Amazingly it’s a quarter of the way through our traineeship the time has flown! This month has possibly been the busiest yet so here’s what we’ve been up to!
It’s been the busiest month yet for us Trainees. Filled with lots of exciting training and having gone the month of August without seeing each other we all met up virtually every week this month. We continued our meetings with members of staff across the whole organisation, including those who work at SERC and some of the Living Landscape staff. After one of these meetings we also all got a taste of Beth’s role as we went to King Castle’s Wood to put up a new interpretation board.
Right at the very beginning of the month we all went to the Volunteer Conference to do a presentation on the scheme and our role which was a little nerve racking! Fortunately the volunteers were really friendly and it’s easy to see why the Trust is as successful as it is with such fantastic support.
Beth - September has been a pretty busy month with lots of meetings, events and training on top of all the normal reserves work. Olivia and I have completed our brush cutter training and have been shopping for protective gear ready for our chainsaw course next month. I’ve finally met the East Mendip Practical Conservation Volunteers at Harridge Woods and have been out a few more times with the West Mendip group, clearing scrub. A few days this month have been spent off the Mendips where I joined the levels reserve staff for a day at Catcott, completing some tasks in preparation for the board walk and tower hide opening. I spent another day at Dundon Beacon with Olivia and her mentor Mark. Liz has been pretty busy in the office so I’ve been trusted to do a few jobs by myself, which really tested my navigation skills finding some of the reserves. One of my highlights of the month has been finally finding some Dormice whilst doing box checks; we even found some beautiful baby ones!
Chris - I have been involved with a breadth of training and projects across the county - from experiencing fascinating bryophytes including sphagnums, polytrichums, rhytidiadelphae and many others I cant recall (or spell!) on the Exmoor Mires Project to Training in Dorset, discovering the joys of identifying water vole signs. I was generously invited to join Wiltshire Wildlife Trust for an absorbing survey along the Avon Canal. I also attended a thought provoking conference on Landscape Scale Conservation organized by the British Ecological Society reinforcing the importance of the Trusts work on ecological networks in the county.
Claire - My month has been pretty varied with everything from water vole surveying to promoting our free educational programmes to teachers, scouts and guides. The highlight though has to have been going to Forest School to do my Level 2 Qualification where I saw shooting stars on my first night! Forest Schools vary based on the leader and the location but generally it’s a mix of bush craft, wild play and crafts using natural materials found in the forest and surrounding area. The purpose is to educate and inspire children to use natural resources and show them how the landscape they’re in is managed. At the training I met not only the other Community and Volunteer Engagement Trainees from Devon, Dorset and Wiltshire, but also some more education staff from the those Wildlife Trusts. We shared what we were doing at our Trusts and learnt lots of new skills such as how to build waterproof overnight shelter, how to carve tent pegs and how to make a camouflage dye using nettles. So just a portfolio to create now and hopefully in a few updates time I can tell you I have officially obtained my Forest Schools Level 2!
Olivia - This month I've really been getting into the swing of things and have been doing lots of brush cutting on sites such as Dundon Beacon, Langford Heathfield, and Great Breach Wood. Beth and I have now done our brush cutter course so we are officially licensed to strim! We had the volunteer conference which included a lovely walk down to the seashore led by Nigel Phillips who introduced us to the world of seaweeds. Also this month I helped replace an old bridge at Langford Heathfield with the ladies from finance, we had a great day and a real sense of accomplishment when the new bridge was finished. We also had meetings with different staff members this month and learned about both the Living Landscapes and Magnificent Meadows projects, which was very interesting. The trainees went to King's Castle Wood to put up an interpretation panel and great jokes were told about “how many Trainees does it take to put up a sign”! Beth and I also attended a mammal workshop run by Derek Gow in Devon, which was very interesting and informative. It was a fantastic opportunity to see some native animals up close such as otters, pine martens, polecats, red squirrels and Scottish wildcats. We also went PPE shopping for our chainsaw gear, looking sharp now!
All the Trainees after the presentation at the Volunteer Conference Putting up the Interpretation board at King's Castle Wood
Claire and Georgie (Wiltshire Trainee) building a shelter at Forest Schools Beth and Olivia fully qualified brush cutter trained!
- Autumn Crocus otherwise known as Meadow Saffron
- Green Woodpecker
- Yellow Necked Mice
- Clouded Yellow Butterflies
- Small Teasel
- Grey Wagtail
L - R Dormice found at Black Rock, Green Woodpecker, Autumn Crocus
Photo credits Trainee Presentation - Rosie Withill, Trainee Interpretation Board and Forest Schools - Claire Critchley, Brush cutter and dormice - Beth Aucott, Autumn Crocus - Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust