16th January 2019

Now I’ve been back at work for a couple of weeks since the Christmas break, I’ve taken the time to sit down and write about what I got up to during December.

Bat Survey

The month kicked off with my first ever bat survey. This was to assess the likelihood that trees along a section of the Hampshire Avon are used as bat roosts, from which we would determine which trees could be used to make woody debris structures in the river; as only low-risk trees and limbs would be taken. The day itself was great fun, firstly it was lovely just to get out of the office and explore, especially as the water meadows were submerged and wood partially flooded. Secondly, it was great to be introduced to what a bat survey entails and what signs and features you need to look for to assess whether a tree is a low, medium or high risk for being used by roosting bats.

Semington Brook Walkover

Later in the month, it was our final day of walkover surveys on the Semington Brook. Up until this day we had been blessed with superb weather whilst out and about but of course on this final day it had to rain and rain hard. Although the weather was altogether miserable this didn’t stop us surveying the river and seeing lots of wildlife out and about as we were doing it. In total, we’ve surveyed over 13km of the brook which we will use to inform our project planning to strategically counter the worst affected stretches.

(Above: Bank erosion caused by a lack of roots holding the bank together. Below: Cattle poaching causing bank erosion.)

Yellow Card Training

Next, it was off to Westdown Camp for yellow card training from the Army. This would allow us to work on Salisbury Plain by informing us of the procedures we must follow to minimise the risks, and the dangers we may encounter. So as I like to think of it, a day telling us not to get blown up or shot, although there was a lot more to it than that.

CDM Training

The construction design and management (CDM) regulations encompass a lot of the work we do. This meant it is vital that we have a good understanding of what they entail so we would understand the risks and our legal responsibilities when working under the most recent CDM regulations. So towards the end of the month, we had a formal training day from an external instructor to give us a presentation and answer any questions we had on CDM. Although it turned into a long day it was also a very informative one, where much was learned about all things CDM.

Advisory Visit

The final activity of the month, other than the typical office work, was to go out and give an advisory visit to a local group of landowners on the Hampshire Avon. This was to assess the condition of their stretch of river, offer advice and write up an advisory report detailing our findings and advice, all done for free! Once that was done it was off back home for the Christmas holidays!

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.