Science – getting the word out!

Why should I know about science? Why does it matter to me?

Well, science, – love it or hate it, we can’t avoid it. You could probably define it as “how everything works”. From the make-up you use in the morning to your biological clock at night – science is the inner workings of the world and what makes everything work. Science puts order into the chaos – but yet only provides answers to such a small part of the world and beyond.

Science is all about asking questions. Science isn’t always about having the answers to all the questions but asking those questions. Science, I believe, is only developed through telling people about those questions – why does something happen, how does it happen? Above all – discussion.

So I guess, in the world of chaos, locally and globally this serves as a reminder to continue questioning everything. Explore the possibilities beyond whatever you know, whether that be in the world of science or beyond – don’t stick to what you know!

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This is a Macaw at Wingham Wildlife Park

Happy New Year!

It’s finally 2019! At parts of last year I thought it would never come but it has! Most people make new years resolutions, I haven’t this year. Throughout this post I’ll chat about what my plans for 2019 are. The short answer is do more of what I did last year, though while eating less chocolate and worrying a bit less!

As you may already know, 2019 will be the year I run the London Marathon! As I’ve said before, I’m really no athlete, I HATE running but after I’ve done it I forget about the fact I get breathless and suddenly everything is okay! So I don’t know how that logic works, but I’m going on the premise I love a challenge, I like the idea of being strong and healthy, and I love achieving stuff, so I’m sure that works? 😉 I’ve just started the London Marathon beginners training plan – I’m documenting it over on my Instagram (clairesproject26.2), go give me a follow!

On a slightly less active note, there’s a small matter of a degree to finish! I’ve loved being at uni and still do – but I’m beyond excited to get stuck into the world of work! Of course I’ll continue updating this website throughout it all – the job hunting begins soon! I’ve got so many thoughts and ideas on what I want to conquer and work on, hopefully 2019 will be the beginning of all of this!

Over the next year I’ll be putting even more content on this website, from the pictures I take, to popular science and marathon training updates.

It’s going to be fun!

My links:

Instagram: @wildlifeclaire and @clairesproject26.2

Twitter: @WildlifeClaire

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This is one of my favourite photos of 2018, the London skyline

 

It’s Nearly Christmas!| Training Update – VMLM 2019

It’s safe to say that the since September, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster, in almost every sense – from family stuff, to uni and of course the lead up to Christmas.

I guess part of what I’m aiming to do with these training updates is to almost do reverse peer pressure on myself to not only get myself to the start line in April but also just to get started with one training run – one at a time!

Around the time of the London 2012 Olympics Team Sky under Dave Brailsford made a thing of “marginal gains”, making small and minor changes which then come together to create something well rounded and for them, someone who could ultimately win gold medals. Although this “journey” as cliché as it sounds, is in no way a comparison to actual real life athletes who actually go on to do things like becoming Olympic champion – I think that’s such a good principal to apply to everyday life – and in my instance what I’m doing.

Recently, I have hit soooooo many goals which I thought were previously unreachable – they seem small, but they’re things like running an entire mile continuously. I then ran a for a constant 15 minutes (over a mile) on a treadmill. Those are incredibly small gains, but for someone who previously struggled with anything physical – had major spinal surgery at 13 – slow and steady really does win the race!

Follow me on Instagram (@clairesproject26.2 where I’m posting some more in depth updates on my progress and milestones which I begin to hit! My fundraising link for the Youth Sports Trust and Make a Wish is here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ClaireNicholson7

 

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David Attenborough’s Dynasties – Reviewed

Every animal in the world goes through a daily battle simply to live and breathe. The Chimpanzee is no different. Giving us another incredible insight into the planet, David Attenborough is back with his new series – Dynasties. This series focuses on one of the most powerful forces in nature. The family.

They battle for survival against the elements, and their rivals. We’re treated to a previously unseen glimpse into the chimpanzee’s family unit. Beginning in the arid conditions of Senegal in West Africa – this is the story of one chimp family.

It’s so hot and dry. This is the very limit of where they can survive. 32 chimpanzees are in this particular group, ruled by one incredibly strong and determined leader – David. As an alpha male, he gets the best of everything, but can trust no one. He’s surrounded by rivals prepared to kill him for his crown. This is a battle for power, politics and ultimately survival. He’s ruled over the troupe for three years – chimps don’t normally last longer than this in their position.  His torn ears are testament to the battles he’s already undergone to protect both his status and family.

Those battles are likely to get a whole lot harder. The dry season is beginning and his rivals are gathering once more. Normally alpha males have allies – but David is fighting his battles alone. He’s never been more vulnerable. His daily role is to keep order amongst the group – to display strength. Diffusing social issues – displaying to the group to show he’s in control.

Strength isn’t everything. David needs to be political to hold onto power – create allies. His first attempt at this is by grooming an older male named KL. He’s past the age to challenge for his role – but can, vitally, help to fight. In the world of chimps, grooming helps to build bonds and create friendships. Friends don’t solve everything though.

Dry season is beginning and the temperature soars to over 40 degrees. This creates ideal sand-pit conditions for the infants – but with the adults, tensions were rising. A new man – Luther. Displaying his strength – he begins to assert his power through intimidation. Displaying to the other chimps his power and ultimately his desire to reign over the group. David needs to do something and fast. This is a battle he can’t fight on his own.

As the dry season peaks – fires destroyed three quarters of their territory. Much of their food and shelter went up in flames – removing all the water with it.  The group need to stick together to survive. Chimps luckily have a good memory – they could use knowledge passed down from generations. They could use sticks to dig through the parched earth. Their reward? A hidden water source!

It’s one issue after another for their leader, David. Three out of seven females are coming into season  – all at the same time. This creates a social nightmare for David. He’s got to prove he’s got the authority. He’s got to prove he is the right male for one of the females to mate with. Rivals respond with displays of power. Chaos takes over the group.

As night falls, younger males have turned on David. As the sun comes up, it’s the job of the younger chimps and the females to tend to his wounds. They can’t stay there. Water’s running out – the whole group has to move onto the nearest water source. And that’s a 6 mile trek. They’ve got to leave David behind. David’s new ally, KL has to leave him for dead. This leaves a power vacuum at the top – who will take his place?

Friendless and wounded he somehow musters the strength to search for food he must rejoin the group before he’s exiled for good. Remarkably, a week later he makes the journey to find the others – no fit state to fight. Has to make himself look as bold as possible . reunited with comrade KL grooming each other reaffirms the bonds of friendship

The 6 mile trek is only half the battle. He’s made it but exhausted and fragile, holding onto his leadership by a thread. A let up is around the corner however. Rain filled clouds bring an end to a long drought. David’s territory is transformed, water everywhere and a glut of food. His displays are slowly becoming more assertive but he hasn’t had time to heal properly, he takes every given moment to gorge on more food.

Luther, the once fierce competitor, with a submissive gesture seeks forgiveness from David. Although he’s unwilling to accept. David begins to build on friendships with other males – older so they can’t challenge for power but strong enough to fight for him. Over following weeks Luther finds himself sidelined. Other males now gather round David, Luther has no choice but to step inline David has his group around him once more but he doesn’t show them how weakened he really is – injuries haven’t healed. Sure enough, a female comes into season – this is his chance to mate. Thankfully, the others have no choice but to step in line. 9 months later – a baby chimp!

The program may stop but the battle for survival continues. Females will continue to come into season – tension will rise and the whole thing will continue. The fight is never won. He may have gotten through this breeding season but he’s just buying himself some time until another female comes into season when he’ll face competition once again.

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Catch David Attenborough’s ‘Dynasties’ Sunday 8pm on BBC1

 

 

 

Wildlife Conservation and Social Media

I’m coming to the end of my degree in Animal Science and I need your help! Do you know any 18-25 year olds? If so, I would be really grateful if you/they could fill this out for me. This is for my final year research project. If you have any questions then ask them in the comments or email me: cn165@canterbury.ac.uk.

Click on this link here for the survey.

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This photo was taken at Wingham Wildlife Park near Canterbury, Kent

Introducing the Gorillas

As many of my friends know – gorillas are comfortably my favourite animal. About 98% of our genome is shared with the gorillas. The IUCN Red List of 2013 divides the gorillas, up into four subspecies, the Mountain, Cross River and Eastern and Western Lowland Gorilla.

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Arguably, the Mountain Gorilla has been studied the most, they featured in zoologist Dian Fossey’s infamous study on them from 1966 until her death in 1985. Her story features in the film “Gorillas in the Mist”. Her study centred around unlocking the secrets behind the behaviours of Mountain Gorillas in the Rwandan Mountain Forest. The film showcased her incredible relationship she built up with the gorillas over the period of her study – and told the story as she began to protect them.

 

As this study began to uncover, each subspecies of gorilla has its own unique habitat, feeding schedule and to an extent personality. Over the years we’ve started to investigate other gorilla subspecies in more detail – but until recently it was predominantly just the Mountain Gorilla that had been investigated. Research now centres around understanding the gorilla’s behaviour and how to optimise it in a captive environment.

Take a look at this clip from Gordon Buchanan’s “Gorilla Family and Me” and this incredible insight into the world’s largest living primate.

Grey Seals – a Great British Wildlife Encounter

Over our summer holiday we took a bit of a trek from our campsite. On the other side of our campsite in Lincolnshire is a nature reserve. Every winter thousands and thousands of seals flock there to mate and essentially create a home for the winter months. We had no idea whether or not the seals still remain in the local area over the summer – so at some point over our holiday we haddddd to explore! Early on in our holiday we were sat on a bench overlooking the coast and we overhead a conversation a Mum had with her son – about the local seals!

British Wildlife is incredible and it always will be but I think it’s always easy to fall under the impression that the only British aspects of wildlife are up in Scotland and ‘down south’ we only have things like pigeons or your average garden bird. So considering that – my hopes weren’t high! We took a path across a marsh area of land – one that even had danger signs about unexploded bombs! Avoiding the sinky patches of mud, we got to the beach. The beach spanned for miles across and there was only the odd human on the horizon! After a couple of false alarms – grassy patches which seemed to look like seals, I decided to go on ahead. I had in the back of my mind that Mum and Dad weren’t going to walk an open beach deserted of human contact for more miles than they had to!

This is what we saw….