!
Firstly, I converted the recent data from Froglife’s Dragon Finder app into the correct format to be submitted to the NBN. If you haven’t already downloaded the app on your phone, you can find it for free on the App Store by searching for Froglife! You can use the app to learn more about different amphibian and reptile species, use the identify option to find out the species of an animal you have found or to record a sighting.
I also converted the Toads on Roads data from the past couple of years into the NBN format to be sent off too. Many organisations submit information to the NBN, and it allows lots of data to be in the same place and in the same format. This is great as it can then be used in lots of different ways!
We also had the first T.O.A.D Tails sessions in a school in Hackney. This time there are two classes, both of which are in year 2, so a little bit younger that the other classes we have been to. We started with the identification activity, with each table being given a picture of an amphibian or reptile, and an ID guide. Each table managed to work out which species they had by looking at different features, and a little bit of guidance from us! They then presented to the rest of the class which species they had and why. For the next activity, Alice explained the different threats that the species and their habitats may face by suggesting that each table was a pond that was facing a different threat. After this we did a little run through of the first couple of scenes in the play. I can’t wait to return for the other sessions!
Eleanor’s Blog – Week 8 & Week 9
For the past two weeks, I have mostly been working on data collation, transferring information from previous Froglife surveys into one big document. This makes it easier when looking for information as it is all in one place (e.g. the numbers of great crested newts found in different locations). Although this is a simple task, it is quite time consuming as there is a lot of data to look at!
I have also spent some time working on my university placement project, where I have to focus on something that I have been doing during my time at Froglife. I have chosen to focus on the pond project, where I have been returning to the ponds that were either created or restored by Froglife during the London Dragon Finder project. This has also involved doing research around the topic, by reading different publications, and learning about Froglife’s aquatic survey methods.
Yesterday we returned to the first school that we visited for the T.O.A.D Tails sessions, for the final performance. The two classes had a lot of fun wearing the different character costumes and did a great job performing, so well done! In between the performances, the children were asked pop-quiz questions about the species identification that they were taught in sessions 1-3 and showed us that they know now loads about UK amphibians and reptiles!
Both the teachers and the students had a feedback form to fill out at the end of the session, and although they all thoroughly enjoyed the sessions they have given some good ideas as to what can be added or changed slightly. The toad virtual reality experience was very popular amongst the students, and some of them requested that we had more games, such as the game show style quiz that we did in the previous session.
It was really nice to see how many of the children had a completely different view of amphibians after these sessions!
Eleanor’s Blog – Week 7
Last week involved a range of different tasks that London T.O.A.D has to offer!
To start the week, I went to a primary school in Southwark with Emily, to look at their pre-existing wildlife area and pond which they would like to be restored and made safer as it is currently not suitable for students use. The area itself has a lot of potential as it was quite large, and it seemed that a lot of thought had gone into making it, so it would be great to see it back in use!
We also attended the final performance of ‘Toad Run’ at one of the schools, which was great to see all the children’s work come together. Each of the main characters got to wear a costume, consisting of a felt mask and a variety of props such as handbags, glasses and hats. The classes really enjoyed getting dressed up and performing, and they all did a great job remembering their lines!
To end the week, we ran the first Mapestry sessions. The first was at Spitalfields City Farm, where Lillian Taylor, our textile artist, helped those who attended the event workshop to design what they would like to add using our selection of materials. The first panel for the Mapestry is based on the season of winter, so there were lots of animals that you might see in the winter created, along with different significant landmarks of Tower Hamlets!
In between these different events, I have been working on a data collation project, transferring data from different surveys into one master file!
Eleanor’s Blog – Week 6
I spent the majority of last week working on data collation, making sure that all the survey data is in one place and easily accessible. In between this I have had a number of smaller tasks, including planning my next day of pond surveying from the London Dragon Finder project.
One of the other things I did was create an online feedback form to be used by participants of events. This should hopefully save time and resources in collecting feedback, and all of the information will be saved in one place! I also thought of some questions to create a “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” style quiz. Which would be good fun in the T.O.A.D Tails school sessions and a great way to see how much the children have learned.
On Friday I attended the next school taking part in the T.O.A.D Tails sessions with Emily and Kate. This was the third session for two of the school’s classes. It involved a rehearsal of the play, with everyone speaking the lines of their assigned role and looks to be coming together quite nicely. The classes also got the chance to use the Virtual Reality Experience, which everyone got really excited about! A few of them found it a bit scary but overall most of the children really enjoyed it and understood the concept of wildlife getting the green light!
Eleanor’s Blog – Week 5
On Monday and Tuesday, I completed the Toads on Roads publication, adding the final touches to the presentation of the document. It was nice to see everything come together after going through all the data and making various graphs in the past couple of weeks!
I also made time towards the start of the week to focus on organising the ponds project. I had to input the data from the ponds I surveyed in Redbridge the week before, as well as researching the next sites to visit. This is important to make sure I’m visiting sites that are closer together for a more efficient use of my time and travel. I have all the survey forms prepared and ready for use in a folder along with information that I have researched about each site to ensure that I have everything I need when arriving to the site. Then I can get straight to it, finding the pond and recording all the information required – which is quite often easier said than done!
Most sites left for me to sample are the only locations in that borough, meaning that I must travel between boroughs to get to the next site. On Thursday, I went to Camden first and then on to Ealing, where there are two sites. The site in Camden was Mill Lane Open Space, which is a nice little community space with a pond that Froglife restored in 2013. There was a bit of litter in the area as it is a popular space, however staff members from the garden centre adjacent to the site regularly clear the site and cut it back if it gets overgrown! The next two sites were in Ealing, Montpelier Park and Horsenden Hill. One of the ponds on this site was well away from the main path and is thus less disturbed, particularly by dogs as in many of the parks I have visited I have seen lots of dogwalkers with dogs off lead.
To finish the week, we returned to a school for the second T.O.A.D Tails session! As soon as we started to set up, both classes spotted the VR equipment and were immediately really excited to have a go. Whilst I was manning the VR, Emily showed the class different guides of invertebrates and everyone got a chance to draw, colour and annotate with information about their chosen aquatic species. Some even decided to draw a food chain, looking at the animals found in the pond!
Eleanor’s Blog – Week 4
Last week was a busy one!
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Katie and I were working on the pond at Spitalfields City Farm. A lot of the surrounding area of the pond was overgrown so needed clearing. The dipping platform had a fence around it that had lost its stability, so this was removed. One side of the pond was steeply sloped so this was dug out and made level and we put some logs in to prevent the ground from sloping so steeply again. Some of the vegetation was also removed from the pond as it had started to take over! There is an area by the pond that was open space, so we built up some logs and packed it in with some dirt that had been dug out to insulate it. We also put some longer logs/sticks leading into the pond for easier access for amphibians and other wildlife. We cleared the path with the intention of placing down woodchip however we found that there was an original brick path under the dirt, so we kept that as our new path. We came across a common frog and a couple of smooth newts in the process, so these were recorded on the Dragon Finder App! This work has made the area more accessible and the dipping platform usable.
Finally, on Friday I continued with my personal pond project, going to the borough of Redbridge. The first of the sites was South Park, where the pond was created as part of the lake using an aquatic curtain. Unfortunately, it seems that this pond has a lot of disturbance by waterfowl as there were lots of geese and swans crossing into the pond from the lake. The next site I visited was Forest Farm Allotments, where although there was water in the pond when I went to survey on Friday, I was told that the pond completely dried out during the summer suggesting that there may be some damage to the liner, so Froglife are going to investigate. The final site I visited was Fairlop Waters Country Park, which is a huge site where Froglife restored multiple ponds.
I look forward to the upcoming week, finishing off the Toads on Roads publication and returning to the primary school for the second T.O.A.D Tails session!
Eleanor’s Blog – Week 3
Hello everyone! Here is a rundown of my third week at London T.O.A.D!
To start, Tuesday was something new for me as it was the first of the T.O.A.D Tails school sessions for the London T.O.A.D project. Having been a leader with the Cub Scouts, I have experience working with children, but this was a first for me within a school environment. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed it! The classes we worked with were in year three (ages 7-8). Emily started by introducing Froglife and I passed around pictures and guides. It was great to hear the kids asking questions about the reptile and amphibian species of the UK and discussing how to determine between species by looking at an individual’s features. Emily then discussed the problems that different pond habitats may face and interacted with the class by suggesting that each of their tables were a different pond with a different issue, such as pollution or disease. The scripts for the play were handed out and each individual was given the chance to read out a couple of lines to the rest of the class. At the end of the session a lot of the children said how much they enjoyed reading through the play and how exciting it was. I look forward to returning to this school to help the two classes prepare props, building up to them performing the play.
For the remainder of the week I have been organising the data from the Toads on Roads patrols, to create a master spreadsheet to show how many toads have been saved each year in each county. Due to a couple of issues I’ve had with Excel, I have had to keep going back and changing things, ensuring that each site has the correct data and county recorded. This has been quite time consuming as there is so much data! However, I am enjoying comparing the data for each site, and working out a way to present this for everyone to see!
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance this week to continue surveying the sites of the London Dragon Finder for my personal project. I planned to do this on Thursday however it would have proved difficult as it was raining all day! Haringey is the next borough I plan on visiting as part of this project as there are four sites for me to survey!!
Eleanor’s Blog – Week 2
Hello! I have had an exciting second week at London T.O.A.D! Read on to see what I’ve been up to!
As part of my university studies, I have to write a report on something I’ve been doing whilst on placement, so I have chosen to do this on my personal project, of revisiting the ponds created and restored during the London Dragon Finder project.
Then on Tuesday, I read through the script for the Toad Tails school sessions preparing for next week when I will be joining Emily at the first sessions. This is really exciting as it’s a great way to get children actively involved in learning and to help them understand what happens when habitats get destroyed.
Later on in the week, I spoke to Laurence who told me about a research project he had in mind for me. He sent me the data from Froglife’s Toads on Roads project, which I am going to organise into easy-to-read tables containing the numbers of toads saved in each county which can then be shown on a map. This project will certainly keep me busy, as Toads on Roads has been going for over 40 years, so there’s plenty of data to work through!
On Thursday, I went out sampling for my pond project. I decided to go to a borough with multiple sites present to make my travelling most efficient, so I chose Richmond upon Thames. I planned out how I would access the four sites, and which order I would visit them. That was the easy part! Upon arrival, I completely underestimated the size of some of the sites so on more than one occasion I found myself a bit lost! Luckily online maps came to my rescue and I found my way. Although I didn’t manage to find all the ponds I had set out to survey on that day, I managed to sample three ponds. The problems I faced have also helped me to plan my day surveying better for next time!
Today (Friday), I have been inputting my survey data from yesterday into an Excel spreadsheet, ready for the next lot of surveys next week! I will also continue going through the Toads on Roads data. Lastly, I am going to prepare for activities next week, including further surveys and where I am going to go next, and ensure I know everything I need to know for the first T.O.A.D Tails school session on Tuesday!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my week!
Eleanor’s Blog – Week 1
Hello all! My name is Eleanor and I am a Conservation Biology student at the University of Plymouth, currently doing a work placement year. As part of this, I will be volunteering with Froglife for a three-month period, mostly working with Emily on the London T.O.A.D project!
As part of my time at Froglife, I will be conducting a personal project, surveying the ponds created and restored as part of the London Dragon Finderproject. I will also be helping at the upcoming T.O.A.D Tails workshops at local schools and at the Mapestry workshops! I look forward to getting involved in the amazing activities that Froglife have created!
Here is a quick rundown of my first week at Froglife:
On Monday I visited Emily in the office for my induction; filling out forms and covering health and safety. This also involved going through the London T.O.A.D project activity plan, ensuring that I understood all the aspects of the project and why we are doing them. It was really interesting to see how much time and effort is spent working out all of the little details when setting up a conservation project. We discussed the elements of the project that I could get involved in on my placement.
I spent Tuesday morning continuing to go through project documentation before creating some posters for various upcoming events, including Swimming with T.O.A.Ds and Mapestry.
Emily contacted me on Wednesday to discuss my personal project on the ponds created and restored as part of the London Dragon Finder project. She supplied me with all the relevant information, including the habitat and species management proposals. I read through this document and compared it with the project results, to determine the best way to tackle sampling each pond. I continued this on Thursday, preparing pond survey forms for each site, and noting the information that I have for each pond. Relevant information includes the age of the pond, whether the pond was created or restored, the type of liner used, and whether it is in a protected area. I also researched the accessibility of the sites, as well as the location of the pond on the site to make it easier to find upon arrival.
That brings us to Friday where I have been writing about my project for my university, as well as doing some admin work, inputting evaluation data from previous events. I will also be researching the last couple of Dragon Finder sites, so I will be ready to get sampling next week!
Come back next week for more updates on what I’m getting up to!