From sunny Beached Art festival to marine mammal surveys off the Isle of Cumbrae before ending up to my waist in a ditch at Next Ness

Kate Cartmell-Done beached art mask 2016

Things have been ramping up as I try to tie up loose ends and prepare for university, and I have spent some time on the Isle of Cumbrae learning to survey marine mammals. Here is my summary for July and August.
White faced darter on hand 2016

White faced darter on hand 2016

I seem to have been super busy lately, hence squashing two months into one post, but I wouldn’t want it any other way and it means I’ve been spending lots of time out and about in the varying Cumbrian summer weather. At the beginning of July I helped with some white-faced darter monitoring at Scaleby Moss, something I haven’t done before, and had a very enjoyable day peering at the edges of pools looking for exuviae – turns out I have quite a good eye for it! This is a female white faced darter.

Kate Cartmell-Done beached art mask 2016

Kate Cartmell-Done beached art mask 2016

Towards the end of July it was Beached Art festival at St Bees, organised by our marine trainees, and I helped set up and run the day. It was fantastic weather and there was a really good turn out, and I helped to lead a rockpool ramble and then man the arts and crafts stall. Rockpooling is always great fun but it is even more enjoyable when you get to share your discoveries with lots of amazed children. The trainees had also set up a mobile rockpool in the tent which went down very well. I had a lovely day and spent a lot of time creating a very intricate crab mask, as you can see here.

This month I have been helping to carry out hedgerow mapping and surveying in the Rusland Valley, as part of the Rusland Horizons project. I attended a training day organised by Graham, our Senior Living Landscapes Officer, and then helped him to carry out some of the surveys which are done in 1km squares. I have never fully appreciated before all of the various factors that can be assessed when surveying a hedgerow, but I am certainly appreciating it now! It makes for lots of nice days out of the office elbow deep in hedges.

I spent the second week of August on the Isle of Cumbrae, off the west coast of Scotland, on a marine mammal and seabird survey techniques course at the Field Studies Council centre at Millport. It is a lovely centre, and I had a fantastic view from my window, from which I spent several evenings watching dolphins! We spent three of the five days out on the boat surveying marine mammals and seabirds and had lots of sightings of porpoise and common dolphins, but unfortunately no whales. I had never seen a dolphin up close before and so when one (who seemed to be a good friend of the skipper) came to bow ride on our boat each afternoon as we headed back to our pier, I was over the moon! I have posted a video of it onto Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Facebook with the link to this blog post. It was a fantastic week and I learned so much about all aspects of marine mammal and seabird ecology and ate an excessive amount of very tasty FSC food.

Kate Cartmell-Done in waders 2016

Kate Cartmell-Done in waders 2016

This week I ran a work party at Next Ness nature reserve near Ulverston with a couple of regular volunteers/the honorary reserve manager. We were clearing out a section of a ditch that had become very overgrown with brambles and scrub and so I had to get in the ditch in waders so that we could tackle it properly. It was quite a smelly affair but luckily the weather was lovely so I didn’t get too cold up to my waist in muddy water. We managed to get it all cleared relatively quickly and I can now say I have lead a work party successfully!

I only have a few weeks left now before I head off to Bangor University, so my next blog post will be my last one - I have a lot to do before then though!

Kate

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