As of February 2016, after 416 posts, and over six and a half years of blogging, I'm taking a break.
I've explained why here. There's plenty of past posts to read, though - hope you enjoy them !
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Archived posts: The following articles are from the month or year requested:

2011 has been another brilliant year


2011 has been the fifth year I have been bone collecting, and the third year I have had this blog, and I think it has been the best year yet. I have explored new woods, watched deer and foxes, spotted new birds and found some fantastic skulls and bones.

The five skulls I would most like to find in 2012


At the end of every year so far that I have been writing my blog, I have written about the five skulls I hope to collect in the next year. Most of the time I have been really lucky, and I have found them, but there have always been some that I didn't find. It helps me think about what I can collect over the next year, and where I might find them.

My birthday skull


Today is my tenth birthday ! I have a busy day planned and I am going to the cinema and my uncle and aunt have come over to stay as well. I even have a special birthday skull which I am going to write about today.

A few days ago the postman came with a parcel for me. It was from my friend Mrs Powell who is a bone collector in England. I opened it and the first thing I saw was a box full of leaflets about plants which is cool, another box which said "Happy 10th birthday, Jake", which had a birthday card, a present, and another box which had this amazing skull which is from...

My hooked-nosed sea pig skull


This is a post I have been meaning to write for ages. It is about a skull I swapped with my friend Mrs Powell when we met at the Scottish Seabird Centre in October. I meant to write about it the next week, but then all sorts of things happened, and then I wrote posts about being on Autumnwatch so I haven't had chance to write about it until now.

If you were just looking at this skull you might thing it was from some kind of savage animal like a bear  or a big cat (although the teeth are wrong for those). It is about 25cm long, which makes it one of the biggest skulls I have (apart from my cow, my red deer and my fallow deer). It feels chunky, rough and solid, and a bit frightening, so it can be a big surprise that it is actually from....

Why swan sternums are strange bones


Last week me and dad were on a walk up to the geese lakes to hopefully see the greylag geese that come here over the winter. We didn't see any of the greylags, so on the way back we decided to walk along the Rhynd lochs which I wrote about here. We walked along the very edge of the Upper Rhynd looking for bones, when dad saw a strange bone buried in the ground. It was a type of bone I have seen loads of but I have never seen one this big or as interesting.

When I wrote about the Autumnwatch mystery bone last week that was a sternum of a mammal. This was a type of sternum too, but from a bird. It was so big that could only have come from one bird: a swan.

Strange bones #8: The Autumnwatch mystery !


This is another special post about being filmed for BBC Autumnwatch, and I need your help !

When Chris Packham came to talk to me, he showed me a bone that had been sent in by an Autumnwatch viewer who lived in Warwickshire in England. She didn't know what it was and Chris asked if I could help. It had been found on a farm years ago, and she thought it was maybe from a reptile. He showed me the bone while I was being filmed and it's going to be part of the programme on Friday night.

Today I was filmed for BBC Autumnwatch !


For the last week I have been keeping a big secret, but now I can tell everyone. I am going to be on one of the BBC Autumnwatch Live programmes ! It was filmed today at my house with the main presenter Chris Packham.

One of the Autumnwatch producers emailed me about three weeks ago asking if I wanted to go on and asking me a bit more about my bone collection. Then last week it was decided that it was definitely going to happen. This morning when I woke up I felt really nervous and excited. I was excited because it is exciting to go on TV but I was nervous because it can be difficult and scary getting filmed. Last night I sent a message on Twitter to Chris Packham and he replied and said nice things about my blog so that helped too. 

Finding new deer bones in the Gleneagles wood


Last weekend, Dad and I went to the Gleneagles wood. It is a dense pine wood with a two really big clearings which has lots of roe deer, buzzards and red squirrels. I have written about it before, but I have hardly been there this year. 

We went in the wood at the north-east corner, and went down the east edge, going quietly in case we saw any deer but we didn't. As we went into the clearing there was a buzzard which was being noisy overhead because we were near its nest. Then we went along the south edge and split up to search for bones as we moved west.

Two amazing puffin skulls


Two weeks I wrote about the Scottish Seabird Centre and meeting Mrs Powell who is another bone collector. We met to swap two red skulls for a pig skull and a seal skull, but she kindly gave me some extra things including these amazing Atlantic puffin skulls.

Puffins are amazing birds. They can both fly and swim and they have to swim to catch fish in the water. The best thing about these skulls is that they have the beak sheats. Puffins are easy to spot because of their really bright beaks. Here is a stuffed puffin at the National Museum of Scotland:

Finding great bones in old ice houses


I was going to write about something else this week, but I had a really good walk yesterday and found some great new bones.

In the village where I live there used to be a big country mansion called Ardoch House in the woods which I call the Pheasant Woods which was built in the early 1700s. It was knocked down about 30 years ago but you can still walk round where it used to be. The house was built before there was electricity or freezers so they used ice houses to keep ice in. Ice house are built near lakes or lochs, and in winter ice was taken from the lake and stored.

Yesterday me and dad were walking through the old estate and we decided to explore the old icehouses and I made some amazing finds.

Happy Halloween !


Happy Halloween ! This year instead of a scary face or skull I did the Death Star, because Star Wars is cool.

Half term trips: the Scottish Seabird Centre


This is the third half term trip I have written about after Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre and the National Museum of Scotland, and it is one of the most special trips of all because I was meeting Mrs Powell who is also a bone collector. We had swapped some amazing skulls before and I had asked her if I she would like two red deer skulls (one of which was this one). She said yes and offered to swap for a pig and a seal, which are amazing and  I am going to write about later. She said maybe we could meet up in person, and she lives in the north of England and I live in Scotland and when we looked on a map the Scottish Seabird Centre was  in North Berwick which is about half way between.

Half term trips: The National Museum of Scotland


Last week me mum, dad, Harry and Sam all went to the new National Museum of Scotland which is in Edinburgh. It isn't really a new museum but they closed it for years to move things about. It reopened about two months ago and now it's even better.

The picture above is of the big natural history gallery. They have moved all the animals around and mixed them all up. Here are some of the things that I saw when I visited.

I now have 100 skulls in my room !


This is an extra long post but I think you will like it. This week I reorganized all the bones in my room and got an amazing surprise. Dad added even more shelves so I could put even more skulls out.  This next picture is what my room looks like if you take a photo all around (click for a bigger one)

Half term trips: Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre


Last week and next week were half term for me. In Perth and Kinross you get two weeks off in the autumn half term because Perthshire has a lot of farms and in olden days before there was X Factor the children were needed on the farms at this time to dig up potatoes. So this week and next week I have been doing lots of trips with my family that I am going to write about later. 

On Monday I went to the Scottish Seabird Centre to meet another amazing bone collector called Mrs Powell, and on Wednesday I went to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and I am going to write about those later. Today I am going to write about a trip that we did today to Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre. (I wrote one of my very first blog posts about a trip to Auchingarrich but somehow most of it got deleted)

Auchingarrich is a really good wildlife centre near my house, past some of the red deer woods that I walk in. It is like a big farm with a soft play and loads of animals. Here are some of the animals that I thought were interesting today.

My six-banded armadillo skull (Updated)


UPDATED: It is a six banded armadillo, not a nine-banded one which is what I originally wrote !

Earlier this year I got a surprise parcel from someone who read my blog called Ben Williams. It was full of amazing skulls from other countries and I wrote about it in four posts here, here, here and here. After I got the parcel he sent me one more surprise skull which he got from one of his friends. It's a really interesting skull that I wouldn't have found myself. It is an armadillo skull. There are twenty types of armadillo, and this one is a nine-banded six banded armadillo because it has a long snout. This type of armadillo comes from North, South and Central America South America and they are so many of them they can be considered a pest.

My five pointer red deer skull


Three months ago Dad and I were walking in Titus Well wood, and we explored a spot where the gamekeeper throws away deer heads and lower legs. It is a steep slope in a pine forest sloping down from a forest track, and it has been a good place to find lots of red deer skulls including my spiker skull. Three of my stag skulls on my shed came from this spot.

This skull was difficult to spot because it had got caught on the bottom of a pine tree at the top of the slope. When I found it it still has some skin and flesh on it and goo in the braincase..

I've got a new baby brother (again) !


Today I got a new baby brother called Harry. Since he was born this morning he was been in an incubator, which is like a plastic box for new born babies to keep them warm and safe. He is in there because when he was born he had mucus in his lungs, and the incubator helps him breathe. He is going to sleep in there tonight. He is really cute.

I have another brother called Sam who was born 18 months ago. When he was born I wrote about it here.

How to find deer part 1: fences, footprints and poo


I am really lucky where I live because the forests are full of deer, and it's easy to find lots of deer bones. The woods to the east of my village and the huge moor to the south are full of roe deer, and the huge forest to the north is full of red deer. (Here's something I wrote before which tells you the difference between roe and red deer). 

When I am exploring a new wood, and I don't know whether deer live there, I know to look for lots of clues as to whether there are going to be deer around. Often you can walk through woods and not see a single deer, but there are always lots of clues they leave behind. There are so many types of clues I am going to write about it over two weeks.

Here are some of the things I look for:

The buzzard with the broken neck


Last week I wrote about corvids, which are the family of birds that have crows, magpies and things like that. This week I am going to write about a bird whose skull I have that I think was killed by corvids.

A few months ago, Dad was walking back home through Cat Skull Wood, which is the wood in the Pheasant Woods where I found my cat skull. In a small clearing at the edge of the wood he found this skeleton:

Four different corvid skulls


Corvids are a family of birds that include all the big black ugly ones, like ravens, crows, jackdaws and rooks, as well as some prettier birds like magpies and jays. These are big powerful birds that can knock buzzards out the sky and kill them, and I heard about a sparrowhawk that was killed by a crow.

There are over 120 species of corvids, but only eight live in the UK. They eat whatever they can find, even meat, but they don't have a hooked beak to rip animals over, so they have to wait until the carcasses are opened up before they can eat. That is why you see so many on motorways to eat the roadkill.

I have five corvid skulls, but two are from the same bird, and this week I am going to write about them.

Seeing 21 different species in one place.


Last Saturday me and Dad went for a walk in the evening around two lochs quite near my house. Dad had gone the previous day, and seen loads of wildlife, and we went back to try another look at one of the birds he saw. This week is really about how much wildlife you can see in one walk, although I'm will write the wildlife Dad saw on his walk as well.

The lochs are called the Upper Rhynd and Lower Rhynd. They are next to one another, and water runs between the upper to the lower loch. Those two lochs, and another one nearby called Carsebreck are famous for thousands of geese coming to them over the winter from Iceland.

Here is a map of where we walked:

My crocodile and alligator skulls


This week I am going to write about two really unusually presents I got. Even though I still have loads of skulls from Scotland still to collect, it's still really nice to get skulls from other places in the world.

I got these from two different friends. Dad and I have checked CITES which says which animal bones can be moved between each country, and we think I am allowed to have these but CITES is a bit complicated, so I haven't named the people who gave me these in case I get them into trouble.

Baby foxes, baby deer and baby birds


Summer is a great time to see baby animals in the wild because they are usually born at this time. Animals born in summer have a better chance of surviving because it is warmer, there is more food, and it is easier them to hide in dark grass than the white snow. Here are some of the animals I have seen so far this summer.

My spiker red deer skulls (part 2)


On Friday evening, Dad was out stalking when he saw this 14 month old red deer stag. It's a spiker deer, which is the same type of deer I wrote about last week and that I am going to write about this week. It's called a 'spiker' (or 'spike' or sometimes a 'pricket') because it is young and it's first antlers only have one spike or point. The antlers in the picture look bigger than they actually are because they are still in velvet, which is a fur which is over the antlers when they are growing. Soon the velvet will fall off and the antlers will have finished growing.

My spiker red deer skulls (part 1)


For the last couple of weeks I have been cleaning up this skull for a friend who is a bone collector in England. It is a young red deer stag skull, and I first found it in April at a gamekeepers pit in a red deer wood that I walk in.

It is interesting because the antlers are just spikes, the longest  about 15cm long,without any branches or tines. Deer that have antlers like this are called 'spikers', 'spikes' or sometimes 'prickets' . The left antler is shorter because it has been broken.

This is what the skull looked like when I first found it:

Lots of new birds I've seen this year


Two weekends ago, me and Dad were up early to go and explore a new deer wood. As we were about to leave, we looked out the window at the bird table, and saw this bird !

Because it has a red cap at the front it looks like a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. But because the underside of the tail is red, that mean's it's a Great Spotted Woodpecker. The red cap at the front (rather than the back) is because it's a juvenile.

Here are some more new birds I have seen.

The cow skull I bought on eBay


I have been selling some of my extra skulls on eBay recently. The ones I have been selling have been roe deer, red deer and sheep. With the money I have earned I have bought more skulls that I didn't have before, and I have been looking through eBay to see if there are any interesting new skulls to buy.

One evening I was looking through all the skulls on eBay and I found a cow skull ! It was the first cow skull I'd seen on eBay and as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to bid on it.

Exploring the ruined mansion


There are tons of old empty buildings where I live. Some of them haven't been empty for long, and still have the roofs on. Some have been empty for hundreds of years and have mostly fallen down. I've been exploring old buildings for as long as I have been collecting bones.

In March, Dad and I spotted an old building in a wood that we hadn't explored before. We looked at satellite photographs and it looked as if it was derelict. One afternoon, in the middle of a snowstorm, we went up to explore. We found a massive deserted mansion that had fallen down. This is what it looked like:

The Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Paris


For the last two weeks I have been writing about my trip to Paris, when I visited a fantastic bone museum with a collection of dinosaurs. This week I am going to write about the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes, which is the oldest public zoo in the world, and which is in the same park as the museum.

As soon as we left the Galerie de paléontologie et d'anatomie comparée we walked over the park to the zoo. It was mum's idea and it was a brilliant one. It's not the biggest zoo in Paris - that one is called the Zoo Bois de Vincennes - but it has lots of animals in it.

Dinosaur skeletons at the museum in Paris


Last week I wrote about visiting the Galerie de paléontologie et d'anatomie comparée in Paris. There was so much to write about that I only wrote about what was in the bottom hall, which was bones and skeletons from animals that still exist. This week I am going to write about the top hall, which is full of dinosaur skeletons and other animals which are extinct.

The best bone museum in the world ?


This week I've been in Paris with my mum, dad and baby brother Sam. While I was there there was a museum I  had heard about and really wanted to see. It is called the Galerie de paléontologie et d'anatomie comparée and it is part of the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle (National Museum of Natural History).

Vulpy, the fox skeleton


This week I'm going to write about my fox skeleton which I've called Vulpy. (All my skeletons have alphabetical names and I'm up to Y so far). This fox was given to me by a gamekeeper in my village, and last September I buried it by the Secret Lake. Last month I dug it up, brought it home and left the bones to clean in biological washing powder.

Wilma, the unborn red deer fawn


Last week I wrote about finding the skeleton of a pregnant red deer hind, and finding the bones of her baby deer as well. This week I'm going to write more about the baby skeleton.

There were 101 pieces of bone I found and brought back. First of all I put them in very hot water with biological washing powder, then changing the water as it got dirty. That took about a week. After that I dried them out and tried to put them back together.

Baby deer and a gruesome find


Baby deer are born in May, usually towards the end of the month. It's great to see baby deer, because they are small, cute and have a lovely spotted coat. When baby roe deer are born their mums hide them in bracken or long grass for a few weeks to keep them safe. Once when I was walking in woods near the Roman Fort in my village, two baby roe deer ran away ! It's important not to chase them or pick them up because if their mum smells humans, she might not go back to them.

Finding newts and lizards


Today was a bank holiday because of the royal wedding, so dad and I decided to put my baby brother Sam in nursery and go on a big walk in a red deer wood which we call Titus Well.

When we parked the car we met a man who was helping to plan a big power line which is going to go straight through the middle of the wood. One of his jobs is to find out what wildlife lives in the woods. He helped us solve a big mystery which has puzzled us for ages.

Digging up the fox and the grey squirrel


At the end of last September, I buried a fox and a squirrel that I had been given by a gamekeeper. (I buried because I wanted to get them rotted down but I now know the best way is to leave them above ground.) Yesterday morning, I went back to dig them up.

Big box of bones #2: The snake skull


BIG NOTE FROM JAKE: In 2013, when my book was being fact-checked, Paolo Viscardi, my contributing editor, noticed this was a python skull, not a boa skull as I first thought, so I've updated this post in December 2013 by crossing out the wrong bits.

Last week I wrote about how I got a great box of skulls through the post as a present, and that I was going to write about them over several weeks. This week I am going to write about this fantastic snake skull.

This is a very different type of skull than almost almost all the other ones I have. That makes it cool because it's different, but difficult because there is nothing I have to compare it to.

Big box of bones #1: The big cat


About a month ago I got an email from someone called Ben Williams. He said he had some old skulls he collected when he was a boy, and would I like them ? I said yes, and I got this amazing box of brilliant skulls which I am going to write about for the next four or five weeks.

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