TCV’s Opal Community Scientist, Amy Styles, has been out in the last few weeks visiting our volunteer conservation groups and chatting to them about being citizen science volunteers by recording wildlife whilst they are out doing practical conservation work. Here’s what she found…
It was lovely to meet so many keen, willing and very nice people whilst out with the groups and it was also great to see that a lot of them were really keen to learn more about the wildlife they were close to whilst working outdoors.
I packed my bag with glossy wildlife ID guides to entice, citizen science activities and OPAL surveys to inspire, questionnaires to gain information and ideas, and my lunch because it was going to be a nice wee day out.
My first destination was Hogganfield Park where the group were carrying out some wildflower planting and removing some jaggy weeds. I got chatting to a couple of the volunteers and found out the biological recording they had done before; some of the group had recorded frogspawn and butterflies in previous years and they seemed keen to learn about other projects they could get involved with. I took little groups away to look at some lichens (so they could get a break from pulling up thistles). They were very enthusiastic but I don’t know if that was just because they were getting away from jaggy plants!
My second trip was out to meet Carmyle Green Gym where we were planting bulbs, removing rubbish, tidying up bushes, making tree cookies and building bird boxes (definitely something for everyone). This group were carrying out biological recording and didn’t even know it. They take photos of things they find and send them on to Julie who records them after sessions. They find all sorts of interesting things whilst out and about and Julie encourages the volunteers to take photos and share their findings with the group.
My third excursion was out to Candermoss where we were cutting back birch trees that were encroaching onto the bog. I chatted to some of the volunteers and discovered that a few of them had an ecology background and some were very knowledgeable about certain species e.g birds. We stopped for lunch and chatted about possible citizen science and recording activities they could get involved with. The feedback I got was very positive with a few of them suggesting that they would like further training opportunities.
It was really nice to get such positive responses from the volunteers and it was nice to see that I hadn’t put too many off wildlife recording (sorry I got carried away with the lichens)!
I have rustled up some winter survey idea packs consisting of the OPAL tree health survey, Soil survey and Air quality survey. These should be getting shipped out to the groups I have already visited shortly.