Jon: July has flown by for me as I have been away for two weeks. This has been a month primarily of botanical surveys and report writing. I definitely feel much more confident now in identifying flora on site now. We undertook a GIS training day early on this month which was incredibly useful. I have been wanting to gain the basics in qGIS for a while so getting to grips with the basics and to implement it in our reports has been ideal.
My highlight for this month has been learning about crayfish ecology, in order to be able to safely catch and identify native white clawed from the invasive signals. Although we didn’t catch any white claws this month we did manage to trap a number of signal crayfish. Due to it being illegal to release invasive signals they became my dinner (cut in half, fried with butter and garlic for 3 minutes each side – step aside Jamie Oliver).
Kitty: July has been another busy month and has gone far too quickly. We continued with some NVC surveys in some very hot weather! This month some of the sites have included a golf course, woodlands and mires. We have seen plenty of colorful wildflowers, lots of natural herbs (my favorite is wild basil) and some humongous ancient woodland trees. Conrad (our trainer) had some time off this month so myself, Lucy and Jon were let loose on our own.We carried on with a few NVC surveys but the most fun task was planning activities for leading a group of Duke Of Edinburgh students on some field activities. We hand searched for reptiles under felts and lead plant identification tasks. During our searches we found plenty of Slow worms which by the end of the session the students were able to identify and sex correctly. I also saw my first Grass Snake of the season too! It was a great day and so good to see other young people interested in nature and conservation.
Towards the end of the month we participated in a few sessions of cray fish surveying; we set several baited traps along the river, the follow day we searched in refuge traps that were set a few weeks beforehand and then retrieved out baited traps . Unfortunately we didn't find any native White Clawed but we did find numerous Signal crayfish, from tiny to massive! In addition to the traps we conducted hand searches and kick sampling. The following week we found 4 White Clawed crayfish which was very exciting and great news for the local rivers! There are sadly only 2 month left of the training placement but I am sure there are still more new interesting things to find!