Sunny days, seal surveys and bird watching

In October I have taken advantage of the unseasonably warm and sunny weather by getting outdoors as much as possible, surveying wetlands and getting some birding in!

This month I have started the field surveys for the project I talked about in my last post. The site is up near Corney Fell and I’m really enjoying exploring an area I’ve never visited before as well as investigating the condition of the peatlands up there. Despite the weather being lovely most of the month, I have managed to time every survey very badly so far and always come back very damp! The field surveys cover quite a large area so it may take a while to get them all finished, but it’s lovely to have a reason to be out in the fells so regularly.

Earlier in the month the marine trainees were kind enough to let me come out with them on a seal survey - something I have never done before. We were recording the number and behaviour of seals and had to creep up over the shingle very quietly so as not to disturb them. It was fantastic to be so close to them and although I probably wasn’t very helpful with the actual surveying, I really enjoyed the experience and hope I can go again soon.

image of a grey seal with a pup at south walney - copyright sally tapp

Grey seal with her pup © Sally Tapp

I took the opportunity to go on a coastal bird ID course with Mike from South Lakes Ecology on a day at South Walney organised by Cumbria Wildlife Trust which was available to anyone who wanted to improve. I went on a three day wader course last year with the marine trainees which was great but was right at the beginning of my apprenticeship, and so I felt it would be useful to go on another course now that my birding has come on a bit. We had a classroom session in the morning which was a great recap of the yardstick species and then spent the rest of the day birding round South Walney. We had an absolutely fantastic day and saw a great range of waders and wildfowl, as well as a short-eared owl which put on a great show and my first eider (!!!). By the end of the day I felt much more confident identifying coastal birds and what key features to look at when doing so. I felt so inspired by the day that on the Saturday I went to Leighton Moss to follow up on the session and make sure I didn’t forget everything I had learned, and again I had a great day and saw my first bearded tits! Cumbria Wildlife Trust are planning to organise several

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

Birds at South Walney 2015

Birds at South Walney 2015