17 October 2018

My First Foray Into the World of Work 

As I’m writing this I’m entering my fifth week as the Water Team trainee at the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, and I’d like to take the time to share what it’s been like during my first month.

After moving down from my hometown of Worcester, I was excited to move out and start a new project. I had recently finished my physical geography degree in Exeter and this was to be my first proper foray into the ‘real world’ of work. 

Following the first day of inevitable form filling in and purchasing PPE, things started ‘proper’ on the next day, where I helped, albeit in limited capacity send off for a tender. Thrown straight in the deep end!

Things moved on from there for the next couple of weeks where Lev, the leaving project officer, introduced myself and Abigail, the new project officer, into the key things we would need to understand to be able to transition from the old team to the new as smoothly as possible. As unbeknown to me, there was to be an entire changeover of staff as people went on to further their careers. Showing what an excellent platform the water team here is, not just for a trainee to further themselves but also for fully employed staff members.



The Wylye Project

Skipping the mundane parts, the fun really started to begin in the days preceding what would be my first delivery project. Here a lot of my time was spent collating and gathering the kit we would need, sourcing that which we didn’t, and recruiting volunteers for the project.

This project was to take place on the River Wylye along a slow flowing, almost canalised mill leat where the river had become choked with ribbon weed, providing less than ideal conditions for Trout and Grayling along with many macroinvertebrate species. To counteract this a plan had been drawn up to install 9 woody habitat features into the river, which would input meanders, increasing the sinuosity of the river in order to create variation in flow and introduce a greater array of micro-habitats present within the system. This would provide a valuable habitat for macroinvertebrates and juvenile fish. Essentially mimicking the natural river mechanisms to speed up its recovery to a ’healthier’, more diverse river.

During the week it took to deliver the project we were blessed by the weather, so much so I even got sunburnt! This on top of learning so many of the practical techniques used to install the structures, as well as the great team atmosphere with the volunteers made this week the highlight of my traineeship so far!



The above-left hand picture shows the first woody mattress Alice (the other new project officer) and I ever created. The structure, which has been secured in place with chestnut stakes, acts to ‘pinch’ the flow to increase the velocity of the river, and when used in sequence creates a more sinuous, meandering channel (right-hand picture). This also slows the flow within and behind the structure encouraging sedimentation which should allow marginal plant growth whilst also creating fish refuges and excellent macro-invertebrate habitat. 

We’re now back in the office preparing for the next projects we’ve got lined up. Tune in next month to find out what new adventures I’ve got up to, and in the meantime check out our twitter page (@Wiltsrivers) to see what the water team here, at the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is getting up to.