Jackdaw nesting

I think a lot of people feel like jackdaws are boring, probably because they are common, but I actually think they are adorable. I caught this one nesting.
Jackdaw
She got this big stick but couldn’t fit it in the nest!
Jackdaw
She looked at me like “Stop photographing this!”
Jackdaw
Then she sat on top of the nest and thought about it for a minute.
Jackdaw
“Hmmmm I have an idea”
Jackdaw
Finally, she figured it out!
Jackdaw
She was immediately followed by her partner.
Then I didn’t see anything for a while and I was about to walk away when I heard the jackdaw call again, so I turned around and looked a bit lower on the tree and saw this out of a much smaller tree hole.
Jackdaw
Jackdaw

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Weird biases in academia

I had a really strange interaction in the glasshouses yesterday. To understand, you have to know a little bit about these glasshouses. First, they are ancient, broken down things hidden in an old alley between buildings. Last year, when I first found them, they were full of rubbish. With the help of the botany technical officer and a technician, we cleaned them out and I filled them with plants, but they have several issues.

1) The glass is broken in many places so they leak and are permeable to weather
2) The only lights are too low and have an extremely localised influence (they intensely light a very small area of bench space)
3) The benches do not drain
4) The roof is very short so several of my plants hit the ceiling and smoosh
5) There is very little space inside the glasshouses, so it’s very uncomfortable for more than one person to work in them at any one time

After the glasshouses had been cleared out, they started getting more attention, so now there are six different people sharing these tiny spaces and too many plants competing for too little space (admittedly I am the biggest source of this problem). This is all to say the space is probably inadequate for the research demands placed on it.

Anyway, yesterday I was applying treatments to my experimental plants in the glasshouses and another person came in to work on his experiment: a senior professor in the department. “Excuse me,” I said, “I’m just going to squeeze past you to fill up this watering can.”

“Oh yes, we can’t be large to do science,” he said, rather mysteriously in my opinion.

“What?” I asked, confused.

“We have to be fit, like all good scientists are!” he said.

At this point, all I could muster was a prolonged, “Uhhhhh…” I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic, telling me to lose weight, or including me in what I consider to be a somewhat abhorrent world view — that good scientists must be thin.

“Good scientists are so busy doing science, it keeps us thin,” he explained.

“Uhhhhh…” I continued (elegantly). I didn’t know whether I should challenge him on this. If he was joking, I was supposed to be in on the joke (which I wouldn’t find very funny in any case). If he was not joking, I felt like I should say you don’t need to be thin to be a good scientist. If he was criticizing my weight, I wanted to be ANYWHERE else.

It reminded me of this sad article I read a few years ago: https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2014/06/17/too-fat-to-be-a-scientist/

This is a really weird bias to me. Why would my weight have anything to do with my science?

Anyway, after I provided my eloquent response (uuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh), I finished filling the watering can and fled the glasshouse.

Some spring bees in Dublin

The weather this spring has been incredibly wet and cool, so I haven’t seen too many bees, but I did catch these photos in between bouts of rain.
IMG_5982
I love the hellebores, but it is so tough to photograph bees visiting these flowers…first, you have to photograph them basically upside down, and then the light situation makes it such that everything else is overexposed!
Bombus pratorum
Sleepy Bombus pratorum
Bombus pratorum
Gorse
I like gorse flowers
Ribes sanguinium
Ribes sanguinium is popular among the bees
Bombus terrestris
Bombus terrestris queen on rosemary
Bombus terrestris
Bombus terrestris
Bombus terrestris
Fuzzy butt is useful ID clue…terrestris queens have an off white tail, as opposed to lucorum queens which have a bright white tail
IMG_5898
Bombus pascuorum
Bombus pascuorum
Bombus terrestris
Ribes sanguinium
More Ribes sanguinium
Ribes sanguinium
Bombus terrestris
Anemone blanda
Anemone blanda

Links to share

I liked this article with tidy little observations about primroses and their interactions with bumblebees…some bumblebees have long tongues and can drink primrose nectar while others cannot reach the base of the corolla with their shorter tongues. I have yet to see a bee visit a primrose flower, but bees are not very abundant here in Ireland (at least not in my part of Ireland), so this may be sampling error: Wild Primroses. A good nectar source for early bumblebees?

A really different photo gallery with interesting concepts, including magnets and playing with light…I really enjoyed these!: Scientific Curiosity Captured in Photos

An article on the nuances of Ukrainian Borscht. I said it: Let Me Count the Ways of Making Borscht

I was visiting a friend’s new house and she was showing off a fancy rug she had just bought for quite a lot of money. I saw a clothes moth and slapped it immediately. “You’re so violent, SOIMF!” she complained, “Why did that moth have to die?” I tried to explain that this little moth, though harmless looking, was perfectly capable of destroying her brand new, expensive wool rug. But I don’t think she believed me. These guys can do a lot of damage! I don’t kill for no reason…: How to Get Rid of Clothes Moths

Is the increase in the prevalence of Lyme disease a symptom of climate change affecting disease dynamics? Ticks rising

Stealing this link from Dynamic Ecology, mostly because I want to point out that some of the most biodiverse ecosystems are ones that have been actively “traditionally” managed by humans for hundreds or thousands of years. For example, the diversity of the Burren (one of Ireland’s most famous botanical hotspots), was because of traditional Irish sheep herders and can only be maintained by human intervention…the natural progression would lead to the dominance of hazel forest. Another example is the incredibly diverse (>800 herbaceous plant species) hay meadows of Romania…they can only be maintained in that high diversity state if the farmers are able to continue their traditional management of the land. So human intervention is not ALWAYS bad…(the article also mentions a 40 inch (allegedly) poo if that’s what gets your attention)History and Value

The complex puppy rescue/breeder situation in the States: Dog rescuers, flush with donations, buy animals from the breeders they scorn

Is the Atlantic Ocean circulation slowing down? And what are the implications of this current slowing down? The ocean currents are responsible for making heat more evenly distributed around the earth as well as nutrient cycling and dispersal of ocean organisms. Definitely another impact of climate change to keep a wary eye on: Atlantic Ocean Current Slows Down To 1,000-Year Low, Studies Show

Over the past few weeks, one of my close friends was dying and it was…it was rough guys. Read this article with interest, and still have no idea what the best way to go is. Maybe it will always be awful no matter what: What Is A Dignified Death? As Her Mother Slips Away, A Daughter Wonders

The Fallow Deer of Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park Deer
Phoenix Park is the largest urban park in Europe, and it has a lot of really beautiful elements. One of its most popular attractions is its herd of semi-domesticated fallow deer. You’re not supposed to feed these deer, but (as you’ll see) tourists and locals alike LOVE to feed them.

Phoenix Park Deer
Phoenix Park Deer
Intermingling crowds of tourists and deer, plus locals with kids that want to feed the deer enormous Irish carrots
Phoenix Park Deer
So over it
Phoenix Park Deer
A dopey looking deer enjoying a carrot
Phoenix Park Deer
Human: wants to pet deer
Deer: wants food, where’s the food
Phoenix Park Deer
The deer make a lot of funny expressions when they’re trying to munch the carrots
Phoenix Park Deer
I love so many things about this little girl. 1) She looks like she’s trying hard to get the process perfect, “Let’s go over this ONE more time.” 2) She’s so Irish looking ghostly pale with bright red hair. 3) She is taking this SO seriously.
Phoenix Park Deer
Phoenix Park Deer
Phoenix Park Deer
I felt like warning this girl that there was another deer right behind her