December has been a busy month for the Come Forth for Wildlife Project. I have visited quite a few of our habitat sites at various stages which has been helpful for my understanding of what the practical habitat work entails. I have been involved in initial site visits, planning, meeting and supervising contractors, assessing completed works, and helping with 1-year assessments of the ponds created last year. At Froglife we monitor all pond creations and restorations 1, 3, 5 and 10 years after the works are completed; this gives us the opportunity to assess how the ponds are doing, identify and fix any problems, and make any necessary improvements.
This month I have also been involved with some new events, including a mapestry session, several pond doctor events, and therapeutic gardening workshops. I have enjoyed all of these, but the therapeutic gardening workshops have been particularly rewarding. We ran four of these workshops with a group of young people at The Donaldson Trust, a charity which supports children and young people with neurodiversities. We taught the group about the wonderful amphibians and reptiles of Scotland, and supported them in doing some wildlife gardening to create wildlife friendly features in their grounds. By the end they created a range of features such as a pond, hibernacula and insect hotel. This was a lot of fun and the new habitats created will be a haven for local wildlife.
As a trainee I also get to develop and lead on two personal projects; one habitat project and one public engagement project. I have decided to take on our RSPB Loch Lomond habitat site as my personal project. It’s one of our bigger habitat sites and, alongside the RSPB, we plan to create a large wetland habitat suitable for amphibians, birds and other wildlife. I am excited to gain experiencing working on a collaborative project to deliver an important habitat for wildlife, and I look forward to carrying on this project in the new year!
Although I have had some great experiences, coronavirus has definitely made things difficult at times. The majority of my work has been done from home, a lot of events have been cancelled, some have moved online, and the ones that have gone ahead have generally been very restricted. For all of the events we have delivered in person we have implemented social distancing, regular hand sanitizing and use of PPE, and followed the guidelines to keep everyone safe.
December finished off on a high with the virtual Christmas party. It was great to relax and have fun with the team after a busy period, as well as meet some of the people in the wider team I haven’t been able to meet yet. I’m now looking forward to enjoying a nice break over Christmas, ready for what the new year will bring!