Hi, I’m Beth, an MSc student studying Species Identification and Survey Skills at Reading University. Part of the degree involves doing a six-month placement at an ecological consultancy. This blog will document my experiences during my placement at Ecology by Design.
I have been lucky to be involved with several reptile translocations this month, for both Slow worms and Adders. I really enjoy working with reptiles, and it is satisfying releasing them into new habitats. Slow worms are my particular favourite, they are fun to handle, and I like being able to work independently whilst relocating them. A highlight of July was seeing a Black Adder, which was beautifully marked and a first for me.
I have done lots of bat surveys this month, but I didn’t see as many bats as I have in previous months. We did have a potential brown long-eared bat re-entry into a crevice in a Cotswold stone barn but it was not echo locating, therefore the detector could not record it and we need to wait for the droppings found in the building to be analysed to find out what species it was. This was caught on a thermal imaging camera by a colleague, so I got to see the flight patterns before re-entry. During a different survey later in the month we saw bats leaving an old mill house, this occurred in the corner where during a previous survey we had found droppings. I am looking forward to doing another survey there and seeing if we can record any activity on a thermal imaging camera.
During July I assisted with several PEAs and PRAs which means I got to visit some really lovely sites. I am getting better at recognising signs of bat activity such as urine stains, feeding remains and droppings. I feel I can locate potential roosting features on buildings such as loose tiles, wall crevices and gaps in brick work.
Another job I did in July was to install static bat detectors and wildlife cameras. These are used alongside other survey techniques to provide more information about activity on a site. In this case the wildlife cameras were used to ascertain if there are badgers in the area, I am looking forward to checking the photos soon. I now feel confident installing them so that they are secure and in the best position to get useful data/ photos.
July has been a very busy but enjoyable month. I am looking forward to more surveys in August and submitting my finished work portfolio, which will show all the experience I have gained over the last few months.