Sunday, 25 September 2016

Woodland walk volunteer training day

Last Wednesday we had a volunteer training day called ‘woodland walk’ led by Area Ranger Alistair. We organise a training day every other month so that our volunteers can mingle and gain more knowledge about the property. The woodland walk gave our volunteers an overview of the property, its past and our management. Twelve volunteers joined us as we explored the north end of the edge.

  Alistair had a lot to fit in; he talked about how the Trust acquired the land, archaeology, geology, our species-rich meadows, coppicing, dormice, other flora and fauna found here, woodland management, future threats, timber sales, managing for access and our 50 year vision. Everyone seemed to enjoy the day and we hope it has given them a broader perspective of the site as a whole.

The day started slightly hazy with cloud sitting on the edge but brightened up later, becoming warm enough for us to spot speckles woods, red admirals and this comma butterfly.

Introduction to the new Wenlock placement

Emily Potter is our new full time volunteer; she started in August and finishes in July 2017. She will be assisting us with all our tasks so that she can get essential industry experience. You are likely to see her during her time with us and I’m sure you will all make her feel welcome.

Emily says: “Hello, I’m Emily and I’m this year’s Placement student. I’m from Warwickshire and studying Wildlife Conservation and Natural Resource Management at Harper Adams University. I am interested in the survey work at Wenlock Edge including the small mammal trapping and butterfly counts and I have practical work experience from my time volunteering at Draycote Water for Severn Trent.  By completing this placement I hope to gain more skills that I can use in a future job as a ranger”. 

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Interpretation survey

Last month our placement student Katy presented the results of a survey that she undertook as her project. The survey gathered visitor’s views on interpretation at Wenlock Edge, assessed demand for more, evaluated interpretation options and made recommendations. Data was collected via questionnaires from 120 people visiting our car parks between March and April. The main results were;

89% of respondents think that existing interpretation is good or very good.

When asked about their knowledge of Wenlock Edge the majority said they knew little or nothing and the most popular areas of interest were conservation, wildlife and history.

The most popular interpretive forms were panels, on-line and self-guided walks. Since this survey two interpretation panels have been installed at the Presthope and Wilderhope car parks. 

38% of people said they want a greater National Trust presence on site, for security and to provide information and since then we have recruited a number of volunteer rangers.

Recommendations included; utilising printed material (i.e. being in the National Trust handbook and having walks leaflets), using digital media (i.e. more information on the website) and on-site installations (i.e. benches and sculptures). The data and recommendations will feed into our interpretation plan. 

Mammal monitoring

Since June our volunteer, Abbi has been carrying out small mammal monitoring in Blakeway Coppice. Due to sporadic weather and people’s availability she has rearranged some dates but still managed to complete 7 surveys, the last one being carried out this week. 
A yellow-necked mouse

The survey consists of two transects with 10 tube traps (live traps) on each: the first is alongside the main track and the second within the Hazel coppice. The traps were baited with seed and apple and some hay is put in for them to make a nest for the night. We didn’t use casters to bait shrews as they have a very high mortality rate in traps. 

A Bank vole
The success rate has been increasing each survey getting as high as 40% (the national average is 17%)! Along with a very healthy slug population Abbi has recorded 25 bank voles and 9 wood mice: the majority being male adults. Also when trapping around our base we caught 2 yellow-necked mice! Thank you to all the volunteers who gave up their time to help, especially Abbi who organised and ran the survey and Charlotte Huntly who has helped at every survey. 
Abbi identifying a small mammal