Friday, 15 July 2016

County Wildlife Action Surveys

Angela Collins, Volunteer Coordinator

Today I went to visit some of the volunteer Community Surveyors who are taking part in our County Wildlife Action Project. I began at Barrow Common in Brancaster where Jenny, Linda, Mary and Rosalind were habitat mapping with Gemma the NWT Project Officer. This means walking the whole of the site, while making up a map of the different habitat areas. I arrived in time for their lunch break picnic and an un-forecasted very heavy rainstorm. This didn’t deter their spirits and as the rain started to ease they set out to do some more surveying. Unfortunately the rain soon started again, and as writing down what they see is such a  crucial part of the survey it was decided that it was not practical to continue, so arrangements were soon made for a date to continue the survey, and some of us headed to a warm and dry tea shop to finish my interview with the team.

Next on to Bowthorpe Riverside, an interesting County Wildlife Site right next door to a modern housing estate. I was warmly welcomed by the group - Sally, Stacey, Carolyn and John - and offered a spray of insect repellent as Stacey had been unlucky to get 31 bites on one visit! There are two other members of the group, Paula and Dominic, who unfortunately couldn’t make today.

The previous heavy rain and the presence of ponies made the going very muddy and difficult at times, but the group was not to be deterred and searched out plants that they had not recorded on a previous visit, and together helped to identify the less common.   
What struck me about both groups was the positive lets get on with it attitude and the way that they helped and learnt from each other throughout the whole process. Both groups were strangers when they first joined the project, but they have quickly formed teams and friendships, dividing tasks, working out who can do what and when, and getting the job done, which is to survey these County Wildlife sites in order that management plans can be drawn up by the Trust.

Thank you to the Barrow Common and Bowthorpe Riverside teams for letting me join them for a few hours and answering my many questions. I very much enjoyed meeting them and seeing them in action. More than 200 community surveyors are involved in the project this year, they are doing a fabulous job and our thanks go to all of them.

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