Lederman Trainees blog April 2022
Species surveying, infrastructure-building, predator-proofing and Wild Beach schooling
The days are longer and (mostly!) warmer, the blossom is out and we’ve been as busy as the bees in April, with lots of seasonal experiences and activities as trainees with Sussex Wildlife Trust.
At the start of the month, Mark and I undertook our brush-cutter training, which enables us to manage the scrub and grassland on a range of the reserves across Sussex during our traineeship.
We also carried out some step repairs at Withdean Woods in Brighton with Reserves Manager Steve Webster. It was a really useful skill to learn, and there are still lots more steps to be built so I’m sure we’ll be back getting more practice in the future.
I really enjoyed taking part in some Newt surveying at Southerham with Ecologist Glenn Norris. This involved heading out after dark to set some traps and searching with torches, then collecting the traps early the next day to discover what we’d caught. Despite not catching any Great Crested Newts it was really cool catching our two other native species, Smooth Newts and Palmate Newts, and learning how to ID these.
I recently helped out Grazing Officers Tom Parry and Sarah Hamblin with some cattle moving and TB testing. I hadn’t had much experience working with cattle prior to this so I loved getting involved and hope I get the chance to help out more soon!
I’ve been spending more time at Rye Harbour; I feel like my traineeship is starting to develop a direction, and as I’m passionate about bird conservation, I’ve been really engaged by the work done to help shorebirds and other wetland species at this reserve. I’ve helped Land Manager Barry Yates to sample fish species in the marsh, as well as learn more about the predator control measures against invasive species such as American Mink, which predate eggs, chicks and adult birds. Rosie and I also joined Chris Bentley to help maintain the electrified fencing that keeps these predators out of the nesting areas.
At Leysdown, we worked with Steve Webster to install a new gate in the grounds, replacing the wonky, rotten old stile that links our woods with the large meadow. It was great to hone our practical skills by improving the infrastructure on the Leysdown estate.
Later in the month, I helped Tamara Jewell at the Gatwick Greenspace Partnership, taking a group of Youth Rangers into the woods at Tilgate Park to do some springtime bird-related activities. We dyed eggs using onion skins boiled on the campfire, built nests using only one hand(!) and learned some birdsong too.
Rosie and I ended the month with Wild Beach training, learning how to run seaside sessions that engage young people with their marine environment. We both had so much fun sand-sculpting, rockpooling and beachcombing, and now feel prepared to take children out for more coastal activities of our own.
As we’ve crept into spring, the woodland at Leysdown has transformed into a carpet of blue. It will be lovely to observe the land change more as the weeks go on and also as it warms up we will be using a wildlife audio recorder to monitor the bats we have roosting in our attic. Bat update to come next month!