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 !
Looking for a brilliant present for a young naturalist ? Buy my book ! Available from Amazon UK,
Amazon US and worldwide but buy from a local bookshop if you can.
Archived posts: The following articles are from the month or year requested:

15 things I've learned in 2013


It is a real pleasure writing this blog and replying to the hundreds of people who email me. I reckon I must have spent about six or seven hours every week either exploring, walking, finding and preparing bones, and writing posts, which is pretty amazing if you think about it.

At the end of every year that I have written on this blog I do a review of the year, so this one is my fifth one. This year has been tough at times but also fun.  Here are the fifteen things I have learned this year:

Happy Christmas everyone !


Happy Christmas everyone ! I don't think we'll get snow like this here in Scotland (this was from earlier in the year) but I hope you all have a lovely Christmas with friends and family and get everything you ask for.

I'll do my final blog post of the year in a week's time, when I'll do a roundup of what 2013 has meant to me.

Cleaning the badger's skeleton


Last week I wrote about the road kill badger (I've named it Emily) that I had to collect right after the storm. I prefer to leave bodies for a long time until there is no soft tissue left, but I had to collect this one before it had fully decomposed because the spot I'd picked for it had been disturbed.

I cleaned the bones over four days. I've written about cleaning bones before (and wrote a big guide to it here) but I used slightly different methods for this one. This is how I did it !

Rescuing the badger body after the storm


I ended last week's post by worrying about the big storm we had in the UK (100mph near us !) and whether it had damaged the wood where my trail camera was. That wood is on top of a great moor, and you can see for about 20 miles in three of the four directions, so it was quite exposed. It turned out that wood was hardly damaged at all, but another wood was damaged that was important to me !

I call that wood "The Mortuary Wood", and it is where I left the badger and the buzzard bodies to decompose.  It is for away enough away from houses so people cannot smell the decomposition smell  but is close enough to the road so it's easy to bring the bodies in and keep checking on them. I went up on Saturday morning to check on the bodies and I was shocked by what I found !

A month of filming a pine marten


Pine martens are kind of amazing. They are rare, hard to spot, cute, and tough. It never even occurred to be that there might be some nearby, and I only found out about it by using my trail camera (which I wrote about before here).

This is quite a long post, but I thought it was best to talk through all the stages I went through, and all the failures and all the successes. I know there are a lot of naturalists in the UK who would really like to film a pine marten too, so I hope this helps. There are a lot of videos but they are mostly very short. If you love nature, you HAVE to read this post !

My first attempt at making footprint casts


For a while now I have wanted to make plaster casts of wild animal footprints. You can make them from plaster of paris, using the impression of the animal's footprint as a mould, then you have a permanent model which you can take away showing the bottom of the animal's foot. 

I did these ones about a month ago, before the weather started to get cold. When it gets colder, it takes longer for the cast to set, so if you are in the UK this might be something to leave until next spring. Here's how I did it (and my way wasn't perfect !)

Cleaning a mummified fox skull.


This is really a story about two things - about cleaning a skull and about the amazing lady who gave it to me. At the end of August I came home from a day at my new school to find a lady, called Miss Ford, who I didn't know, was at my house. It was a big surprise !

She said that she read about me in the Telegraph Magazine in February, and she wanted to give some skulls to me. She only knew the village where I lived, so she had driven up from England and asked at my old primary school in my village, who phoned my home, and luckily my dad was in and invited her over.

Why I just LOVE the new Beauly to Denny power line


This is a picture of the hills to the north of my village, The woods you can see are the woods I have collected most of my red deer bones from. Herds of red deer live there, as well as foxes, red squirrels, buzzards, red kites, roe deer, newts and a lot more.

But can you tell what the landscape REALLY needs, and what would make it look better ? If you can't work it out, then it's because you don't love the countryside as much as Scottish and Southern Electricity. Read on to find out how they are making this view more beautiful.

Learning how to use my Bushnell trail camera


I spent a lot of time in woods looking for deer and other animals. After I broke my leg earlier this year dad came up with the idea that we could go up to the woods for a hour and just sit and wait to see what animals would come. That got me wondering: what waited for a week what would we see ? Obviously you can't wait in a wood for a week, but you can set up a trail camera (Americans call it a trophy camera, no idea why).

So since then I have wanted a trail cam, and decided it would be the first thing I bought with my book money. It is a small camera that you set up in the countyside and it takes a pic, or shoots videos when it detects movement. I asked on Twitter and people generally said Bushnell trail cams are the best, especially the ones with "invisible" lighting at night. So me and dad looked at prices, but the newer models were quite expensive, and I wasn't sure how often I would use it. So we got a older, used Bushnell 119436C cam, with my first book money. This is how it looks !

When roe deer antlers "go back"


When my room was being changed with new display cabinets for my bones in the summer, I moved this skull that had been hidden away on a high shelf, back on top of my display cabinet. It is from a roe buck (male) but is different to how you would think it would look. 

Some bone collectors like to have perfect skulls but I like weird or misshapen skulls as much, because they tell a story of the animals life. Here the nose bones have gone, and the antlers are more bent back than all my other roe buck skulls.  When the antlers are in velvet, they are more soft and can bend because it is not getting enough nutrients, but when they are out of velvet the antlers are hard and can't bend. 

The epic battle between Homer and Flanders


For most of the year the red deer stags (males) and hinds and calves (female and kids) live in two separate groups, but in the autumn, the 'rut' begins when red deer stags want to have sex with the females. They split up, go find the females, and get a group of them together, called a harem. The stags then fight with each other for females, and only the biggest and strongest end up with females, so that 80% of each year's calves are fathered by only 20% of the males. (It's a bonkers way to have kids, but it's still better than what salmon have to do.)

For the last few weeks I have been watching my local red deer during the rut, like I did last year. It's difficult to do, because deer are hard to track (I wrote a guide here), and harder to sneak up on. Even so I've seen some great action this autumn !

21 ways how I would create an amazing museum


I have been to a LOT of museums. Some have been massive, and have loads of money, like the Natural History Museum (that's where the first picture is from). Others have been tiny, like the D'Arcy Thompson museum in Dundee. I once even went to a museum that was two rooms in a man's house. All of them have been cool in their own way. I even wrote about two very different museums in London earlier this year, and why I preferred the much smaller one, although both were brilliant.

So if I could make my own museum, and control everything, what would I do ? These are the 21 ways I would make my museum absolutely fantastic for everyone, especially kids.

What's in my rucksack ?


If you want to find animal bones you have to explore where the animals live. But a lot of the time animals choose to live in wild and isolated places well away from humans. If I want to look for roe deer one of the places I go is a cold and windy moor which is over ten miles long and which is well away from main roads. If I want to watch red deer I have to go up into the hills and I can end up miles from the nearest road.

Often it's snowy or wet which makes it more difficult to keep safe.That means that on on my walks, I have to always carry a rucksack with lots of equipment and clothing to keep me safe and to make sure I can bring back any great things I find. Here's what's in my rucksack at the moment !

Exploring the history of old farmhouses


There are dozens of old houses near where I live. I have written before about some of them, like the deserted castle and the ruined mansion. Most of the abandoned houses were used by farmers or shepherds 100 years ago. Nowadays less farms are needed because machinery like tractors, combine harvesters and quad bikes makes it easier to run a bigger farm so not as many farmhouses are needed any more.

All of these old houses are on land owned by Blackford farms, which is owned by Mr Al Tajir, Scotland's richest man. He hardly ever sells houses on his land, even if people want to buy them, so they gradually rot away. I think it's important that someone records and remembers these old houses, because a lot won't be there by the time I grow up. I try and visit every old house I find, and dad sometimes takes photographs to record them. (His photographs are the black and white ones.) Read on to find out what I discovered that was really amazing from 150 years ago !

"I've found a bone...but what is it ?"


I currently get about 750 emails a year and I try to respond to every single one of them. A lot of the emails I get are people asking "I've found a bone, but what is it ?", asking me to identify bones that they have found but they can't work out what they are from. Sometimes the bones are actually quite simple, but you have to look at them in a certain way to work out what they are.

Over the summer I've been photographing common bones that I find on walks, the sort of thing that I don't look at for long any more because I have others at home, or because I find so many of them. I hope this helps others trying to identify bones they have found !

Five cool things I've found on walks


I usually write here about the bones I find, but sometimes I also find other interesting things that I bring back home. I've written before about finding old poison bottles, shell cases, feathers and shells, and recently I've found more cool stuff.

The first one is a bit of a puzzle. I know what it is, what animal it is from, but I can't work out how it got there, so I need your help to figure it out !

Dissecting bird pellets


It can be difficult to bones of even quite big animals like foxes or deer, so you might think it's impossible to find really small bones, like those from voles or mice. In fact it's easy if you can find bird pellets and over the spring and summer I collected loads in the woods. Some of them were from walks that dad did alone when I broke my leg like the one with the trapped roe, and others were ones I found myself, like on my one-hour challenge. A good place to look is in pine forests, or at the base of trees at the edges of fields.

I've written about pellets before and at the time I thought owls were the only birds that left them. In fact loads of birds spit them up, like raptors, herons and crows. What happens is that a bird eats its prey but it cant digest the bones or fur which stay in its stomach. Later on it vomits them up so it spits them out with the fur. Anyway, I has a close look at nine pellets and this is what I found....

Today is a MAJOR milestone for my book !


Tomorrow is a special date for three reasons.  Firstly, it means my book is now officially finished ! It has been written, designed, fact checked, photographed and it is now sent off to be printed ! The Second is that it is now about six five months until the official release date in the shops, which is the 3rd February 2014 in the UK and 4th March 2014 in the USA (a month earlier than I originally thought). Thirdly, it is now almost exactly a year since TickTock first contacted me to ask if I was interested in doing a book.

LOADS has happened since then, and LOADS more work is still to come !

Studying a wild common frog from my bedroom.


One of the most difficult thing in studying nature is being able to get close enough to the animal to look at it closely; wild deer run away, foxes hide and buzzards fly away when you get close.

Two months ago I decided that I wanted to find out more about common frogs (Rana temporaria). At this time of year, the tadpoles have turned into small baby frogs which hop around in long grass and near ponds,  so me and dad went out in to the woods to find some. Dad remembered a pool he had seen in the hollow left by an upturned tree which had been full of tadpoles but it was all dried up when we went there. We did not find any for a week until we went out to the Secret Lake Woods near my village.

An update about the roe deer mum


At the start of June I posted about a roe deer mum which guarded her newborn baby fawn which hidden in bracken, and kept barking at my dad and refused to run away. Dad has been back a few times to see if he could see the baby fawn. In late June he saw the mum, but not the baby. In early July he managed to see the back of the fawn, but nothing more. 

Then today I was supposed to go out with dad in the morning, but I was still sore after an accident yesterday, so he went alone. Near the same spot as before, dad spotted the two kids and the mum, then a bit further on still he came across something very sad.

My harbour porpoise skull


If you were looking carefully when I wrote about my new room you would have noticed that one of the skulls I have put on display is a harbour porpoise ! If you know about skulls, you probably know that they are pretty cool. 

To start with they are technically from the whale family (cetacea). The whale family has two subgroups, one is those with teeth, and the other is Baleen whales which suck in water through stretched tissue. The harbour porpoise and dolphins are from the toothed family, even though this skull doesn't have teeth.

Learning how to handle a Harris Hawk


Monday was the last day of my summer holidays, and I had decided to spend it using up one of my Christmas presents which was a voucher for a falconry lesson at Phoenix Falconry which is a few miles up the road to me, near Gleneagles Hotel and next to one of the woods I do a lot of exploring for bones.

I've seen lots of big raptors (birds of prey) before, either in the wild (like buzzards, kestrels, red kites or ospreys), or at bird centres or trips (like golden eagles, white-tailed sea eagles or red kites) but on Monday I got to handle a new type of bird, an American Harris Hawk !

A first look at a very unusual skeleton


Often mammal skeletons look very similar. They have the skull, a spine made out of vertebrae, arms and front legs that come from shoulder blades, and back legs that are attached to hips. If you've seen a rabbit's pelvis you can probably identify a giraffe pelvis. If you have seen a hippo shoulder-blade you could probably identify a mouse shoulder-blade. But some mammals have adapted to where they live to the point their bones are difficult to identify if don't know about the species. That makes it both cool but also difficult when you look at their skeletons.

In May last year, a man called Ric Morris who reads my blog dropped by my house to drop off some cool stuff that he had found while beachcombing on holiday. There were loads of cool bones, but one of the most unusual was this thing in the next photo:

Zombie badgers and old buried bones


You can probably remember that a few months ago I found a roadkill badger outside my village, and I wrapped it in a wire mesh and left it in a wood near my house which I call The Mortuary wood (the buzzard is there too at the moment as well).

I've been meaning for ages to go back and collect the bones, but I only got round to it at the weekend. But when I went back to check on it I got a surprise !

Looking closely at an Indian elephant skeleton


On Thursday dad and I went to the Hunterian Museum of Zoology which is part of the University of Glasgow. I'm going to write more about it later but for this post I'm going to focus on just one exhibit, their juvenile Indian elephant skeleton (the scientific name is Elephas maximus indicus).

There are two different types of elephant, which are the African and Asian. The Indian elephant is one of the three subspecies of the Asian elephant (the other two are the Sri Lankan elephant and the Sumatran Elephant). The African and Asian elephants look quite similar, but African elephants are larger with much bigger ears and tusks.

I must have seen elephant skeletons before, but the one at the Hunterian Museum of Zoology was nice because you could go right up to it and touch it.

Look at my amazing room now !


This is just a short mid-week post to say that over the last week my bedroom has been completely redesigned around my bones ! It has always had tons of bones in it, but I was getting so many that I had to find new places to put them on display. The bones were already over 14 shelves and four walls, and I needed a way to show them off while having space to put the rest of my stuff away.

I've written about my room before in October 2011 when I got my 100th skull on display (read that here). This next picture is is what my room used to look like back then:

Megatherium the weird badass sloth, at NHM


Megatherium was a complete badass. It's unlike anything that exists today. It lived in South America for a huge amount of time (1.9million years). It was huge, six metres long, as heavy as an elephant, one of the biggest mammals ever. Even so it could walk on its back legs, just like a bear. But it's not a bear, it's a sloth. No-one is scared of sloths, but Megatherium would have been scary. When it was first described in 1795 all museums around the world wanted to have a skeleton (this website is good on the history)

 It looks like a savage predator but it was actually a herbivore (plant eater). It looks like a dinosaur, but it only died out 10,000 years ago (dinosaurs died out 65,000,000 years ago). When you look at the history of the earth, it came close to still being alive today, and no-one really knows why it isn't.

I started blogging four years ago today !


Today is my fourth blogiversary ! I wrote my very first post on 21st July 2009, and since then I have written 257 posts, which is just over one a week. Since then a lot of things have happened (like my book !), and my blog posts now are longer and more detailed than they used to be, but I still do things just the same as when I started, and I am glad so many other people enjoy what I write.

One of the first things I did when I set up the website was to add a bit of code (from Statcounter) that tells you about people that visit, and how they got to my website. Sometimes the things people are searching for are weird or funny. So here as a special extra post on my blogiversary are some of the ones I thought were the funniest !

4 reasons why Scotland is great for bone collecting


It has almost been four years since I have been blogging (look out for a special post on Sunday about that) and five years since I have been collecting bones. One of the questions I most get asked is how do I find all my bones ?  The main answer is that I am very lucky to live where I live.

I didn't realise how lucky I was until I went to London. London is a great place and everyone was friendly but there are a lot of people living close by each other, and not much countryside or green spaces. My village in Scotland has about 500 people living there, but where we were staying in London, there might be that same number just living in one block of flats.

So here are my four reasons why I think Scotland is brilliant for wildlife and bone collectors:

A quick SNEAK PEEK at my book so far !


One of the most exciting things when I was in London was visiting Octopus Publishing (where TickTock are based) to talk with my editor Jo about my book. Mum, dad, me and my two young brothers got the tube then walked to Shaftesbury Avenue where there is a massive office block where Octopus Publishing are based. The views from their offices were amazing, and you could see the London Eye, St Pauls, the Shard and another big building nicknamed 'the cheesegrater'.

We were in a big boardroom and Jo had arranged drinks and snacks for us all. Sam and Harry played nicely with their toys (and my baby brother Harry did a big noisy poo, which is probably the first time that had happened in a meeting there) and Jo showed me spreads of the whole book, and some new completed pages and I'm allowed to show some of them here now !

Strange bones #14: Two weird bone pathologies


'Pathology' is the study of what is left behind after death, but scientists also use 'pathology' to describe anything unusual on bones. After writing about my buzzard skeleton last week I went back to look at Storm which is a bird skeleton I collected in 2011 in Suicides Graves Wood. 

When I collected Storm there were black feathers about, so because of that and because of the bone size I guessed it was probably a corvid (crow) but I didn't know what type because the skull was missing.While looking at Storm's skeleton I spotted something unusual which I am going to write about this week, together with another metatarsal which dad picked up on a walk and brought back to show me.

Buzzard skeletons (and bird skeletons in general)


I don't really write much about bird skeletons because complete ones are so hard to find. Bird bones are smaller, lighter, easier to break (and eat) and more likely to get scattered about, and often the way the birds get killed destroys some of the bones. Every single time I go to the pheasant woods near my village I find bones from pheasants killed by foxes but I hardly ever find the skulls.

That's why I was so excited when dad came back from a walk (my leg is still to weak to do proper walks)  and said he had found a buzzard skeleton. Buzzards are medium-sized birds of prey, bigger than most raptors like sparrowhawks, but still only small when compared to golden or white-tailed eagles. But not only had he found a buzzard skeleton - he had got all the major bones !

The Grant Museum of Zoology at UCL


The Grant Museum is a brilliant museum. When I was planning my trip to London I knew it was definitely one of the places I wanted to visit. It's not the biggest museum in the world. It doesn't have huge moving dinosaurs. It's not the best museum for toddlers (I know because I went with my baby brothers Sam and Harry). But if you are the tiniest bit interested in bones, or maybe just interested in cool or gross stuff you should definitely go.

Whoever picked the exhibits (or even just Robert Edmond Grant who set up the museum 170 years ago) seems to have a good idea of what's cool and what's not. Their jar of moles probably doesn't teach scientists anything but it's cool. (I bet more people go away talking about that than the tiger or quagga skeletons.) The micrarium (that's it at the top) is tiny but deeply cool. You could spend all day in there. Even the walrus baculum is cool, (but also slightly gross and weird to tell your mum about). Here's some of the other cool stuff:

Comparing two very different museums in London


I spent all of last week in London, and there were so many amazing things that happened that it is difficult to know how to arrange them. For this post I want to think about what museums actually do, by comparing two pretty amazing museums that are actually completely different, the Natural History Museum and the Grant Museum of Zoology. I'm going to write two more posts about what is in each one (UPDATE: I've written about the Grant Museum here) but the main thing this post is about is comparing how they display and present things.

The first thing to say is that they are both very brilliant but completely different. The Grant Museum is a small specialised museum, like the D'Arcy Thompson museum in Dundee, or the Bell Pettigrew museum in St Andrews. The Natural History Museum is the biggest museum I have ever been in ever. This is what both of them are like to visit:

Visiting the Horniman Museum's stores


This week has been a very special week because I am down in London with my family doing lots of trips and visits. There are three or four different things I want to write about, but to start off with I'm going to write about a very special visit I was really looking forward to where I was going to meet Paolo Viscardi who writes the Zygoma blog and who is a museum curator at the Horniman Museum in south London.

Paolo invited me to visit the Horniman Museum's Study Collections Centre which is like a secret warehouse hidden away in another part of London. I'm not allowed to say where it is because it contains valuable exhibits, and it's not open to the public, so it was very special I was allowed in.

An hour in the woods


Last Saturday, dad and I got early and went out into a local wood to sit for an hour to see what we could see. It was the first time I had been in the woods since I broke my leg. Even though my cast is off, I am still walking with crutches, and I cannot walk very far at all, but where we sat wasn't too far from the road, even though the wood is quite isolated. I call the wood The Mortuary since that is where I leave dead animals to rot down (the badger and the buzzard are there at the moment).

Most of the wood has mature pine trees with no grass or vegetation on the ground, but at the end where we were there were gaps in the trees, bracken and grass on the floor, and a small pond. A lot of the trees had been blown over in the storms of 2012 which is actually good for some wildlife. The plan was to see how much wildlife I could see in an hour by sitting and being quiet, and was inspired by the current series of BBC Springwatch. Anyway, here's what I saw !

Why mums are brilliant


On Friday my dad went out to see if the roe deer had had their babies yet. He walked quietly around the edge of Quoiggs wood, staying clear of the bracken because roe mothers keep their babies hidden in long grass or foliage for the first few weeks, until they are strong enough to stay with their families and run from predators.

He had seen a few deer when he heard a doe ( a female roe) startle in the wood, and start barking. Deer usually bark to alert the rest of the herd to run away from danger, and this doe moved away a bit. Dad thought the wood would be clear now so he walked in and watched for birds. Then something strange happened.

The Treasures of the Earth museum in Fort William


I have been meaning to write this post for ages, but I didn't get round to doing it at the time. It happened on the way back from my holiday on the Isle of Skye last year where there was a place I really wanted to go to at Fort William called Treasures of The Earth.

The reason I really loved going there was it was completely different from usual museums. It wasn't huge, it didn't have a huge amount of exhibits, but it was really great for kids.

Today is a very bad day for badgers


Today is a very bad day for badgers. It is the start of a pilot badger cull in England, which means the government are doing a test to see whether shooting badgers stops TB (a lung disease) in cattle. That means that over 5,000 of the most shy and wonderful animals in Britain will be shot.

Badgers are highly protected animals. They even have their own law, the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 which protects them and their setts (burrows) from badger-baiters and others who would want to hurt them - but not stupid governments.

Cows that have TB cannot be sold or moved. They usually have to be killed. This costs £500m a year, and costs farmers money. But are badgers to blame ?  A ten year study into bovine TB in the UK said not. It said: "culling Badgers would have no meaningful effect on bovine TB in cattle". Even the government department involved that wants the cull says "the relationship between bovine TB in badgers and in cattle is highly complex". 

Strange bones #13: the weird skull groove


This is a bit of an unusual post because it's something I can't work out so I need your help !

A couple of weeks ago dad was stalking the red deer in Suicides Graves wood and he found this skull in the valley near what I call Jake's Island. It was an incomplete young adult roe deer buck lying int he grass near the edge of trees, but what was more interesting was this unusual mark on the top of the braincase. What could have caused this ?

A buzzard in tights; and something VERY VERY bad


(There's a REALLY IMPORTANT BIT about buzzards at the very end of this post which I want to everyone to read and do something about.)

Where I live there are lots of buzzards. They are beautiful, medium-sized birds of prey that some people mistake for golden eagles even though they are half the size. Around here they live near woods where pheasants are bred, like the Ardoch Estate and the Gleneagles Wood, and if you walked through the Ardoch Estate you would see almost a dozen nests which have been lived in by buzzards for years and years.

My friend Jack lives in a farm north of the village. One day he mentioned he had found a dead buzzard in his fields and asked if I wanted it for the bones. This is what it looked like when his grandfather brought it round a few days later:

Seven things that Zygoma taught me about blogging


Today is the 200th "Friday Mystery Object" on the Zygoma blog, written by Paolo Viscardi. Paolo works as a natural history curator at the Horniman museum in London,and he began blogging about the same time as I did (he began in April 2009 and I began in July 2009) and every week since then he has been mainly posting about objects from his museum (mostly bones and skulls) and asking people to identify them. He's been posting every week, but after this week he's going to slow down and post less often.

Paolo first helped me when I posted about finding an unusually shaped red deer antler in August 2009, and since then I've been following his blog every week. I think doing 200 Friday Mystery Objects is a big achievement, and because I can't do a surprise party, I'm going to do this post instead about what I've learned from his blog.

Did a horrible crime happen in this wood ?


While I have been a bone collector I have seen lots of death, and I have seen some horrible things, but nothing quite as horrible and sad as this - even though I haven't seen it with my own eyes because ever since the start of March I haven't been able to go out on walks after I broke my leg cross-country running.

At the start of April Dad went out on a walk to stalk the red deer herd that live in the woods at the north of my village. He had tracked a few and was heading back along the edge of this wood, near where he knew the hind herd liked to graze, and he took a shortcut through the corner of the wood and he got a shock.

Is there evidence of big cats living in Scotland ?


A few weeks ago when it was snowy Dad was walking on the moor near my house. He was watching a herd of ten roe deer from a small wood when he saw something moving up the hill. It was much higher than the deer, and it was on a high up part of the mountain where deer, foxes and badgers didn't normally go. 

It was a long way away, about a kilometre, and about 600 feet higher up than he was so he couldn't see it very well. It looked black and was moving slowly and he took lots of photographs of it.

Some great books on bone collecting


I have been meaning to write this post for ages and got round to it this week. I have loads of bone books, and I'm going to write about five of them today. There aren't in any particular order, and I have got other ones I will write about later.

I haven't yet found a perfect bone book (although my book is looking pretty amazing so far and comes out in March 2014 !) but all of these are worth buying.

A lucky week for me but an unlucky one for a badger


This week has all been about good luck and bad luck. The good luck for me on Monday was I finally got my leg cast off ! But the bad news is they put another one on so it'll be on for another two weeks. The other bad news is there was a badger killed by a car just outside my village - but this was good news for me because it's the first badger I've found, and I didn't even know there were badgers living there !

I've never seen a badger in the wild. They are quiet and secretive and only come out at night, and their setts are usually well hidden, so often the only time people see them is as roadkill. I've been living in the village all my life and I never knew they were living nearby. It was as Dad was driving me and my brothers to the hospital on Monday to get my cast looked at that we noticed something by the side of the road.

Comparing bones: scapulas (shoulder blades)


This is my first ever post about comparing the same bone from lots of different animals from my collection. It's different to my normal blog posts because I had to do a lot of research, but interesting because I got to look at how each animal has adapted to where they live and what they do.

Everything about scapulas I have found on the internet is very complex and scientific. I try not to write my blog like that, and I only try to use words I understand myself to make my posts easy to understand. I've picked the scapula for my first one of these posts because it is a relatively big bone that varied quite a lot between each animal type. I've tried to look at each animal and how it lives to understand why its scapula ended up that way, so some of what I have written is guesswork, and some is from reading books and the internet. So here it is.

The unlucky roe deer and the interesting sheep skull


My leg plaster is on for at least another ten days, so this is a story about a walk I did about a month ago.  I went up to a wood I had explored before that was on the big moor near my house. The wood is a pine plantation with tons of roe deer that live there, and it can be seen from the deserted farmhouse I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Before I went I remembered it as being full of bones, so dad and I split up and went down opposite sides of the wood to search as much ground as possible. There weren't as many bones as I remembered, but I found some other interesting things instead.

My common European gruffalo skull


Last year when I was strolling in Depedarke Wood, I spotted something that looked especially good. Hidden deep in the dirt beside a wall there was a skull that was both wide and tall. It was unlike anything I had seen before with its terrible tusks and terrible jaws.

I dug it up to take back, placing it carefully in my rucksack. It was very heavy and took up loads of space, but coming back I had a smile on my face. I was looking forward to looking it up on skullsite.co.uk; then I could work out whether to keep it or whether to sell it on Ebay.

My dad's good deed that didn't end well


Normally I go on one walk a week, but because I have a broken leg at the moment, Dad has been going on walks by himself. Yesterday while I was at school dad took the day off work and planned a big walk to explore a new wood. The walk was to go up in the snowy hills on a moor near my house, and go up the side of a steep valley. The wood was on the side of the valley on a very steep slope with a river at the bottom. After exploring the wood he would find a way to cross the river and head up on the other side to a deserted farmhouse and make his way back.

He parked his car then walked up and took the main route up the hills up past the snow line. There where lots of deer out because the snow was covering up their food and they needed to spend a lot more time finding and eating food in the snowy weather. He says he saw about 50 in total. The way where he wanted to go was too dangerous because of snowdrifts, so he came down to the bottom edge of the wood and that is where the story really begins.

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