We had our first day! It was exciting and enjoyable although the videos we had made at interview had been shown to all staff which was a little bit cringeworthy!
After our first week we had an adventure to Brownsea Island getting to meet all the other trainees from the other trusts and learn the basics for all our roles first aid, health and safety and safeguarding. Whilst also indulging in a spot of wildlife watching but you can find out more on our dedicated Brownsea Island summary.
After our second week we all went our separate ways so here are our individual updates on what we’ve been up to.
Beth - Although my mentor Liz looks after East Mendip I will be spending time on both East and West Mendip so have a lot of reserves to attempt to add to my mental map. We’ve had various tasks to carry out including controlling thistles and bracken. I’ve also helped with some of the seed harvesting that has been going on; seed from hay meadows has been collected to improve habitats elsewhere. I spent an entire day with the Senior Ecologist Kiff Hancock, who very kindly shared his wealth of plant knowledge with me, first with some monitoring work with the Botany Group and then a wander with just the two of us across Yoxter Range and then a quick visit to Draycott Sleights. I’ve also been helping to put in new posts for the nature trails at Black Rock so keep your eyes peeled!
Chris - Its been great to see the diversity of habitat across the county. Starting with botanical surveys in Mendip, we got to see corky-fruited water-dropwort (Oenanthe pimpinelloides) which is exclusive to the south-west. Over in Selwood I was lucky enough to help survey fields shimmering blue with devil’s-bit scabious (Succisa pratensis), interspersed with ox-eye daisy, pyramid orchids and marbled white butterflies feeding on common knapweed. It was great to see many of the grasses in flower. I also spent some days on the levels, helping with a study of predation on snipe.
Claire - I’ve been very busy doing a variety of things which has been great fun. I still get the feeling I am getting to do the best jobs although I did wash some mouldy tablecloths so maybe not! So far I have been improving my botanical knowledge with Chris and his mentor Matthew Marshall it’s amazing how much variety and the rarity of the species you find in Somerset. My particular favourite was visiting Fivehead, a site for arable weeds which is one of the most important sites in the UK, it might not look like much but if it wasn’t for the Wildlife Trust having the foresight to protect species deemed as farming weeds we wouldn’t be able to find some of the quirkiest and unusual plants I’ve ever seen. I have also been out with some school groups and at family fun days; pond dipping and minibeast hunting, which is always good fun and its nice to see the next generation getting really excited and enjoying the natural world. Luckily for me the timing of my start has coincided with the new Routes To The River Tone Project which has involved going to Priorswood to get everyone involved in painting wildlife you find in Taunton in your gardens and greenspaces. I was amazed how many of you regularly see hedgehogs in your garden, and at your amazing artistic skills. As if I wasn’t busy enough I have also been sorting lots of stuff for our section on the website which hopefully you’re all enjoying!
Olivia - Unfortunately still resting and recovering from spraining her ankle, although she did manage to do a spot of equipment shopping with us and get herself a very fetching and practical all-in-one work suit.
So to end I thought we would round off with a few special species we have spotted this month in Somerset. There are many more we have seen but here are just a few we’ve had the privilege of spotting in this beautiful county.
- Otter! (Westhay)
- Corky-fruited Water-dropwort
- Marsh Harrier
- Common Lizard
- Wood Mouse
- Roe Deer
- Lots of butterflies peacocks, marbled whites, silver washed fritillaries, dark green fritillaries, common blue, chalkhill blue, gatekeeper, clouded yellow and so many more
- Scarlet Pimpernel
- Prickly Ox tongue
- Shepherds Needle
L to R Shepherds Needle, Otter and a Wood Mouse
PPhPhoto credit 3 Trainees Beth Aucott