Teaching has already started for some of us, with the Ecological field skills module. Final year Ecology students and enthusiasts are out in the countryside doing what they like to do best – field work!
We are very fortunate to have a diverse landscape within our reach and today we are off to Ashdown Forest. Ashdown Forest is most probably famous for Winnie the Pooh and Christopher, but it also has fine examples of Lowland heathland and reptiles. All 50 of us met up on one of the hottest days of the summer, and started the day by attempting to set up a reptile survey grid under the critical eye of Dr Angelo Pernetta. After a few tangle with our canes and walking through the gorse, most teams managed to set up the grid appropriately, some using very complex geometry calculations.
Lowland heathlands are species-poor habitats, so they are great place to start if you have limited knowledge of plant species and want to get to grips with plant identification keys.
This is what we did, spotting the key Heather species, Gorse and other characteristics plant species, which proved useful for the Heathland Condition Assessment that was done later that day.
As well as the beautiful scenery and the exceptionally warm weather, another highlight of the day was the capture of a young female adder during our reptile survey among many slow worms and lizards.