Acorn Ecology Online Course

Online Ecology Courses

Winter is here and the field courses are over for another year. That doesn’t mean you have to stop learning! Winter is a great time to tackle your background and baseline knowledge of ecology. Get yourself ready for next survey season with some of these titles.

Acorn Ecology Online CourseWhy do an online course?

Online courses are all the rage at the moment. You can study from the comfort of your own home, at your own speed. Sounds good! But with so many courses out there, you need to be sure you are getting a good one.

Why chose an Ecology Training UK Online Course?

Our courses are written by professional ecologists who have been working in the field of ecology and can draw on their experiences. Their experiences provide the quality course content you expect from Ecology Training UK and it all aims to help you with your field work.

About our coursesecology online courses

We have a range of online courses, which are great if you are starting a career in ecological consultancy or conservation, or if you just need to brush up on a few topics. Each course has a number of modules and a quiz to help you consolidate what you have learned. Complete the quiz and send it back for marking and your certificate. It’s as easy at that.

So, stave off the winter blues by learning to tell Japanese knotweed from Himalayan balsam; how to manage woodland; the basics of population ecology or even why stoats are “stoataly different” from weasels! Treat yourself to an Ecology Training UK Online Course today!

Our course titles are:

Habitat Management (6 modules)

Habitat Restoration (6 modules)

Introduction to Ecology (10 modules)

Invasive Species (9 modules)

Mammal ID (3 modules)

Reptile and Amphibian ID (3 modules)

Click on the links above to get more information about each course.

We’re working on some new courses. Sign up to our newsletter to hear about them as soon as they are available!

Some testimonials from our online courses:

“I absolutely loved this course and am looking forward to doing some further courses!”

“Very good introductory course to learn general ecology ready for Certificate course”

“The course content was excellent and the topics covered were very informative. Anyone wishing to gain a better understanding of ecology would benefit immensely from taking this course. I would highly recommend it!”

“A thought provoking and enjoyable course.”

“I found this course a great introduction to habitat management; the skills needed and the numerous organisations involved in conservation”

I really enjoyed this course. Good value for money. After studying Module 2 I had the confidence to volunteer for three different flora/fauna surveys which is good experience and an opportunity to contribute.”

“This course has given me a good grounding in the theory of practical habitat management. It has allowed me to build on what I already knew and has encouraged me to continue learning about the topic”

otter, ecology courses

Otters – “Otterly Great!”

Otters have had a troubled time over the last few decades but have seen an increase in numbers in recent years. If you are doing any surveys near a riverside environment, it is essential that you know how to identify the signs that an otter is present in the area.Otter course testimonial

Signs may come in the form of spraints or footprints on a river bank, as well as a number of other clues otters leave behind. We run an Otter Ecology and Surveying course in Exeter (see details) where you can learn all about these signs. The course is run by an ecologist who is experienced in all manner of riparian surveys.

The course will cover otter ecology in the training room and then a field trip out to the river to find signs of otter. A student last year described the day as “otterly great!”

About Otters

Acorn Ecology swimming otterOtters (Lutra lutra) are an elusive semi-aquatic species which were once widespread in Great Britain and Europe.  In the 1950s and 1960s the populations of otters declined rapidly and drastically.  It is thought that the use of pesticides such as DDT and Dieldrin, and pollutants such as PCBs, was very common at this time and this resulted in the population declines.

Thankfully the otter population has increased over the last 25 years and their range has expanded across much of England.  Today it is estimated that the population in Great Britain as a whole is 10,300 (Scotland 7,950; England, 1,600; Wales; 750)*.  It is thought that otter population recovery has been most successful in the South West and along the Welsh borders where they had a stronghold during the decline years.

Otters and the Law

Otters are fully protected in the UK by Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) as well as the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (which makes it a European Protected Species). They are protected against killing, injuring, disturbance and their habitat and resting places are also protected. Due to this protection, it is highly important that land owners and developers are aware of the presence of otters, particularly where rivers are present.  If otters are thought to be present on your site or in any surrounding areas then surveys need to be carried out by someone who has training and experience.

Otter surveys

Acorn Ecology otter on bankSurveys for otters can be carried out all year round, but they are most successful in the spring when evidence is usually easier to see as water levels tend to be lower and wet mud is exposed, therefore signs such as tracks may be visible.  Spraints (dung) are also definitive evidence of presence and they are usually deposited on prominent places such as rocks and fallen trees in order to mark their territory.  A number of other indicators are used as well including feeding remains, otter slides (into the water), holts (underground dens) and couches (above ground sites where otters rest during the day ).

*Data from PTES.

Book onto our Otter Course today!

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Smarten up for the Survey Season!

Looking for ecology jobs and want to make a good impression? Heading back to a seasonal job and want to take on more surveys and greater responsibility? Make use of the early training dates and get your extra skills in place before survey season starts.

Here are our courses in March:

Bats in Trees – 29th March in Bristol

bats in treesA great course for anyone wanting to add to their bat ecology skills and knowledge. Perfect if you are working towards your Class licence.

The course will cover bat legislation, use of trees by bats, survey methodologies, how to recognise trees used by, or potentially used by bats, and mitigation that can be used when bats are found to be present.

We will cover assessing trees from the ground and when aerial tree climbing is appropriate.

Bat Sound Analysis using Analook – 4th March – Exeter

Bats use echolocation to get around. Each species makes a slightly different call. Analysing bat calls, by looking at sonograms is a typical element of any ecologist’s work. This course gives you an introduction to one of the software packages used for this – Analook. You will need to bring a computer for the workshop element. You could follow it up with Bat Survey Data: Analysis and Presentation to learn how to present your findings in a report (5th March in Exeter).

Badger Ecology and Surveying – Date TBC near Guildford

acorn ecology badger courseBadgers are starting to emerge from their setts more regularly now, so it’s a great time to start surveying.

The course will cover urban and rural badger ecology and field signs, as well as looking at techniques used for surveying badgers.

During the course we will take a visit to an extensive badger sett where you can practice identifying field signs and mapping a sett.

It’s really easy to book courses through our website.

All our courses are taught by experienced ecologists. To find out more, meet our team.

If you have any questions about our courses, get in touch.

acorn ecology badger course

Career guidance: Specialising and how to do it

Have you just started out on your ecology path? Perhaps you already have a job as a Trainee Ecologist or Assistant Ecologist, or a couple of seasons of experience under your belt. It is always a good idea to assess your progress at least annually and see what gaps you have in your knowledge.

great crested newt, ecology coursesIt might be a few years down the line until you are a specialist, but it’s worth considering it now, at this early stage in your career, so you can get the groundwork in.  Eventually you will find yourself becoming an expert in a certain area or several areas anyway, driven by your own interests or the major workload of your consultancy. Most teams have a range of specialists in their ranks. So how do you choose one and work towards it?

A good starting point for developing a specialism is to ask yourself ‘what am I really interested in?’ The next question should be ‘is that specialism good for my career? The bulk of consultancy work is with mammals, reptiles, plants, birds, or more specifically bats, badgers, dormice and great crested newts. Specialising in a protected species, or protected group of species, is going to be most beneficial for your career.

In this blog we’ve taken another extract from Sue Searle’s book – How to Become an Ecological Consultant. There is a whole chapter on specialising. Here’s the introduction:

Chapter 10 – Specialising

Although you will probably need to have a go at a bit of everything when you first start, eventually one wildlife subject will catch your interest and you will want to take it further. Many ecological consultants develop a specialism that is the focus of much of their career.

How to become an ecological consultant, by Susan M Searle BSc PGDip MCIEEM (paperback book)Developing a specialism might be a bit beyond the scope of this book, but, as we have just been thinking about goal setting, it makes sense to start thinking about specialising at the beginning of your career. This will help ensure that you will achieve everything you aim for. As long as you are aiming for it, planning it and consistently taking small steps towards it, you can eventually achieve anything you desire.

Some consultants specialise in a certain group of species, such as bats, and can make a comfortable living. However, to work in more diverse environments with a wider range of clients, and even to have a more interesting working life, I think it is good to have general expertise in many fields as well as an in-depth specialism in one thing in particular. In a team it works particularly well to have different specialist areas represented. I advise you avoid specialising too soon though – for instance I know a bat worker who knows no plants. She has always worked only on bats. This concerns me as she may not be able to recognise if she is in an ancient woodland (she cannot identify ancient woodland indicator plants), or even what species of trees are present, and this could be relevant for considering which species of bat may be present and describing the woodland itself for a report. For this reason I think getting a good general grounding to start with is essential. Become an ecologist with experience across species groups when you start out and specialise later.

Book available HERE

It’s difficult to be a really good ecologist if you only know about one thing. So, as a junior you should work on having a good base knowledge of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. With this grounding your specialism may naturally emerge. You might already be passionate about a species or species group, if so, great! Keep learning and gaining experience and in no time you will become an expert.

How can you do this?

Courses are a great way to kick start a new passion or gain skills and knowledge fast so that should be your starting point. Also attend talks, field trips, conferences and seminars, and join local groups – bats, birds, mammals, herps etc. Take an interest in everything ecological and immerse yourself! Wildlife is a lifelong fascination and passion.

Once the spark of a passion is ignited you will progress fast because you are interested, fascinated, motivated and moved to know more.

Here are a few of the courses we think are really important for specialising:

Surveying Trees for Bats – Bristol – 29th March 2019

Badger Ecology and Surveying – Guildford – Date TBC

Dormouse Ecology and Surveying – Exeter – 3rd May 2019

Otter Ecology and Surveying – Exeter – 23rd April 2019

Reptile Surveying and Handling – Exeter – 29th April 2019

You can find details of all these courses HERE.

If you have any questions about our courses, please get in touch with our team, who are happy to answer your questions. Call us today on 01392366512.

botany course

Time to Review

How to Become an Ecological ConsultantAt the start of this season we posted a blog about setting your goals for 2017. In fact, it’s such an important subject, we wrote two! The first blog gave you suggestions on what you could do over a summer to improve your skills. The second encouraged you to set your goals, both short term and long term, with an extract from Sue’s book – How to Become an Ecological Consultant.

But here’s the thing. Setting goals isn’t difficult. Reviewing them and measuring progress is a lot harder. So now that we’re well into November and the survey season is feeling like a distant memory, it’s time to review your goals.

 

Dig out that “to do” list. How did you get on with your short-term goals? Did you attend the training courses? Did you join those groups? Can you ID your target number of plant species?

If you did, then well done! If not, then don’t despair, you won’t be alone in this. Either way, you still need to review your plan.

Here’s how to review:

  1. Work out what did and didn’t happen on your list. Add anything you achieved that wasn’t on there (an extra training session you attended, or a last-minute conference).
  2. Look at what’s left on your list of goals and check they are still relevant. You need to be flexible. Maybe you discovered a passion for bats and you now want to become a bat specialist! Keep the central points of your plan the same, but don’t be afraid to change the details.
  3. How hard were these goals to achieve? A bit easy? Make next year more challenging. Too hard and you only managed half of them? Don’t get dispirited, make next year more achievable.
  4. What did you cover? Have you become an expert in dormice, but only learnt a dozen new plants all year? Spend some time working out why and what you can do to fix this imbalance next year. Even dormouse experts need botany!

Write up your goals for 2018. Learn from your achievements this year and go forward. Stick with the SMART method of goal setting.

S – Specificdormouse, ecology training

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – Relevant

T – Time-bound

Remember to set goals that are enjoyable! Have fun, keep learning and remember to review regularly to stay on track.

Sue Searle Acorn EcologyWhat could you do differently next year? Boost those skills with an Acorn Ecology course. We have introductory courses on a wide range of ecological topic, advanced courses on protected species and development and online courses too!

If you’re not sure what course is right for you, get in touch with our friendly staff on training@acornecology.co.uk, or give our Exeter office a call on 01392 366512 for some advice.

 

Diary of a Guildford placement – Kathryn

Kathryn has just finished her 4 week Certificate course work placement in the Guildford office … as you will see, she had a very busy four weeks, but finished smiling, having confirmed that this is what she wants to do! Continue reading “Diary of a Guildford placement – Kathryn”