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Fungi and Fish Forays

October 19, 2016

All around us the Autumnal indicators are becoming evident: the leaves of the trees are changing to beautiful rustic and golden hues, the wonderful wildflowers are being replaced by fabulous fungi and over-wintering visitors such as Spoonbills are taking up residence on the Brownsea Island reserve.

I’ve had a great week, out and about learning lots of new things as ever. Recently I’ve been joining a Forest School group on Tuesdays, learning about working with children outdoors and helping them to engage with the natural world. This week the children learned about habitats, gaining understanding about what wildlife needs to thrive. This culminated in them working in teams to gather things to make ‘houses’ for little animal friends, as you can see below!


The children at Forest School made homes for wildlife © Hazel Pittwood

I’ve also been out doing practical work with lots of dedicated, hardworking volunteers. We pulled on our waders and headed out with a group from Barclays to clear obstructive plant growth in the Gussage stream on Wednesday.


Gussage stream – a chalk stream and tributary of the River Allen © Hazel Pittwood

The next day I joined the ever popular Thursday volunteer work party. This group consists of many longstanding volunteers, but also welcomes new faces week after week; it never ceases to amaze me how much they all get done! This week was no exception with the task of clearing invasive Rhododendron at the DWT Troublefield reserve.


Thursday volunteer work party at Troublefield © Hazel Pittwood

Friday was spent closer to home, doing a spot of garden maintenance at the Urban Wildlife Centre and helping to put up posts for stock proof fencing. Whilst gardening I came across a feisty Devil’s coach horse beetle who was very aggravated and tried to give me a nip! After having a look at this magnificent insect I popped it back in the garden. To be fair, if I was disturbed by a garden fork digging me up I think I’d be a bit annoyed too!


Devil’s coach horse beetle © Hazel Pittwood

Whilst I’ve had my feet firmly on land Steph, based at DWT’s Chesil visitor centre, has been out on the water. Here’s what she had to say about her week:

‘Over the last couple of days I have been helping out Southern IFCS with their small fish surveys. This was a great chance to brush up on fish ID and learn how to set a purse seine fishing net! Plus, I got to zip around on a boat for the day so, all in all, an opportunity not to be missed! We managed to catch over 10 species of fish and easily in excess of 1000 individual fish! These ranged from Dragonets to Sand Gobies, Two-spot Gobies, Scorpion Fish, Mullet, Bass 15 Spined Sticklebacks, Cuckoo Wrasse and Ballan Wrasse!’


IFCA fish survey photos © Steph Aburrow

Hazel Pittwood
Heritage Lottery Funded Wildlife Skills trainee with DWT East Dorset team


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