Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Devon Wildlife Trust Placement – September 2016

by Amber Connett & Harry Shadwell

Now September is over, we are coming to the end of the survey season here at Devon Wildlife Trust. The last few weeks of the season have been spent completing Marsh Fritillary larval web surveys across sites in North Devon. These larval surveys give a much better view of the breeding population and are less weather dependent than the adult surveys we completed back in June. Sadly, during our surveys we noticed it doesn’t seem to have been a great year for this threatened species on our sites, though we did still find a few large caterpillar colonies!

Marsh Fritillary caterpillars found at the base of a
Devil’s bit-scabious plant. Photo by Harry Shadwell.
We also finished our Riverfly surveying this month. The results of our surveys have now been sent off to the Riverfly database and will be used as part of their long term river monitoring scheme. All of our survey results indicated that section of river was healthy and no major pollution event had occurred – great news! Bradworthy Primary School also joined us for a riverfly day, similar to the one we held in July. Sadly, the river levels were too high for the children to get in the water but they were able to sort and identify samples we gathered.

Our surveys of the Avon Valley site at Brimridge Farm came to an end this month after completing a final pitfall trap survey. We found many different invertebrate species, including a wolf spider, three species of ground beetle and lots of harvestmen! Soon we will be pulling all our survey results together in a report which will be used by the landowner and DWT advisors when considering management of the site.

We also attended a training day at the beginning of the month run by the DWT Volunteer Management Officer. This training event taught us all the aspects of managing volunteers as part of a conservation project, which will be very helpful to us if we work in this sector because volunteers contribute a large part of conservation effort.

As the survey season is now over, we will be mostly focussed on analysing our results gathered over the summer and putting reports together – much to do!

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