Water vole survey, Lymm, Cheshire (2016)

It’s rare for me to work for private individuals and even rarer for me to do a water vole survey.  But this was quite a nice one to do – just a small job surveying a brook which formed part of the edge of a private landholding.  The landowners had noted that the bank of the brook seemed to be eroding and had commissioned advice on erosion control measures they could implement to prevent their garden falling away into the brook.  In places the brook bank was quite close to the house, too, so I understood how keen they were to get this sorted!

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National Bat Conference 2016

The National Bat Conference is exactly what it sounds like – an opportunity for bat workers to get together and talk about new research, new information and new opportunities in the world of bats.  It’s organised by Bat Conservation Trust  and this year the programme was exceptionally interesting, encompassing work on roost and habitat selection by individual members of bat social groups, migration of Nathusius pipistrelles across Europe and top tips on identifying vagrants to the UK such as Kuhl’s pipistrelle, which may turn up more and more often in the UK with climate change. Continue reading

Swarming weekend with South Lancs Bat Group

Way back on August Bank Holiday weekend I joined South Lancs Bat Group for a weekend of swarming bats.  We have for several years held a project licence to trap and ring bats at two local swarming sites to find out more about the bats using the sites and hopefully add to scientific knowledge about swarming behaviour. Continue reading

Ecological appraisal of two wastewater treatment works, Anglesey (2016)

I don’t usually travel as far as Anglesey for work, but occasionally it’s nice to go further afield.  This project involved ecological appraisal of two small wastewater treatment works in north west Anglesey.  Turning down the lane to the first site, I noticed a large development on the corner, ringed in great crested newt fencing.  Fairly big clue to the main ecological concern in this area!  Tourists often just visit the island’s spectacular coastline, but inland Anglesey is famous amongst ecologists for its cornucopia of wetlands, from ponds to lakes to internationally important species-rich fens and marshes.  And this means great crested newts are frequently found.

Great crested newt photographed in Cheshire in 2014 as part of a licensed survey

Great crested newt photographed in Cheshire in 2014 as part of a licensed survey

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Habitats Regulations Assessment of a small project in Chester (2016)

For many years, the banks of the river Dee in Chester have been part of the city: for launching boats both pleasure and commercial; forming a particularly lethal obstacle on Chester Golf Course; for promenading; as a backdrop to Chester City Walls and Tower; and, surprisingly, as part of people’s back gardens.  In fact, almost the whole northern/eastern bank of the Dee opposite Chester Meadows is occupied by gardens (the rest is a public park).  As the river is also a site of European importance for nature conservation, this creates some interesting paperwork when people want to remodel their garden space.

view over Chester Meadows and the river Dee from the study site

view over Chester Meadows and the river Dee from the study site

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Warrington Plant Group at Norton Marsh

Our first coastal meeting turned up our first new county record!  Debs and I spent ages looking at a sow-thistle in one of the ditches on Norton Marsh before concluding it was a mystery plant – a hybrid, perhaps.  We both went up to it thinking it was going to be field sow thistle Sonchus arvensis on account of its overall size, look and large flowerheads.  But no.  Where were the massive glandular hairs for which this plant is famous amongst botanists?  Seriously, the hairs are legendary, you can see them from across the street they are so large and abundant.  No hairs. Back to the drawing board. Continue reading

Llennyrch NVC survey part 2, Snowdonia (2016)

What a pleasure to be working with Enfys Ecology and the Woodland Trust on a conservation project – makes a change from the usual development schemes!  This was part 2 of a survey which my colleague Lucia Ruffino and I started last year.  The first part was mostly grassland with some interesting boggy bits, the highlight for me being finding white beak-sedge which I hadn’t seen in forever.  This year’s part was much bigger, 11 days survey for both of us, and covered a swathe of land from Trawsfynydd Lake up the hills behind to an altitude of about 300m.

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