Amongst the residential, chainsaw course and a few days of fun and games back in the midlands I did, occasionally, get out on to the reserves and do some real work!
Quite a bit of my time this month has been spent dealing with fences. Liz and I spent a beautiful morning at Withial Combe, walking fencing supplies into the reserve and marking out which ones needed to be replaced, ready for a volunteer task later in the season. The weather was still sunny and warm with lots of wildflowers still lingering amongst the grass, a couple of Clouded Yellows fluttering past and plenty of pollinators supping in the ivy. The remained of the day was spent at Yoxter Range replacing some barb and checking the many fences there. On another day, I ventured up to the top of Cheddar Wood, to Callow Bank, with James where we spent a day struggling to put fence posts in along the edge of the quarry, in ridiculously stony ground. One of the Wednesday volunteer sessions was held at Cooks Field where they did a rather grand job of putting a fence around a dew pond to keep out cattle.
We are well and truly into scrub clearing season now. I’ve spent a couple of days at Edford Meadows clearing scrub encroaching out on to the grassland. I managed to tick another reserve off my list when I spent a day at Lynchcombe with James and the Wednesday volunteers, clearing the lynchets. We were joined for the day by the other Wildlife Skills Trainees and it was great fun to spend the day with them. As we were having a bonfire it only seemed fitting that I took along some marshmallows!
I went to my first all staff meeting this month. We all met in Taunton to discuss a few different things and have some fun. We’d all been divided up onto different tables to make teams. I was on a table with a mix of people who I’d met before and those I hadn’t; so I had a chance to get to know some new members of staff. After some initial talks we got down to the main part of the meeting – a quiz! All the questions were based on different areas of the Trust, and I was rather proud that I could answer more than one. We even made it into the quiz with one of the questions being ‘Name all four Wildlife Skills trainees.”. Of course we got that one right. Unfortunately my team came last and we won the wooden spoon. Still it was an enjoyable way to learn more about the Trust. We then learnt about an exciting new campaign that the Wildlife Trusts will be rolling out across, hopefully all the different Trusts across the country, and we had a chance to design our own posters. The campaign launches in the next few months so I’m sure you’ll all be enlightened then.
Olivia and I also ventured across to Dorset for some Visitor Safety Risk Assessment training. The weather was horrendous when we left Taunton, but after braving flooded roads and recycling lorries that just pull out, we made it to the Chesil Centre just in time. The day was a mix of theory and practical; after talking through visitor safety risk assessment we headed out to Powerstock Common, a Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve, to have a chance a spotting some real life potential hazards. The other attendees were a mix of staff from the other South West Wildlife Trusts, Skills for the Future trainees, and Wildlife Skills trainees. Once the training was done we had a chance for a catch up and to get some planning in for our week in Devon.
One of my wildlife highlights from this month has been a visit to Wadbury Bat House. The bat house is the smallest reserve that Somerset Wildlife Trust manages and is, as the name would suggest, just the size of the house. I was luckily enough to go along when they were doing the bat count; this is done to see what is using the house as a roosting point and carried out at this time of year as the bats haven’t gone into hibernation yet. We found eleven Greater Horseshoe Bats and one Lesser in there. It was amazing to get up so close to these beautiful little creatures.
So I think that is me all caught up on what I’ve been doing recently. Fingers crossed I won’t neglect my blog for over a month again!