Group of students in the woods on a bat hunt

Third year bat surveys at Woods Mill

As part of the Ecological Impact Assessment module, students met Ryan Greaves, from the Bat Conservation Trust and we had the fantastic opportunity to take part in bat box checks.

The mild weather in late September meant that bats were still active and around! After an in-depth lecture on bat species and their ecology, an intro to bat boxes and the different survey tools at hand, we were ready to go an check some boxes. This year was a really good one and we found some common pipistrelle in a couple of boxes.

As part of the standard bat survey, measurements were taken, we had our smallest male with 4.5g. Pipistrelle weigh the same as a £1 coin! We concluded our training day with a bat walk, using bat detectors and listening to the clapping of the bats feeding above our heads!

This was a great start of term!

Group of students on the seafront at Bexhill on Sea

A study visit to Bexhill’s urban greenspaces

Geography and environmental sciences students taking the specialist urban geography module Cities & Social Change recently travelled to Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex to learn about coastal towns in transition.

The group visited key sites of green infrastructure around the town which had received substantial regeneration monies over the last decade. And they were joined by local experts Adrian Gaylon, sports development officer, and Frank Rallings, former head of planning, at Rother District Council.

Students observed the innovative seafront planting scheme on Bexhill’s West Promenade. Beautiful herbaceous perennials provide year-round colour and structure that thrives with minimal maintenance in an aggressive coastal micro-climate.

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Field trip to Sicily 2023 – days one and two

Our level 5 Geography BSc(Hons) and Environmental Sciences BSc(Hons) students visited Sicily on a week-long field trip. Environmental Sciences BSc(Hons) student and (we think) brilliant photographer, Lizzie Pallett, documented the trip.

Day one – Lava fields of Mount Etna

Day one of the Level 5 field trip to Sicily! First stop: the lava fields of Mt Etna.

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Back of a group of students on mules in the mountains in Morocco

Fieldweek 2023: Morocco

Our second year Geography BA students spent a busy week in Morocco, exploring urban and rural landscapes as part of their Research and Field Skills core module.

Starting off in Marrakech, students spent the first day undertaking a transect walk that took them on a slice directly through the city. Starting in the ‘New Town’ of colonial Gueliz, students began to investigate post-colonial urbanism, development strategies, water stress and plans for a sustainable Green Morocco as they made their way to the ‘Old City’ of the medina. Here they examined tourist practices in the souks and at the famous Jemaa el Fnaa. In the evening they returned to the famous square to see how this busy nightlife space is created.

The group were joined by local Amazigh/Berber guide Saeed on day three, learning about water and land use in the outskirts of Marrakech from him. Students got a first-hand view of the irrigation techniques used in a rapidly-developing yet water-scarce country, and heard about the politics of who gets access to water, and why.

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Ecology and Conservation second-year fieldwork

Applied Ecology and Conservation Field Course module

As part of the second year Applied Ecology and Conservation Field Course module, we visited a range of local wildlife sites, such as the British Wildlife Centre, Waterhall, Knepp Estate, Rye Nature Reserve, Blue Reef Hastings and the Hastings Fisherman’s Protection Society. The module very well attended and the students continued to build a diverse skill set. Along the way there were some interesting talks on ecological processes as well as surveys and management experiences. Opportunities for further involvement in the form of volunteering or final year projects have also arisen and these offer excellent opportunities for employment. One of the highlights was the Knepp bird ringing day were we had the opportunity to get close to some amazing birds thanks to Penny, Josie and Dave.

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A frog in the grass

Froglife workshop and fieldwork

In November students went along to Froglife’s ‘Discovering dew ponds: Amphibian habitat management training workshops’. These sessions were run by the wonderful Jennifer Hooper and William Johanson. Split into two sessions, the first covered amphibian ID and a habitat management theory session. This included sessions on how to identify many of the amphibian species native to the UK, such as the smooth newt, and their eggs. The students were also tasked with coming up with ideas on how to make example landscapes more amphibian-friendly.

The second session was more hands-on! Despite the heavy rain, the group worked on a pond in Stanmer Park that had been struggling to hold water. This was likely due to damage to the liner underneath, so a lot of stomping was done to compact the sediment beneath the liner to prevent any water from leaking into the sediment below. These workshops were really helpful to those studying or going on to study our final year ecological consultancy Ecological Impact Assessment module, as it gives an insight into what conditions amphibians need and what their habitats might look like.

Northern Ireland coastline across the water

Winners of our Northern Ireland field trip photo contest

As international travel was restricted this year due to COVID, in April our second year Geography and Environment students travelled to Northern Ireland for a week-long field trip. The aim of these longer residential field trips is to let students practice the field skills they’ve been learning under real-world conditions, and to support them in developing and undertaking their own research projects. But we also know that students spend field trips taking lots of photos to share with friends, family and social media – so this year we decided run a photo contest too!

There were three categories for the contest, each with a prize of a £50 National Book Token. Here are this year’s winning photos, plus some background info from the students who took them: Continue reading “Winners of our Northern Ireland field trip photo contest”

Group of people about to get on a boat

Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority boat trip

MRes Ecology and Conservation student Sarah George, really enjoyed the day spent on the Sussex IFCA boat (Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority), as part of the Ecotoxicology module.

“The boat trip with the IFCA was a real education and I’m so grateful for this opportunity.  I have not previously experienced aquatic sampling and just being able to be part of the process and see how things were done was fantastic – even down to the clear sequential labelling of samples and being able to visualise how large a sample actually was (much smaller than I’d thought).

Simple things like rinsing the filter with clean water rather than seawater make so much more sense when you’re there as you can visualise how this would alter the sample you’d just collected.  Setting up and operating the sediment grab is something you can only really appreciate by doing it, the idea is simple but actually getting it to work needs hands on experience.   Again, being able to see how the sediment varied from site to site and even from one side of the boat to the other, told a really strong story.

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