1. Don't break your leg
For the last four months I have had a fitness schedule where I either speed walk six miles every day, or (since my birthday) I can do 28km a day on an exercise bike. Now I am MUCH fitter than I was before I broke my leg.
2. Trail cameras are FANTASTIC
For a long while I wanted a trail camera, which is a box which takes a video or takes a picture when it detects movement. That means you can leave in a wood for a while and it will record all sorts of animals without disturbing them.
I got a Bushnell trophy camera with some of my book money and it is amazing. It took a while to work out how to position it, and first of all I saw nothing but one night my a roe deer walking in front of the camera. After that I started to see a lot more roe and red deer, pheasants, and LOADS of mice. One night I went to collect it and I saw that there was a video of a pine marten ! For the two months since then the camera has been setup to try and capture as much footage of the pine marten as possible.
If you don't have a trail camera, you should definitely think about getting once. They are expensive but worth it. I'm going to blog more about what I see on my trail camera in 2014.
3. Decomposition is complicated
Six years ago, soon after I started bone collecting, dad and I found a female red deer (Dixie) freshly dead in a wood. It took three months for it to fully rot down to white bones. Ever since then, I've kind of thought that three months was about normal for decomposition, maybe longer over winter. But in April I found a road kill badger, and left it to decompose. Even after leaving it for 236 days, it still hadn't not rotted down fully. That taught me that decomposition is a lot more complicated than I had first thought.
4. Books take a long time to be written
The whole process of writing a book is very complicated and there is LOTS of research and discussion with retailers and other people before it is finished. I hope you all like the book when it comes out !
5. People are kind
6. I don't say thank you enough
7. I've spent more time watching living animals
This year I have spent more time looking at live animals than dead ones, mainly because of my broken leg, but it's helped me understand bones and skulls better. Over the summer I studied a common frog that I kept in my room in a glass tank before relasing it back into the wild. I learnt a lot about by studying the frog, watching roe deer, stalking red deer during the rut, as well as all the other animals I see on my walk.
8. Some adults can make pretty stupid decisions
The Government has made some terribly bad decisions like the badger cull for starters. The badger cull is when the government allows 75% of badger in the UK, because some people think the badgers are responsible for giving cows TB. The scientific evidence shows the cull has little effect, and that it would be difficult to carry out. For example, how do you know when you have killed 75% of badgers if you don't know how many badgers there are in the first place? The government gave up in the end, but not before killing 5,000 innocent badgers. Also the Beauly to Denny power line. The power lines go through one of my favourite woods. Each power line will cost £1,000,000 so it will cost £600,000,000 altogether !
9. Museum people REALLY liked this blog
A few months ago I wrote a blog post about 21 ways I would make an amazing museum which was one of my most popular posts I have ever written ! It was read by 1,000 people in the first 24 hours, and since then has been read by another 11,000 . That is incredible.
10. Local history is really interesting
11. My boa was a python
A while ago I got a box of bones from Ben Williams containing lots of amazing skulls, one of which was supposed to be a boa constrictor. Although at the time I wrote I wasn't sure, for four years, I thought it was a boa, but when Paolo Viscardi was fact-checking my book he spotted it was actually a python. I was a bit annoyed that it has been wrong all this time, but I suppose science is all about correcting your mistakes and getting things right.
12. I've found tons more species
Every year I always see or hear new animals. This year I have seen a lot more garden birds on my bird table.Some of the new animals I have seen this year are a short-eared owl (on New Years Day 2013), a cuckoo, a sparrowhawk, a lesser redpoll (a family of them visited my birdtable), jays, redstarts and of course the pine marten.
13. This blog has been really popularThis year I have had:
- 148,658 visitors (compared to 77,476 in 2012)
- Visitors from 22 new countries, bringing the total to 195 different countries that have visited since I started.
- 701 web comments (compared to 490 in 2012, and 1,423 in total)
- 796 emails about Jake's Bones (compared to 557 in 2012)
- and I now have 938 Facebook fans (more than double that of 428 a year ago)
- and 389 followers on Twitter (can't remember what it was last year)
I wrote 65 posts this year, bringing my total since I started to 284 blog posts. A BIG thank you to everyone who has visited, left a comment, or sent me an email, Twitter or Facebook message. It means a lot to me.
14. Falconry is fun
15. Next year is going to be even better
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