Earth, Wind and Fire

Sphagnum regeneration at Foulshaw Moss 2015

The month of September brought lots of earth (plug planting), some wind (it's Cumbria) and no fire (phew) and also means I've been at Cumbria Wildlife Trust for a whole year! Terrible pun I know but I couldn't miss the opportunity - what a flippin' song.

August and September involved getting thousands more hay meadow plug plants in the ground after the fields had been mown and we had help from volunteers, school and university students, businesses and our own staff. This year’s total is now over 30,000 and our Restoration Officer Brendan has overseen every single one – very impressive! I’m not sure how many I managed to get in the ground but my record for a day tripled over the time I spent doing it, possibly helped by the fact that our last site was in the Duddon Valley where there is no phone signal, and Brendan’s baby was due any minute. I have never seen a man as relieved as when that last plant went in the ground, but his baby has arrived safely and you’ll be pleased to hear he didn’t miss it!

Birdwatching at Humprey Head 2015

Birdwatching at Humprey Head 2015

At the beginning of the month I attended a BTO bird ID course at Castlehead FSC centre in Grange, led by Steve Piotrowski. We had a great weekend and learned lots from our early morning walks and visits to Leighton Moss, Foulshaw Moss and Humphrey Head. I saw my first water rail and also saw several species that I had only previously seen on my trip to Estonia and it was lovely to be with someone so knowledgeable to answer all our questions and show us things we may otherwise have missed. The key thing I learned was that I need to improve my knowledge of songs and calls so that I can identify more species when I can’t see them, so I’m trying to use my tapes whenever I’m in the car (yes that does mean my car is so old I don’t have a CD player). I have also started using BirdTrack, the BTO’s recording app, to record my species lists when I have been out and about for a day and it’s a great way of focusing more carefully on what you are seeing and how many. I would definitely recommend spending a weekend on an FSC or BTO course if you are keen to improve your skills in a certain area as my confidence has certainly grown as a result.

Sphagnum regeneration at Foulshaw Moss 2015

Sphagnum regeneration at Foulshaw Moss 2015

I’ve been spending quite a lot of my time working on my upland wetland project in the Black Beck catchment, formulating my survey methodology and producing the resources I will need to carry out the survey. I will be out towards the end of October carrying out the field surveys and I’m looking forward to practising my botany again and making sure I haven’t forgotten it all. I am really enjoying having the independence to make decisions on the method I’m going to use, and I’m looking forward to working on the report afterwards. I was also out doing some wetland monitoring last week with Simon at Foulshaw Moss, and the highlight was seeing a baby adder and what we presumed was its mother basking in the sun! There was a large proportion of sphagnum mosses covering most of the areas we walked across which is a great sign the bog is recovering well.

I have also been working on my application for university a lot this month which will be sent off next week, it’s quite scary to think about having to leave Cumbria Wildlife Trust at the end of my apprenticeship in September next year but I am excited about going to uni and studying ecology in more depth. Fingers crossed I receive some offers!

Kate

PS. I hope you spotted me in the latest Cumbria Wildlife magazine – definitely one for the coffee table! (We don’t have one but I know it’d be on there if we did)

About the Author: Kate Cartmell-Done was Apprentice Conservation Officer with Cumbria Wildlife trust from 2014 to September 2016