Saturday 25 November 2023

Shifting baselines: 12 field seasons at Gatwick

After 11.5 years, the time came for me to move away from leading the biodiversity project at Gatwick. This job has been made up of so many great moments; fascinating species, dynamic habitats through all the seasons, fieldwork with brilliant ecological minds and the occasional quiet moments on my own, taking it all in. Without the multitudes of people working and supporting the project I'd have been lost at sea; no man is an island! So here's a deposit of happy memories and the good people I had the pleasure to work with, from April 2012 to September 2023. I hope these will be seen and enjoyed by others. 

My first season reptile surveying in the Land East Zone (April 2012)

Tom Forward with a Death's-head Hawk-moth! Gatwick Stream grasslands (July 2012)

James Webster, JSA Biodiversity and Landscape Manager, River Mole north of the airfield (October 2012)

Winter bird survey on the River Mole with Tom Forward (December 2012)

Botanical survey on the River Mole with Giles Groome (July 2013)

Checking the malaise trap in the Land East Zone (August 2013)

Volunteers with Gatwick Greenspace Partnership Project Officers Tom Simpson and Kevin Lerwill, Brockley Wood (December 2013)

Winter bird survey in the North West Zone (December 2013)

Gatwick's Environment, Health and Safety Team coppicing in Upper Picketts Wood (February 2014)

Black Poplar planting with the Gatwick Security Team on the River Mole (March 2014)

Terrestrial invertebrate surveying with Scotty Dodd, River Mole floodplain (June 2014)

Gatwick Greenspace Partnership volunteering day on the River Mole (June 2014)

Our first Gatwick Wildlife Recording Day (August 2014)

Harvest Mouse surveying with Jim Jones of Surrey Mammal Group, River Mole (November 2014)

The story of a goat farm; Harris & Hoole Cafe in Tesco Extra (Hookwood, 2014)

Goat Meadow beetle loggery (February 2015)

Gatwick Environment Manager Hannah Deacon, Tom Simpson and myself, with our first Wildlife Trust Biodiversity Benchmark Award (March 2015)

JSA Landscaping team at the airport agricultural yard, Control Tower Road (2015)

Tom Simpson planting a Black Poplar tree on the River Mole floodplain (March 2015)

Environment Manager Hannah Deacon, River Mole Wildlife Day (May 2015)

Gatwick Airport's Batman; Martyn Cooke of Surrey Bat Group (July 2015)

Laurie Jackson weighing the first Hazel Dormouse found at Gatwick (September 2015)

At the Gatwick Apiary with Tom Simpson and Gill Sentinella (September 2015)

Roots Upwards Ltd tree surgeon Adam creating a glade at Lower Picketts Wood (March 2016)

Surrey and Sussex Botanical Society at the Gatwick Stream; 
Brian and Linda Pitkin, Brad, Arthur and Janice (May 2016)

Botanists breaking out; Paul, Caroline and Frances take a short cut out of Rolls Field (May 2016)

Bumblebee survey training day; course leader Richard Comont and attendees 
meeting in South Terminal (June 2016)

Bumblebee surveyors on the River Mole floodplain (June 2016)

Purple Emperor day! Ryan Mitchell, myself and RHUL student Ellie along the River Mole (July 2016) 

Roots Upwards get a jumpstart from Glendale, North West Zone (November 2016)

BBC Natural History Unit filming Gatwick's Long-horned Bees (May 2017)

Gatwick Environment Team (Tom Errett, Jon Tivey, myself, my mum Sue, and Hannah Deacon).
Big Bang STEM fest at Ardingly (June 2017)

The biodiversity container arriving at Rolls Field (June 2017)

Gatwick Greenspace Project Officer Tom Simpson (June 2017)

Volunteer dormouse surveyor Jerry Cheeseman checking nest boxes in Horleyland Wood (July 2017)

Gatwick Greenspace Partnership and Royal Holloway University students (August 2017)

EHS and Stable Ops Team coppice protection with deer fencing (November 2017)

Dormouse box maintenance with Gatwick's Volunteer Reserve Managers (February 2018)

Martyn Cooke and the Roots Upwards team rewarded with honeycomb from a bat box (March 2018)

Bill Downey leading a transect training day for Surrey Butterfly Conservation (March 2018)

Gatwick Wildlife Day, Gatwick Aviation Museum (July 2018)

Roots Upwards Matt Haynes assisting Martyn Cooke with bat boxes. Brockley Wood (January 2019)

Scotty Dodd and Ryan Mitchell surveying the newly created Scotty's Pond (April 2019)

Gatwick's largest Hornbeam tree, Lower Picketts Wood (April 2019)

Butterfly transect surveyors Vince Massimo and Peter Townend, North West Zone (May 2019)

Swans & Friends John Potts rescuing a swan in a reservoir, December 2019

GGP Volunteer Reserve Managers, Goat Meadow (July 2020)

GGP VRMs Harry and Chris, Goat Meadow (November 2020) 

Tom Simpson checking on his Black Poplar tree (December 2020)

Sorting out kit for the field season kick off, Motor Transport car park (March 2021)

Bird ringer Jon Middleton in the Scrub West of Brockley Wood (May 2021)

Sam Buckland and Lucy Groves, reptile and mammal surveying at Westfield Stream (June 2021)

Bird ringers Penny and Dave Green the noting biometrics for 'Dave' the Nightingale (June 2021)

Chocolate digestive celebration with Penny (June 2021)

Community Engagement Team pulling Himalayan Balsam on the River Mole (July 2021)

Moth surveying with Jacob Everitt and Ian Barnard (June 2021)

Laurie Jackson botanising Gatwick's road verges (August 2021)

Lucy Groves and Sam Buckland, Gatwick Aviation Museum (October 2021)

Nick Aplin and the Sussex Fungi Group surveying along the River Mole, October 2021

Wellbeing in the Wild with Gatwick Staff, Upper Picketts Wood (October 2021)

Team GGP: myself, Tamara Jewell, Kevin Lerwill and Tom Simpson (Spring 2022)

Gatwick bird ringers Jake, Stuart and Jon (July 2022)

Coffee break with bird ringer Stuart Card (October 2022)

Tom Simpson and Environment Advisor Tom Errett in the North West Zone (November 2022)

Winter bird survey with Tom F, Tom S and Laurie (December 2022)

Water Quality Manager Ian Waghorn guiding Sussex University Students 
at the Gatwick Stream flood attenuation (February 2023)

Wildlife Rangers newt surveying with Ryan Greaves of Sussex Wildlife Trust (April 2023)

Tom Simpson's last day out with the VRMs (May 2023)

Environment Manager Nick Gabriel, myself and the EHS Heron (August 2023)

GGPO Barry Wildish, VRMs Phil, Chris, Robert and myself, 
grasslands west of Brockley Wood (October 2023)


  1. I have followed this blog for many years, but not so much with any blogs of late. I cannot believe how long ago some of these pictures were. You have left some legacy behind you, Rachel. Does the excellent work continue with somebody else at the helm? It must be essential to keep this area protected.
    Best wishes, Tony Powell and naturestimeline.

    1. Your kinds words are very much appreciated Tony, thank you. I have handed over to another person who is just settling in to the post. With our wide network of local experts and volunteers, I feel confident the sites will remain in good hands :-) (I am also going to pass on this blog platform in case they are interested)

  2. Also been following this blog for years, a gold mine of information and very inspiring. Brilliant work and good luck in your future adventures.