Thursday, 15 March 2012

* * * NEWS * * *

** Finally have a (broad) topic for my dissertation! ** Undertook small mammal trapping and saw my first vole! ** Two assignments down... 4 big ones to go. ** Great Crested Newt bottle traps created ** Hanningfield Living Landscape sections drafted ** Chelmsford becomes a city! ** College prize draw win **

As you can see - I've been busy.  So has the Queen.  Let's start with that shall we?  Chelmsford has become the first city in Essex.  I had no idea that we had no other cities - read what the BBC had to say about it here.  Well done Chelmsford.  I hope Lizzy had a lovely time when she went to do her recce.

Onto far more important news.  After much deliberation I have finally settled on a topic for my dissertation and yes, I have gone full-circle and am doing a study of c.4 generalist butterfly species in an arable landscape and the affects that climate change and microclimate and land-use change has on them in terms of their plasticity.  All with a view to predicting what these changes (climatic and land-use) might mean for other generalist and specialist species over the coming decades.  Or something like that!  I am very excited about it.  There's still a lot to do in terms of the scope of the research but it is still early days.  It will be a lot of hard work but I can't wait to get started.

First though, 4 chunky assignments to get through - habitat management essay; landscape character assessment; biological surveying report and the research proposal for the aforementioned butterfly project.

As part of our couse we did some small mammal trapping last week. We set several Longworth traps along a boundary hedge in an arable setting. We only found two species Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) and Bank Vole (Myodes glareolus) but it was useful to get practice of constructing the traps, filling them, placing them in suitable positions, and then checking them. We also got practice of handling them and sexing them. Having owned a pair of dwarf hamsters fairly recently I wasn't too worried about handling them. However, these little critters are tiny and wriggly! It was a great experience though. Pictures following below:

Bank vole

Congratulations! It's a girl!

Wood Mouse

It has been quite a hands-on month at college.  A small group of us, trying to get our Great Crested Newt licence this year, set about creating bottle traps.  It was a lovely hour of arts and crafts as we cut up plastic bottles and then reassembled them "kebab-style" on a garden cane.  We put them out overnight at the edge of the college reservoir.  It was a bit early/cold and so they remained empty in the morning when they were checked.

The sections Michelle and I were writing for the Hanningfield Living Landscape vision document have been done and submitted.  We attended an indicator team meeting this week and it all seems to be progressing on time.  The draft document is due for internal review next week and then we'll take it from there.  Despite our section being completed it is good experience for us to stay involved to see how it all gets put together.  Hopefully we will be able to get involved in the summer in planning the projects that arise from the vision document.

And finally (no, I'm not one of the Two Ronnies) my name was drawn out of a hat as the winner of the college library survey prize draw.  Book token prize.  Niiice.

I think that is it for now.  Back to the essay writing.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

I love Twitter

Chris Packham replied to one of my tweets.  See for yourself.  Speechless, I was.