This month has been a month of two halves. The first few weeks we all had core training both at Trainee and organisational level. Towards the end of the month, we had lots more role specific training to get us ready for the big, wide world of future employment.
In the very first week of October, prior to the residential, all of us Somerset Trainees met up with the Mendip Hills Volunteer group to do some shrub clearance, get a better insight into Beth’s role and do a spot of planning for the residential. We got loads done and it was brilliant to see such a big group of hardworking volunteers enjoying being out on the reserves and making a difference.
The following week it was time for the second Communication themed residential in Okehampton. This was the first time all 16 Wildlife Skills Trainees were all in one place at one time and it was great to see everybody getting along and sharing knowledge throughout the week. The schedule was cram-packed with fantastic activities such as a high ropes course, reserve visits, storytelling training and a walk on Dartmoor, as well as several sessions on giving presentations, press releases and social media. We did so much it deserved its own dedicated article, which you can read here, so you can find out about all our exciting escapades in a bit more detail.
We also all attended our first ever “Entire Staff Meeting” where every member in the organisation comes together under one roof. The main theme was sharing knowledge about each others projects so we all know what’s going on outside of our individual project areas, and just to check we were listening there was a quiz at the end. We were also all briefed about a very exciting project that the Wildlife Trust is getting involved in and you will all be seeing in the not too distant future!
Beth October has been another busy month where I’ve sometimes gone days without visiting a reserve! We are well and truly into scrub clearing season and I’m regularly going home smelling of bonfire smoke! I’ve been perfecting my fencing skills on a few different sites and was lucky enough to go along to a Bat count at our smallest reserve, Wadbury Bat house where we found 11 Greater Horseshoes and 1 Lesser Horseshoe. I’ve been out with both the Sedgemoor and West Mendip Volunteers.
This month has seen a lot of training. Olivia and I ventured across to Dorset earlier in the month for some Visitor Safety Risk Assessment Training and then we’ve had our second residential week in Devon. For the last week Olivia and I have been very busy doing our chainsaw course. It’s been a pretty intensive week both physically and mentally and I’ve been dreaming about chainsaw parts and felling cuts. Our assessment is in November so keep your fingers crossed that we can tell you we’ve passed in our next update!
Chris October has whizzed by. Starting with Phase 1 Habitat Survey training at the beginning of the month, which is used extensively in planning application processes; to build relationships with various land owners in Selwood, SWT’s newest Living Landscape; as well as dormouse work across the county, from nest tube checks near Taunton to nut searches in East Mendip and Selwood. It has been fascinating observing the fungi we have, although with such a short season, it’s been a fleeting enjoyment rather than any in-depth study. As if I hadn’t crammed in enough, I have also been studying various data to help indicate historic and potentially interesting hedgerows, and am looking forward to ground-truthing some of this over the next coming weeks.
Claire Aside from going on our residential the bulk of my time has been spent getting out with volunteers of all ages. As you know all of us Trainees met up with the Mendip Hills Volunteers which was great to be out with a large group of committed and regular volunteers and see what they enjoy and why they come out with the Trust.
Engaging with the next generation of volunteers and decision makers is one of my favourite parts of the job not only because their opinions are so important in terms of shaping our future landscape but also because of their exuberant enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Our sessions with Strode and Bridgwater Colleges, have been showing the students what a career in conservation really entails and what challenges they might face.
Finally I have even been out with toddler and primary school children in the Taunton area encouraging them to go outside and explore so they can develop a connection with nature, which hopefully we can help strengthen with follow up sessions as they get older. All in all it’s been a really varied month which has been brilliant and I’m building lots of skills and experience which I hope will come in useful at the end of my year.
Olivia This month has been incredibly busy with a whole range of training taking place. We started off with some visitor safety site risk assessment training based in the Kingcombe centre in Dorset, which was very informative. The following week all of the trainees from the four different counties had a residential in Devon. It was brilliant to finally meet all the other trainees as I had missed out on the first residential due to my ankle injury. Beth and I also carried out our chainsaw training this month. it was exhilarating felling my first tree and fingers crossed for our assessment in November. I have also been doing a lot of work with volunteers recently including a day brush cutting at Aller and Beer Woods with some National Trust volunteers, a trip out to Lynchcombe with the other trainees and the Mendip Hills Conservation Volunteers and my first outing with our own group the East Poldens Conservation Volunteers to New Hill.
All 16 Trainees at Meeth, Devon Cooking our Sausage Stew and Mustard Mash at the residential
Toasting marshmallows whilst out with the West Mendip Volunteers Beth and Olivia doing their chainsaw training
Species Spotted in Somerset
So to end here is October’s round up of the special species we spotted in Somerset.
- Euonymus europaeus
- Greater Horseshoe Bats
- Lesser Horseshoe Bats
- Clouded Yellow Butterfly
L-R Kingfisher, Greater Horseshoe Bat, Euonymus europaeus
Photo Credits - All 16 Trainees, Cooking and Chainsawing - Beth Aucott, Toasting Marshmallows - Claire Critchley, Kingfisher - Liam Culliford Euonymus europaeus - Penny Richards