I’ve still got sand in my shoes

It wasn’t quite two weeks away from Dorset, but at one and a half weeks, it’s not far off Dido’s song lyrics. What a wonderful holiday it was too, I still can’t believe how much wildlife we saw in Scotland! Pine martens! Otters! Eagles! Western Scotland is definitely going on the list of places to revisit that’s for sure! And I know that Matt feels the same – especially since this was a revisit for him anyway!

Now I’m back in Dorset again. It has taken me a couple of days to switch from holiday mode to work mode. Luckily, I love my work and it is wildlife-related, so the jump wasn’t too big! Friday definitely shook me into place – we had a large group from a local school coming to the Chesil Beach Centre for two sessions. We decided to split them into two groups, because (a) it is more manageable for us, and (b) the children get a better experience in smaller groups.

I took one group, the Year 1s, and we headed out on a seashore scavenge. This involves a scavenger hunt where they have to find things from the list – e.g. something purple, three pebbles of different sizes, something that smells of the sea. I love this session as it allows the children to wander around (within a certain area and within sight) Chesil Beach, exploring what’s been washed up and working together as a team to find everything on their list. During this time, I visit each group a couple of times to see how they’re getting on and whilst doing so, do a little bit of a beach clean. Even in the limited area that we were in and being busy making sure the group were ok, I managed to collect a whole bag of rubbish! Rather depressing, but I use it as an educational tool to introduce them to marine litter and even talk a bit about currents.

In the afternoon, we became detectives and discovered seashore creatures along the edge of the Fleet Lagoon. Unsurprisingly we found plenty of crabs, mainly Common Shore Crabs (Carcinus maenas), which the children loved finding. I even persuaded a few of the reluctant children to hold a crab. Other finds included fish (though we couldn’t catch those), periwinkles, marine springtails (Anurida maritima), the cast off shells of crabs, limpets, topshells, anemones and sea slugs.

I was working up at Lorton Meadows Conservation Centre this weekend, and managed a couple of wanders to look for wildlife – during my late lunch break and then again after work. I finally saw my first Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) butterflies of the year, as well my first Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus), Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) and Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) butterflies for the year. Other wildlife of note – 50+ Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) butterflies, hovering/hunting Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), a family of Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus) and Red-tailed Bumblebees (Bombus lapidarius). As my camera is at the repair shop, I have some blurry phone photos for you.

Additionally, the Six-spot Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae) moth that I had collected as a caterpillar a couple of weeks ago and have pupated whilst I was in Scotland emerged as an adult moth this week. I released it back into the wild at Lorton, since I had found it there originally. A bit of an emotional moment. Not least because it is the first caterpillar I have managed to raise all the way through from caterpillar to adult!

In other news:

  • My guest post for the Wildlife Trusts blog was posted this week. I discuss an issue that I have been dwelling on for a while – the lack of engaging 16-30 year olds with nature.
  • I have been asking Findlay Wilde whether his guest post series, 13 Years Wilde, would (a) feature more female conservationists, (b) have a 50:50 ratio of female:male conservationists. Answers: (a) yes, (b) no.
    • Why am I asking? Well, to cut a long story short, there is an under-representation of women in STEM as a whole, but also in conservation. There are a number of factors involved, and a whole separate blog post (book?) would be required to discuss them in detail. However, for now, I’m saying that I would like to see this addressed where possible, and an equal (or at least nearly equal) representation of guest blog posts from conservationists is one way of doing so.
  • Following Scotland and this week, my butterfly life list is at 37 and my year list is at 30. Hopefully both will continue to increase this year!

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dorset Wildlife Trust’s positions, strategies or opinions (or any other organisation or individuals for that matter).

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2 thoughts on “I’ve still got sand in my shoes

  1. Firstly great and passionate blog! It is great to read a blog from someone who is so immersed in what they do.

    I think the lack of interest in the natural world by young people is one of the tragedies of our time. If you and others like you can get the ‘outdoor’ message across that helps!

    I disagree with artificially balancing published blogs to favour either sex. What is needed is passionate writing (like yours!) and whether it comes from a male or female keyboard is irrelevant.

    I am involved with The Dorset Studio School, we are a new purpose built school specialising in land an environmental education, please look at the website (www.dorsetstudioschool.co.uk) to see what we are upto, I shall definitely try and get you to help spread the environmental message to our pupils!

    • I know what you mean about the artificially balancing … but it wouldn’t be favouring either sex would it? Surely it would be both genders favoured equally? It’s a complicated issue. I will indeed go and see what you’re up to, it sounds interesting!

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