In many ways it will be like 2020 for Edinburgh Natural History Society - ENHS. The general style of life will be guided by the progress of the Covid-19 pandemic. This means living with a degree of isolation and keeping healthy by continuing activities as possible. Our core purpose is to promote the study of natural history which has also been highlighted to be good for mental health. To that end it has been reassuring that many members have been exploring their local areas and sharing their findings with others.
Recording species in our local areas has increased and new ways have been found to undertake 'citizen science' in isolation. The Big Wasp Survey – At Home, changed the method for identifying wasps. Previously, wasps were submitted for identification but they created a set of resources to identify wasps at home – it was the best response ever and higher accuracy!
Learning about natural history has been transformed and the support systems evolved at great speed. Not only newcomers to natural history but those who have been around a while have been tempted to look at new groups. What was evident was the shortfall in up-to-date field guides in the less popular groups. This has been remedied in new ways. Take sawflies – one individual thought it his mission to create a photographic website to allow people to identify all life stages of sawflies. This followed the success of a Sawfly Facebook group.
Human contact has been more difficult when it's sensible to minimise your contact with other people. We have been bombarded with advice and rules, often confusing. Members have adapted remarkably well and found ways to enable some contact and pursue their hobby. Three main groups have emerged and are broadly defined as: no Internet, some Internet and lots of Internet. The groups have been able to interact by phone, post, video conference, social media, email and probably other ways, including limited physical meet ups.
During 2020 there was the hope that soon things would get a bit more normal and we continued many of our activities in a different way without group meetings. Individuals needed to be responsible for their exploration of the local areas. Increasingly, the need for assistance was supported by contacts often through social media – Facebook or Twitter. A newsletter was sent by post or email to share what people were finding and what opportunities were available. Through the Facebook group talks and events by other similar groups were promoted, along with mainstream television and radio. As experience with video conferencing was gained and with the reduction in daylight hours social groups were started to share our interests, and the AGM.
For 2021 – video sessions will help us share learning between all knowledge levels on selected topics. Conifers with Wilma Harper is our starting point in January. The aim is to explore the basics of conifers and to develop a strategy for finding out information and where to look for it.