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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 !



Five cool mysteries from yesterday's walk

Jake

I'm in the last few weeks of my school holiday (Scottish schools go back earlier than English schools), and yesterday I had planned to explore a new wood high on the moors which needed to start with a steep climb up the hill. But as I set off I could see the rain coming in over the hills, and I knew it was going to be a long, exposed walk to the wood, so instead I decided to go back to Suicides Graves, which is a large red deer wood I've explored many times before.

So dad and I went looking for deer and bones and we took a loop through the wood, starting with the south east edge, moving along the south, then cutting back through the middle of the wood to look for frogs. ( I found loads !) On the walk we found five pretty cool mysteries: can you solve them ? (Click on "Click to see the answer" under each one to reveal what it was !)


Five years of blogging !

Jake


It is now EXACTLY five years ago today when I wrote my very first blog post, which was about the broken swan skull I found in my local wood. I never, ever expected what would happen in the next five years !

Since then I have written over 322 posts and I have had 1,658 comments, but I'm still writing more or less the same way, about once a week, about bones I find, wildlife I see or places I have visited. But I have also been on the TV, radio, in newspapers, met some of my heroes, and even got my first book deal ! So for my fifth anniversary I have written my blog post early in the week and answered your questions about my blogging journey !


Come to my talk in Bath !

Jake


Okay, another big announcement ! On the 5th October I'll be giving a Q&A session at the Telegraph Bath Childrens' Literature Festival, talking about bone collecting, my collection, blogging, being on Winterwatch, presenting my book to the royal family, and how my book came about. It's going to be brilliant.

It's going to be a great session in a massive room (it seats 120 !), and I'm talking to Ceebeebies presenter and naturalist Jess French. I'll be signing books afterwards, and talking some more to anyone who comes along.

If you follow my blog, or if you've bought my book, or if you just love bones and nature, or if you just want to say hi, I'd love it if you could come along ! It's at 3.15pm on Sunday 5th October at the Guildhall in Bath, and you can buy tickets at their website (only £6 !). The website says it's for 10+, and the brochure says 12+, but if you're younger, ignore that: I'm 12 and I'll be talking about a hobby I started when I was just 6, so it's suitable for everyone.

Let me know if you're coming - it'll be brilliant to meet some of you !

How I identified a mystery bone

Jake

This week's post is a long one, about working out how to identify a fragment of bone I was given, and which was found in the village. I am sometimes asked how I identify bones, and it's difficult to explain because it's a mixture of guesswork, looking in books, and remembering details from other skulls I have.

So here's how I worked it out from a fragment of bone what it was from, even though I'd never seen any bones from that animal before. I actually worked most of it out while standing in my garden, so it wasn't quite as complicated as it seems here. So here it is...and do you think I got it right in the end ?


The roe deer of the pine marten wood

Jake

I've blogged before about my Bushnell trail camera, which for the last nine months has been filming a nearby wood where a pine marten lives.  Because I have been concentrating on this one, small wood, I've begun to get to know the local wildlife really well, especially with the roe deer who sometimes get filmed on the camera as well. The camera footage is really useful for tracking and identifying the different deer.

Roe deer are one of the most common types of deer here, and are really interesting to watch. Sometimes you see them in large groupings, especially in spring, but they are easier to watch than the red deer, and less aggressive. Here are the roe deer in the group that I have identified, starting with the young fawn I spotted a few weeks ago !

So..... what would you like to ask me ?

Jake


On 21st July will be five years since my very first post here which seems quite amazing. I don't often celebrate blog birthdays, but I thought five years would be worth a special post.

So here's my plan: on the 21st July I will do a special Q&A post where I answer any questions you have. I'm thinking the questions would be more about the blogging side and my book, rather than specific scientific questions on bones, but if you have any good other questions I'll try to answer them as well.

Add your questions as a comment here, email them to me at jakesbones@gmail.com, add them to my Facebook page or tweet them to @jakesbones, and I look forward to answering them on the 21st !

Strange bones: the broken roe deer tibia

Jake



This week's been very busy: today was my last day of the school year (in Scotland the summer break starts and ends about three weeks earlier than in England), I've been working on a lot of things behind the scenes, and tomorrow morning I'm off on Scout camp for five days. So today I'm going to do a follow-up post about some interesting bones.

Last week I wrote about exploring a wood I was last in a few years ago, and finding the partial remains of a roe deer while I was sheltering under a tree from the rain. The skeleton wasn't terribly interesting, except for the left tibia which was broken. In the end, I brought back both tibias, but when I started asking questions on Twitter from experts I realised there was probably enough to write an entire post about the injury.


Exploring woods, a storm, and an unlucky deer

Jake


I  love exploring new woods. I have been to almost all of the woods near my house over the last four years, and know them pretty much like the back of my hand, so last weekend I decided to explore a wood that I have only been to once before.  It's the wood which has the hidden disused watermill above the waterfall, and is close to the deserted castle.

There is only one track to the wood, and you need to drive there. After we parked the car, there was a short track which leads to the top of the south side of a big valley. There was once trees in the valley, but the ones on the south side were cut down when I was last here two years ago. At the bottom, a stream has been dammed to make a large pond, but is is very hard to see it from a distance because there are bushes all round the pond.


Six things to do now Springwatch's finished...

Jake

Tonight was the last episode of this year's BBC Springwatch. It was an amazing series, as they all are. If you live outside the UK, Springwatch/Autumnwatch/Winterwatch are a live TV series, three times a year broadcast from a nature reserve, featuring incredible filming about all the wildlife you can find here. You might remember I have been on BBC Autunmwatch before with Chris Packham and Winterwatch Unsprung earlier this year with Nick Baker. This year is it's tenth anniversary.

So if you're a parent, and your children has enjoyed Springwatch, and you want to find out more about wildlife, what can you do next ? Here are five simple ideas, based on things I have done and blogged about before. And as a kid, I can say that I enjoyed them all !


A roe deer birth and a roe deer death

Jake

As you know, almost all my time this year has been spent in two woods on the moor near my village, looking for one very small animal: a pine marten ! I've been quite lucky with the filming, but while I've doing that I've been able to have a close look at the other wildlife that lives around there, like the birds, rabbits and roe deer.

Last weekend I was was away camping with the Scouts, but my dad took my two younger brothers up to move my trail camera which had been left for a week watching an owl perch at the very north end of the wood. He wasn't sure where to reposition the camera, so he walked with my brothers down the the south end of the wood. He couldn't think of anywhere to attach the camera, so he just went up to a random tree, but as he did, he noticed something beside a fallen tree branch that he thought was maybe a dead buzzard or owl.




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