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Winter Catch-up: The Wildlife Skills Trainees

December 11, 2015

 

November has flown by with all of the trainees busy with a variety of tasks and projects. Here are some of our highlights from this past month:

Amy

So November for me has been a busy time of getting stuck into our winter work regime. The very large majority has been spent hedgelaying to rejuvenate our hedgerows and make them dense and more wildlife-friendly. In the process I came across a beautiful mushroom I’d always wanted to see: an Amethyst Deceiver. We have also done a fair amount of scrub clearance at Powerstock Common and have cleared scrub & willow to make way for rarer bog habitat in our Clift meadow.

A stunning Amethyst Deceiver Copyright Amy Brocklehurst

A Stunning Amethyst Deceiver. Copyright Amy Brocklehurst.

One of my highlights was getting to see 10 torpid lesser horseshoe bats beginning their hibernation in one of our hibernacula, but the biggest highlight was certainly checking some dormouse tubes. We’d intended to check and then remove them to be moved to a different site next year but instead found 9 dormice inside! This was more than we’d found since I’d started, and included one very fat individual ready for hibernation, and a mother with 3 young all in one tube!

Dormouse

A well fed dormouse ready for winter. Copyright Amy Brocklehurst.

 

Jack

It’s been a busy month here at the Urban Wildlife Centre. The winter work parties are in full swing now, and we’ve been all over East Dorset doing conservation work with our brilliant volunteers. At the Thursday work parties, we’ve been working on Upton Heath and Happy Bottom, as well as getting a taste for coppicing at Garston woods. We’ve also been working with The Great Heath volunteers on our partners’ sites, cutting rhododendron at Arrowsmith and removing birches and pines from St Catherine’s Hill, as well as doing work on our reserves, Lytchett Bay and Corfe Mullen Meadows.

At Corfe Mullen Meadows, I got my first chance to try my hand at hedge laying. It was hard physical work, but great fun, and hopefully I can do some more next year! I also ran my first practical work group session, leading students from Exeter College in a heathland conservation task, which was great experience and training for my future. On top of all this, I’ve also been to a community event where we made festive decorations and did a nature trail, and joined a meeting about how to make Dorset Wildlife Trust more sustainable! It’s been a whirlwind of a month, and I’m looking forward now to all the Christmas events we have coming up!

 

Sophie

The last few months have been busy with a variety of events, training and conservation tasks. At the Chesil Beach Centre there was a two week long art exhibition displaying the wildlife inspired work of 13 local artists, as well as the Chesil Christmas Bazaar which got us in the festive mood (as you can see from the photo!). We were also joined by the Jurassic Coast team last month for a volunteer training day on the World Heritage Site and the geology of the Jurassic Coast, which was highly enjoyable and useful!

Bazaar

Feeling Festive! Copyright Vicky Ashby.

ChesilStones

Fascinating talk about where the different rocks on Chesil Beach come from. Copyright Angela Thomas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Lorton Meadows I helped with the Caterpillar Kids half term sessions which involved hunting for minibeasts and a spooky bat trail, as well as getting involved with the planting of a Community Orchard on a volunteer conservation task with a local primary school.  I’ve also been assisting Victoria Vincent at Forest School sessions to put my Level 2 training into practice, it’s been a fantastic opportunity to see how much the sessions benefit the students over time.  I’m looking forward to the next 6 months and seeing what the rest of my traineeship has in store for me!

 

Christina

This month has been incredibly varied, from assisting with tree safety surveys to carrying out visitor safety risk assessments on the reserves to scrub bashing. A large part of our winter work programme is scrub removal to manage the blocks of scrub which would otherwise dominate important grassland sites and it has been really useful to get lots of chainsaw practice on the larger scrub.

Frost

Jack Frost has arrived! Copyright Christina Bowdler.

A particular highlight was the opportunity to go over to Gillingham Library and run a hedgehog information and craft area for children in their half term. As well as colouring in and handing out a quiz about hedgehog facts and fiction, I helped the children to make peg animals and spider hats.

November is also the final month for checking bat and dormouse boxes. I was lucky enough to see 7 brown long-eared bats and 13 soprano pipistrelles as well as a couple of hornet nests but thankfully those had nobody home! Although we found several old nests during the dormouse survey we didn’t find any dormice but they are likely to be safely tucked away hibernating underground in amongst the tree roots now that it is getting colder. We did however find two boxes with wood mice in, one with two tiny pink and furless pups.

Finally I got to join Sophie over at the Chesil Beach Centre one day where I helped to set up for the Christmas Bazaar part of which involved making some recycled Christmas decorations…

Recycled decorations on the Chesil Christmas Tree. Copyright Christina Bowdler.

Recycled decorations on the Chesil Christmas Tree. Copyright Christina Bowdler.

 

– From all of the Trainees We Wish You A Wild Christmas and Happy New Year!

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