January 2017- Our busiest month by far!

River Kent drone picture 2017

A jam packed month after Christmas saw the two Conservation Apprentices take on plenty new challenges

January has by far been our busiest month at the trust. The month started with Drone training at Foulshaw moss. I and a few others from the trust attended a half day course to learn the ins and outs of Cumbria Wildlife Trusts drone. We arrived at 10am on a typical January morning and got started straight away. We learnt how to power up and take off the done as well as all the maintenance and routine checks they require. After that it was time for the test flights. I was very nervous about flying such an expensive and delicate piece of equipment but once it was airborne flying became easy. It didn’t take long after we arrived before we saw some interesting bird life; several Buzzards, a Merlin, a Little Egret and plenty of songbirds frequented the feeders just a few meters away. I have a new found appreciation for drones since the training and have already done some flying over the river Kent for an upcoming campaign.

Sian Bentley

Sian Bentley

January also saw us attend Capturing our Coast training. This project aims to fill data gaps in rocky shore habitats to find out what species are there, in what numbers and to track movement of invasive species. Capturing our Coasts provided a training day at South Walney Nature reserve educating us on the survey methodology and species ID training. Following our training at South Walney Sian and I conducted our own species survey at St Bees head later in the month. The weather on our survey day was less than desirable with upwards of 50mph winds making the temperature around -5˚C. Never the less we got stuck in despite the inhospitable conditions and completed our survey.

Bug suit

Bug suit 2017

Half way through January Sian and I helped to deliver two mini-beast themed class sessions to a school working out of west Cumbria. We covered everything from worms to woodlice and even went out to look for some bugs ourselves. Part of the session involved ‘building a giant insect’ which I was kindly volunteered for by our Senior Education Officer. I really enjoyed engaging and interacting with the children and it was great to see such enthusiasm for the topic

The month culminated in the Waste Beneath our Waves art exhibition at the Wildman gallery in Kendal. This was an ex trainee’s personal project where school children from across Cumbria created sculptures from recyclable marine litter collected at South Walney Nature reserve. The sculptures were then displayed at Barrow-in- Furness and Kendal at a free exhibition open to the general public. We assisted at the exhibition while a school visited to admire the work they had created. Post exhibition the sculptures were sent back to their creators to be displayed at school and then recycled.

We’ve also been writing in a local paper. The previous marine trainees wrote several columns a month on a topic of their choice and it’s now our responsibility. So far Sian and I have written a column each, one about starlings and the other focusing on the Red Breasted Merganser. So look out for our columns in the Whitehaven News!

All in all January has been a busy but brilliant time and we have learnt and experienced so much.


About the authors: Sian and Isaac were Apprentice Conservation Officers with the Trust from September 2016 to spring 2018