Blog Profile / Sciencebase

Filed Under:Academics / General Science
Posts on Regator:1084
Posts / Week:2.2
Archived Since:February 24, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Classic Chord #21 – Diabolus in musica

Strictly speaking this classic chord isn’t a chord at all, it’s an interval, the gap between just two notes rather than at least three different notes played together. The interval in question is often described in Western music as “dissonant”...Show More Summary

What’s a warbler anyway?

Over the last few months I’ve got to learn a little about the birds we call warblers. It was always a joke between Mrs Sciencebase and myself, if we heard a tweet we didn’t recognise one of us would proclaim “warbler!” and we’d move on… Well, it turns out that a lot of the time … Continue reading "What’s a warbler anyway?"

As sure as eggs is eggs

The shape of a bird’s eggs depends on how it flies, according to new scientific results. Sleek birds adapted to streamlined flight tend to lay more elliptical and asymmetric eggs, according to new research published today. The work cuckolds the classic theories about egg shape. Show More Summary

Western yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava)

It’s so easy to be distracted, especially when it’s 30 degrees Celsius in the shade, and you’re flagging after a long-winded drive to a reserve (today RSPB Ouse Washes at Welches Dam near Manea in Cambridgeshire). There seemed to be a reed bunting every 30 metres in the reeds along the waterway behind the flood … Continue reading "Western yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava)"

Yet more woodpeckers

Back at the end of February I spotted a woodpecker high in a tree in our local woodland; great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major). Of course, for me, woodpeckers are more often heard and not seen, the headbanging of this species and the mocking laughter of the green woodpecker or yaffle (Picus viridis). As the weeks … Continue reading "Yet more woodpeckers"

The day-flying cinnabar moth

The cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) can be found throughout Britain, anywhere that its larval foodplants, ragwort and groundsel grow, except northern Scotland. Indeed, the species was introduced into New Zealand, Australia and North America to control poisonous ragwort. Show More Summary

Top Ten Pop Cameo Appearances

There are plenty of actors who try their luck as musicians and lots of musicians who do the reverse. Some of them start out as wannabe actors and end up as musicians and vice verse. And, then there are those who just fancied a cameo appearance in a pop video for the lulz. 10 Christopher … Continue reading "Top Ten Pop Cameo Appearances"

A quarter of a million gannets

As children, if my sister Sue and I were eating particularly enthusiastically, our Dad would often refer to us as a couple of gannets. I therefore grew up assuming that these seabirds were voracious consumers of sausage rolls and butterfly cakes. Show More Summary

Northern marsh orchid, Dactylorhiza purpurella

When visiting RSPB Bempton Cliffs on the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire to see the puffins, gannets, razorbills, guillemots and kittiwakes, don’t miss sight of the northern marsh orchid, Dactylorhiza purpurella. According to the Kew Gardens website: Northern marsh orchid occurs throughout the northwestern part of Europe. Show More Summary

Don’t call Saul, call Dexter

The forensic luminol blood test familiar to CSI and Dexter fans alike can be used to illuminate blood stains. It uses peroxide which reacts with the iron in haemoglobin. However, 20+ years ago scientists realised that the same test could be used to detect peroxides too. Indeed, researchers worked out that they could use the … Continue reading "Don’t call Saul, call Dexter"

The turring, purring turtle dove

I should perhaps have saved this bird for the Christmas edition given its pride of place in the “The Twelve Days of Christmas” the familiar gift accumulation song of 1780, thought to be French in origin that has the generous benefactor...Show More Summary

Bridled guillemot

Guillemot is the common name for various auk-type seabirds (Charadriiformes). In the UK there are two genera: Uria and Cepphus. This photos shows a guillemot at RSPB Bempton Cliffs on the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire. If I told you that there is a species of guillemot known as the spectacled guillemot, you … Continue reading "Bridled guillemot"

Bempton Puffin

It’s a couple of years ago that we last walked the clifftops along the East Yorkshire coast of the Wolds spotting gannets, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, and, of course, puffins. The day we arrived coincidentally, RSPB Bempton Cliffs had featured on BBC Springwatch because they were opening their new visitor centre. Show More Summary

Oats and beans and barley grow

The local fields of barley are, wave-upon-wave, like an opalescent green sea in the wind today, shimmering and shifting and stretching across the Fens. The barn swallows are reeling overhead and the skylarks are riding their aerial elevators up and down, tuning their on-board radios to their sweet Caroline in the fields below. Show More Summary

Dave Bradley Photography

Sciencebase regulars of these last (almost) three decades or so will know me as a science journalist, but I also write a few songs and play in a couple of bands. The third passion of my Science, Songs, Snaps, tagline is my photography, of course. I love to create photographs of all kinds of festivalgoers … Continue reading "Dave Bradley Photography"

Tornadoes and twisters

Everyone is talking about Cecilia Wessels’ photo of her husband Theunis mowing the lawn as a tornado looms ominously over the backyard at their home in Three Hills, near Alberta, Canada. My first thought was why is he trying to mow his tree, but my thought before that first thought was…surely, this is a missing … Continue reading "Tornadoes and twisters"

What would you rather bee?

Well, this might look, at first glance, like a bee, but look again, especially at those huge compound eyes, the mouthparts, and those wings – this is a hoverfly. In fact, it’s one of the biggest, as ID’ed for me by friend of the blog Brian Stone – Volucella bombylans. “One of the bee mimic … Continue reading "What would you rather bee?"

Two cuckoos flew over no nest

Early evening walk (31st May 2017, farmland south of Rampton, Cambridge, relatively close to the Guided Busway), hoping to catch sight of our local fen edge barn owl (Tyto alba), but could hear a cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) in a field beyond a hedgerow…call seemed to be getting closer…at which point two males flew over our … Continue reading "Two cuckoos flew over no nest"

Classic Chord #20 – Brown Sugar

For the 20th rock Classic Chord in the series, I thought I’d go for Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones. Now, as you guitarists will mostly likely know, “Keef” (as in Keith Richards) does not play in standard EADGBE tuning, he (usually) plays in open G tuning, (D)GBDGD. The parentheses around his bottom string, because … Continue reading "Classic Chord #20 – Brown Sugar"

Eurasian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)

I suppose it was obvious in hindsight, it was RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes, there were reeds, there was warbling, it was a reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus). Despite his whitethroat and white rings around the eyes, he’s simply not a whitethroat (Sylvia communis). Show More Summary

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