Joe Botting's picture

Welcome from the new West Midlands mentor!

Greetings All! I’ve just started as the iSpot mentor for the West Midlands region, and hope to be having all manner of fascinating discussions with you, both here online and at a series of events going on across the region in 2013. My job is to help you to get the most out of your interest in nature, by helping you to identify what you see, organising and attending events, and helping to link beginners and specialists together. It’s not a full-time role, but I’ll have enough time over the year to do quite a bit, and will help out where I can. If there’s anything you would like to know, please ask and I’ll be delighted to help.

One of the first things that I’ll be doing is putting together a list of natural history-related organisations across the region, to make it easy to find like-minded people. These are generally not expensive to join, they run events and talks, and are a wonderful way to meet a new circle of friends with a shared interest. I will also start and try to maintain a list of public events going on in the region, so please do post anything that you hear about – there are bound to be lots of local ones that I don’t hear about.

I’m very much hoping that iSpot will become a focus for a region-wide community of naturalists, from complete beginners curious about what is in their garden, to specialists studying mosses, wasps, birds, or whatever. This wonderful subject really is open to everyone, at whatever level, and the whole point of iSpot is to encourage and aid participation.

Just so you know, I’m a specialist on insects and fossils, but have a general interest in everything natural (yes, even slugs – they’re just soooooo cute, no matter what they do to my garden). I’m still pretty much a novice in some groups, like plants and birds, but I am thinking of installing a nest box in my beard, which should help. I’m based out to the west of the area, but hope to be visiting events across the region during the summer.

Finally, please do use these forums as well as the observations pages. They have been neglected a bit, but they’re here for you to discuss whatever you would like, whether it’s comparing notes on what you’re seeing in the garden, or asking for advice on how to find your favourite species of springtail. It’s all about enriching our knowledge and understanding, to help us appreciate better this amazing world and the things we share it with.

Looking forward to talking to you, here or somewhere else!