My first couple of weeks have been busy, varied and very interesting, and I feel like I’m learning a lot in a very short space of time. In the office, I have mainly been working on posters for the IUCN Peatland Action Conference next week and getting to grips with GIS mapping, whilst out of the office I have been to the Cumbria Wildlife Trust Members’ Conference, South Walney on a wading bird ID course and to Martindale to watch the red deer rutting – my first experience of this!
The wading bird ID course was delivered by Mike Douglas from South Lakes Ecology and involved a classroom session in the morning to get to grips with ‘yardstick species’ (species used as a benchmark to identify others) and then an afternoon of spotting and identifying wading birds from the various hides around South Walney.
I found the day quite challenging as I have very little experience of bird ID or wading birds - which all look very similar to the untrained eye - but I enjoyed it nevertheless and by the end of the day felt confident in identifying a few of the more distinctive species, particularly redshank, turnstone and oystercatcher.
This was the first day out of three on this course and I am looking forward to reinforcing and expanding my knowledge in the next couple of sessions – although I think it would take many years to become anywhere near as knowledgeable as Mike! This was my first time visiting South Walney as I hail from (the mighty) Yorkshire and I was very surprised at how much wildlife could be found so close to a big town like Barrow. We saw several seals as well as the many species of bird and I highly recommend visiting if you haven’t already – I will certainly be returning! I found myself feeling quite jealous of the Marine Trainees who spend half their year living part-time on the island completely immersed in the wildlife, helping to run the nature reserve.