FSC | Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

Darwin's Garden Earthworm ID Weekend

  • Location: Preston Montford
  • Tutor: Keiron Brown, Charlie Bell and Rich Burkmar
  • Dates: Saturday 21 October 2017 to Sunday 22 October 2017
  • Times: 10 am to 4 pm (both days)
  • Level: Open for Everyone

This course is now historical and therefore no bookings can be taken. Explore our current programme of courses here

Portrait of Darwin from Punch 1881If you are new to earthworm identification, this two day non-residential event is a great way to get into earthworm recording. If you have some experience of recording earthworms, this event is an ideal opportunity to hone your skills and spend time with like-minded people finding out more about Shropshire's earthworms.

Although world-famous for his ground-breaking work, The Origin of Species, it is less well known that Charles Darwin, who grew up in Shrewsbury, was fascinated by earthworms. Another of his books, The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms, with Observations on their Habits, (also known, more snappily, as 'Worms' or 'Earthworms') was the last book published before his death. Despite being his last book, it outsold all his others during his lifetime!

As a child, Darwin lived at the family home, The Mount, in Shrewsbury and The Shropshire Wildlife Trust (SWT) recently purchased the last publicly accessible part its garden as a reserve. On Saturday, with the permission of SWT, we will be sampling earthworms in Darwin's garden and afterwards in the grounds of Preston Montford Field Centre. Whilst in Darwin's Garden, we will be given an introduction to the new reserve from a member of SWT.

On Sunday we will be identifying the earthworms we collected under the microscope in the classroom at Preston Montford. Attendees are more than welcome to bring along other earthworms for identification, e.g. those collected from their own gardens.

There is a flat fee of £10 to cover the entire two days. Participants are welcome to attend either one or both days. If you are new to earthworm identification, you will get the most out of the weekend by attending both days.

Please note:

  • the course involves the collection and preservation of earthworms for identification, and
  • the course fee does not include accommodation or food - please bring a packed lunch on both days.

On Saturday we will meet at Darwin's Garden at 10 am (precise location to be decided nearer the event) and on Sunday we will meet at Preston Montford Field Centre. If you have any questions about the event, please email: [email protected].

What to bring with you:

  • footware and clothing suitable for working outdoors (Saturday), and
  • your lunch.

All other necessary equipment and materials will be provided for you.


Keiron Brown is the Recording Officer for the Earthworm Society of Britain (ESB), one of the leading earthworm recorders in the UK, and an experienced earthworm identification trainer.

Dr Charlie Bell joined the FSC in Feb 2015 to work on the delivery phase of the Tomorrow's Biodiversity project.  Charlie combines her part time role on the Tom.bio project with working as one half of the national Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) Secretariat, based out of Shropshire Wildlife Trust. She is an active earthworm recorder in Shropshire and membership secretary of the Earthworm Society of Britain.

Dr Rich Burkmar is an ecologist looking after the FSC's Tomorrow’s Biodiversity project. He is an active earthworm recorder in Shropshire and Webmaster for the Earthworm Society of Britain.

Further Information

About Preston Montford
Directions to Preston Montford

This course is now historical and therefore no bookings can be taken.

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