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Trainee Blogs - September 2015

6th October 2015

Laura: September has flown by in a blink of the eye. Unfortunately for us we had to say goodbye to Emily and wish her luck for the start of her 3 year PhD on slugs and potatoes. She will now be forever known as Slug Girl! What have we been up to this month? Well, we spent a day training with Viv Fowler from the Environment Agency on how to survey and identify freshwater invertebrates and macrophytes. This turned out to be a very interesting day on a topic which I never thought I would learn about.

I have spent three days this month with the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre based in Exeter inputting survey information into Recorder 6 and getting top tips on how to use MapInfo and related databases. It was a pleasure meeting all the staff at DBRC and has given me valuable experience of record centre work and how important it is to survey sites properly in the field!

There have also been two days of Bryology training, which translates as moss and liverwort training to those who don’t speak naturalist. The very knowledgeable Sharon Pilkington, who is a member of the Wessex Bryology Group, ran a two day course for the trainees and other interested parties. What an eye-opener that was! I now feel the need to join a Bryology group to keep up the (limited) knowledge Sharon managed to feed into my brain.

With several days dormouse-ing at different locations near Cheddar and in the Blackdowns, there hasn’t been much time or thought of doing botanical surveys. Alas, that will change in October. With Conrad away for two weeks in the middle of October and Tom leaving our little team to start at the Devon Wildlife Trust as an Assistant Ecologist (well done Tom!) that will leave me to fend for myself as the last trainee standing.

Tom: The interview was a success! I was delighted to hear that I was successful in the interview I attended for an Assistant Ecologist position at Devon Wildlife Consultancy! As a result this will be my final blog post and month as a Natural Future's Trainee at the Blackdown Hills!

This month has been filled with lots of variety as usual! We began by having a freshwater invertebrate training day with Viv Fowler from the Environmental Agency. It was a great day learning about invertebrates and their ecology, as well as keying them out under microscopes highlighting subtle differences between species.

We also were lucky enough to spend a few days at Devon Biodiversity Record Centre. This was a great opportunity to gain experience using MapInfo and inputting data with Recorder 6. It was also interesting talking to the staff about their roles and how important different aspects of their work are in relation to the Wildlife Trust.

Furthermore we have had two days training from Sharon Pilkington in Bryology! Again, something which prior to this month I had limited knowledge on. However, as a result of some very good teaching I feel like I have begun to get to grips with the common mosses and lichens. I continued to practice identifying them as we continued to survey sites at Cheddar for dormice, where we were lucky to find 7 mice in a single box! Definitely a wonderful way to finish my traineeship at the Blackdown Hills.

I would like to say that the traineeship run by the Blackdown Hills AONB has been invaluable over the last half a year, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to gain a great variety of experience, with interest in the ecology sector.

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