Sunday 30 March 2014

March Summary

I have massively enjoyed my job this past month, despite being ill for approximately half of it!

Tom S. and Gilly, checking on their passengers after a short ride in the Gatwick Greenspace truck

We have some new workers on board with the project, with 3 bee hives installed in Ashley's Field. Inevitably, the bee-puns are flying back and forth and the staff are buzzing with excitement. Anyway, I shan't drone on as there will be more from Tom on that subject later!

Gatwick's Honey Bees, ready and raring to go...

We have carried out some further 'hibernacularing' with the help of Scotty T. I am getting a bit obsessed with diggers and could watch them for hours... 

Despite a wet spell at the beginning of the month, we've still managed to get all of our Black Poplar planted along the River Mole in the nick of time. Thanks again to the Security Leadership Team!

This past month, our surveys have been rather mammal focused. Here, George and Laurie are checking Dormouse boxes. The only occupant we found on this day was a chunky little Yellow-necked Mouse (Apodemus flavicollis).

George and Laurie

George and Louise also helped with installing some Hedgehog tracking tunnels in Goat Meadow. I am trying a selection of different baits to see whether we can entice a range of mammals to leave their inky footprints behind.

In the lead up to our Youth Ranger mammal surveying event, my mum and I have been out most mornings and evenings setting out longworth traps so that our small mammals could acclimatise to them. We found an intense number of Wood Mice (Apodemus sylvaticus), which would happily pop back into the traps as soon as we had reset them! I will reveal our final peak count in the next post.

Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus)

 Tom F. demonstrating how to gently scruff a Bank Vole (Clethrionomys glareolus)

Now I feel like it really is spring when Cuckoo Flower, aka Lady's-Smock (Cardamine pratensis) comes into flower. It means the Orange Tip Butterflies will soon be out in force!

I vastly underestimated the size of the Grass Snake in Goat Meadow; we saw her again a few days ago and she was more like 2 meters long. I really have to work on my estimations! This much smaller specimen was found under a refugia near Man's Brook... 

Grass Snake, around 30cm in length (maybe)

I spotted our first Gatwick Grass Snake of 2014 on March 5th. I looked up my past reptile records on the iRecord website and found last year's was on April 15th, so they seem to be active much earlier this year.

It's Mother's Day today, and I wouldn't be here and doing this job it wasn't for the support and help of my most excellent mum, Sue. So a massive thanks to you Mum and keep up the good work!

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