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The week we went to Brownsea!

July 27, 2015
All 16 trainees together for the first time!  - © Rachel Janes

All 16 trainees together for the first time! – © Rachel Janes

A couple of weeks ago, we took part in our first training residential as the new Wildlife Skills Trainees! It was Dorset who would be hosting first, so we met our counterparts from Devon, Somerset and Wiltshire and jumped aboard a boat headed for Brownsea Island. Brownsea Island can be found in the middle of Poole Harbour (locals will proudly tell you it’s the second largest natural harbour in the world!) and is home to a fairly isolated population of our native red squirrels.

All the trainees met up for the first time on the quay waiting for the boat on Monday afternoon. We loaded ourselves and all our kit onto the boat, and started across the short stretch to the Island. We were met by Chris, the reserve manager on Brownsea, and took our stuff down to the villa before we headed out for some Forest School activities. After this, we returned to the villa for some dinner and a presentation before getting some sleep for the following day!

On our first full day, we had first aid training with Ouch!, who took us through all the need to know first aid tips and moves. We learnt how to put someone in the recovery position, how to perform CPR and everyone had a go at stopping Devon Jack from ‘choking’, which basically entailed Jack wearing a funny contraption and everyone else slapping him on the back and performing the Heimlich manoeuvre! Then we were all taught how to apply bandages to one another; this resulted in Brownsea Island looking like it was hosting a Halloween party!

Wednesday was the day we were looking forward to the most; the day we got to explore the wildlife of Brownsea Island! We started at the villa sorting through the contents of the moth traps set the night before. We found lots of great moths, including pine hawkmoths and a leopard moth!

The beautiful leopard moth! - © Christina Bowdler

The beautiful leopard moth! – © Christina Bowdler

After moth trapping, we did some maintenance work around the reserve, and then Chris the head ranger took us on a guided tour. He showed us all of the different habitats found on Brownsea and explained how they were managed. We also went up to a cliff top overlooking the harbour, with a beautiful view out to Corfe Castle. Then, after dinner we went out to listen for nightjars. We got lucky and heard their ‘churring’ call across the heath, and even saw them swooping over the heathers and wing clapping. It was very exciting and was the first time many of us had seen and heard nightjars. Our luck was doubled when, on the way back to the villa, we found three glow worms, shining their incandescent green backsides in the air, looking for a mate!

On Thursday we had a day of Health and Safety at work training with Andrea, who is the health and safety officer for the four Trusts. It was an intense schedule of work, made much more interesting and fun by Andrea. Then in the evening, the Dorset trainees and Brian Bleese (a Dorset Wildlife Trust Director!) put together a BBQ for the final evening. After a huge and very tasty meal, we decided to head to the beach. A few of the other trainees went for a proper swim, but me, Christina and Amy settled for a paddle! It was a really great evening to finish our first trip as trainees together.

The trainees take a dip! - © Jack Bedford

The trainees take a dip! – © Jack Bedford

Following on from a very impressive breakfast crafted by Brian, we packed up our kit and went to the jetty to catch our boat back to the mainland. It was a fantastic week and it was great to meet the other trainees and get to know them. Sophie and I are off again to Wiltshire for our Forest Schools training week in the beginning of August, and then all the trainees are meeting up again for the residential in Devon on Dartmoor! We all can’t wait to meet up again and explore the wilds of Devon!

Finally, we thought we’d leave you with each of our best red squirrel photos from the trip. Leave us a comment to say which picture is your favourite!

Amy's best squirrel photo

Amy’s best squirrel photo

Christina's best squirrel!

Christina’s best squirrel!

Jack's best attempt at a squirrel photo!

Jack’s best attempt at a squirrel photo!

Sophie's best pic of a red squirrel

Sophie’s best pic of a red squirrel!

One Comment leave one →
  1. David permalink
    July 29, 2015 3:40 pm

    Nice photos, Christina’s action pose for me.

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