Finishing off projects and trip to Estonia

Eiders on Rathlin Island 2016

I have been on several trips away during April and May – hence the lack of blog posts – as well as finishing off some big pieces of work. A thoroughly enjoyable couple of months!

The last couple of months have been very busy and I have found myself out of the office a lot (coinciding well with some lovely weather!) and so I have crammed both into one post. For several weeks in April I was busy carrying out this year’s red squirrel surveys at six different sites in the south of Cumbria, putting out camera traps and also doing a pre-baited transect in Grizedale. There were no big surprises and most of the sites where red squirrels were present last year were found to have them again this year – the most surprising thing that happened was when it started snowing whilst I was wearing shorts! These are all finished now and the data has been submitted to Red Squirrels Northern England for collation.

Throughout April I was also busy working on the restoration potential report for the Black Beck catchment which I have been surveying since before Christmas. This is now all finished and has been sent to the Environment Agency who will use it to help them decide whether peatland restoration of that catchment would be worthwhile in alleviating flood risk in Millom. This is the first proper report I have written (if you don’t count school – which I don’t!) and I am really proud of what I have produced. I have put a copy on our coffee table for guests to read and it seems to be going down well. (Don’t worry I haven’t really.)

Bog pool systems at Nigula Nature Reserve, Estonia 2016

Bog pool systems at Nigula Nature Reserve, Estonia 2016

At the beginning of May I headed off to Estonia for the second year running with a couple of colleagues and we had another amazing week. This time the weather was beautiful and hot and, for once, it was quite a relief when I fell in the bogs. We saw 91 species of birds and I felt I could appreciate it better this time as I’ve been birding for a bit longer and so I know when I’m seeing something rare! We had fantastic views of crane (one of my favourites), saw lots of raptors and one of us even saw an elk. We also saw bears but that was largely because we accidentally went to a strange Latvian zoo for injured animals, and so it wasn’t quite the same, but was enjoyable nonetheless. I will be at university for next year’s trip so I won’t be able to go, but I’ll definitely return to Estonia one day (and with flights at £20 it’s the ideal student holiday!).

Our Bright future logo 2016

Our Bright future logo 2016

Towards the end of the month I had an interview to be a youth member of the Our Bright Future steering group, which is the project I was involved with last year. It involves 31 separate projects aimed at reconnecting young people with their environment and was previously called Our Environment Our Future (more information here: http://www.ourbrightfuture.co.uk/). Despite convincing myself that I had definitely not got it, I was selected along with two others to sit on the steering group, and I couldn’t be more excited! It is a three year stint which means I will be involved whilst I’m at university and it’s a great opportunity to be a voice for young people and hopefully make a change, whilst also helping me gain skills in partnership working and project development. The first meeting is in July and I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone.

Eiders on Rathlin Island 2016

Eiders on Rathlin Island 2016

In the last week of May/first week of June I headed to Northern Ireland with the marine trainees and had a glorious week in the sunshine rekindling my love of all things marine, but I’ll save that for next month’s post!

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