Been a few weeks since any updates but that’s not because I’ve been slacking, honest! I’ve signed up as a volunteer with Cheshire Wildlife Trust (CWT) and as a result I’ve been involved in a few projects with them. These include pulling out birch saplings to ensure they do not ruin the ecology of the area, replacing fences and gates in various woodlands, grass cutting, building a stile (to cross the replaced fence) and attending 1 day courses they run (bird surveying techniques, becoming a reserve watcher and fence installation). I have also attended Cheshire Active Naturalists Small Mammal Trapping course at Rocksavage Nature Reserve. In addition I have also started a foundation degree (FdSc) in Countryside,Conservation and Recreation Management at Reaseheath College and lastly I am currently preparing some images for submission to the RPS North West Region Photographic Exhibition. This will be the first time I have submitted any images for an exhibition so it will be both interesting and exciting. Only 80 images will be displayed so I have no guarantee any of mine will be amongst them and I wont know until towards the end of January 2016. I will write more about it nearer the time.
1. Volunteering with the CWT
I started this back in August with three aims in mind:
There is another long term reason too. I want to be able to take and show my granddaughter the rich variety of wildlife that is available (virtually) on your doorstep if you just take the time to go and look for it. This is a concern of mine in these days of gadgets and technology. By all means embrace them as after all they are extremely useful, but don’t become a slave to them. There’s so much out there beyond the four walls of your computer room. By encouraging her early I hope to spark that early interest in wildlife. Anyway I digress.
So far this is working very well. I am learning lots, meeting new friends, getting plenty of exercise and fresh air and seeing the fruits of our labours. You can see some pics here (scroll down to 4th Nov 2015) and if you are on FB simply ‘like’ the page to follow the work of the CWT volunteers. Even better, why not join us? Use the link in the opening paragraph above (to the CWT website) for details. I am very impressed with their organisation and running of things. You get weekly emails of work taking place the following week or weeks and also notification of the various training courses (all free). BTW you don’t have to be a member of CWT to attended any of the sessions. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the age of the volunteers was not restricted to the younger ones either. I thought being in my late 50’s I would be one of the oldest. Wrong! If you do volunteer, it would be nice if you could please mention you read about it here 🙂
1. Cheshire Active Naturalists (C.A.N.)
I joined this group earlier in the year and have attended a few of their events. The last one I managed to attend was at Rocksavage Nature Reserve to lean about small mammal trapping. Small mammals in this particular case referred to both field and bank voles and wood mice. With 90% of the traps that had been laid having been triggered we saw PLENTY! Just to clarify, the animals are trapped for research purposes to monitor numbers as part of a survey and are released immediately after they are weighed. Despite the gloomy morning as soon as we set eyes upon the first captive (a bank vole) my day was made. Here a a few images from that day:
Whilst on one of C.A.N.’s earlier events I learned about Reaseheath College and the courses they run. This leads me nicely onto…
3. Reaseheath College
I decided that whilst self-teaching is one way of learning about the wildlife and habitat I thought that it would be better to get some formal guidance as a good basis from which to start. I applied for the part-time Foundation Degree in Countryside, Conservation and Recreation Management and was accepted on the course, which runs for 3 years. I can ‘upgrade’ the course to a BSc by doing a fourth year, full time. I have just submitted my first assignment (on plant identification) as we complete the first module (plant and animal ID). I have my first test tomorrow. The course has been great so far. I am learning so much it is refreshing to be able to walk around and look at flora and fauna with a completely fresh pair of eyes. At least that’s how it feels. I am trying to identify much more of what I see around me rather than take it for granted. I have learned what characteristics to note in order to start making that ID as well, which is a big help. This is just the first step and I am so looking forward to continuing this journey. I feel like a child again, exploring the wilderness and finding out something new with every step.