It only feels like two minutes since our last update but here is what we all got up to in August.
Monthly Round Up
Well this month we haven’t all been able to be in one place at the same time but we have had a few shared days, like when Beth and Claire went out to check on some of the reserves looking for any unreported damage and maintenance problems. There was also a group meeting to enable us Trainees to meet the Membership and Communications team which was interesting and it just emphasises how many different roles are needed to run a successful charity.
Beth - This month has seen me getting stuck in with a wide range of tasks across both East and West Mendip. I’ve been working on controlling various types of vegetation including bracken and thistles, to help promote diversity on sites and remove monocultures of single plants. I’ve tried my hand at a bit of fence building and repair and been helping with some of the interpretation boards for the reserves. Every other Wednesday I’ve been out with the volunteer group completing various tasks and also being taught how to dry stone wall. We’ve carried out a few more dormouse box checks; I’m still to see a dormouse but we did find an adorable pygmy shrew in one box! Over the course of this year I’ve set myself the task of visiting all 72 reserves. At the end of this month I’m at a total of 23 reserves so I think I’m on track for my total!
Chris - I experienced my first mire at Westhay Moor, including the sphagnum mosses as well as those species more specific to Westhay including royal fern and a sundew, a native carnivorous plant. It was great to find autumn lady's-tresses orchid (Spiranthes spiralis) at Draycott Sleights and we were also honoured with a stoat sighting! It has been fun being out with Lila and Matthew of the Mendip and Selwood National Character Areas liaising with landowners and seeing the diversity across the county.
Claire - This month has been really varied which is always nice. I have spent several hours in the office getting stuff ready for the Volunteer Conference and helping sort the tickets for Simon King and the AGM. I’ve also really enjoyed working with Strode College who have worked so hard in all weathers (and I mean all weathers August has been pretty changeable this year) but made a real difference in every session to each of the sites they have worked at. Although my highlight had to be the water vole training where we saw two water voles (one dead and one alive) and some otter spraint right in the town centre of Taunton!
Olivia - August saw me finally able to start my traineeship after a bad ankle injury. It's a great relief to be able to begin work and get out on the sites and enjoy the beautiful Somerset countryside. This seems to have been the month of brushcutting and I've been doing a lot of clearing rides and glades on sites such as Quants Nature Reserve and Langford Heathfield. This work is carried out to provide open sunny areas necessary for many butterfly species. I've also been helping to carry out some fence repairs at Perry Mead and managed to get out with the Taunton Midweek Conservation Volunteers for a day of raking and stacking at Ruggin on the Blackdowns. The day went very well despite a few heavy downpours. I've also been carrying out some tool maintenance and it was interesting finding out about the inner workings of the machines I have been using. Also I've really enjoyed meeting staff from all different sections of the organisation this month to find out what they do and how we Trainees can become more involved. It’s fascinating finding out about all the work that goes on behind the scenes to keep things ticking over..
Beth finding a Slow Worm whilst dry stone walling
So to end here are a few special species we have spotted in Somerset this month.
• Water Vole
• Sparrow hawk
• Strawberry Clover
• Pygmy shrew
• Slow Worm
L to R Harebell, Water Vole, Sparrowhawk
Photo credits Slow worm - Beth Aucott, Harebell - Amy Lewis, Sparrowhawk - Jonathan Davidson