Leysdown Trainee update - June/July

, 02 August 2022
Leysdown Trainee update - June/July
Mark and Rosie bird ringing


It’s been a sizzling summer stuffed with so much to do as Lederman Trainees with Sussex Wildlife Trust. So much in fact, we’re behind with our blogging and have had to write up about June and July’s activities in one post!

On the June 21, I celebrated completing my Introduction to Forest School (FS) programme with English language learners from Crawley College. The sessions had been set up with the help of Tamara Jewell, Gatwick Greenspace Partnership Officer based at Tilgate Park. My cohort of eight young adult refugees developed their confidence, independence and resilience with learner-centred activities like shelter-making, fire-building and crafting using woodland materials. Through doing this I also developed as a future FS practitioner, using each session to help me prepare my portfolio and eventually become a qualified FS Leader.

Leading on from this was our training as Wild Beach Leaders. Wild Beach shares its ethos with FS, with sessions taking place on the seashore rather than in the woods. Rosie and I were supported by Education Development Manager, Mike Murphy, and went on to lead our own sessions with St John’s Meads Primary School in Eastbourne. We had loads of fun rock-pooling and beachcombing with Years 1 and 2, and reckon we’ve inspired some budding marine ecologists.

Something that’s really developed for us both as trainees is our connection to bird conservation through training as bird ringers. We got our trainee permits from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and have been under the excellent tutelage of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Officer and licensed ringer David King. Highlights from our classes have been ringing a families of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Long-tailed Tits, and getting to handle beautiful birds like Treecreepers and Bullfinches.

On June 23rd we were paid a visit by the Leysdown Conservation Trustees. They joined Sussex Wildlife Trust’s senior management team on the back patio at Leysdown Cottage for an informal meeting of tea, cake and sandwiches, followed by a tour of the estate. Because our traineeship is funded in partnership with the Leysdown Trust, the meeting was an important way for them to see what we’ve achieved during our time with the Trust. Thankfully, the Trustees were mightily impressed with our progress and there was much to celebrate.


The past two months have been full of exciting new experiences. One of my favourites has been carrying out bird ringing with David King, Reserve Officer at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. My interest started after I joined David and Mark for a session of ringing in our back garden at Leysdown in early June. I enjoyed the session so much I knew I wanted to take part in more. Since then I have undertaken a number of ringing sessions with David, and I am really getting into it. I have now applied for my ‘T-Permit’ to enable me to continue training and developing my handling skills and bird ID knowledge. My favourite birds so far were probably the Greenfinches we caught recently. It’s incredible, seeing the birds up-close and learning how to age them by their plumage. I look forward to continuing my ringing training and handling new species.

We’ve spent a number of days out in the sunshine on Eastbourne Beach over the summer. Mark and I together led a programme of Wild Beach sessions with two classes of children from a local primary school. This was really rewarding, watching the children play freely on the beach and enjoying their time learning lots about wildlife. It was a lovely way to spend the long, hot days throughout June and July.

A few weeks ago we had a very special gathering at Leysdown with the Leysdown Trustees and a number of fellow Sussex Wildlife Trust staff. This was a brilliant day, it was so nice to finally meet all the Trustees and take them round the estate to show them the work we have carried out so far. I really look forward to more days like this.

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