Author interview – Dave Goulson

Dave Goulson is a Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex and nature writer, with a particular passion for bees. Bee Quest and A Buzz in the Meadow were bestsellers, and his latest book, The Garden Jungle is all about the wildlife that lives with us: in our gardens and parks, between the gaps in the pavement, and in the soil beneath our feet – an insight into the the wildlife that lives right under our noses.

 

Dave visited NHBS to meet the team and sign a few copies (now sold out) of The Garden Jungle.   He also answered a few questions about the inspiration behind his new book and his hopes and ambitions for the gardens of Britain.

 

  1. How did your interest in the natural world begin?

I’ve no idea! I have been somewhat obsessed by wildlife, particularly by insects, for as long as I can remember. When I was only five or six years old I remember collecting cinnabar caterpillars from the weeds on the edge of my school playground and rearing them up on my bedroom windowsill in jam jars. I never grew out of my interest, and have been lucky enough to find a way to make a living out of it.

2. Could you tell us a little about the research that went into writing The Garden Jungle?

I’ve been both gardening and studying insects for all of my adult life. The two go hand in hand, for if you grow the right plants, and garden in the right way, you can attract all sorts of insects to your garden. I’ve often done my scientific experiments from home, for example studying bee behaviour and the flowers that they choose. I also try out many of the techniques that are said to help wildlife for myself; my garden is full of more than twenty homemade bee hotels, two ponds, nine compost heaps, four or five log piles, a wildflower meadow area, half a dozen ‘hoverfly lagoons’ and more.

3. What fauna and flora gives you the most pleasure to see in your garden?

It is hard to beat the excitement of seeing the first brimstone butterfly of the year, a flash of bright yellow usually seen on the first warm day in late February or March, a sure sign that spring is coming. But bees are my real obsession, particularly bumblebees, colourful, furry, and endearingly clumsy insects that bring the flower borders to life with their buzzing activity.

4. Are you a keen gardener yourself?

I love gardening. When I’m not at work or asleep, I am somewhere in my two acre garden in the Sussex Weald, growing veg, fruit and flowers, and looking after the birds and the bees. It is my own little piece of heaven.

5. Have there been any changes over the past fifty years – either for the benefit or to the detriment of wildlife in the way people view their gardens?

There has certainly been a great increase in interest in encouraging wildlife into our gardens, for example via bird feeders, tit boxes, bee hotels and by planting bee-friendly flowers. Many of us believe that gardens can be places where people and nature live in harmony. On the other hand there have been many detrimental changes too; Astroturf lawns, decking, hard paving, and a huge increase in the number of chemicals available for use. Gardening has become big business; nowadays many people’s idea of gardening is to drive to some vast garden centre and fill the back of their car with annual bedding plants grown in peat-based composts, drenched in pesticides and sold in disposable plastic pots. There is nothing green about that approach to gardening.

6. If someone wanted to link gardens together for the benefit of wildlife, what would be your advice to enlist the neighbourhood’s cooperation?

Often the best way to convince people to change is to show them the alternative. If your garden is wildlife-friendly, invite your neighbours round for a coffee and show them the butterflies nectaring on flowers, the bees busy stocking their bee hotel, and the flowers in your not-too-tightly-mowed lawn. Offer them some seeds or cuttings of bee-friendly flowers; I give comfrey roots to anyone willing to grow them, it is one of the very best plants for bumblebees and I’m trying to encourage everyone to have a clump of it somewhere.

7. Do you have any new projects in the pipeline that you’d like to tell us about?

With colleagues at Sussex University I recently launched the Buzz Club, a nationwide organisation which is working with the public to do experiments to test interventions for garden wildlife. For example, we are asking people to test out creating a ‘hoverfly lagoon’, miniature ponds intended to provide homes for the offspring of some types of hoverfly. Find out more here: https://www.thebuzzclub.uk/.

Signed copies

A very limited number of The Garden Jungle, signed by Dave Gouslon are available from NHBS. *Signed copies are now sold out*

 

 

The Garden Jungle
Hardback | July 2019| £14.99 £16.99

The wildlife that lives right under our noses, in our gardens and parks, between the gaps in the pavement, and in the soil beneath our feet.

 

Discover other titles by Dave Goulson, on special offer until the end of August 2019

Bee Quest
Paperback | April 2018
An endearing account of the search for rare bees. – The Observer £7.99 £9.99

 

A Buzz in the Meadow
Paperback | April 2015
A fascinating look at the insect world found in one field in France – NHBS
£7.99 £9.99

A Sting in the Tale
Paperback | April 2014
A very readable introduction to the remarkable world of bees and bee conservation. – Good Book Guide
£7.99 £9.99

All prices correct at the time of publication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Toller Books: Publisher of the Month for July

Little Toller Books  are celebrating their tenth anniversary this year, and we are delighted to make them our Publisher of the Month for July. In 2009 Adrian and Gracie Cooper began re-publishing some of the great ‘lost’ works of rural writing – like The South Country By Edward Thomas and Four Hedges by Clare Leighton, with introductions by contemporary writers and beautiful new jackets.  Thus,  the backbone of Little Toller’s publishing – Nature Classics was conceived.

 

Little Toller publish new writers too; such as Peter Marren’s recently published comprehensive guide to the names of our butterflies and moths –Emperors, Admirals and Chimney Sweepers; and Landfill by Tim Dee (who recently took the time to answer some questions for the NHBS blog, an ode to gulls, which has been recently long-listed for the  Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize 2019

Little Toller remains ambitious; following on from The Ancient Woods of the Helford River, a second posthumous title from Oliver Rackham – The Woods of South East Wales will be published later this year.  Also forthcoming, and due in August is Living with Trees, a practical book about how we can live better with trees and allow them to enhance our landscapes. Little Toller Books have also recently secured the publishing rights for teenage naturalist Dara McAnulty’s book Diary Of A Young Naturalist.

Ten years of nature writing

With Emperors, Admirals and Chimney Sweepers; and Landfill stealing the show recently, we have selected five other stand-out books from across their ten years of publishing:

Orison for a Curlew
Paperback| July 2017| £6.99 £7.99
A story of the struggles of conservation and a homage to the Slender-Billed Curlew, a bird that may never be seen again.

 

Arboreal: A Collection of New Woodland Writing
Hardback| Oct 2017| £16.99 £19.99
An anthology exploring the relationship between trees, woods and people.

 

The South Country
Paperback| June 2009| £7.99 £9.99
Edward Thomas’s lyrical, passionate, and sometimes political writing merges natural history with folk culture in The South Country.

 

The Ash Tree
Paperback| Nov 2016| £7.99 £9.99
Oliver Rackham’s call for a radical shift in our attitude to trees – there is no more urgent message for our times.

 

Cornerstones Subterranean Writings
Hardback| April 2018| £12.99 £15.99
Some of the UK’s leading landscape and nature writers consider the depth of their relationships with the ground beneath their feet.

 

All price promotion valid until July 31st 2019

Invertebrate Survey: Moth Trapping

Many of us delight at butterflies visiting the flowers in our gardens, be it the drunken admirals of autumn or the spritely orange-tips in spring, yet some of us still seem to shudder at the thought of dingy moths bothering our windows at night or worse still munching our clothes to dust in our cupboards. In the middle of June, armed with two moth traps and a couple of trusted field guides, I attended an open garden in Somerset ready to join the #Mothsmatter conversation initiated by Butterfly Conservation to dispel the moth myths and encourage a fascination for these insects.

All the essentials for cataloguing a moth catch!

Setting up a Skinner moth trap in a covered porch over a couple of cold nights, I wasn’t entirely sure what species would be flying, but sure enough in the morning as I lifted the lid and slid the egg boxes out, there were some delightful species to see. Visitors in the garden were suffice to say, in awe of the moths the light brought in; the Poplar Hawk-moth and the Eyed Hawk- moth, the Fox Moth with his rabbit ear antennae and the remarkable Buff-tip.

We are becoming well aware that UK moths are in decline with an overall decrease in numbers by 28% since 1968, and over 60 species becoming extinct in the 20th century. Moths are a key indicator of environmental health and, as vital as they are to other creatures as a food source (their declines are impacting on breeding birds and bats) they are also vital for the pollination of native flora, an essential element to the tapestry of wild life. There is also evidence to suggest that climate change is shifting the habitable ranges of many of the moths that call the UK home, and while this can produce some spectacular species visiting from continental Europe, many of the species that have relied on the temperate climate in the UK are being forced out northward.

With a recent trend in wildlife gardening and more strict rules on chemicals used in agriculture, there is hope however that we can retain and rebuild some of the moth populations that are so vital in our countryside. Butterfly Conservation have a wealth of information available on their website about the trends of moth populations and, very importantly, what you can do to take action, join the conversation and promote moths at https://butterfly-conservation.org/moths/why-moths-matter

If you are interested in learning about which moth species are visiting your garden or local wild places, light trapping is simple and loads of fun. At NHBS we supply a range of moth traps suited for a number of habitats and a wide selection of amazing field guides to aid in identifying the moths you find. Below we have listed some of our favourite traps and provided a little more information on the differences between them, however if you wish to see our full selection of moth traps please visit our website.

Robinson Moth Traps

These large traps are renowned among lepidopterists because they offer the highest attraction and retention rates available. These traps are fitted with either mercury vapour or actinic electrics. Mercury vapour bulbs offer greater brightness than actinic bulbs and consequently they will often attract more moths. However actinic electrics may be favourable in areas where the brighter bulbs may cause disturbance; they also run cold and do not need to be shielded from rain, unlike mercury bulbs which are likely to shatter when used without a rain guard.

Heavy Duty 125W MV Robinson Moth Trap

 

* Price: £465.00 inc VAT
* Dimensions: 50 (h) x 60 (w) cm
* Weight: 7.9kg
* Electrics: 240V mains electric
* Also available with actinic electrics

Skinner Moth Traps

These traps are precursors to the Robinson, and as well as being a more economic choice, they allow the catch to be accessed while the trap is running. They feature a plastic or wooden box with a light fitted to a cross member above a long slit through which moths fall and become trapped. A highlight of this box are the transparent panels that make up the trap lid. These can be removed to access the catch while the trap is running, which is great for real-time surveys and demonstrations. These traps can be easily collapsed down for easy storage and transport.

Compact 20W Skinner Moth Trap (240V)

* Price: £179.00 inc VAT
* Dimensions: 32 (h) x 35 (w) x 35 (d) cm
* Weight: 3kg
* Electrics: 240V mains electric
* Alternative battery-operated units also available.

 

 

Heath Moth Traps

These traps are favoured for their lower cost and compact design which makes them highly portable (excellent for use in remote areas) and easy to store; some are even small enough to fit into a rucksack. They are usually battery powered and feature a low wattage light source of between 6 and 20 Watts (however some mains operated traps can reach 40 Watts), and consequently these traps have lower catch sizes and retention rates than Skinner or Robinson models.

Compact 20W Actinic Heath Moth Trap (240V)

 

* Price: £149.00 inc VAT
* Dimensions: 47 (h) x 25 (w) x 25 (d) cm
* Weight: 3kg
* Electrics: 240V mains electric
* Also available as a battery-operated unit.

 

 

Suggested books on Moths


Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland

Paperback | Nov 2018| £27.99 £34.99
A comprehensive guide with full colour illustrations and up-to-date information on the taxonomy, ecology and distributions of the UK’s macro-moths.

 


Concise Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland
Paperback | Oct 2018| £13.99 £16.99
This compact guide features full colour illustrations and concise descriptions for almost all British and Irish species of macro-moths

 

Emperors, Admirals & Chimney Sweepers | The Weird and Wonderful Names of Butterflies and Moths
Hardback | May 2019| £24.99 £29.99
A beautifully written book that seeks to explore the origins and meanings of the names of our butterflies and moths.

 

The Moth Snowstorm | Nature and Joy
Paperback | Apr 2016| £9.99
Drawing on a wealth of memorable experiences from a lifetime of watching and thinking about wildlife and natural landscapes Michael McCarthy presents a new way of looking at the world around us.

 

Please note that prices stated in this blog post are correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change at any time.

Biodiversity News

Impressive Arctic Fox migration

Scientists report the first satellite tracking of an Arctic fox Vulpes lagopus between continents and High-Arctic ecosystems. A young female travelled 3,506km in 76 days from Spitsbergen (Svalbard Archipelago, Norway) to Ellesmere Island (Nunavut, Canada) moving at an average rate of 46.3km/day.  This is among the longest dispersal events ever recorded for an Arctic Fox and the observation provides supporting evidence of gene flow across Arctic regions, including those seasonally bridged by sea ice.

 

Diverse urban bumblebees

Researchers have identified that urban bumblebees are smaller and more phenotypically diverse than their rural counterparts. Their results suggest that urban and rural populations possibly experience differential selection pressures resulting in trait differences across and among populations.

 

Sea slug defence

The sea slug Elysis rufescens eats its preferred algae not only as a source of energy, but a source of defence as part of a three-way symbiotic relationship. The sea slug eats the algae, then obtains the algae’s defensive chemicals (through the help of a bacteria) which the slug then can deploy against its own predators.

Solitary Bee Week

Although we are all familiar with the important role that bumblebees and honeybees play in pollination, over 90% of the UK’s 267 bee species are in fact solitary bees. Pollinating animals are responsible for one third of the food we consume and solitary bees are particularly efficient pollinators. Unlike other bees solitary bees do not have pollen baskets and so transfer much more pollen between flowers, meaning a single red mason bee provides a pollination service equivalent to 120 worker honey bees. This makes them a critical resource in our gardens and wider countryside and one that we should all be keen to protect. We have collated some information below on how to help encourage and preserve these fascinating creatures.

Ivy Bee © Sophie Cooper

Solitary Bee Ecology

Solitary bees use a wide range of nest sites including tunnels in wood or mortar, plant stems and even snail shells. They lay eggs in a series of cells and then block the entrance with materials such as mud, leaves or fine hair. The female lays an egg with a food source, made from pollen and nectar, before building a partition wall and moving on to the next cell. The bee larvae hatch, eat the food source then overwinter as a cocoon before emerging the following summer as adults.

Solitary Bee cells in the Solitary Beehive

There have been extremely worrying declines in insect numbers recorded across Europe, and solitary bees are no exception. The increased use of chemicals in farming, loss of flower meadow food sources and loss of nest sites in hedgerows and gardens are all combining to drive down numbers. The good news is that it is easy to provide food sources and nesting habitat in your garden to help solitary bees and increase pollination. 

Providing Resources for Solitary Bees

Provide food sources for solitary bees by planting wild flower seeds, native trees such as hawthorn and willow, bee friendly plants such as ivy, foxgloves and lavender and allowing plants such as borage and thistles to flower in your garden. Nest sites can be provided by leaving dead wood and stems standing, creating a patch of bare earth or mud bank for mining bees and by installing wild bee houses. 

BeePot Bee Hotel © Green & Blue

With careful design consideration, bee houses can provide shelter and nesting sites for solitary bees. Bee houses can be manufactured from a variety of materials but should have a good overhanging roof to protect the nesting tubes from rain, nesting holes between 2 and 10mm in diameter and a solid back. It is better to have a number of smaller bee houses, rather than one large house to reduce the risk of parasites finding the nest. Alternatively we have a wide range of solitary bee nesting habitats available on our website.

You can tell which species of bee is using your bee house by examining the material used to plug the entrance hole. Different species also emerge at different points in the year. The most common species likely to populate bee houses are red mason bees who use mud and are active March – July, leafcutter bees who use leaves and are active May – September, and wool carder bees who use fine hairs and are active June – August. Please note that there are fewer solitary bee species in the North of England and Scotland.

Leafcutter Bee in Action © Green & Blue

Solitary Bee House Siting and Maintenance

Insect houses should be sited at least 1m off the ground, facing south or south-east, with no vegetation covering the entrance and in full sun as insects need warmth to keep moving. They should be firmly fixed so that they don’t move in the wind. If your box is likely to be occupied by red mason bees then it is helpful to ensure that there is a patch of damp mud nearby. In order to maximise the chances of adults emerging successfully from the cocoons, it is a good idea to bring bee boxes indoors into an unheated shed or garage during the winter to avoid them getting too damp. The boxes should then be taken back outside in March in time for the new adults to emerge. There is some debate as to whether brick / concrete boxes should be cleaned but they can be cleaned out with a tent peg and pipe cleaner. Boxes with cardboard tubes should have the tubes replaced regularly. Keep an eye out for failed nests and tiny holes in the mud entrance as this can indicate that the nest tube has been taken over by parasites. 

Mining Bee © Ed Phillips

Suggested Solitary Bee Houses

Bee Brick

This Bee Brick can be used in place of a standard brick or as a standalone bee house in your garden or wild patch. Available in four colours. £29.99 £39.99

Solitary Beehive

This unique solitary beehive is made from durable FSC timber and designed specifically to attract solitary bees which are naturally attracted to holes in wood. £23.99 £29.99

 

Red Mason Bee Nest Box

The nest box is supplied with 29 individual nesting tubes, two sets of screws and plugs for mounting, and full instructions. £10.99

 

BeePot Bee Hotel

This is a fantastic concrete planter which doubles as a nesting place for solitary bees. Available in a range of colours and sizes, this is the larger size, the mini version is also available. £42.95 £49.99

WoodStone Insect Block

This WoodStone Insect Block is constructed from durable, FSC certified WoodStone with a nesting area created from reed stems.

£24.95 

 

Urban Bee Nester

This urban insect hotel is part of the contemporary range of wildlife habitats that have a sleek design for city living.

£20.99 £27.50

 

Suggested books on solitary bees

Solitary Bees
Paperback | July 2019| £19.99
An introduction to the natural history, ecology and conservation of solitary bees, together with an easy-to-use key to genera.

 

The Solitary Bees: Biology, Evolution, Conservation Hardback | September 2019| £27.99 £34.99                           The most up-to-date and authoritative resource on the biology and evolution of solitary bees.

 

 

Handbook of the Bees of the British Isles (2-Volume Set) Hardback | October 2018| £130 £150

With photographic material of over 270 bee species, this comprehensive handbook is a once-in-a-generation identification work to the British bee fauna.

 

Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland Paperback | December 2018| £27.99 £34.99

A comprehensive introduction to bee classification, ecology, field techniques and recording, a full glossary, and information on how to separate the sexes and distinguish bees from other insects is also included.

 

Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees                Paperback | April 2019| £9.99 

Award-winning author, Thor Hanson takes us on a journey that begins 125 million years ago, when a wasp first dared to feed pollen to its young.

 

In order to increase awareness of how vital a role our solitary bees play in pollination, the first week of July has been designated as Solitary Bee Week. You can get involved by pledging to create nesting sites or plant food sources for bees, writing poetry or recording bee sightings.

 

The NHBS Harp Trap

The NHBS Harp Trap 

Earlier this year we were delighted to launch another exciting product manufactured here at our base in Devon. After a concerted period of design and manufacturing effort by our expert Workshop Team, followed by testing and review by ecological professionals, our NHBS Harp Trap was ready for production. The launch of our product into the wildlife equipment market signals the arrival of the only commercially produced harp trap in Europe. 

What is a Harp Trap? 

A harp trap provides an alternative bat survey method to mist netting or the use of bat detectors. They are particularly useful in situations where bats in flight can be channeled through a natural funnel such as above a water course, a cave or mine entrance or a clear area within a forest. 

Harp traps consist of a frame which is either freestanding or suspended, and supports two to four rows of nylon strings. The bats will fly into the nylon strands and then fall unharmed down into a collecting bag below. The catch bag is made from green cotton canvas that is water resistant and breathable and includes heavy duty clear plastic baffles to prevent the bats from escaping. Unlike mist nets, harp traps do not entangle the bats an it has been reported that they can be more effective for surveying bats, potentially capturing higher numbers of individuals. 

The NHBS Harp Trap

The new NHBS Harp Trap is a three-bank trap, meaning it has three rows of nylon line. Our trap has a catch area of approximately 4mand catch bag which is around 60cm deep.  It folds down neatly into a bespoke carry bag and weighs approximately 15kg-full specifications and dimensions are below. The trap takes two people around 10 minutes to assemble and stands on four sturdy, extendable legs and which can be arranged at the height that you need the trap to be. There is also the option to anchor the harp trap with guy ropes in windy conditions. The trap can also be adapted to be suspended if this is required. 

Our trap has a few innovative features designed to make assembly and disassembly easier. Firstly the strings are wrapped  around a winding mechanism which greatly reduces the stress and time-consuming act of sorting through tangled lines in the dark.

 

There is also an extension under the catch bag, which prevents the bats from flying underneath the trap and this doubles as protection for the component parts as it wraps around the disassembled trap when it is stored in its bag. 

Dimensions:

Catch area: 4m2 approximately
Catch area L x W: 180 x 225cm
Length: 180cm
Catch bag depth: 60cm
Catch bag width: 44cm
Weight: 15kg

Folded dimensions (in carry bag)
Height: 46cm
Length: 200cm
Width: 22cm

Operational dimensions
With legs fully retracted:
Height 314cm
Width (at base): 62cm
Length (at base): 230cm

With legs fully extended:
Height: 372cm
Width (at base): 100cm
Length (at base): 252cm

Testing 

As our harp trap evolved, prototypes were trialed and reviewed by ecology professionals; Professor Fiona Mathews of Sussex University and Neil Middleton of Batability. Their expertise and excellent feedback helped us develop our the harp trap to the point that it was now ready to go live. 

The team at NHBS have done an excellent job in coming up with a new and refreshing approach to harp trapping, which shows many innovative and useful design features.  When testing the equipment we were able to demonstrate that it was quicker/easier to assemble than competitor’s products.  We are happy to recommend this harp trap, and will be ordering one ourselves, to be used during our training courses and for bat-related research.   
Neil Middleton, BatAbility Courses & Tuition

The Law 

Harp traps can only be sold to those who are licensed to use them. If you hold such a licence, we will ask to see a copy of your NE, NRW or SNH licence when you contact us about your purchase. If you are purchasing from overseas, we will request details about your institution and research. 

NHBS Manufacturing

NHBS manufactures marine, freshwater and terrestrial survey tools, all carefully designed to meet the demands of researchers, consultants, public authorities and educators in the environment sector. Made by our team of expert engineers, fabricators and seamstresses, our products have become renowned for their quality, durability and affordability.

Find out more about our manufacturing.

Key accessories for using alongside your harp trap

The Petzl Tikka Headtorch has a 200 lumen beam and a maximum range of  60m. It has five lighting modes with both red and white light. It is powered by 3x AAA batteries (included) and available in four colours.

Price: £28.99 £32.00

 

The Kite LED Loupe Triplet Hand Lens 10 x 21 provides crystal clear images which are enhanced with its ring of LED lights. This product may prove invaluable when trying to identify some of the tiny distinguishing features of certain bat species. 

Price: £41.99 

The A4 Portrait Waterproof Clipboard allows you to write in the field without having to worry about the rain. A waterproof plastic covering system helps to keep your paper dry and can be closed over the clipboard with the strong velcro fastener. 

Price: £22.99

Books 

The Bats of Britain and Europe 

Paperback | Sept 2018 

Price: £23.99 £29.99

The Bat Workers’ Manual 

Paperback | July 2012 

Price: £29.99 

 

Field Guide to Bats of the Amazon 

Paperback |Feb 2018 

Price: £24.99 £29.99

 

Please note that prices are correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change at any time. 

The NHBS Guide to Hand Lenses

The possession of a hand lens is one of the defining characteristics of a naturalist.

We use them for everything from peering at beetle genitalia and examining floral characters, to examining the arrangement of teeth in small mammal jaw bones. There are a wide variety of hand lenses on the market so how do you decide which lens is best for you? This article contains all the information you need to make an informed choice.

Glass versus plastic lens?

The optic in a hand lens can be made from glass or plastic. Serious naturalists and professionals will always choose a glass lens. Plastic lenses are generally more affordable and lighter but are of lower optical quality and are more difficult to clean. Plastic hand lenses and magnifiers, however, can be a good choice for schools and young children, for these users have a look at the Hand Held Magnifier.

How many optical elements?

Canon 400mm

An element is an individual piece of glass within a lens. When you look through a high quality camera lens you will typically be viewing what’s in front of the lens through four to six lens elements, as well as other elements used for focusing and zooming (see image below right).

Paul Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM By Paul Chin

Hand lenses are constructed with one (singlet), two (doublet) or three (triplet) lens elements. Each one is specially shaped to correct for a particular type of optical distortion, so the more elements, the higher quality the image.

 

The highest quality lenses that we offer are the triplet products made by Kite and Belomo. These offer a bright, crystal clear and undistorted view of your subject. The images afforded by these optics will impress the user whatever their field of work is, be it geology, entomology or botany.

 

N.B. There is a brand of hand lens / loupe called “Triplet”. Please note that despite the brand name this popular product has one lens (singlet).

 

If you are interested in obtaining a doublet hand lens you should consider those that are manufactured by Opticron and also Kite. Opticron will be a familiar name if you have ever researched the purchase of a pair of binoculars and their hand lenses provide excellent distortion free magnification at 6x, 10x and 15x.

Magnification

A 10x magnification hand lens will be more than adequate for most purposes. Higher magnification lenses tend to be harder to use but are very useful for viewing extremely small objects. If you are unsure of which magnification you need, or think you may need several different lenses, you might consider the Triple Hand Lens (x3, x4 and x5).

Lens diameter

Large diameter lenses provide a wider field of view which means that they are easier to use but they are slightly more expensive to produce.

How hand leOpticron Hand lens, 23mm, 10x magnificationnses are named

Hand lenses are named in the same way as binoculars, with both the lens diameter and the magnification included in the name. For example, the Opticron Hand Lens, 23mm, 10x Magnification has a 23mm diameter lens and provides 10x magnification.

LED Option

Some hand lenses such as the LED Triplet Loupe Hand Lens 10x 21mm possess LED lighting in order to illuminate the object that you are viewing. This option can greatly improve your viewing experience and can be particularly valuable in low light conditions. Bat workers have expressed how useful these can be when looking for the key identifying features of a specimen held in the hand. Using a lens with LED can reduce stress on the bat because it means that you do not have to point the beam of your head torch directly at the animal.

Using your hand lens

Finally, a quick note on hand lens technique. To use your hand lens correctly, hold the lens close to your eye and then either a) move the subject closer to your eye until it comes in to focus or b) move your head (and the hand lens) closer to the subject until it comes into focus. It’s easy with a little practice so don’t get put off if you find a new hand lens difficult at first. Expect to get close up to what you’re examining – it’s quite common to see naturalists crawling around on the ground to get close to a plant they’re identifying.

Keeping your hand lens safe

It can be very hard to find a much-loved hand lens dropped in long grass or woodland. To prevent this happening, we recommend a lanyard for your hand lens – this has two functions: a) if you have it round your neck you won’t drop it, and b) if you put it down somewhere the bright blue lanyard is easy to spot.

For storage and transport purposes most hand lenses come equipped with either a storage pouch or a plastic case. These enable you to keep your optic safe and reduce the risk of scratches or knocks occurring, especially when it is being carried in a pocket or bag. Spare leather pouches are available for the Triplet Loupe 10x 21mm but these may fit other lenses as well – we are happy to check before you buy.

Our full range of lenses and magnifiers can be found at nhbs.com.

Author interview: Simon Barnes

When writer Simon Barnes heard a Cetti’s Warbler sing out at a house viewing, he knew immediately that he had found his new home. Their new garden backed onto an area of marshy land which he and his wife purchased and began to manage it as a conservation area, working with the Wildlife Trust to ensure it became as appealing as possible to all species.

On the Marsh is his account of a year spent surrounded by wildlife. Part memoir, part nature guide, this is a vivid and beautifully written account of the wonders that can sometimes be found on our doorsteps, and how nature can transform us all.

We asked Simon a few questions about the inspiration behind writing his new book and his hopes and ambitions for the wildlife of Britain.

 

1. Can you tell us a little about your background and how you got interested in the natural world?

 

I received David Attenborough’s Zoo Quest for a Dragon as a junior school prize, the Natural History Museum every Saturday and the trees of Streatham Common to climb. After education and four years on local papers I ran away to Asia, when I worked as a gonzo journalist and re-found my taste for wildness.

I returned home and started writing about sport and wildlife, with columns in The Times on both subjects; I was chief sports writer for 12 years. I have written a number of books on wildlife, including the Bad Birdwatcher trilogy.

2. What was your inspiration to write a more auto-biographical work than your previous books?

I suppose it was the marsh itself. I wanted to write, not just about the few acres of Norfolk marshland we are lucky enough to own, but also about living with the place: sharing it: being a part of it.

I started writing with that idea in mind: and at once, my younger son Eddie made an entrance. I hadn’t really planned that, but he and I spend a lot of time out there, so it had to happen, I suppose. He’s just turned 18 and has Down’s syndrome. I started off wanting to write about vulnerable places: I ended up writing about vulnerable people as well.

3. Do you believe intervention in the form of land management is important to keep places like the marsh just as they are?

In land-management, doing nothing is a powerful form of action. Mostly I have left the marsh do what it wanted, but I have made sure the dikes are kept cleared and some trees have been cut down. I now manage an adjoining few acres rented from the parish: I am trying to keep this place open with the help of a local grazier. Nice contrast.

What’s natural? What’s unnatural? What’s imposed? Sterile questions: what matters is life.

4. The Barn Owl is often described in your book; would you say that it was the totem species on the marsh, or would you give that accolade to something else?

 

I am slightly surprised by this question, because so far as I am concerned, the marsh harriers steal the show. Marsh harriers: extinct as breeding birds in this country in the 19th century, making a comeback after WW1, then reduced in 1971 to a single pair – and now they skydance and hunt and food-pass over our bit of marsh: the powered flight just above stalling speed, the long glide with the wings held in that dihedral, and above all, the sense of ownership… because the marsh harriers own the marsh. I have the immense privilege of looking on.

5. While observing the marsh, was there one surprising fact or discovery that you didn’t previously know that you’d like to tell us about?

I was given a moth-trap for my birthday. I am pretty ignorant about moths, but on the first day I used it, the first moth I found was the moth on the cover of my moth ID book: an Elephant hawk moth, big enough to count as an honorary bird. So I read it up: and apparently it’s common. Well, maybe so: not commonly seen. It was a classic through-the-wardrobe moment.

6. What are your hopes for the future of such special and bio-diverse places?

My hope for the future is that they have one. I have long given up optimism, because I’m not daft, but pessimism is no way to live. Will we win the battle? Or will we lose? Such questions no longer matter. What matters is fighting on the right side.

7. Do you have any new projects in the pipeline that you’d like to tell us about?

 

 

I’m working on a big fat book called A History of the World in 100 Animals. It’s about the interface between human and non-human species: starting with Lion (we humans were originally a prey species), moving on to domestic cat (did we take them into our home because they purr?) and then to Gorilla (did you know there were just 46 years between King Kong terrorising New York and David Attenborough romping with Gorillas in Rwanda? That’s revisionism for you…). After that, Galapagos Mockingbird, American Bison, Oriental Rat Flea… you get the idea.

On the Marsh: A Year Surrounded by Wildness and Wet
Hardback | June 2019| £13.99 £16.99

How the rewilding of eight acres of Norfolk marshland inspired a family and brought nature even closer to home.

 

All prices correct at the time of publication.

30 Days Wild at NHBS Part 1

For 30 days wild this year we decided to take part in as many random acts of wildness as we could. From bug hunting to rock pooling, lichen identification and more, read on to discover ideas for summer activities you can take part in too!

Bug hunting

NHBS Book specialist, Nigel took some time out to go bug hunting with his children, their favourite find being a Red Admiral. They enjoyed using our Educational Bug Hunting Kit.

 

Cuckoo recording

NHBS EQ Specialist, Johnny took out some sound recording gear including the Tascam DR05 to record Common Cuckoos on Dartmoor. Read more about this on our sound recording blog.

 

Orchid spotting  

Our Designer Oli, went to Dawlish to look for orchids and using his trusty Orchids of Britain and Ireland, he managed to identify some Bee Orchids!

Rock pooling

Rock pooling in Plymouth was the next activity with our Marketing Coordinator Soma and British Wildlife Editorial Assistant Kat. Using our NHBS Rock Pooling Kits we found a sea spider (pycnogonid) and a Netted Dog Whelk among lots of seaweed. We also collected some seaweed to press – see part 2 for the big reveal!

Lichen identification

For Love Your Burial Grounds Week, a group of us visited a old Jewish cemetery to learn more about the local Jewish community and explore the wildlife in this biodiversity hotspot. We identified a plethora of lichen including Verrucaria baldensis with our singlet hand lens using our FSC Guide to Common Churchyard Lichens, and confirmed by the more comprehensive Lichen: An Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species. Other finds included: a Swollen-thighed Beetle, numerous wildflowers and bees among many others.

 

Other interesting finds throughout the month of June

  1. Four-spotted Footman caterpillar in Plymouth
  2. Sundews on Dartmoor

Dino-Lite Offer – free carry case with selected models

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AM7915MZT Dino-Lite Edge USB Digital Microscope £1056

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Dino-Lite WF4915ZT Wireless Digital Microscope £1065

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