Following on from the plug planting we did in early summer for the Meadow Life project, surveying of all the meadows then needed to be undertaken to monitor progress. I went out several times with Project Officer Brendan who was very patient whilst I learnt the basic species and I thoroughly enjoyed the surveying process. We had some beautiful weather and some very soggy weather but it didn’t stop us and I’m now feeling much more confident identifying hay meadow species. I practise as much as I can and have joined the Wildflower Society and begun keeping a record book which is a great way of recording everything I’ve seen and making sure I make the effort to key out any species I don’t recognise.
The summer so far
A few weeks ago one of our Reserves Officers Wal led a staff training day on scything. We started with an introduction to the different types of scythe in the morning and lessons on peening and sharpening the blade, before heading out to Waitby Greenriggs reserve to put what we had learned into practise. I had never visited Waitby before which is a fantastic reserve for wildflowers, and proved a great opportunity for some species ID and to add some new species to my record book. We cleared a section of bank which had become overrun with saw-wort, a flower which is usually encouraged but had in this case become so prolific it was stopping other species from growing, and then spent some time widening the pathways into the reserve. Once I found my stride I really enjoyed the scything, and especially liked the fact that unlike with a brush cutter you don’t need to wear any hot safety equipment to use one. It’s a very quiet and peaceful way of clearing vegetation and if my garden wasn’t the size of a stamp I’d be very tempted to invest in one myself!
I am still spending every Monday at Foulshaw Moss, helping visitors to watch the ospreys and answer their questions. As the birding season has quietened down I’ve taken the opportunity to appreciate the abundant dragonflies and make an effort to familiarise myself with the various species, and recently I went along to a staff training session on dragonfly ID. It was a lovely day led by David Clarke and we went to Barkbooth Lot where there are some lovely ponds with plenty of different species. I really enjoyed the day and am much more confident identifying most of the species we have here in Cumbria.
I have been spending a lot of time this summer trying to get to grips with our new mobile mapping device for peatland surveys and taking it out on surveys with Sarah, Susie and Julie. We had been finding some aspects of the surveys quite challenging, particularly classifying different mire types and identifying Sphagnum species and so several of us attended a Mire Condition Assessment course earlier this week. Over two days we had classroom sessions and visited Eycott Hill and Shap Fell to practise recording quadrats, identifying sphagnum mosses and classifying different mire types and by the end felt much better able to carry out an accurate survey. Yesterday we carried out the final session of surveying at Bannisdale Fell and felt that the course had been very much worthwhile as well as enjoyable. The findings of our survey will be sent to the Environment Agency who will decide whether restoring the site will help prevent flooding further down the catchment.
I hope you have been making the most of the occasional sunshine too!
About the Author: Kate Cartmell-Done was Apprentice Conservation Officer with Cumbria Wildlife trust from 2014 to September 2016