Happy New Year to you all! I realise by the time you are all reading this even just the mere mention of a mince pie might turn your stomach but we did get very much into the festive spirit and celebrate because (scarily) its passed the halfway point for me and Beth, with Olivia not far behind and the thought that we will be leaving this amazing organisation in a few months time is starting to sink in.
Monthly Round Up
We started the month in exciting style making the most of our “Communicating with the Media” training as we were interviewed for BBC Somerset radio as part of Catcott Live celebrating Somerset Wildlife Trusts 50th year. We ended up only being on very briefly, but it was still good experience for us all to have prepared things we would have said for the potential questions and we still really enjoyed it!
On the same day we also filmed a short piece (which is now on our homepage) about our highlights six months in. After all that, we celebrated by all going for a festive fry up - complete with Christmas crackers and paper hats, before knuckling down for an afternoons work on our volunteer management qualification in the office.
The following week we had our official six month review where all us Trainees sat down with our Mentors and discussed how we all felt the traineeship was all going, what is working well, what improvements we might make, and what we are looking to do in the next six months. It was really interesting to hear how our mentors have felt it was going and it was a very positive and constructive morning session. In the afternoon we all headed out to Dundon Beacon and helped Olivia and Mark risk assess the site as part of a bigger organisational overhaul of our reserves risk assessments. The site itself has amazing panoramic views from the top and it has a very nice mix of woodlands and grasslands, so well worth a visit.
Our final collective meet up of the month was at the “All Staff Meeting” which as the name suggests everyone in the organisation comes together and we discuss the year so far and any up coming campaigns. We also did a workshop on membership recruitment which was really useful. Finally we all enjoyed a festive meal and had a walk around Catcott where we even saw a few starlings.
Trainees with Adel (SWT volunteer) and Ben McGrail at BBC Catcott Live
Beth - December carried on the scrub clearing theme which means I’ve had plenty of chances to practice my fire starting skills. I helped to lead the Magnificent Meadows volunteer groups for their scrub clearing task on Yoxter Range. This meant I had to plan where they were working, get the correct equipment together and give a briefing at the start. It was a successful day, and as it was their last task before Christmas we even got to have jacket potatoes cooked on the bonfire for lunch!
The month hasn’t all been scrub clearing though; we’ve been clearing some fence lines ready for them to be repaired or replaced and I’ve had a few bits to do at the office.
In the last week before Christmas we had a few meetings to attend. The first was a six month review of the traineeship where we got together with the other trainees and their mentors to discuss the good and bad points so far. It’s amazing how fast the time has gone and I can’t believe we’re halfway through already!
The following day was the all staff meeting and Christmas lunch. This was a great opportunity to hear what other members of staff had achieved in the last year and all the work the Trust has carried out.
Chris - Gosh! What a difficult month to summarise with the Christmas break in the middle. Beginning with the excitement of BBC Radio Somerset at Catcott, It was fun to witness my past life in broadcast collaborating with conservation.
I attended an excellent training event with Matt and Ross from Trainees from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust on Woodland Management, organized by the Wyre Community Land Trust.
In anticipation of wintery weather (which I feel has mostly eluded us - it was remarkable to see sloes still viable in the run-up to Christmas!) I have been provided a couple of fascinating office projects, looking at identifying and mapping riparian indicator species (species which live at the river-land interface) for the Trusts ecological network modelling and assisting the reserves team with management plans.
I also witnessed the first snowdrops already pushing through while out in some of the woodland reserves, prompting me to forward plan the upcoming survey season and look forward to the learning opportunities the next season will offer.
Claire - It’s been a slightly quieter month for me but only because only because I used my leave to have an extended Christmas break. Despite this, December was still a very festive affair. I started the month sorting out some ideas for Christmas crafts inspired by nature that we were going to make at the Ham Hill Watch Group the results of which you can see below very impressive I think you’ll agree!
I passed my Communicating through the Media qualification. I also managed a group of the Save Our Magnificent Meadows Volunteers with Beth as part of our Volunteer Management qualification. Whilst it was nerve wracking getting their feedback it was also a brilliant opportunity and showed me how far I had come in the six months I have been working as a Trainee. I don’t think I would ever have been able to imagine leading a group of adult volunteers felling trees and clearing gorse prior to this, let alone getting some really positive feedback from it.
Our festive crafts
Olivia - December was the month of coppicing, the first time I've done this traditional woodland management technique. We coppiced areas around the ramparts at Dundon Beacon which was hard work but very enjoyable.
This month I've also been doing a lot of work with volunteers namely the Green Pioneers from Cannington College and our East Poldens Conservation Volunteers at Green Down. I really enjoy working with volunteers and find this to be one of the most rewarding areas of my work.
This month the trainees where interviewed on BBC Somerset, at the Catcott reserve, which was a very enjoyable experience and an interesting chance to see what happens behind the scenes.
Trainees at our Festive Fry Up Trainees and Mentors at the 6 month review
Species Spotted in Somerset
December seemed to be dominated by birds but here are just a few:
- Pied Wagtail
- Little Egret
- Great White Egret
- Marsh Harrier
L-R Little Egret, Pied Wagtail, Robin
Photo Credits: BBC Catcott Live and Festive fry up - Chris Couldrey, festive crafts - Rosie Winch, 6 month review - Claire Critchley, Pied Wagtail - Janet Packham