Monday, 28 April 2014

One month to go!!!

 In just 33 days I'll be heading to South Africa and excited doesn't even begin to describe it! Although I'm not going to say that I'm not a little bit nervous; this is the longest I'm going to have been away from the UK. The last time I went away for longer than a few days was when I went to Kenya when I was still college. Kenya was a trip that I'll never forget and I can only imagine how many memories I'll have of this adventure. Remembering Kenya is really getting me pumped for this trip.

I've now only got my exams to go. So as much as I'm stressing about studying and squishing all the vast amounts of information into my brain, I know it will be worth it as I get to leave just over a week after my last exam.

I've got pretty much everything I need, I've just got to sort out a few last things at the doctors, get a map and pick up my International Wildlife Biology polo shirt and some equipment and I'm ready to go!

As I said before I'm very excited about going, although as it gets closer to the time I'm getting a little nervous, not only am I going to be away for a while, but I'm also going to be doing skydiving and a shark cage dive! I'm absolutely ecstatic about the shark diving, and as much as I am about skydiving, I'm a teeny , tiny bit scared! Diving with sharks doesn't phase me at all, however I'm a little nervous about getting to the point when I'm about to jump and being scared, so I'm essentially nervous that I'm going to be nervous? Which makes no sense whatsoever I know, but try telling that to my brain!
As I said before, I'm doing the skydive for charity, I'm almost half way to my target! You can go see what its all about HERE!  

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Skydiving in Cape Town

I'm going to South Africa for five weeks at the end of May.  Before I start my field trip and studies I am in Cape Town for a week. To start off our trip with something very memorable, a group of us are doing a tandem skydive as well as shark cage diving. To really push myself and I thought it was a perfect time to try and raise some money for this wonderful charity; Southampton Hospital Charity.
My littlest, 2 year old brother has been an outpatient at the Southampton's children hospital for about a year now and they have been fantastic.
It's easy to donate just head over to . You can also donate by text; simply text RQPF73 With the amount of either: £1, £2, £3 , £5 or £10 to 70070. You'll also be able to add Gift Aid at no extra cost.
Donations allow the hospital to buy equipment, fund research and provide better facilities that would otherwise be unaffordable under the NHS. With your help, the charity funds projects large and small across all wards and departments to improve patient care
UHS provides services to some 1.3 million people living in Southampton and South Hampshire plus specialist services including neurosciences, cardiac services and children’s intensive care to more than three million people in central southern England and the Channel Islands.Providing these services costs £1.16 million per day (UHS Charity Website).
(Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity).

Thursday, 17 April 2014


One of my first projects this year was to do a bug collection. I had to collect 10 different species of insects, one of which had to be a butterflies or moth and then mount them and identify them. I then had to present them. The hardest one i found to do was the moth that I had.
I think that butterflies are really very pretty and thought that It would be good to get some practise spreading and mounting their wings. 

I bought some butterflies (50 of them!! as I got a good deal) and then set out to practise. I made a spreading board and I already had the entomology pins. I had to rehydrate them first. I put in an air tight container a damp paper towel and some anti-fungal agent in with it to stop mould from occurring. 
I started by doing a few of the medium sized ones. 

It got easier and quicker the more I did and I started to do quite a few of them. I feel that I've gotten a lot better at it as well as having some very pretty mounted butterflies in frames. I just need to get identifying so that they're all labelled!

Microbiology practicals

This was my first Microbiology practical. As it was the first practical, all we did was just practising the different techniques.

Demonstrating the need for aseptic techniques.

Everything must be sterile; the medium and the instruments used.  Important things to make sure to do is to flame the neck before and after using glass bottles and to never put the lid down. 
  • I made four agar plates, one plate was open for 10 minutes (to see what was in the air), the second I placed my fingers on the agar surface (to see whats naturally on my hands), the third a small sprinkle of soil was placed on the agar (to see whats in soil) and the final one was left closed as the control. 
  • Then I made 3 tubes of sterile nutrient broth, one with E.coli in, the second with soil and the third was left sterile and was the control.
(Incubation: 37 degrees Celsius for 48 hours).

Streak Plates

I prepared two malt extract agar plates which I left in the fridge to cool so that I had a really solid surface.  The inoculum is spread and diluted over the medium so that single isolated colonies can be seen. This is good if you have a mixed culture as you can then get  a pure culture from it.

Inoculation: A loop is used to spread the culture. The loop is flamed until red hot before and left to cool.  This is so that it is then sterile before used. A loop of culture is removed and then spread over a segment of the dish. The loop i flamed again and left to cool and a little of the previous segment is used for the next segment. this is repeated for another two times. this dilutes the culture so that single colonies can be seen.

(Incubation: 37 degrees Celsius for 48 hours).

Agar Slopes and Agar Butts

These are used as it provides a large surface area for microbial growth. it also means that they are easy to handle and store.

  • Slopes: To prepare them I got two molten nutrient agar tubes and left them to cool in an inclined position. After they were cooled I put a loopful of culture on each slope, one with E.coli and the other with M. leutus. The loop is drawn gently from the bottom to the top of a slope in a serpentine pattern.
  • Butts: A small amount of inoculum on the tip of an inoculating needle is thrust through the centre to the bass of the agar butt.  One was E.coli and the other was M. leutus. this is used to see if bacteria is able to grow in anaerobic conditions

(Incubation: 37 degrees Celsius for 48 hours).

(Above: the top two are the E.coli, the one to the left is best as there are single colonies near the bottom of the petri dish which is what you want. the one in the bottom left is soil and there are things growing on it even though its hard to see. the last one on the bottom right is my fingers... You can see my four finger spots. There is bacteria on almost everyones hand and skin all of the time. The most common is Staphlococcus (a genus of bacteria of which most are harmless and live on the human skin). This is a good thing to have as this protects against pathogens from getting through the skin.)