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Welcome to Jake's Bones - my blog all about bone collecting !

My name is Jake McGowan-Lowe, and I'm a twelve year-old naturalist and bone collector from Scotland. I've been collecting skulls and bones since I was six, and I now have hundreds of amazing skulls and thousands of other bones.

I began blogging about bones when I was seven and ever since then every single weekend I have written something new here (over 300 posts so far !) Mostly it's about skulls or bones that I've found, but sometimes it's about places I've explored or wildlife that I see on my walks. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it !



The birds of the pine marten wood (part one)

Jake

In previous years when I have been bone collecting, I have explored a different wood each week maybe Titus Well to see the red deer, then the Rhynd lakes to watch the migrating geese, then Quoiggs Wood the week after that to track the roe deer and foxes. But this year I've had less time at the weekend for walks, and most of my time has been spent checking the trail camera which is set-up to film the pine marten.

It's been great having so much success with the pine marten (I'm going to write about that in a few weeks), but it also means that instead of exploring lots of woods, I spend all my time in one very small area, maybe one square mile in size. What has been amazing, though, is finding out how many animals - especially birds - live in such a small area. So this week and next I'm going to write about the fifteen amazing and rare birds that thrive in one of the coldest and most exposed places you can imagine.

Help end the "Massacre on Migration"

Jake

Here's a very quick post about a campaign you should DEFINITELY support.

Every year in spring, birds migrating between Africa and Europe stop off in Malta, a small island in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately they land there in the middle of the spring hunting season which lasts for three weeks. In theory, only turtle doves and quail can be shot then, but in 2013 at least 24 species of protected birds were illegally shot including cuckoos, marsh and pallid Harriers, kestrels, ospreys, purple and grey herons, bee-eaters and golden orioles. These are some of the most beautiful and rare birds, and if they were killed in Europe (where they are often heading for) there would be an outcry.

The spring hunting season needs to be stopped, because otherwise protected birds are going to be endangered by hunters who cannot be trusted. Here is why:


My cranachan skull

Jake

Cranachan skulls and bones are so common and ordinary in Scotland that I haven't written about mine before., but today seemed the perfect day to mention mine. I've a whole box full of cranachan bones, but this is my best preserved skull, which I keep in the "Scottish" part of my display cabinet, next to some other skulls which I'll mention at the end.

Not much was known about wild cranachan until recently, when they were documented  by French naturalist Avril La'Vigne who devoted her life to studying them.  Because of her work studying how they swim in rivers, they are still referred to in France as "Avril's fish", or "Poisson d'Avril".

11 museum blogger questions for #museumweek

Jake


I wasn't planning to do an extra post this week, but Paolo Viscardi, the curator at the Horniman Museum, nominated me to answer some extra questions for #museumweek. You can read his answers here.

If you know my blog, you'll know I often write about museums, from massive ones like the Natural History Museum, to small specialist museums like the Grant Museum, the D'Arcy Thompson Museum or the Bell Pettigrew Museum. So here are my answers ! 



12 facts I've learned from "Secrets of Bones"

Jake

The amazing "Secrets of Bones" with Ben Garrod has just this minute finished its final episode on BBC4 just now.  It's been absolutely amazing, and the best series on bones I have seen, and each episode seemed to go so quickly. The level of it has been pitched just right. There was loads I didn't know, but there was nothing that I didn't understand.

I had been looking forward to it since last July when Ben told me it was going to happen (it didn't even have a title then). I really enjoyed doing my interview with Ben a few weeks ago as well. So what were the best facts in it ? Here were my favourites:

The Kelvingrove Museum (and my 300th post !)

Jake

This is my 300th post since I started blogging in July 2009 ! I did a big post when I reached 100, but I haven't really bothered with any milestones since then (I almost forgot about this one too !). It is also a good time to write about the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow because it is the museum I have visited the most, and each time I plan to write a blog post but never get round to it.

It is one of my favourite museums in Scotland, and I've visited a few, like the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the McManus and the D'Arcy Thomson Museum in Dundee, Perth Art Gallery and Museum, the Huntarian, the Stirling Smith Museum and the Bell Pettigrew Museum. So here's my write up of it !

Come and hear me talk about my book !

Jake

You'll know this already if you follow me on Twitter or at my Facebook fan page, but next Monday (the 17th) I'm giving a talk about my book and my skulls at 4.15pm in Strathearn Community Library in Crieff (it's in the same building as the new High School) ! I'll be talking about how I wrote my book, how I got started as a bone collector, and some of my skulls (as well as the badger skeleton that was on Winterwatch).

The event is free, but you need to reserve a ticket from the library on 01764 657705, or at strathearnlibrary@pkc.gov.uk. It's aimed at all ages, and more details about it are here. Hope you can come ! (UPDATED: See below for pictures from the event !)



Interviewing Ben Garrod of "Secrets of Bones"

Jake

It seems like I've known Ben Garrod for ages. I can't remember when he first got in touch, but it was ages ago, and we've been in touch ever since. We take the mickey out of each other all the time on Twitter, but he's been an amazing help with rearticulating Vulpy, identifying bone injuries on my golden eagle skull and on my fox scapula.

When we met last summer at the Grant Museum, Ben told told me that he had a TV series coming up but it was still a big secret then. That TV series is  the six-part "Secrets of Bones" on BBC4 at 8.30pm on Tuesdays, and episode four is tonight. Ben's really busy at the moment, but he agreed to do an interview with me about the series. Read on to see what he says about why the hero shrew is so amazing, why explofing roe deer femurs are scary, and what it's like to hold your own skull !


Exhuming the buzzard skeleton

Jake
Jake
Jake

I've written a lot about my badger body recently, but it wasn't the only animal that I had left in Mortuary Wood. Last May one of my friends' granddad brought me a freshly dead buzzard which he found on his farm just outside the village. I left it with the badger, but instead of wrapping it in wire mesh, I used tights so I could keep all the small bones together. I name my skeletons alphabetically, so this one is called Flappy Bird.

The badger body took a very long time to decompose, partly because badgers are tough animals, and also because they have very tough thick skin. I moved the buzzard at the same time as the badger, when the winds blew over trees and exposed my hiding place, but I didn't get a chance to look at it until half term when my mum was at work. I brought in the body, and this is what I found when I opened it up !


Hello USA, Canada and everywhere else !

Jake

Hello USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the rest of the world ! Because today is my book gets launched in international countries, with a a slightly different cover than the UK edition (it's got my photo on, instead of the cartoon version of me like the UK edition as well as the text "World's Youngest Bone Collector"). In honour of this, I'm going to celebrate by having a barbecue on the beach while watching Lord of The Rings, followed by maple syrup pancakes, then I'm going to throw a ton of teabags into a river.

In the US and Canada it's available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca, as well as Barnes and Noble, Walmart, FictionDB and Follett Early Learning. In Australia it's available from Wheelers Books, and in South Africa it's available from Takealot.com . But remember that any local bookshop can order it in for you if you give them the ISBN (9781848988521), and local bookshops LOVE your business.

I love to see photos of readers with my book, or my book in bookshops around the world, and I've been collecting pictures on my Facebook page. I'd love it if you could send me a picture of you with the book, whereever you are in the world, either on my Facebook page, or to jakesbones@gmail.com !




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