Somerset Wildlife Trust

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November Update - New Skills Preparing Us For The Next Step

 12th Dec 2014

The days and nights might be drawing in but that doesn’t mean us Trainees are any less busy. Even in the chilly weather we have all been busy out on reserves. When we have been in the office we have been getting involved in funding bids, budgets and management plans to make sure we are fully equipped for the next step in our careers.

Monthly Round Up

We’re going to start with some good news! Beth and Olivia started the month off well by passing their Chainsaw Course! They are now both licensed for Chainsaw Maintenance and Crosscutting and the felling of small trees!

This month we haven’t all met up as a four; but we have seen each other at various times and places to work on improving the visitor experience at some of our reserves.

A particular highlight was working at the AGM where Beth, Olivia and I got to meet lots of volunteers, trustees and trust members. As a reward for serving hundreds of cups of tea and coffee, and plates of cakes and sandwiches we managed to creep in and hear part of a very emotive and powerful presentation from Simon King which was a real treat for everyone in the audience that evening.

You may also have spotted four familiar faces in the latest Somerset WT magazine!

Individual Summaries

Beth -­ I’m pleased to tell you I’ve been able to use my chainsaw skills already. It has definitely made all the scrub clearing we’ve been doing a lot easier and quicker. Having to burn all the cut down scrub means that I’ve successfully lit and kept burning my first bonfire- I think I’ll be a pro fire-starter by the end of winter!

Odd jobs around the reserves have included clearing trees of fences, putting up welcome disks, checking on livestock and the occasional fence repair. A day at Aller and Beer Woods with Olivia and Mark Green to carry out some safety surveys quickly turned into an impromptu tree ID session. I have had the odd day in the office, for some GIS training and a little bit of paper work but happily the vast majority of my time has been spent on the reserves this month.

Chris -­ November seems to be a month of symposiums and conferences. While I couldn’t attend as many as I would have liked, I was kindly given a ticket to attend the National Biodiversity Network annual conference in London, with some really thought provoking talks. In Selwood , the Soil Association has been conducting anthelmintic seed mix trials and I was lucky enough to meet some of those involved.

The weather has guided the bias more towards office work, identifying foci for next year, and while the dormouse box checks are discontinued from November onwards to allow hibernation, I have been out on a few nut hunts and a bit of hedgerow work. I am looking forward to working with the Reserves team over the coming months helping to update management plans.

Claire -­ This month I’ve been able to get out to some really interesting reserves, which I wouldn’t normally come across, to look at improving visitor experience. I have seen the amazing trees at Great Breach Wood which look like something straight out of an Enid Blyton story, and have learnt about the multitude of wildlife Langford Heathfield is home to ­ there’s so much more then just the butterflies it’s so well known for.

I have also been able to get involved with a funding bid, updating the business plan and producing the new Education budget. Alongside this work , I have been making the most of my office time working hard compiling the work for a Communicating Through the Media Award and a Level 3 in Volunteer Management so hopefully I will be qualified in both of those soon before I start my final big training course next year!

Olivia -­ In November I've been involved in a variety of training and events as well as habitat management work. One of the highlights was when I got to see my first Dormice while out with ‘The Perch Dormouse Project’, I was delighted to see them especially so late in the season.

Even though the winter is now well and truly here I have spent the majority of my time out on reserves. At Great Breach Wood I carried out a visitor safety site risk assessment, it was interesting to learn about the process and write up the report. At Langford Heathfield we collected up the electric fence now that the ponies have left, the torrential rain and high winds made the job more interesting! Then at Dundon Beacon I did some coppicing along a ride edge which was a good chance to practice my newly acquired chainsaw skills!

Both Beth and Claire came out with us on sites this month, Beth to carry out her visitor safety site risk assessment at Aller and Beer Woods and Claire to help plan a nature walk around Great Breach Wood. I really enjoy it when the trainees get a chance to work together. We were also helping out at the Trusts AGM it was a fun, busy night and we managed to catch Simon King’s talk at the end which was very enjoyable.

A final high point of the month was helping out at the coppicing day at Thurlbear Woods with the Blackdowns Hedging Association. We had a fantastic  turnout on the day and the weather was superb, everyone seemed to really enjoyed it and learned something new. 

Bath and Olivia passing their chainsaw credit Beth Aucott

Beth and Olivia having passed their chainsaw with official certificates!

Species Spotted in Somerset

Despite it being winter there has been no shortage of wildlife still to be found but here are just a few:

  • Hare
  • Yellow Brain Fungus
  • Goldfinch
  • Witches Butter Fungi
  • Shrew
  • Meadow Coral Fungus
  • Roe Deer
  • Bog Pimpernel
  • Barn Owl
  • Marsh Pennywort
  • A very late Small Tortoiseshell (Beth has been missing her butterflies!)

Brown Hare yellow brain fungi credit Beth Aucott Goldfinch1

L-R Brown Hare, Witches Butter, Goldfinch

Photo Credit: Beth and Olivia passing their chainsaw and Yellow Brain Fungus - Beth Aucott