New experiences for our Intern Josh White

Friday, June 27th, 2014

My first week at The Ecology Consultancy!
I had decided, that between my second and third year at university, it would be beneficial to gain a deeper understanding of the ecology consulting industry by participating as an intern. I hoped this experience would expand my perspective of this career path, in addition to enhancing my resume.

My first day, Monday, involved preparing a slide show to accompany a presentation on bats for the following day. The presentation was for a school, of children aged four to eleven, on British bats and why their preservation is important. Due to the presentation being aimed at children the slide show was heavily picture-oriented.

Tuesday started by assisting in the presentation I prepared on Monday. This described the different species of bats and emphasised the important aspects of bat conservation. Then we showed the pupils some live bats, as well as some dropping samples. The presentation was received very positively by the pupils who were keen to share their own encounters with bats as well as ask many insightful questions.

Following the presentations, we found the temperature had dropped sufficiently low enough to conduct a reptile survey. This survey involved looking for reptiles under roofing felt, which had been distributed across the site previously. As reptiles are ectotherms they have a tendency to collect under the roofing felt due the retained heat. Therefore, this method enables reptile surveys to determine presence or likely absence of reptiles, and can help estimate the reptile populations on the site.
After the reptile survey had concluded, I accompanied an ecologist to inspect the site of a badger sett. I was shown how to assess whether a badger sett entrance was in use by detecting the relevant signs such as guard hairs, paw marks and bedding replacement. However, the highlight of the exercise was discovering a forked badger sett entrance tunnel, which I was informed was particularly uncommon.

Following this I finished the day by supporting a more senior ecologist in conducting a bat survey at dusk. This involved using a device that detects the echolocation calls from bats. The data collected can then be used to assess the amount of bat activity and determine the species of bat. I was fortunate during this survey as we recorded a serotine on the bat detector before catching a glimpse at close range. I also saw two deer emerge from some nearby woods, which was undoubtedly a nice perk.

After that full day, Wednesday comprised reading the literature surrounding British reptiles in preparation for a further reptile survey. Due to grass snakes being previously found at the site I tailored my reading accordingly, in the hope of being able to successfully identify one if the opportunity arose.

male-lizard As with the reptile survey on Tuesday, Thursday’s reptile survey involved looking underneath pieces of roofing felt for reptiles absorbing the heat. This was done at approximately two hundred locations around the site meaning the survey was on a larger scale to the one on Tuesday. Although no reptiles were found at the site, I feel I benefited from seeing a reptile survey conducted at a large scale.

I spent Friday observing and learning about the ecological aspect of BREEAM surveys. BREEAM is an assessment method used to assess how environmentally harmonious a construction project is. The ecological aspect of the BREEAM mainly involves maintaining the sites ecological value by awarding construction projects that maintain biodiverse habitat. During the morning I went on a survey aimed at documenting the habitat that would be cleared during the construction process, in addition to any other ecologically significant features. Following this, I spent the afternoon reading about the criteria that the construction project needs to meet in order to be awarded BREEAM credits in greater detail and the variance in ecological value for different habitats.

My first week at The Ecology Consultancy was a very positive one. I feel it has certainly enriched my understanding of the different components within the industry as well as stimulated my interest in ecology further.

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