Last push on peatland surveys and bird ID course in Suffolk

Sunny day at Thwaites Fell 2016

In March I’ve had a last push on my peatland surveys at Black Beck and been on an amazing bird ID course down in Suffolk.
Sunny day at Thwaites Fell 2016

Sunny day at Thwaites Fell 2016

The most significant thing to happen during March was that I finally managed to finish off my mire surveys of the Black Beck catchment after bad weather slowed me down before Christmas. It is a huge relief to have all of the data collected and it now means I can get on with writing the report although I will miss being out on the fells so much. Report writing is something I’ve never done before but is a very useful skill to have in nature conservation. I managed to time the last few days so that I had some lovely weather and felt really proud when I recorded my last point! The report needs to be finished and sent to the Environment Agency in a few months and it will be interesting to see what the outcome is.

Another thing I managed to get completed this month was my college qualification. I have now finished my Level 3 diploma in Environmental Conservation and it just needs to be externally verified. It was an even bigger relief to get this finished as it involved quite a lot of written work!

Cumbria Wildlife Trust stand 2016

Cumbria Wildlife Trust stand 2016

I attended another careers fair midway through the month, this time at Furness College in Barrow. The fair was open to anyone who was interested in attending so I met all sorts of people and really enjoyed chatting to them. Hopefully I have raised a bit of awareness about the nature conservation sector and also about the work of Cumbria Wildlife Trust. I hope to see some of the people I chatted to volunteering for us soon! It also became clear that a lot of young people don’t really know what wildlife conservation is or what Wildlife Trusts do as many of them assumed we were involved with animal welfare and rescue – another reason why I think we should learn about conservation in schools!

Marsh tit in hand 2016

Marsh tit in hand 2016

Last week I went down to Suffolk to FSC Flatford Mill to do a bird ID course. It was an absolutely fantastic week and I learnt so much as well as seeing lots of birds for the first time – my 2016 list has benefitted no end! Every day we went for a walk before breakfast, spent the day at various nature reserves and birding sites and then had talks in the evening after dinner. I feel that my birdsong ID has really come on and hopefully if I keep practising will soon be able to do most common birds. My favourite site was Minsmere where I saw my first bittern, lots of bearded tits and stone curlew but I had a first at almost every site we visited. On the final day we had a ringing demonstration before breakfast and I was so excited to get to hold some of the birds before letting them go again - as you can see in the photo of me enthusiastically squeezing a blue tit above! I really enjoyed the ringing and am going to look out for places to get involved with it locally, and hopefully at university too. I tried to keep a list of every bird we saw in the week and it came out at over 90 species! It was a great experience and I would really recommend residential courses with the Field Studies Council to anyone wanting to learn more about a particular interest they have.

I have lots of red squirrel surveys lined up for April so look out for the photos from those in next month’s post – last year there were some very amusing ones!

Kate

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