Lucy: August saw us spending a couple of (very) early morning with a local expert bird ringer; we caught six species of garden birds and this, coupled with the beautiful view of the sunrise each morning more than made up for the early starts. We have continued delivering the ecological training sessions for the Duke of Edinburgh students, and it’s been really rewarding watching the students respond and become more interested in ecology (and botany!) than they were to start with. Of course, I can’t talk about the ecological training sessions, without mentioning the fact that Jon (after very bravely picking up a grass snake basking under one of our felts) was sprayed head-to-toe in a delightfully pungent garlic-smelling residue, much to the delight of me, Kitty, and the teenagers! (Just joking Jon…)
Jon:I am sure these months are flying by quicker and quicker! August has been jam packed with botany surveys, aiming to get to as many sites as possible whilst the weather is good and the plants are at their prime. A really fun part of this month has been providing Duke of Edinburgh residential students with a guided botanical and reptile walk around a local SSSI. This involved showing how to handle and sex slow worms and getting up close with grass snakes, although I wouldn’t advise being sprayed by discharge from the rear end (unhappy passengers in my car on the drive home). It was really rewarding though seeing young people begin to get to grips with botany.
We spent two days this month with a local expert bird ringer. With six species of bird and a cracking sunrise it was a very good couple of days and something I would love to do more of in the future.The month finished with setting up 25 baited crayfish traps in order to catch as many signal crayfish as possible along the river Culm. We shall have to see if anything is caught on September 1st!
Kitty: August has been and gone already! This month has been another full and fun month with plenty of botanical surveys and report writing with the addition of a variety of extra survey training. We spent a day learning the theory of bird ringing followed by two days of practical surveying. We started before sunset (about 5.30am) by setting mist nets on a local site; from 6 am until around mid day we observed the traps and waited for the birds to fly into the nets. Unfortunately we only caught 9 birds across the 2 days but we did have a good variety of species including Blackcaps, Bluetits and Dunnocks. Externally from the BNFT training program I am continuing bird ringing and hoping to gain my training permit over the next few years; it it very exciting with a huge amount to learn but it is defiantly worth the very early starts.
One of the last actives of the month was crayfish surveying; again we used all four types of survey methods which include hand searching / stone turning, kick sampling, refuge traps and baited traps. This months surveys were very successful as we located numerous populations of white clawed crayfish along the river Culm; additionally, any of the non native single cray fish that were captured were removed from the river in the hope the white clawed populations continue to survive in this river catchment.
All these activities were great fun and very educational....however, the highlight of the month for me....Jon decided to handle a grass snake during one of out Duke of Edinburgh survey days....I dont think the snake was too impressed by this and decided to excrete and spray a revolting smelling liquid all over him.... he stank for the rest of the day!