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Summer of Skills

October 7, 2013

Summer has been a very busy time for the S4F Trainee team. With the centres preparing for the school holidays and an influx of visitors, the reserves conducting vital maintenance and caring for their grazing animals, and the weather being perfect for lots of wildlife surveying; the trainees have been getting well and truly stuck in!

‘Out with the Old, In with the New’

Since our last blog there has been a bit of a jiggle around within the team:

At the beginning of the summer we welcomed new trainee, Sammy, to the scheme.  Sammy is on an 8 month traineeship at Kimmeridge where she is training in marine education and engagement.

At the end of August we lost Sally from Brownsea… She discovered the wonders of the mainland after a year and a half of ‘remote’ Island living and has moved on to the big wide world of employment gaining a winter contract with a countryside management team in Somerset. We all wish her well and the best of luck for the future!
The mourning process did not last for long though (sorry Sally!); Emma was quick to jump at the chance of Island life and getting involved with the more practical aspects that Brownsea can offer.  She has now taken the place of Sally and is settling in to her first few weeks on the Island.

Of course this means Kimmeridge is now one woman down… but not for long, this week we are pleased to welcome Melinda to the team! So to put it short: we gained a trainee, lost a trainee, moved a trainee and gained another trainee! With only 4 months left of our programme and a lot of our key training already complete we expect we will be saying lots more farewells soon.

Now for a Quick Update:

Charlie and Claire, the ladies of Mid-Dorset, have been busy getting practical on the reserves over the summer months. They have taken part in electrofishing, fence & gate construction, balsam pulling, ragwort pulling and they even got to have a go at tractor driving! They have also managed to fit in some survey and community engagement work carrying out dormouse surveys and attending various summer shows to spread the good word of conservation.

Electrofishing - Measuring A Trout

Electrofishing – Measuring A Trout

Kerrie of Kingcombe has also been busy with community engagement and educational activities. She has had the opportunity to run a couple of her own events including a Forest School inspired activity focused around trees. After the session, Kerrie told a story to all of the children about ‘The Lion Tree’ that lives on the Kingcombe reserve. In the story, a nasty troll turns the lion into a tree but in the process the lion loses his tail. The children went in hunt for his tail – which is still missing!

Amy at the Urban Wildlife Centre has been enjoying a fantastic summer for heathland wildlife with record numbers of silver studded blues found on Upton. Back in July the Skills team helped collate a saturation count for this incredibly rare species.
With the kids heading back to school, DWT and Urban Heathland Partnership joined together to litter pick a bicycle hot spot on Upton known as The Pits, a former brick works excavation site. Co-op kindly donated biscuits and cakes to encourage the young people who use the area to get stuck in and clear up the mess before they head back to school.

Megan at Chesil has been busy organising and leading events at the Centre throughout the school holidays. This included the Centre’s biggest event of the year ‘Wild About Chesil’ which proved to be extremely popular attracting over 1000 people! The event had lots to offer including various childrens activities, bug hunt walks, entertainment from local Morris dancers and band Amish Mel, and hands on experience with moths and rockpool creatures.

Kimmeridge gals, Emma and Sam, spent a day at Studland bobbing around in kayaks and pretending they were in distress. It was well worth it though as they are now both qualified in Kayak Safety and Rescue! The kayak sessions held twice a week at Kimmeridge have also been extremely successful this year having only 2 cancellations throughout the whole period.  Well done girls!

Sammy to the rescue!

Sammy to the rescue!

Tom, of the West, has been busy putting up lots of stock fencing and building up his muscles due to the post banger on the tractor being out of order.  He has also gained a lot of survey experience over the summer completing bat, butterfly and reptile surveys at various reserves.  It looks to be a great year for many species having found a handful of Marsh Fritillary larval webs and baby adders under the tins.

Megan and Kerrie were lucky enough to attend the ever popular Camp Bestival this year.  It was a busy three days of engaging with families, promoting DWT, getting messy painting flags and of course what’s a festival without the dressing up?!

Save the B's

DWT Saves the B’s

Recent Sightings

Upton Heath: Marsh gentians are beginning to bloom in the wet heath and bog areas. These beautiful flowers have significantly declined in the past century owing to habitat loss – they can only grow on acidic and low nutrient soil. Dorset, as well as Hampshire, are still a stronghold for the species so it is great to see the numbers we have already blooming!

All the little terns along Chesil Bank have now fledged with most of the adults and juveniles already left for warmer climes.

Southern hawkers, common darters and the rare black darter are still very much active at Upton Heath – catch a glimpse of these interesting invertebrates whilst you can!

A large amount of jellyfish have been sighted at Kimmeridge recently including the compass jelly and blue jellyfish.

Spotted flycatchers have been ‘spotted’ on Powerstock.

A loggerhead turtle was spotted off of Portland.

Clouded yellow butterflies have been sighted at Lorton Meadows and along Hamm Beach opposite the Chesil Beach Centre this week.

Charlie was lucky enough to see a lamprey, kingfishers and a burnished brass moth whilst electrofishing.

Osprey have been seen near Abbotsbury and at Higher Kingcombe near the Kingcombe Centre.

With Autumn fast approaching and lots of training in the schedule expect more from us soon!

TTFN The Skills Team x

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