TY2015: A week at BEES in UCC

Diarmuid O’Halloran, St Peters Community School

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For this week, Monday 2nd to Friday 6th, I was a UCC school of BEES (school of Biology Earth and Environmental Science) my favourite part of the course was bird ringing with Dr John Quinn. Bird ringing is catching birds in a net and putting a small ring around their leg. This ring has identifying numbers on the side which are catalogued. We mostly caught blue tits. The bird’s weight is taken as well as the length of its wings and its age. Its gender is also noted. The weight is taken by putting the bird in a small cup so it doesn’t get out and then put on small scale. Its wing length is taken using a specially designed rule that hooks at the top of the wing and the length is taken. Its age is not specifically determined, just weather or not it hatched in the last spring to when it was caught. The age is determined by its wing feathers, the feathers at the edge if the wing will be a different shade to the others. The way to determine the gender of a bird differs with all birds.

I also enjoyed doing terrestrial ecology with Dr Simon Harrison. In this we collected pit-fall traps and looked at their contents under a microscope to find any living organisms, there were mostly small bugs in the traps. The traps had some anti-freeze in them to kill the bugs when the fell in. some of the traps had already been taken up by and animal in the night.

We also worked with some of the postgrads, they showed us what they were studying for their PhD. The post grad my group was working with was studying badgers, specifically them crossing under animal crossings, which are built under motorways for animals to safely cross. He set up camera traps which are motion sensing cameras that take a picture when something walks by. He got pictures of lots of badgers as well as some foxes, dogs, cats and other animals.

That was my experience in the school of BEES. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was worth it.

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