Batty August

August is always a busy month in the bat worker’s calendar; with juvenile bats on the wing and maternity colonies breaking up, suddenly there seem to be many more bats around and it’s all change at roost sites with bats to-ing and fro-ing all over the place.  Adult bats in full breeding condition will be gathering at swarming sites ready to find a mate and swarming surveys usually start mid-month.  And I’ve taken part in lots of bat work this month to see what they are all up to. Continue reading

On the railways (2015)

I spent a happy couple of days mooching along the railway line near Wigan looking for potential bat roost trees, ponds and any other features of potential nature conservation interest to support a Network Rail project.  I was accompanied by a professional railwayman at all times and was surprised to find myself completely blase as the trains thundered past at 125mph – I had thought it would be terrifying, but obviously Phil is used to providing a reassuring presence :)

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There were plenty of nice trees about and also great swathes of Himalayan balsam and patches of Japanese knotweed.  The area will now come into treatment for invasive species which has got to be a good thing.

BSBI Juncaceae training day

In recent years the BSBI have been very generous in putting on free training events for their members, to assist us with identification of more difficult groups of plants.  This August the Juncaceae training day proved popular with over a dozen participants joining well known local tutors Sarah and Mark for a trip to the Stiperstones in Shropshire. Continue reading

Phase 1 habitat survey of an interesting industrial estate, Cumbria (2015)

‘Interesting industrial estate’ is not in fact an oxymoron.  The last time I surveyed an industrial estate in Cumbria it was chuffing with great crested newts, and quite a surprise, and this site was no less unexpected.

I had checked the aerial photo beforehand, so I knew the site wasn’t all buildings and amenity grassland, but I wasn’t expecting this:

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Continue reading

Warrington Plant Group at Croft (2015)

Our mission at Croft was to record all the plants we could find in this 1km square which has been sadly neglected by botanical recorders according to the BSBI.  I was joined by my friends N, a fellow botanist, and P, who lives in the square and thus had no excuse for not attending (!).

We did really well for an urban/arable square with 140 plant species including this nice field pansy and whatever this hawkweed is (Hieracium vagum ?)

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Mansfield botanical survey, Nottinghamshire (2015)

Usually, conifer plantations don’t get much botanical attention, but in this case I was asked to prepare a species list for a plantation site to inform botanical monitoring of a development of holiday chalets.  I had been told there was little to see and, yes, most of the undeveloped parts of the site were plantation trees, bramble and bracken.  But every site has its compensations, and at this site these included a nice cafe, toilets, good weather and some pretty plants:

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Dusk bat survey, Preston (2015)

Another exciting instalment in my series of bat surveys with absolutely no bats!!!  Well, a few pipistrelles knocking around, but certainly nothing coming out of the target building.  Plenty of interested onlookers, though, and a good opportunity for some public education about bats :)  And it was nice to catch up with some of my fellow surveyors assembled by the team leader, as we hadn’t seen each other for ages….