Ecology round-up 2021
16 Nov 2021
16 Nov 2021
It’s been a strange year, hasn’t it? Like rehabilitated animals stepping back into the wild, we’ve had to refamiliarise ourselves with a world that isn’t virtual, featuring days back in the office, pub lunches and evenings out in the company of proper flesh-and-blood people.
A discombobulating time, that’s for sure. But one thing that has kept us grounded is our work. That’s why ecology is so special. Studying, tending and preserving the environment in which we all live – it’s our purpose. And nature reminds us of this in every sunrise, gentle breeze and pitter-patter of tiny feet.
Let’s dig deeper into those personal reminders, sharing our favourite memories and achievements from the 2021 ecology season.
Feel inspired to book in your projects for next year, focusing on those that will strengthen our collective impact.
“My highlight was conducting the Great Crested Newt (GCN) monitoring survey at the Primrose Valley site with Amy. I observed over 50 GCN in one pond at various stages in the life cycle. They were displaying interesting behaviours too, including egg-laying.
“The survey helped me develop my amphibian ID skills and increase my experience of all the survey methodologies. As a result, I’ve gained my GCN licence! We were also lucky with the weather – on the following day we took a sunny walk along the beach for a spot of bird and seal watching!
“I also loved the walk I led for the residents of Meon Vale as part of St. Modwen’s public engagement strategy. I loved sharing my knowledge with the locals who were so eager to hear about the wildlife on their doorstep. It was a heartwarming afternoon that pushed me out of my comfort zone, and we also secured great outcomes for the client.
“My biggest achievement from the 2021 season was coordinating the RAF Henlow roost surveys. This involved 16 high potential buildings (each requiring 3 surveys), 7 high potential trees (requiring 2 surveys each) and 6 rounds of back-tracking surveys. Although challenging at times, the skills and knowledge I gained from this experience were so valuable.”
“A definite highlight of the season was one of our ‘Community Days’ up in the Lake District – the Manchester ecology team camped at RSPB Haweswater in exchange for some manual labour!
“We spent the day harvesting berries and seed from Rowan and Downy Birch, which will be planted at the RSPB nursery and (hopefully) within a few years be re-planted as part of the charity’s ongoing native species reforestation project. We were extremely lucky with the weather – a lovely sunrise broke over our campsite giving us the perfect morning view!
“2021 has been a time of change for me. I joined the Tyler Grange team and found people who share my passions and support my progression through this weird and wonderful career.
“Also, when restrictions were tight, I was so thankful for field surveys. Misty morning walks along country lanes, cups of tea as the sun warms your cold bones, sitting by the peaceful glade and listening to nature – these are the moments that have connected me to a sense of wonder that hasn’t waned in decades … and kept my sanity in check during lockdowns!
“This year, I also pushed myself to get better at the ancient art of tracking. I struggle to pass a muddy patch without taking a peek. A highlight occurred only this week: I was visiting the Exeter office for a dormouse survey. Early one morning, I peered into a hedgerow nearby and spotted this adorable little fellow.
“I loved working with a drone for the first time! I used it to assist with a nesting bird check prior to the demolition of a large shed. It really helped to produce a clearer and wider view of the whole roof. This gave us much more insight during the check, confirming that no nesting birds were present prior to the demolition. It was a lot of fun too!
“It’s also been lovely getting back out there and ‘doing ecology’ in the community as well as with work this year. I really enjoyed a dormouse monitoring survey we did in Gloucestershire with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. This survey was a nesting box check, as part of the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme (NDMP), which monitors long-term dormouse population trends in registered sites. We were lucky to have three dormice together in one box during our June visit. Such a wonderful sight! You rarely get to see dormice with such clarity.
“Plus, it was lovely to be invited back to Wick Court Farms for City Children. As a group from the Marsden office, we got stuck into various jobs on the farm, including oiling an amazing dining table plus painting door frames, fences and pig styes. We also helped in the vegetable garden, mucked out the horses and generally enjoyed the beautiful setting.
“In return, we had a lovely lunch and tour of the house, including their very own bat loft which was created as mitigation for previous works they had done. One of our colleagues – Carly who has her level 2 bat licence – was able to inspect the loft to see what species were present and found a lesser horseshoe and brown long-eared bat. With children visiting the farm once again, I’m looking forward to doing a bat walk for them next year.”
“2021 has been a landmark year – and all because of lesser horseshoe bats! I was lucky enough to see the most impressive roost of my career during this incredible survey. It was also the first time I’d ever seen a lesser horseshoe maternity roost.
“There was a large disused barn on-site and the level of activity was breathtaking. The bats were everywhere – nestled in the rafters, hanging from the ceiling, flying in and out of the windows. There were greater horseshoe bats there too. It made me speechless – which rarely happens! I sat outside in the dark and watched them for hours. Nothing could pull me away from the spectacle.
“Also, thanks to the camera equipment we had for the survey, I was able to get incredible footage of the bats. You can see all their features in great detail, from their odd-shaped noses and delicate wings to their little beady eyes. And they were watching us too, as the footage shows. We must have made for an interesting study, I’m sure.”
“The whole experience came as such a welcome invite and a nice surprise as a northern bat worker. Such a fantastic way to finish my last season as an Ecologist Consultant at TG. It’s my leaving party soon – I wonder who will give me a better send off? TG or the bats? Tough competition, that’s for sure!”
What will define your next season? Once-in-a-life-time wildlife encounters? Gaining new skills? Growing your confidence? Start planning your projects now to make 2022 a year you’ll never forget. Or, if you’re in the industry and looking for your next challenge, browse our vacancies and join the Tribe here.