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“Simon Says” – Trust me, I’m a doctor

February 3, 2017

twt_mywildlife_dorsetposters_tomfinnIt is said that we have now entered a ‘post-truth age’.  Many have taken this to mean that we cannot expect our leaders, politicians and public advisors to necessarily speak the truth.  Therefore we must be constantly vigilant to watch out for what is true and what is not.

I don’t think that is what the phrase means.  We are now, as far as I am aware, in a time in which truth, facts and expertise are less important than intentions and feelings.  In other words don’t listen to what I say, listen to what I mean.  It is not that what is being said is untrue, it is more that the details of truth are unimportant to many people.  In a world where we are inundated with information in any format we wish, we seldom have time to study the detail behind the rhetoric.

Of course the classic example of post-truth is Trump’s promise to build a wall with Mexico.  Few of the less extremists believed that bricks would actually be laid.  Most of his followers appreciated the sentiment, and others believed it to be a metaphorical wall, but a wall nevertheless.fence-on-the-international-bridge-near-mcallen-texas-john-sullivan

(Above – Fence on the international bridge near McAllen, Texas. © John Sullivan)

This has a lot to do with us working in wildlife and environment.  Often what we propose is either a different way of doing something (e.g. basing the economy on natural resources rather than road infrastructure) or downright counter-intuitive (such as not culling badgers to reduce bTB).  Most of us in this business are scientists – we value a logical, reasoned argument backed up by facts and preferably data.  The problem is that not all of the world, not even much of it, seems to think that way.  Numerous behavioural studies and experience in arenas from marketing to risk management have shown that people frequently make decisions based on their heart rather than their head – even scientists.

Those of us who work to influence people to support nature and the environment need to work with this rather than fight against it.  I am writing this blog travelling back from a marine conference that was full of people bemoaning the fact that the government is not making evidence-based decisions.  Fishing quotas aren’t based on scientific advice; enough Marine Protected Areas aren’t being designated to form a coherent network; environment plays second fiddle to industry.  The list goes on.


(Above – Fishing boat at Kimmeridge © Emma Rance)

I believe the post-truth era gives environmentalists more opportunities than challenges, but we have to learn to take it in two steps.  We have to first win the heart and then the mind.  Once Nigel Farage got people to believe he shared their values and aims, those supporters were happy to leave him to work out the details of Brexit.  Using this philosophy the first step is to convince the audience, whether they be the general public, businesses, or MPs, to believe that we hold the same values as them and thus that we understand their hopes, fears and aspirations.  This has to be truthful or we lose credibility.  Post-truth does not mean lying, it means focussing on what people think is important rather than necessarily the data that proves it.

This works at a large or a small scale.  To convince the public that they should support the natural environment, or become members of DWT we have to make some broad messages about the value of the environment to their everyday lives, be that health, wealth or happiness.  Whilst, thank goodness, some people are motivated by the knowledge that an owl population has declined by 29% in 3 years, many are not.

We have to engage with the hearts of that majority with something other than technical evidence.  We are learning to do that.  The Wildlife Trust’s My Wild Life campaign was the first dip of our toe into that pool.  It showed that almost no matter what your priorities in life, a healthy nature would be good for you and yours.  It also showed that we in DWT are on your side to help with that. The next step is to give the facts once we have been trusted.

Another good example is our work through the Local Nature Partnership to influence economic development in the county funded by the Local Enterprise Partnership.  Our first step with the LEP was to generically show that we are not against the right kind of economic development and to agree common goals.  Once we have that understanding we can follow-up with specific facts such as the report on the value of environment to the Dorset economy.

If there is a backlash against political or intellectual ‘elite’, which we are seeing in the US and Britain, then even fact and science led organisations such as DWT need to work on showing we have society’s interests at heart, which we certainly do.  Logical, evidence-based arguments alone just aren’t cutting it.  This is no bad thing because fundamental to our view is that society is entirely dependent on a healthy nature with all the resources and services from food to wellbeing that it provides.  Post-truth forces us to be less elitist about the arguments we use and more fundamental in our approach.  Trust me, I know this, I’m a doctor.

By DWT Chief Executive, Simon Cripps


“Simon Says” – Is conservation a good or bad news story?

January 5, 2017

whatliesunder-ferdi-rizkiyantoA recent article in The Guardian has sparked an interesting debate about how conservation messages should be spread.  The article entitled, ‘Planet Earth II ‘a disaster for world’s wildlife’ says rival nature producer’ reports on comments from a BBC Springwatch presenter Martin Hughes-Games.  Martin’s concern, as presented, is that the hugely popular Planet Earth II series is, “an escapist wildlife fantasy” which does not show the damage to wildlife and our environment by humans.

Whilst there has been quite a backlash to this view and perceived criticism of the series, it is perfectly reasonable to debate how conservation is presented, though “a disaster for wildlife” is perhaps overstating matters somewhat.  In this blog I wanted to share with you some of the fundamental issues we grapple with in conservation that may not be obvious to the observer.  This is certainly one of those, i.e. should conservation be presented as good or bad news?

Good and bad

There are numerous examples of how this plays out in the media.  Elephants are perhaps the most obvious.  Few creatures are as impressive, majestic and iconic of conservation challenges.  As a conservation issue they are challenging.  Their numbers are diminishing, despite mammoth efforts, because of poaching and because they are big, hungry and require space.   Consequently all we tend to see are pictures of elephants rampaging through crops chased by angry villagers, or carcasses with their tusks removed.  In focussing on the problems we perhaps forget what a sensational creature the elephant is, its complex social structure, and its benefit to the ecology and economics of the regions in which it lives.

There are many other similar stories about wildlife or the environment with a positive or negative perspective: tigers and tiger poaching; whales and whaling; fish and commercial fishing; rainforest ecology and degradation; climate change and economic effects; coral reef beauty and pollution, to name just a few.


In all those cases and many others, including very often in Dorset Wildlife Trust’s work, we need to think carefully about how we present a conservation challenge.  This is often determined by who the target group is and what we think is likely to motivate that group to take the action required.  Even here though opinion is frequently divided because it is a central tenant of communications that an imperative or a jeopardy is essential to strike a message home.  True enough, if everything is perfect then why should action be needed, be that new laws, increased enforcement, fundraising, or political pressure?

My wife for instance often complains that all she hears from conservationists is that they are whining about problems and how guilty we should all feel.

Showing the wonder of nature

Winning the hearts and minds of people is a complex and difficult task.  This is why corporations spend millions on advertising and brand recognition.  Different people are motivated by different messages.  Some are persuaded more by logical, factual arguments, whilst others are more passionate or emotional and driven by messages to the heart.

The conservation movement as a whole has failed to engage enough people to support nature and the natural environment.  We construct clever, scientific, factual cases based on clear imperatives, but does that always work?  Clearly not.  Our own government for example has shown that at the political level decisions are not evidence-based.  Even the US election and the Brexit referendum showed that people commonly voted from the heart rather than as a result of factual information.

There is a place for awe and wonder to show people what a wonderful natural world we live in and to inspire love and support for it.  I like to think of myself as a logical scientist, but actually if I look back, much of what inspired me to a career in conservation was a love of the sea (specifically Poole Harbour), visits to the zoo, and stories from Hans & Lotte Haas, Jacques Cousteau, and most importantly of all, Sir David Attenborough.

The Planet Earth II series with its stunning photography, animal-based perspectives and engaging storylines has spellbound 12 million viewers.  Far more than the memberships of the Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and National Trust together.  There is a place for such inspiration – to motivate a new generation that will hopefully do better than we did, and to engage the rest of us to take action when the opportunity arises.  I believe that to preach in such a series about the damage humans are doing and the perilous state of nature would have turned off many of the audience and reduced the pleasure of the experience.

A balanced approach

Sir David’s approach throughout his career seems to have been one of presenting a positive and inspiring picture.  We all like to be part of success and few more so than politicians who make so many important decisions effecting wildlife.  It was Sir David Attenborough that President Obama chose for that very public advice.  I though admire Martin Hughes-Games for bravely raising this issue as it needs to be discussed.

In DWT, as in many conservation organisations, we have then thought this through.  We keep our arguments rational, logical and evidence-based to maintain our credibility.  We constantly seek to present a solution if we raise a problem.  We need to show the imperative of the work we do in order to show the importance of taking action. However, we also need to have in place a fundamental love of wildlife and the environment for all of the above to work.  Without that bedrock of awe and wonder we risk not engaging people as they need to be engaged – through their heart.

By Dr Simon Cripps – DWT Chief Executive

Photos: (Top) What lies under © Ferdi Rizkiyanto


“Simon says” – How green is your belt?

November 30, 2016

view-to-poole-from-upton-heath-mark-heighesIf the broadsheet newspapers are to be believed recently, England is heading towards an era of urban sprawl and environmental degradation as developers get access to sacrosanct green belt land.  The Telegraph talked last month about 300,000 new homes in 14 green belts, and The Times last week revealed that Ministers had been urged to support building on green belt to ease the ‘housing crisis’.

Green belt – what it is and what it isn’t

As environmentalists it is obvious that we should be opposing this development isn’t it?  Well actually I don’t believe it is as simple as that.  First of all green belts are not just nature conservation designations.  They are a development planning restriction.  They aren’t a new concept either.  In his review of green belts for Dorset’s Local Nature Partnership (, Simon Williams described the history of the concept which goes way back to 1580 when Queen Elizabeth established a three-mile cordon sanitaire around London.

It wasn’t until 1947 and eventually 1955 that it became enshrined in our modern laws.  Not to protect landscape or nature, but ‘to provide a girdle of open space around major conurbations’.  The concept does not define the quality of the land to be protected, merely a line on a map outside which development should not normally occur.  Green belt is specified land around the country’s major conurbations, not just open countryside, and not around towns and villages as is sometimes thought.

What do we want green belt to be?

Probably few would doubt the continued value of preventing urban sprawl.  How would our country look and feel if it was one long suburban sprawl from London to Liverpool, as it is around Tokyo?  You may have a different view, but I for one would prefer to live where there was a marked contrast between town and country, not a bland indistinguishable blend of the two.

It has been a criticism of green belt that it primarily benefits the more wealthy who can afford to live there – look at the New Forest for example.  Green belt can though be a huge benefit to urban residents if there is adequate access and it is of good enough quality.  DWT’s own Great Heath project is an example of this.  Heritage Lottery Fund supported the project because of the access it gave to communities around the conurbations of Poole and Bournemouth.

Currently the quality of green belt land on the urban fringe can include anything from internationally important heathlands to a pretty tatty mix of football pitches, pony paddocks and monoculture agriculture.  Nothing wrong with the latter three in the right place, but I think it is a wasted opportunity not to engage communities and get a wide range of people out on high quality green-space in the vicinity of where they live.  Look how popular Moors Valley, Brownsea Island, Upton Heath and Badbury Rings are.  All close to the conurbation in Dorset.

In these days of kids becoming increasingly isolated from nature, the population becoming more obese, and increases in mental ill health and fitness related illnesses, we need more natural places for people to exercise or relax and to recharge our batteries.  Green belt can do that, but not used as it is today, i.e. purely as open land to separate towns.

A green belt for people and nature

So let’s then think about how green belts could be better set up and used so that they benefit modern-day communities, not just for a single use.  That requires that we give up the concept of green belt as sacrosanct.  Easy for us, but much harder for councillors and some MPs who have been elected on a ticket of defending green belt to the death.

The first thing to ensure is that the size and connectivity of the green belt is not eroded – it is not just the green part of green belt that is important but also the belt.  Government has talked about a land-swap, though CPRE has concerns as they say it is far easier to get land for development than to set aside land as green belt.  I like the idea of land-swap because it retains the size and connectivity of the green belt, but admits that the exact location of the 1955 designations may not be as relevant today.

Developer pays

Securing land for public use, dedicated to local authorities or environmental organisations, and for funding improvements to the quality of green space is hard to come by these days.  Improvements to access, bike paths, restoring habitats, interpretation, land management, fencing, etc., all cost money both in the initial set-up and ongoing management.  If people are to use the land and enjoy nature, the quality of the experience often has to be improved over what is currently on offer within our green belts.  Who is going to pay for this?  This is where developer contributions come in, in the form of a green belt levy, mitigation costs, or more formal overarching section 106 agreements (legal planning obligations).  This funding must though be used for nature and environment and not just siphoned into other levies for example for new roundabouts and bridges.  There needs to be a net gain for the natural environment.  Simply opposing development at all costs will not generate the benefits that have the potential to improve quality of life, health and wellbeing.

So in summary, my personal view is that in certain, controlled circumstances development on green belt land can be a good thing for the environment and for communities, but we must ensure that the amount of green belt land does not decrease and the quality of the land in terms of nature and amenity increases – paid for by the development itself.  We may not be able to stop progress, but we can certainly make it a force for good.  What do you think?

By DWT Chief Executive, Simon Cripps

Photo: View to Poole from Upton Heath © Mark Heighes

Wildlife Skills communications week in Devon

November 21, 2016
Lake at Meeth Quarry, copyright Lizzie Parris

Lake at Meeth Quarry, copyright Lizzie Parris

Last week we went on our second residential of the traineeship, down to Devon. It was a great week filled with important training where we learnt new skills and challenged ourselves. Over the course of the week we got up to a variety of activities.

On our arrival in Okehampton it was good to catch up with our fellow trainees. After sharing what we had been up to over lunch it was time for our first activity of the week, a high ropes session. Facing our fears, we managed to complete several teamwork tasks including climbing a Jacob’s Ladder as a group. We had to work together helping each other to get our team as high up the ladder as possible in five minutes. In the evening, we had a presentation skills training session where we were given useful tips on how to deliver an engaging talk to an audience. We could take things from this session to use in our own presentations we had prepared for this week.

Tuesday was spent cracking on with our training, this time though we were learning all about communicating through the media and how to become social media gurus! The evening session gave us a chance to practice our presentation skills, presenting to the rest of the group about our favourite aspects of the traineeship so far. Delivering a presentation can be a bit of a daunting task so this was a great opportunity to practice and improve at it.

It was time to get out and about on our third day. We took a trip to Meeth Quarry Nature Reserve where we were given a guided walk of the site lead by the Devon practical trainees. It was interesting to learn about how the former clay quarry has become a haven for wildlife with its range of habitats from its lakes and ponds to its woodland and grassland which are grazed by ponies. We also took part in a practical conservation task to restore a pond. A mass of trainees made light work of clearing scrub and digging the pond base out, even the rain couldn’t stop us!

Pony at Meeth Quarry, copyright Lizzie Parris

Pony at Meeth Quarry, copyright Lizzie Parris

We were joined by Chris Salisbury from Wildwise who delivered a workshop about storytelling. To begin the session, he told us a short story whilst playing an instrument called a tank drum. We all listened intently, captivated by his voice and the accompanying music and gestures. The session involved a few different activities to get us thinking creatively and understanding the power of storytelling in engaging people with nature and wildlife.

Our final day provided some glorious sunshine for us to take part in a guided walk lead by one of Devon’s trainees to Black-a-Tor Copse National Nature Reserve. Black-a-Tor Copse is a good example of a high altitude oak woodland in Britain and was a new type of habitat for us to experience. Many of the trees here support nationally important lichen and mosses.

Stream on Dartmoor, copyright Hazel Pittwood

Stream on Dartmoor, copyright Hazel Pittwood

Dartmoor, copyright Lizzie Parris

Dartmoor, copyright Lizzie Parris

Engagement trainee Hazel really enjoyed the training week and reported, “The highlight of our Okehampton training week for me was Black-a-Tor Copse.  I loved spending time amongst the gnarled oak trees of the ancient woodland, draped in lichen and moss. If ever I saw a place that resembled the domains of faeries and other folk of fantasy tales, this was it! Our eyes were met with an entire spectrum of lush greens. A Red Admiral butterfly glided past and came to rest on a branch, furiously vibrating its wings to warm up. The adjacent stream provided a peaceful soundtrack to our visit and the low autumn sunlight illuminated the glowing golds, yellows and reds of the other trees nearby. It was quite simply a magical place to behold! Other elements of the trip I thoroughly enjoyed were our visit to Meeth quarry and our practical task there (restoring a pond), hearing what my fellow trainees have been up to when we all delivered presentations to each other and the session about using storytelling skills as a way to engage people with the wonders of the natural world.”

Black a Tor Copse, copyright Lizzie Parris

Black a Tor Copse, copyright Lizzie Parris


Lizzie Parris, West Dorset Practical Conservation trainee

“Simon says” – Marine Protected Features

November 3, 2016

undelute-ray-peter-tinsley-2In this blog at the beginning of each month I hope to be giving some topical insights into what goes on behind the scenes in conservation and environment.  I will try and be thought-provoking and sometimes even controversial, but I hope not divisive.  The views expressed here are not necessarily the policy of DWT, but are my own thoughts laid out for you to judge – for better or worse.  Please pass this blog on to your networks if you found it interesting.

Marine Protected Features

I have been an oceanographer / marine biologist for all my career and so I constantly strive to ensure that marine conservation is not the poor cousin to the work we do on land.  There is however no getting over the fact that humans are, with a few notable exceptions like Jacques Cousteau and Duncan Goodhew, a terrestrial species, so we have to work that much harder to raise the profile of the importance of the massive range of ecosystems that cover two thirds of our planet and are vital to our very survival.

Whilst marine conservation and management has its particular challenges, such as a lack of ownership and the famous ‘tragedy of the commons’, we salty types like to think we are every bit as advanced in our thinking as those poor individuals constrained to working on land.  The subject of my blog this month has both positive and negative elements to it, and I leave you to judge which prevail.  As an optimist I side very much on the positive side of the great progress made.

Decades ago in response to the decline of some notable species, plans were set up for their protection and recovery.  These plans were targeted at the species of concern, often to the exclusion of other species.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, depending on the nature of the plan and the species.  The problem with such a focussed approach is that all life coexists in ecosystems within which there is a myriad of inter-relationships.  Hence a change in one element of the system can cause unexpected consequences elsewhere.  A good example of this is the damage caused to bees by neonicotinoids used to control aphids.  Another example is that over £300 million has been raised for tiger conservation because people generously donate to iconic species rather than less sexy ecosystem processes.  It is though the latter which need to be addressed to protect tigers, such as habitat destruction, watershed management and prey abundance.  As Dorset based conservationist Mark Carwardine says, there is a place for both approaches.  Certainly though, targeting on just one species or element of the ecosystem has considerable limitations.

Moving then back offshore, this lesson does not appear to have been learnt by national marine legislators – and it drives me up the wall.  The story goes like this.  The EU Habitats Directive (long may it live in a post-Brexit world), seeks to conserve key rare, threatened or endemic plants and animals.  Good start.  Over 200 habitat types were also identified for protection.  Better still – sounds promising.  At sea a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) known as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) were identified and designated by member States across Europe.  These SACs were augmented by a national network of MPAs called Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) under UK law designed to protect a representative range of nationally important features and provide an ecologically coherent network. An aside here is that I don’t know anyone brave enough to suggest what an ecologically coherent network actually looks like.

This all sounds wonderful and indeed it is and is long overdue.  Whilst the areas set up to protect the features in the SACs and MCZs are way less than the 40% of sea area recommended by Prof Callum Roberts, they are adding up to a significant area of protection.  Dorset in particular appears to be leading the way both in designation and regulation.  The government and our fabulous local regulator the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (SIFCA) should be proud of that as it will help restore the health of the sea and increase productivity for fishermen.  Now that we are at the stage of actually regulating for their protection however, usually by local fisheries bylaws, comes the regression to a bygone age of conservation.  In order to avoid legal challenge, which may or may not be successful, by groups opposed to MPAs, the locally written bylaws can only protect the features (species or habitat) in the MPA not the whole MPA itself.  Bonkers.  The local regulators, who do their best to balance conservation and commercial interests, have their hands tied by national legislation.

There are several consequences of this bizarre step.  Firstly, it means that the size of the protected areas, designed and dimensioned to form a coherent network, is very much smaller than envisaged and may well not be sufficiently large.  Secondly, the risk of damage by activities the bylaws are set up to limit, such as bottom trawling or aggregate dredging, is far greater as they will be allowed within the MPA right up to the feature.  Thirdly, an ecosystem comprises a range of habitats and so protecting just one is a risky strategy.  In the Great Barrier Reef, research showed that the featureless sandy areas between reefs were vital for the productivity of the coral reefs themselves.

This feature-based approach at sea is years behind conservation thinking.  We must get the government advisors like JNCC to recommend the changes in law to protect our valiant local regulators and move to a more ecosystem-based approach, especially in such a fluid, high energy environment as the sea, by protecting and enforcing good management in the whole of the MPA.  If not we will need more MPAs and a greater area under protection.  Far better to protect not just the species or feature, but the function and inter-relationships ecology relies on.  We’ve made great progress of late, and the network we have, though imperfect, will restore our degraded seas, but with just a little more thought and leadership at a national level we could end up with a system of MPAs that has the best possible chance of sustainably managed seas.

Image:  Undulate ray in Dorset © Peter Tinsley


Batty about Bats

November 1, 2016

Bats are scary, or at least that is what a lot of people think. Many people have the image of bats flying into their hair and sucking the blood of unsuspecting victims! When in reality they do very little, if anything, scary.

As part of our training, all the trainees went to live on on Brownsea Island for a week. Of an evening we would go strolling around the island searching for wildlife, and of particular interest were the bats.  However as bats can be difficult to see, needed help to find them and this came in the form of bat detectors. These are small devices that detect the echolocation signals of bats and converts them into audible frequencies.

As you walk along holding the bat detector, a gentle, but slightly eerie white noise, can be heard when no bats are present. Then suddenly the bat detector starts making these loud distinct clicking noises.Occasionally a bat would swoop down inquisitively over your head, using their echolocation to map your body. The detector would sound like a machine gun firing off as the bat comes close then swoops away.

As it is Halloween, visitor centres have been running bat events. At Lorton, we went on a bat trail around the reserve followed by some bat crafts. One of my favourite facts I learnt on the day was that a Noctule bat is as loud as a jet engine – the loudest mammal in the UK!


Halloween Bats at Lorton – Copyright: Steph Aburrow


Crafting Creepy Bats – Copyright: Steph Aburrow

Meanwhile Hazel, the East Dorset trainee, has also been busy telling people about bats this week.

She says ‘ My week was all about bats! It was Wild About Gardens week from the 24th to 28th and this year’s theme was bats. Halloween was coming up too – a night that people have associated bats with since they were portrayed in the Dracula films of old.  This gave me the perfect opportunity to get out in the community to talk about these wonderful creatures of the night and inform people how they can help protect and conserve them. I had two bat themed craft activity sessions in libraries last week with groups of enthusiastic children making flapping bats and bat masks.  As I type this I am about to head out on a bat walk and talk – people will be joining us to learn about bats, using bat detectors to try and listen to these incredible animals communicating and hunting!’


Copyright: Hazel Pitwood

Happy Haunting,

Steph Aburrow
Heritage Lottery Funded Wildlife Skills trainee with DWT Mid Dorset team

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