Like the seasonal rains that cause some of the driest parts of Africa to temporarily flood, a wet March brought sufficient rain for a significant portion of the Bishop's Field to submerge . Over the course of a few days the rain teemed down and the wetland finally got to self-actualise when it filled like a huge saucer. (After all Wetlands have feelings too...)
Looking at the data below we received 134mm of rain in March which was well above the short term mean. Then in the space of a week the wet spell passed and nice sunny weather arrived. And, just as quickly as it came, the wetland was all but gone again. With the wettest months of the year behind us and higher evaporation and transpiration rates in the months ahead, it is unlikely our wetland will reappear to any great extent again until November or December.
For the last number of weeks we conducted a trial to see how both our grass samples would fair when put through drought conditions. Neither sample was given any water over four weeks on the window sill of the classroom. They still had plenty warmth and sunlight. Pupil Jack Flanagan kept an observation log and at the end of the four weeks he measured the gap which formed between the sides of the soil trays and the soil samples. He found a sizeable difference between both samples. What he discovered was that the poorer soil of the wetland shrank much more than the normal soil. We looked up images of cracked soil in dry parts of the world and found that this occurs due to tension at the soil surface. We proposed that had our soil tray been much larger, similar mudcracks or 'dessication' would have occurred throughout the sample instead of the soil just shrinking in from the edge. Why had the poorer soil shrank more? Our guess was that it was higher in clay content as we had observed lots of clay on digging for the soil weeks earlier and also when conducting our worm count.
In a separate investigation we tried to compare the levels of chlorophyll in the grass of the wetland (poor nutrients) versus normal grass. The idea was to extract the green juice (or leachate?) from the grass and then using acetone as a mobile phase make it climb up pieces of filter paper by capillary action.
In trying to extract the chlorophyll from the grass we had to add some water. This meant we had to reduce our solution afterwards to get rid of the excess liquid and concentrate the green pigment. The problem with this was when it came to putting the chlorophyll onto the filter paper we found that the water was making the spot of chlorophyll travel too far before immersing it in the acetone.
We tried to let the mixture dry out even more before putting it on the filter paper but this resulted in it not traveling at all. We most likely needed a better way to extract the chlorophyll from the grass.
Earlier in the year we spotted what we though might be a fox stool in the middle of the dry wetland. It was highly likely that we were right as it matched very closely to pictures on the internet and also because of the wooded area that lies close to the wetland at the end of the pitch. We decided to set up our trail camera for a month in the hope of catching a glimpse of a fox or other wild mammal. In previous years we had little luck with the trail camera with the footage we gathered consisting of mainly rats and birds.
After a few days of getting birds we got a huge surprise one morning to see grainy footage of a badger on the camera. Finally proof of large wild mammals in the area!
Note: The time stamp was obviously incorrect for this photo. We had forgotten to reset it when changing the batteries!
We could not be totally certain that the animal in the above clip was, in fact, a badger. From the humped back and shape of the tail we decided it is more badger-esq.
What is interesting to remember is that the camera works using a infra-red light which is invisible to the naked eye - the animal was in total darkness at the time.
The following week we were to get lucky again, not once but twice! The clip below was extremely exciting to discover and we were fully able to identify the animal this time - a pine martin. It is called an Cat Crainn in Irish and it is indeed very like a cat in the clip here. We discovered that they are a very elusive, nocturnal species who are rarely seen in the flesh and feed on berries, small mammals, invertebrates, birds and amphibians (the children are always wondering where do our frogs go?).
The morning after the night before...
Before the children collected the camera (around 9am) it captured this lovely footage of a pheasant surveying his surroundings and stretching his wings. Again another example of an animal we would rarely if ever see in the flesh. Although we do hear the pheasant calling regularly to remind us of his presence.
For the trail cameraI project I gave the children complete freedom with where to place the camera and they got a real kick out of getting the footage. Of course there were lots of mornings when the camera had captured no interesting footage and that was a lesson in itself. One of the hardest decisions for the children usually was "...because we have not gotten any footage in X number of nights, should we change the location of the camera?" That dilemma always generated differing views in the class!
Using the trail camera proved a very different and exciting aspect of the project. It can't be measured so much in terms of what the children actually learned, but in the experience they had of getting the footage. The real beauty of the trail camera was that it allowed us to really see some of the wildlife that we would never otherwise see. Nothing is better than seeing real footage of these animals in your local habitat. To find these animals near our school of course means that the area is more biodiverse and that a more complex food web exists. Looking up the animals in class and learning about them was much more interesting and meaningful as a result.
The camera in situ with a "mammal footprint tunnel" in front which we used for a fortnight in conjunction with the camera.
We were hoping to get some footage along with capturing the footprints of the animal on white paper inside the tunnel. With no activity at all over two weeks we proposed that the animals might be suspicious of the sight or smell of it, even if it contained some tasty bait.
In the February post we were awaiting all six of the signs of Spring. As sure as ever all six signs occured in the intervening weeks as the days lengthened and temperatures rose. The children loved doing their observations everyday before school began. It is another reminder how lucky we are in Scoil Íde to be able to observe so much nature on our school grounds.
According to the dates it would appear that overall Spring arrived a little later than last year even though our swallows were almost 3 weeks earlier than in 2014.
Frogspawn Hawthorn Tree H.Chestnut Tree Primrose Ash Tree Swallow
2014 March 5th - - - - April 30th
2015 - March 10th March 26th April 22nd - -
2016 Feb 22nd Mar.16th -3rd Apr. March 16th April 6th April 12th April 18th
2017 March 1st March 15th March 20th April 24th April 14th -24th April 9th
Other matters of course:
As there were only two school weeks in April and I had been spending a lot of time in the school garden with the class, I decided to merge the months of March and April together. Unfortunately, with some very windy weather in the last few days it hasn't been suitable to fly the drone to take the April aerial photo and so it is just the March photo for this blog entry. I hope to add the April photo in the next few days as some good weather is forecast.
Soon the wetland will come alive in a different way as it will be part of our mountain biking course which the children train on for the annual 6th class Junior Triathlon that is coming up in June. It is always great to see a line of children on bikes finding their way on the trail through the tall grass of the wetland. In a few weeks time the children will not only have walked and waded through the wetland at various times during the year, but cycled over too - unimaginable only a few weeks ago!
More to come in May.
There is a real lack of colour in the February aerial photo. Noticeable are the darker patches of surface water and also a green shape in the top right which was caused by a rainwater drain overflowing during storm Ewan. The nutrients that washed out onto the wetland gave the grass a boost and it was able to produce lots of chlorophyll again. This gives it a richer green colour than the grass around it.
I breathed a sigh of relief today when I realised it would not be necessary to make any excuses in this blog for our continuing dry weather. No more cheesy elephant jokes, no more 'maybe it'll be wetter next month'. Finally, the rains arrived. Monsoon season. Or so I thought...
I got my hopes up until I looked up the monthly weather data on Met Éireann's website to see that, amazingly, February was actually a little drier than normal. Doh! I just hate data sometimes.
February brought wetter and windier weather and of course we had storms Doris and Ewan in the past fortnight. I have to say it did feel a bit like normality. Though with the level of variability in our weather (as we can see with the rainfall data above) you wonder what normality is anymore.
The rainfall in the past weeks gave our wetland a little top-up. It swelled a bit but nothing spectacular as you can see from the aerial shot above. At this point we are slowly coming to terms with the fact that, saving an extremely wet March, our wetland may have already peaked this season. Our winter is technically now over in terms of monthly data, and we have only received approx. 70% of our long term average rainfall.
February was a very quiet month project-wise overall. Other than following the weather and logging the data we have put it on the back burner. The first two weeks we were consumed with preparing for the confirmation which took place before our mid-term break from which we have just returned. But there were some other nature projects that we were busy at this month.
It is in February every year that we turn our attention to the outdoors and what's happening in nature around us. I mentioned in January's blog about the optimism that this time of year brings, and we can see the evidence of this starting to show with the daylight hours lengthening, and plants and animals reawakening after the winter. A wonderful project that focuses us on this reawakening - a project we have been doing for a number of years now - is the 'Greenwave' Project. The purpose of the Greenwave project is to look for six key signs of Spring in nature around us. It asks the children to look out for such things as the Primrose plant beginning to flower, the 'bud burst' of the Hawthorn tree and the appearance of frogspawn. The whole notion of Spring and nature reacting to improved conditions is closely linked with our Wetland Project.
It is always nice to observe and pay so much attention to something that rarely even gets noticed. For example the buds on one particular branch of a tree, one Primrose plant or a little clump of frogspawn. You can't help but wonder at the millions of other buds, primroses and frogspawn, in fields and ponds around the country, that no-one ever sees. Like the line by poet Thomas Gray in 1751:
"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air".
There is also a wealth of opportunity for posing and figuring out questions such as how do frogs know when to have their frogspawn? Or why do the trees grow their leaves at this time of the year and not during December?
In previous years there was a central Greenwave website on which schools could post up the dates of their sightings to make an interactive map. Two years ago this website closed down but we still see the value in doing the project.
Another thing that we turn our attention to at this time of year is our Outdoor Classroom. This is an an area with raised vegetable & fruit beds, a pond, a poly-tunnel and a recreational area to name but a few. It's from this time of year onwards that jobs need to be done to ensure a successful growing season. The outdoor classroom is right outside our window and we busied ourselves before the mid-term break with a good tidy of the poly-tunnel, planting our fruit bed with raspberries, blackberries & blueberries, and the important job of planting our flower seeds for the wildflower bank.
In a matter of months we'll be eating freshly picked berries as we relax and take in the beauty of the wildflowers! Here is an image from last July with the bank almost in full bloom and buzzing with insect life.
In the next few weeks the vernal equinox will be upon us, the clocks go forward an hour and we will hopefully spot some of our six signs of Spring. So that's all for now, another update to come in late March / early April.
January 2017. The grass of the wetland area has lost even more of its colour since December. We are putting this down to the poor nutrient levels especially nitrogen. Nitrogen levels are almost directly linked to the level of chlorophyll which of course is used by plants to make food with sunlight and gives them their green colour. Coupled with the short hours of daylight the grass is struggling to make chlorophyll and so healthy growth is severely hindered.
Until I read a bit of trivia recently, I wasn't aware that January is actually named after the Roman god 'Janus', who, according to legend (and in typical hyperbolic, mythical fashion) had the redeeming feature of having not one, but two heads. The two heads faced in opposite directions. One head looked back to the previous year and the other forward to the new one. Janus was the 'God of Gateways' and presided not only over the gate to the new year but also the Gate of Heaven no less. An important job! So why two heads?
looked forward? What job did that one have? Was it to predict the future? Or was it to give hope? To see that although it was the dark and cold time of the year, better and warmer times lay not too far ahead?
It is too simplistic to just say that looking back is pessimistic in nature and looking forward is optimistic but maybe there is some truth in it. I'm guessing Janus' heads found each other's outlook hard to bear at times.
This time of the year nature helps us to look forward, not backwards. Though it is quiet, it seems like everything around us is getting ready to happen. In school we are keenly awaiting the appearance of frogspawn in our outdoor classroom and we are keeping an eye out for bud burst to occur in our trees - some of the 'signs of Spring'. (More about that in February.)
January is said to be the quietest month of the year, and weather-wise this seems true - especially with the January we've had this year. It has been largely dry and calm, with a good deal of sun.
How quickly we forget that this time twelve months ago, we had just endured storm Gertrude, the seventh storm of the Winter.
Although it has gotten somewhat wetter this week, we have had some lovely sunny days. The kind of days that seem gifted to us from another season.
When looking at the images that Graham took in his most recent drone flight, our surrounding area is even more beautiful in January than in the Summer months. It does not have the richness of colour, but it has a fresh brightness to it. Though we can't see it, even the air seems cleaner.
In school it has been anything but quiet the last three weeks ("When is it ever?")
When we returned after the Christmas break, we had two weeks before the big event of the month took place - The Primary Science Fair in Mary Immaculate College - and there was lots to do to be fully ready.
We needed to:
Poster boards printed and ready.
Graphic designer Glen O'Sullivan did a superb job putting our images together in two poster boards. This gave our project a clean and professional look. Glen had worked with some of the class on preparing the images for the posters.
The Model of the Weltand.
The original clay model was built using normal art clay. It was only meant to be a trial version but as it progressed we promoted it to being the actual one we would use. Over a few weeks however it became clear that the clay was not up to the job as it cracked and shrank excessively.
We ordered more expensive modelling clay and went back to the drawing board, literally.
The new clay did not shrink as fast, helped by wrapping it in cling film to slow the drying.
It started to turn out a much better job.
Everything was done to scale, even the Senior building of the school! Likewise the children tried to paint the colours as close to the real shades as possible.
The model turned out to be one of the most eye-catching features of the project display. It meant that the children could point and show people about the wetland. It allowed people to actually see instead of trying to visualise things, such as our grid mapping for instance, or the contributing rainwater run-off from local residents' driveways. The children really enjoyed the making and painting of the model and I'm sure they would agree it was the most enjoyable maths lesson in scale ever!
The grass trial proved very interesting. We had learned about seeds and how they have some stored energy for germination already inside them. Based on this I had predicted that both soil samples would germinate the seeds evenly, but that the grass in the wetland soil would then not continue to grow as well as the normal soil. However there was a big difference - even in germination, with the wetland soil doing much poorer.
Grass growth was also much poorer in the wetland soil.
The soil test was another very effective exhibit in our display at the Primary Science Fair. It clearly showed that the wetland does affect the local flora - which was part of our project question.
The Primary Science Fair itself proved to be a very memorable day out for the children. When we turned up to register early in the morning we randomly got assigned exhibition stall number one, maybe an omen we mused but it was certainly a funny start!
We made a roster so that all the children would get to present at our stall for an hour during the day.
We have said many times that the best thing about the wetland project is that it has so many different facets to it. The skills of greeting people and engaging them, answering questions and communicating ideas and concepts were used to great effect by the children on the day. Though the judges were interested in the content of the project, the thing that made the biggest impression on them was the children that they met, who they commented were extremely well able to explain all about their project. Below is a short clip of things in full swing.
A huge well done to the RDS Primary Science Fair team and Mary Immaculate for putting on a great exhibition. Well done also to all the children and teachers from other schools who were at the Fair. It was a real playground for the brain! Lastly, a big thanks to all the teachers who volunteered on the day to help supervise the children.
Inevitably, February promises to be an anti-climax with our project - it's not every month you get to be part of a Science Fair. But like the Roman god Janus, we have to tell ourselves enough of looking backwards, now it's onwards and upwards!
We have a number of things planned in the coming weeks such as testing for Chlorophyll and changing the nature of our grass trial. And you never know, by some miracle we might get some heavy r...!
February is almost here and for a few more weeks the plants and animals are still having a rest, saving their energy for when Spring starts to push Winter away for another year. Longer days and life reawakening - optimism abounds!
"Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy,
but I love you nonetheless."
Although the quote above conjures up in our mind what we regard to be the ideal winter - crisp, frosty mornings and cold temperatures that make us want to take refuge in our warm homes - our winter so far has been anything but. We often ask why it is such a topic of conversation in Ireland but when you consider the range of different types of weather and the variability in a given day of temperature, precipitation and wind, it is no wonder that we talk about it so much. It impacts and shapes our daily lives whether it's at work, playing sports or just trying to cut the lawn during a dry spell!
Like I always say, next month we could literally be swimming out there.
As I write this on the last day of December, we are in fact getting a good drenching from a band of rain sweeping south across the country. See rainfall radar pic below left.
Met Eireann have some cool graphs on their past weather section of their website and when you look at the data for the year it is very interesting. With the temperature we see that it is not really ever on the average, but swinging from warmer to cooler than average periods. For example, I said above that December was warmer than average, but if you look at November you see that it was cooler than average. It generally evens out in the long run.
The last number of weeks have been really busy in school with the Christmas tests, STEM 'Super' Wednesdays and Lego Mindstorms day among other things. We haven't been as productive with the project in December as in other months, not forgetting we got the holidays on the 22nd aswell!
However, we did make progress on a few fronts. Firstly we had a number of visits from graphic designer Glen O'Sullivan who is taking the children in groups to work on creating Info-boards for our display in the Young Scientist exhibition.
Glen talked to the class about the project to get a sense of what they wanted and what we would be looking for in our info-boards. He also spoke to the class about the technical aspects of processing images and adjusting / editing them for the best impact. A few children in the class were interested in photography already so this really hit the spot with them.
The Young Scientist exhibition runs on the 19th, 20th & 21st of January in Mary Immaculate College. We will be displaying our project on Saturday the 21st of January from 09:30 to 15:00.
Our clay model of the wetland has proven somewhat problematic. What started out as a trial model turned into the actual one we thought we would use. However we found that the clay continually shrinks at it dries which leaves gaps that need to be filled. The new material then shrinks and you are left with a smaller gap, and so on. This sparked an interest in the maths concept of infinite series which we explored through drawing fractals. (Funny clip here. Apologies for the elephant theme which rears its head again in the clip!) Anyhow we think we will have to rethink what material we use for the model, it might be modelling clay or plasticine.
Our survey of the local residents also concluded with the children doing a lovely job processing and displaying the data they collected. The experience of composing questions, going door to door and organising the raw data was incredibly valuable to the children. The findings were interesting, even if they were largely in line with what we expected.
For example, half of the houses surveyed (17 in total) had paved or concreted their front lawns in the last 10 years. This creates a lot more run-off than previously, as the soakage is reduced. Another interesting, if somewhat scientifically insignificant piece of information, is that most people say the wetland has increased in the last ten years. There are many factors at play of course and it is impossible to say which has been the main cause of the wetland forming and increasing over time.
So its goodbye to 2016, we will be back with more in January and we look forward to what 2017 will bring.
I should start this month's blog by addressing the elephant in the room...
(Theme for November = Elephants)
..that is, as one of my pupils pointed out last week, that the 'wetland' - in our wetland project - is virtually non-existant. "You can't have a wetland project without a wetland!". But, to wax lyrical for a second, supposing the elephant, or elephants are just late? Elephants with names such as Barbara, Conor, Doris, Ewan and Fleur. Or maybe the first elephant went somewhere else and didn't come to us?
I suddenly realised how we could integrate learning all about elephants with our wetland project! Questions such as; Could an elephant survive in the wetland? For how long? How many elephant's high is the Oak tree? Would elephant dung improve the nutrient levels in the soil? Would there be more midges? The mind boggles...
Okay enough about elephants I hear you say but just one last joke to finish.
What do you call an elephant that doesn't matter? An irrelephant!
After a dry October, we have had the driest November (with a few days to go which are also forecast dry) in the last 5 years. Hence the no-wetland-in-the-wetland-project piece above! It is only when you see data as on the table below that you realise just how good we have had it the last number of weeks. October had half the rain of June while November only beats June by 1mm!
A few other interesting stats from Met Éireann monthly data are that November was:
The arrival of November brought us a definite wintery feel. The days ever shortening, clocks going back an hour and the frosty mornings.
Yet once the frost cleared the days still had a lovely autumn feel. Our Oak is really starting to look bare these days.
The news came at the start of the month that our project was accepted at the RDS primary Science Fair at Mary Immaculate College on Saturday January 21st 2017. We applied for this back in September as we thought it would be interesting to share our unique project with other schools and also that the children would have the experience of presenting at their project stand. We are looking forward to seeing all that the Science Fair has to offer in what is sure to be an exciting day up in Mary I.
What have we done during the past month?
Since getting accepted for the Science Fair we have begun to think how we could make our display stand more appealing to students / adults from other schools. Suggestions such as putting the drone on display, a slideshow playing on an iPad were made. The children also suggested making a model of the wetland. We thought about this and decided to give it a go. Not as easy as it sounds!
We very quickly realised that the only way we could make a model was by using scale. So using an aerial photograph, and our contours which we recently finished, we began our model this week.
Sketching the contours onto the base of the model.
We hope to have a scale model of the Bishop's Wetland, Corbally Road & part of Scoil Íde so that it is easier to explain our project to people at the Science Fair. It is exciting to see how it turns out in the end when trees, buildings and colour is added. Will post photos to the mapping page when finished.
Looking ahead, December promises to be a busy month. Weather-wise we are likely to get the first of our winter storms. (First storm arrived on 7th November 2015). Going on past averages the weather will also surely be much wetter than the previous two months but as we have seen so far averages are often misleading when viewed in the short term.
More to come in December.
"Listen the wind is rising, the air is wild with leaves. We have had our Summer evenings, now for October eves!" Humbert Wolfe 1885 - 1940
October has arrived. We have been blessed with lovely cool and dry weather the last few weeks. We can definitely say we have had an Autumn so far. The trees are going through their lovely colour changes and their show has been prolonged by the good spell and the absence of any high winds. However, in an unexpected twist to our project, during the dry spell the wetland shrank and actually dried up! (Remember that we had small ponds appearing back in July after wet days.) The area of wetland coverage in September was 208 m2, it fell to just 58m2. Such is the unpredictability of our lovely Irish weather. Interesting to note that our weather station recorded zero rainfall for a whole week lately - I don't think this happened during the Summer!
Since our last update we have been busy with some interesting investigations including soil testing, earthworm count and mapping the contours of the wetland.
We are currently in the middle of mapping the contours of the wetland. This will give us a rough guide to the shape of the land. This is one that the children have found tricky to grasp, but when we have it finished and the 'dots' are joined it will make more sense. We have devised an elaborate system to find our levels using a laser, spirit level, some clamps and a timber stake which we improvise as an engineer's TLV pole.
Mr. Long bought us some proper clinometers last week to allow us get a better measure of the Oak tree.
When we were working in the field mapping the contours, one of the children spotted what looked like small red worms wriggling about in the mud where the wetland had dried up.
For the next few weeks we will be busy with:
At the time of writing we are in the middle of another dry spell which is forecast to last a few more days. Looking ahead to November, it is unlikely I will be able to say the same about the weather then, but you never know!
The wetland has started to grow as can be seen with the two elongated patches in the centre of the photo. Though not visible from the air, these patches are part of a greater submerged patch. The grass is high enough to stand above the water and makes the wetland harder to define from directly above. Scroll down for more detailed photos of the area of land underwater.
As I sit here to write this blog I am really wondering where the last few weeks have gone! We are now over two weeks back at school and the juggernaut of Scoil Íde is running again at full pelt with children settling into new routines, playing in new yards and of course getting down to work during the day. It's been great to see all the familiar faces - both children and colleagues - after the Summer break. I have thirty-two in my class which is called Heaney 6th (all our classrooms in the senior building of the school are named after famous poets) and at this stage I have them well briefed of our mission. We have certainly hit the ground running in the first fortnight:
The quality of the images never ceases to amaze me and this time was no different. Graham took multiple angles of the wetland area. Some examples below. For a fly-over video clip click here.
The weather has been mixed over the last four weeks. There have been some very wet days since school started back again with over 13mm falling on Friday 9th Sept. The children will remember it as a particularly wet day for 6th class P.E. (hockey & rugby).
Our wetland will only grow from here on as monthly rainfall averages increase from now until they peak in December / January and begin to decrease in February. We examined the data table below for patterns / anomalies during maths this week.
The yearly totals point towards a definite shift towards a wetter climate, but this was too short a view so we googled some other data. Found an interesting graph on the rank of hottest years. Warmer global temperature = wetter climate for Ireland. See below.
In the next few weeks we plan to carry out a few investigations in the wetland before it submerges any more.
Along with this we will continue to log the weekly rainfall and depth of the water. No doubt other opportunities for learning will present themselves in the meantime.
More to come in October!
(Click here for video aerial footage.)
Our second drone flight and the last one of the Summer before we are into Autumn! The lush and intense green of the grass that we have photographed from above on the first two flights will no doubt begin to fade from now on. The big Oak that reigns supreme over the wetland area in the bottom left of the photo is still at its best for another few weeks.
As the saying goes "make hay while the sun shines" and the wetland got its annual cut when hay was saved during the relatively dry week leading up to this photo. We always think it funny that so much takes place in the Bishop's Field, from rugby, athletics, and P.E. classes, to mountain biking, kite-flying, rocket launching and, as we see here, hay-making!
The contour of the wetland which was so visible in the July photo, is now much more subtle in the absence of the grass. Perhaps when a sward of grass comes back the pattern will re-emerge.
Interestingly, there has been a good bit of rain in the last two days and two small wet areas have emerged from the low points of the field (we may not have noticed if the field hadn't been cut). So it looks like our 'Winter wetland' as we call it may yet turn out to be a bit of a misnomer. This is happening in the Summer at the driest time of the year so we can be sure that the wetland will only grow in the months ahead.
These patches drew a lot of attention from birds as can be seen from the photos below.
And a closer view zoomed in. Quality suffers - apologies!
The children will be back to school in the next fortnight so it will be all systems go then. We need to devise a system of gridding the wetland area using timber stakes. How to place the stakes with a good level of accuracy will be the first thing to think about. As can be seen from the pics above the area is quite expansive with just the Oak tree as a nearby reference point. Looks like we'll be needing our compass, tape measure and wellies.
The wood for the stakes has arrived and we are cutting them to size and tapering them at the bottom.
A busy few weeks ahead as the school year 2016/17 gets underway in about a fortnight's time. For September's photo the lush green should return to some extent as the grass grows again. Until then fingers crossed for some fine weather!
Graham came in today and took a series of aerial photos using his Phantom 3 quadcopter. The mission: to get a first look of our wetland from the air.
As you can see in the example above, the quality of images is brilliant. The Bishop’s Field looks so vividly green from above and some of the shots really show the beauty of the Corbally area.
We are able to see from these first images that there is an absence of tall grasses from the wetland area, hence the irregular green shade.
The shape of the wetland depends on both the level of rainfall and the relief of the land. Since the rainfall is irregular during the Winter months, the wetland can grow or shrink at different times. It is interesting to note at this stage that the wetland may not correspond exactly to the darker green area on the photo as one would assume. Does the wetland take up a much larger area than this green shape when at its peak? This is where our mapping of the wetland area will be key and provide some answers.
We intend to map the area so that we have an idea of the shape of the land. We can then predict which areas are lowest and which are high and less likely to flood. We are thinking of using a grid system of poles so that we can both get a ‘level’ on the height of the land and also measure the water depth when the area starts to flood. The children will be exposed to a great level of hands on Science as the project starts to progress.
Along with groundwork and mapping we hope to take images from the exact same viewpoint in the sky every month to build up a visual gallery of the Bishop’s Field as it floods in the Winter and recedes (hopefully!) in the Spring.
Thanks to Graham for agreeing to be part of the project, for his idea to keep this blog to document our project and of course in the coming months he will be our eye in the sky with his drone so to speak!
More to come in August.