It’s now a few weeks since India’s placement in the Exeter office. We still see her regularly as India has become one of our subcontractors.
Over the 4 week placement India took part in activity and emergence surveys and lots of reptile surveys. She and Natasha started week one by putting in a huge effort cutting up new mats for a large reptile survey.
“To fully prepare for a larger reptile survey in the coming days we spent an interesting 4 hours cutting up 550 reptile tiles. However, all of that hard work built up a lot good karma resulting in us finding 9 Brown Long Eared bats in the roof of an old stone building on Dartmoor! There is nothing like identifying these bats in-situ with the skilled ecologists Colin and Jess reaffirming our knowledge from the core week and our bat ecology course with Sam (course tutor).”
India found out that sometimes with ecology there’s a lot of hard work without seeing much wildlife…
“Week three Natasha and I were unleashed on our first solo reptile survey where unfortunately we found nothing but amphibians! However, the prospect of surveying the larger site with 534 reptile mats surely meant we would find an abundance of reptiles? How wrong we were… After what felt like hours of surveying our spirits were down until finally Natasha found one juvenile slow-worm underneath a mat.”
She also found out firsthand about the obstacles involved in surveying that become enhanced when working in the dark, such as blocked access routes and an unexpected bog in a field! (Fortunately Jess was there to help get her unstuck from the mud).
As well as the bat course, which India did at the start of her placement she also did the Dormouse Ecology and Surveying course half way through.
“Week two started off with a fantastic Dormouse course where we learnt about their ecology, identification and survey techniques. In the afternoon we were lucky enough to be taken to a local reserve with Louise Woolley where we could get hands on experience taking dormice out of nest boxes, weighing them, sexing them and then returning them to their box. The box that I was asked to check had a male and female dormouse in, which proved to be an exciting experience trying to catch them! Once calm they were the subject of photos and handling practice then safely returned to peace and quiet.”
India is continuing to build on her survey and ID skills over the summer. Her next course is a month away –Beginners’ Botany in July.