Community Engagement Officer
This project encompasses a range of events and activities to engage a broad-range of people to provide them with support and resources to be able to identify and record species.
Community Engagement Officer
Spotting wildlife - birds, butterflies or even plants - is something we all find a little joy in doing. But what if finding and snapshotting the species we see could have a big impact on how our environment is treated? Well, it does. Our upcoming wildlife resource pack tells you how to identify a variety of species from a Brown Hare to an Emperor Dragonfly, and how best to help them thrive in the Trent Valley area, and we are offering it to you for use in the Trent Valley for free!
The pack includes just two things. Your foldable Identification Guide and the Big Washlands Watch Survey Booklet.
Identification Guide: What is it?
The guide tells you everything you need to know about the 32 species Transforming the Trent Valley is trying to learn more about. One side lists all the species we're looking for, from mammals to birds to insects, with a hand drawn illustration to accompany each. The guide's flipside matches each species with helpful identification facts like their size, characteristics and where best to look for them. Say, you found an orange-tip butterfly in your garden and want to find more, the guide tells you the most common plants to start looking for their caterpillars.
Survey Booklet: What's Inside?
The booklet goes hand in hand with the guide and tells you exactly what you can do to help us understand more about these 32 species in our area. Chances are, you're probably doing most of it anyway!
Its 14 pages are split into 3 main sections:
How many times have you been out on a walk and seen an interesting animal, bird or plant, and managed to take a half-decent picture on your phone? You bring it home, do a bit of research and see that you've spotted quite a rare species for your area! Then what do you do? You probably tell your family and friends, but who else wants to know?
We do - we want you to tell us about your wildlife sightings!
Let me explain.
When you tell your family or friends about that species you've seen, you'll likely tell them where you saw it, when you saw it, who you were with, and what the species was. These four facts combined create a 'biological record', and this is a recognised scientific piece of data.
There are organisations and groups who want to collect as many biological records as possible, and Transforming the Trent Valley is one of them. In the Trent Valley area, there are also groups called Staffordshire Ecological Records (SER) and Derbyshire Biological Records Centre (DBRC). These organisations collect records on a database, a hugely important resource for wildlife and nature conservation.
Why is it important to share my wildlife records?
Say a developer comes along and wants to build a lot of houses on the site you saw your rare species. If you've submitted your record to a regional database like SER, they will use this information to ensure the developer puts in proper mitigation to protect these species. Biodiversity and preserving wildlife are important things for developers to consider. If SER has a large list of rare species, it may be enough to deny building permission entirely.
It is hard to share my records?
Not at all! It is really easy to make and share a record. In fact, you've already created it if you write down the 4Ws:
Our Wildlife Recording Volunteers are an enthusiastic bunch, using their local nature reserves for daily exercise and letting us know what they see. One of our group visited Croxall Lakes recently, a Staffordshire Wildlife Trust reserve, and despite the weather, had a successful morning birding!
We set off from the carpark at 08:00 in light rain but by the time we got half way to the first hide were soaked to the skin! Fortunately the rain eased - after an hour! The wind dried us and the sun came out. Sadly not good conditions for birding. There were the usual assortment of Canada Geese and Mallard on the lake, at the car park end, and several Great Crested Grebes further out. Along with the Canadas there were two Oystercatchers on the island (which I managed to get a photograph of on the way back). The rain made it difficult to see much until we got to the river although we spotted a couple of Herons and a few Teal on the Arboretum bank. The Tame was quiet, a couple of Mute swans, more Canadas and Mallard.
In the winter, when doing a Webs survey, we would normally walk diagonally across the meadow to try and flush and get a count of Snipe. But instead, with the onset of the breeding season, we followed the path by the railway bank then along the fence line toward the second hide.
There were Shelduck on the lake, a single Little Grebe and a small group of Redshank on the edge. Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails were busy in the field. The Redshank spotted us early on and quickly disappeared. The Rooks were very active in the Rookery, we reckoned there were at least twenty active nests. We followed the Mease around the back of the wood, hoping to hear Chiffchaffs but no luck! However the Redshank, five of them had returned and landed on one of the little islands in the lake, they weren't spooked and gave a good view.
Back to the cars under cloudless blue skies (for a while!) Not a huge volume of birds but with thirty-six different species a good morning's birding.
This is what we saw:
In 2018, my sister and I made a resolution to reduce our plastic use. To achieve that goal we made a year-long plan that worked really well for us. It worked so well in fact that I reduced my plastic use by 91% and Mary managed to reduce hers by 73%!
Here's how we did it...
You might have seen that one of the projects running within the Transforming the Trent Valley scheme is the 'Big Washlands Watch', which is all about citizen science - engaging people with their local wildlife and teaching them how to identify species and submit biological records.
Transforming the Trent Valley scheme is launching our 'Big Washlands Watch' project in 2020. This project aims to learn more about the number and types of species living in the Trent Valley area by encouraging local people to get involved in some citizen science activities. We would like to hear from people and groups within the Transforming the Trent Valley scheme area who want to learn more about the wildlife on their doorstep and would like to help us to record it.
Details of future projects to be delivered by Transforming the Trent Valley and its partners as part of the Big Washlands Watch project will be posted here soon.