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A Speedy 6 Month Update – Introducing Wildlife Skills

February 5, 2015
Sarah Hodgson, Ali Quinney, Chloe Goddard, Jess Mead, Lorraine Isgar, Sarah Hudson on their last day with Dorset Wildlife Trust

L-R Sarah Hodgson, Ali Quinney, Chloe Goddard, Jess Mead, Lorraine Isgar, Sarah Hudson on their last day with Dorset Wildlife Trust  Photo: R Janes

As you can see this poor blog has been somewhat neglected for a while now but that is about to change…

Firstly, here is a whistle stop fill in on what has happened in those lost months, and how things have changed!

I write this on Friday 30th January the last official day for the Heritage Lottery funded Skills for the Future Trainees – Sarah Hodgson, Ali Quinney, Chloe Goddard, Jess Mead, Lorraine Isgar and Sarah Hudson. They had a farewell work party at Church Ope, Portland followed by cake at the Chesil Centre. They will be greatly missed but are off to face new exciting paths equipped with skills, knowledge and memories gained over the last year. Happily Sam Manning, Megan Shersby and Andy Fear had already moved on to shiny new exciting jobs.

In addition to The Skills for the Future Programme there is now also The Wildlife Skills training programme, this is another exciting and inspiring project that is funded through The Heritage Lottery Fund.  Wildlife Skills brings together the Dorset, Devon, Somerset and Wiltshire Wildlife Trusts to deliver a partnership training programme for 46 trainees over three years starting in July 2014 . For more information visit the Dorset Wildlife Trust website

So, here are the new Dorset trainees who will be keeping you up to date on their personal journeys…

The new Dorset Trainee gang, from left to right; Nadine, Tom, Ed, Michelle, Melissa, Frances

The new Dorset Trainee gang, from left to right; Nadine, Tom, Ed, Michelle, Melissa, Frances  Photo: R Janes

Wildlife Skills Trainees – Started in July 2014 on a year’s placement

Nadine Atchison-Balmond is based at the Chesil Centre as a volunteer and community engagement trainee.

Tom Oliver is a practical conservation trainee based in West Dorset

Edward Sanger is a practical conservation trainee based in the mid Dorset area.

Michelle Haines is a practical conservation trainee based in the east of Dorset.

Skills for the Future Trainees

Melissa Spiers took the place of Megan Shersby who was based at Chesil Centre. As Megan successfully found a new job the post was opened up for someone new and Melissa was the ‘one’. Melissa started in August and is on a 1 year programme.
Frances Williams is on a 6 month placement as a practical conservation trainee based in Mid Dorset.

All of us got off to a jam packed start; as well as spending valued time with our mentors and other work colleagues learning skills on the job we have also trained and passed exams in various valuable areas such as; Chainsaw, Brushcutter, Pesticide Spraying, Forest School, and we have had 3 residential weeks away together with trainees from the other counties.

Here are a few memories from these past eventful months:

Andy and Tom dealing with a hung up tree on Chainsaw Training

Andy and Tom dealing with a hung up tree on Chainsaw Training. Photo: Michelle Haines

Melissa doing a dormouse survey, returning a little fellow to his home.

Melissa doing a dormouse survey, returning a little fellow to his home. Photo: Ed Sanger

Ed chainsaw training

Ed chainsaw training. Photo: Michelle Haines

Michelle practicing measuring pesticides; just with water don't worry!

Michelle practicing measuring pesticides; just with water don’t worry!

Nadine learning shelter building at Forest School

Nadine learning shelter building at Forest School. Photo: Melissa Spiers

Tom learning hedgelaying

Tom learning hedgelaying

And after that very brief update on our antics, here is a more in depth look at our 3rd residential week away hosted by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust: –

Monday 19th January

We made our merry journey up to Wiltshire past Stonehenge through brilliant countryside. This was a large proportion of our day, yet we spent it wildlife watching out of the windows, practicing our tree ID in particular the bare bright red of dogwood. Little did we know dogwood would make another appearance later in the week.

The gang outside Jones mill reserve.

The gang outside Jones mill reserve  Photo: R Janes

We joined trainees from three other counties at Oxenwood Outdoor Centre in Wiltshire. After silencing any rumbling stomachs with soup we headed out onto the Jones mill reserve. Fellow trainees Georgie and Naomi gave us a guided tour of this spot, the county’s largest fenland reserve. Sights of the tour included giant tussock sedge characteristic of quality wet woodland, ponds and streams galore and a fabulous gate constructed by Georgie’s own fair hands. Unfortunately this wasn’t the season for viewing the wet grassland in all its glory covered in cuckoo flower, yellow flag iris and ragged robin.   We had to rely on pictures and our imaginations for this.

Georgie full of joy with her lovely gate

Georgie full of joy with her lovely gate  Photo: R Janes

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Strolling to the Wet Woodland at Jones mill reserve. Photo: Beth Aucott

Ed troubled by the pink root of a Flag Iris

Ed troubled by the pink root of a Flag Iris. Photo: Beth Aucott

Our evening talk was by David Kjaer on the reintroduction of the Great Bustard on Wiltshire’s countryside. This great bird was formerly gigantic game for us here in Britain and like so many others was driven to extinction. Yet a dedicated team have sourced eggs from mainland Europe (where it thrives) and reared them to be British birds! Though some seem to struggle with this concept (by flying off to France… well who can blame them?) others have managed to successfully breed here. With so much excitement for half a day we were forced to retire pretty early that evening, but you can find out what we did during the rest of the week in the next couple of blog posts…

written by Michelle Haines and Melissa Spiers 

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