Sep 20
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ARKive is a Champion Partner for National Geographic’s Great Nature Project

Great Nature Project logoWhether this is your first visit to ARKive or you are an ARKive superfan, odds are you’ve come to see amazing imagery of the world’s wildlife from the tiny water flea to the massive megamouth shark. We believe that films and photos are an incredible way to get up close and personal with animals and plants from around the globe and so do our partners at National Geographic and the Great Nature Project.

ARKive has been named a Champion Partner for the Great Nature Project – a week-long, picture-based BioBlitz event taking place around the world from September 21-29, 2013. Together, we’re working to build the world’s largest online album of animal photos.

Photo of Northern Raccoon

To join in, snap a picture of a plant or animal in your neighborhood, and upload it to a photo sharing site like Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, making sure to tag it #GreatNature and #ARKive. ARKive has its very own collection on the Great Nature Project website right alongside collections from National Geographic Explorer’s-in-Residence and celebrities like Jewel.

ARKive's Great Nature Project Collection

We’ll be curating our collection daily and add our favorite shots to the collection so check back often. Whether you’re exploring a park or a playground, join us in celebrating the wild world through imagery!

Liana Vitali, ARKive Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

Aug 12
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Share your summer stories with ARKive

Photo of sessile oak tree in summer

Sessile oak tree in summer

With the summer holidays now well underway in many countries, it’s the perfect time for kids and adults alike to get outside and enjoy the wildlife around them. If you’re planning a trip to a nature reserve, beach or wild space near you, or simply enjoy spotting the creatures in your own garden, why not have a go at writing about what you find?

Here at ARKive we would love to hear all about your summer wildlife experiences, and now you can share them with us as part of ARKive’s Summer Stories!

Photo of red admiral on nettle

Red admiral on nettle

Your story can be about anything related to wildlife or the outdoors – why not tell us about a walk you’ve been on or an interesting animal or plant you’ve spotted? If you’re stuck for inspiration, here are a few ideas to start you off:

  • The Great Outdoors
  • In the Garden
  • On the Beach
  • Urban Wildlife
  • Under the Sea

Share your stories

If you’d like to take part, please email your story to us at arkive@wildscreen.org.uk, including your name and age, before the 1st September 2013. If you are under 16 years of age please make sure you get permission from your parent or guardian before sending in your stories.

We’ll be publishing our favourite stories here on the ARKive blog at the end of the summer. We look forward to reading about all your wildlife adventures!

Photo of common starfish in rockpool habitat

Common starfish in rockpool habitat

Try our fun summer activities!

Looking for more fun stuff to do with your kids over the summer? Why not check out our Fun Stuff pages for cool games, arty activities, quizzes and more!

And if you’ve had a go at one of our creative Animal Activities, we’d love to see photos of your creations – you can share them with us on Twitter, Flickr or Facebook.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author

Jul 31
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Guest Blog: Wildlife Photography Tips For Children

Wildlife photography is a fantastic way to discover nature – using your eyes and a camera to really explore and enjoy the natural world. You can have great fun creating stunning wild images whatever camera you have (SLR, pocket compact camera or mobile phone) and wherever you live.  Often the most exciting discoveries are right on our doorsteps – the highlight of my career was photographing a sleeping kingfisher just a few metres from house (they are unique images as far as I know)!

King of Sleeps JPG

Sleeping kingfisher © Iain Green

Whether you enjoy the artistic side of nature photography, or maybe wish to record the different wildlife and behaviour you see (probably a mixture of both) here are my top tips to help you take great wildlife shots.

 Local sites such as your garden, nearby park, beach or nature reserve offer some of the best opportunities for wildlife photography. By regularly exploring these local wild spaces you can build a detailed photographic study and create unique images. Visit sites at different times of the day and year to determine when wildlife activity is at its peak and where is the best spot to photograph.

• Do as much research as you can about the wildlife & habitats you hope to see – books, internet and wildlife charities are great Young Photographer  IG (P&C)sources. Quiz experts and local reserve staff for wildlife knowledge and advice, they are normally very happy to help.

• Get-up early, or go out late to get the best lighting conditions – especially in summer. If photographing bugs or flowers in middle of the day, use a reflector or piece of white card to bounce sunlight on to the shady side of your subject.

• Slow down and take time to think about your composition. Look for, bold colours, striking patterns or exciting action to create stunning photos. When photographing animals make sure you focus on the eyes. Experiment with composition by moving your subject off-centre and using scene features as natural frames

• Change your viewpoint. Get down low to your subjects eye-level for a better perspective and to portray nature in its own habitat. Don’t forget to look straight up or down to discover beautiful natural patterns in plants and trees. Photographing from below can make things look bigger or more impressive.

• Compact cameras are fantastic for photographing mini-beasts or flowers – don’t use the zoom, but carefully move your camera in close. The macro (flower symbol) setting on pocket cameras enables you to focus on something just a few cm away, creating striking frame-filling images.

• Learn how your camera works and don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings, such as exposure and focussing.

• Above all else get out and photograph, the best photographs are created by spending time outside and not in a camera shop. And be patient with wildlife, you may have to wait or make several visits for that special image.

Vole really close

If you are patient you could get some really great shots like this water vole image © Iain Green

Iain Green is a professional wildlife photographer and founder of www.WildWonder.co.uk, a social enterprise engaging young people, schools and adults with nature through discovery and creativity.

Apr 9
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Spotlight on: Environmental Education (EE) Week, USA – April 15-19

ARKive is proud to partner with the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), an organization dedicated to connecting kids and adults alike with environmental knowledge that can improve the quality of their lives and the health of the planet. Every year, NEEF spearheads Environmental Education (EE) Week – the largest celebration of environmental education in the US. This year’s theme is ‘Taking Technology Outdoors’ which is a perfect opportunity to explore all the ways that the ARKive collection can be used to inspire and enhance connections with the natural world.

The ARKive team has come up with a few fun, extension activities to our free classroom lessons for any adult to use to lead kids on outdoor explorations in their own backyards or local green spaces. The activities can be done with or without the accompanying lesson.

Web of Wildlife (7-11 year olds)

ARKive's web of wildlifePhotograph your local food chain. In this activity, kids spend time outdoors trying to locate different types of food sources. They take a picture of each food item they find including grass, acorns and even small critters that are food for birds and other animals. Kids then create a poster using print-outs of the food source pictures and drawings of other species that rely on those food sources. Using lessons learned in the Web of Wildlife activity and using ARKive as a resource, kids can draw lines between food sources and species to illustrate the local food web.

Biodiversity Hospital (11-14 year olds)

ARKive's Biodiversity Hospital lessonBe a conservation photographer. A conservation photographer has the ability to capture an environmental story in a single image. In this activity, kids play the role of conservation photographers and try to capture, in one image, any conservation threats in their hometown. The photograph should speak for itself and taking on the role of a ‘doctor’, the kids should try to prescribe a solution to the problem. They then take turns showing their picture to friends and family who try to identify the conservation threat and potential remedies.

Species Discovery (7-11 & 11-14 year olds)

Species Discovery

Catch new-to-you species on film. Using a smartphone with a video recording feature, trek outdoors and help kids to capture any species that are new to them on camera. From city-dwelling birds to local flower species they may have never noticed before, kids log their findings on camera and then explore the ARKive site to find a species that closely matches their discoveries. Kids should try to identify the features that are similar whether its color, beak shape, etc. Choosing one of the species they caught on camera, kids can get creative by thinking of their own scientific name for it.

NEEF guest bloggers

We also have an exciting line-up of guest bloggers who will be appearing on the ARKive blog during EE Week to share their adventures with the activities above and other ways they’ve used ARKive and technology to get kids outside. Our friends from NEEF will be kicking things off for us next Monday!

If you are interested in joining in the ARKive/EE Week celebrations by doing one of the above activities, feel free to share a short paragraph on your experience and a picture with us at education@wildscreenusa.org. We’ll in turn publish your story in an ARKive blog at the end of EE Week sharing it with thousands of readers in the US and beyond.

Happy Outdoor Exploration!

Liana Vitali, ARKive Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

Jan 4
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Guest blog: Discovering Britain with the Royal Geographical Society

What do red kites, yellow ants, white rock roses and common blue butterflies have in common? All are species that can be spotted on Discovering Britain walks.

Discovering Britain is a series of geographically-themed walks created by the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers. Each walk explores how the landscape has been shaped by forces of nature and by people. That includes natural landscapes that are home to different species of mammals, plants, insects and birds.

Discover an estuary

Walking along the embankment of the Thames estuary near Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, the landscape looks like a lifeless flat expanse of grey mud. But look a little closer in the saltmarshes and on the mud flats at low tide to see a colourful and dynamic environment teeming with life.

Our Essex Estuary walk visits one of the key nesting sites of the avocet. You can also look out for brent geese who stop off here on their migration and watch boats collecting cockles as they have done here for centuries.

Flock of brent geese flying over beach

Flock of brent geese flying over beach

Enjoy a cliff top stroll

Along the cliff tops just outside Torquay, your attention is naturally drawn towards the sea and the spectacular view of the coastline. However, on our Babbacombe walk the seemingly-ordinary section of grassy cliff top at Walls Hill is worth a closer look.

On the thin soil grows the unique squill-spurge fescue grassland. Some of the rare and special plant species that thrive here attract colourful butterflies. You may see clusters of yellow Kidney Vetch which is a favourite of the Small Blue butterfly. Also look out for the common blue and marbled white.

Royal Geographical Society's Jenny Lunn at the summit of The Wrekin (c) Jenny Lunn

Royal Geographical Society's Jenny Lunn at the summit of The Wrekin

Explore the grassy plains

Salisbury Plain is the largest military training area on British soil. Although some parts are off limits to the public on our Salisbury Plain walk you can enjoy safe parts of these vast grasslands.

You may see soldiers on manoeuvres and tanks rumbling past. Take a moment to look in the muddy puddles created in tank tracks and see if you can spot a fairy shrimp. These tiny creatures which once moved habitat in the hooves of grazing cattle now use the treads of tanks. Also look out for great bustards which were successfully reintroduced on the Plain a decade ago.

Photo of a male great bustard displaying

Male great bustard displaying

Always take a closer look

The Discovering Britain walks encourage you to keep your eyes open when on a walk and discover more about the landscape around.

Whether it’s red kites on our Chilterns walk or red Deer on our Quantocks walk there is always something unusual to look out for.

Visit www.discoveringbritain.org to browse and download the free self-guided walks

Discovering Britain

 Jenny Lunn, Discovering Britain Project Manager, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

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