Alone on the Marshes – A day in the life of an environmental consultant – March 2020

land check studd feb 2020

Enjoying the solitude while surveying on the marshes.

At the beginning of March few of us could foresee how rapidly life would change for us all.

Indeed for much of the month my work carried on as normal. Visiting sites, talking about land management and anticipating a great spring of wader surveys with the land looking wetter than ever.

At times this month I have thanked my lucky stars at having a job where social isolation is the norm. In fact I have often felt that in order to do much of my job you have to be someone very good at dealing with your own company as I spend long days on my own on the marshes with only the sheep to talk to.

As the month progressed and the impact of the virus on everyone’s life became apparent I still felt that, in my working world at least, I was immune. Right up until the lock down I was spending days wandering fields with skylarks singing overhead and the waves crashing on the shore of the Thames.

Out there, in the fields, life felt normal and panic buying and worries over the health of loved ones seemed many miles away. I have been extremely grateful for every moment out on site this month.

checking for water voles at keith studdI have also been very grateful to keep working. Throughout March I have been working with Natural England on a fabulous project undertaking assessments on designated sites across North Kent. Most of the sites have RAMSAR, SPA and SSSI status and my role was to visit sites and update the assessment.

This involved looking at the general condition of the land for wintering and breeding wildfowl and waders, undertaking a search for water vole signs and testing water quality for nitrates and phosphates.

Most of the sites were well known to me through my work on the North Kent Marshes Breeding Wader project but I also had the opportunity to visit one or two totally new sites which was a real treat and gave me an insight into how many areas would be suitable for breeding waders given the right advice and management.

Luckily all the site visits were completed before the lockdown and the last two weeks have been spent indoors busily typing up the results.
snipe on cooling marshNormally being stuck indoors on a laptop as spring progresses outside would drive me mad but, with travel restricted, even this has given me the opportunity to walk the marshes, if only in my mind. At times the sad news of rising death tolls has been forgotten as in my head I spotted snipe in the rushes or warily eyed the cattle in the next field.

With the opportunity for undertaking my normal survey work currently looking remote I will remember those moments this spring and look forward to a time when I can get back out into the fields again

5 thoughts on “Alone on the Marshes – A day in the life of an environmental consultant – March 2020

  1. Carol, it must be so frustrating having to curtail your survey work at such a crucial time. At least you have an early survey to give some idea of site occupancy. I hope you have the opportunity to get out again to your sites, if not this year then to continue next.
    Up here near Edinburgh I was really looking forwards to visiting special sites where there may be black grouse, nightjars, and many other special birds this Spring, but now curtailed. I did manage to see goshawks and singing crossbills before the lock down and also a wonderful landscape scale re-wilding project called Carrifran.
    Thoughts with all the essential workers and those with the virus and their friends and relatives at this unique and awful time.

  2. Hi Barry, singing crossbills and goshawks sounds amazing. When this is all over I would love to come up to Scotland and see you both and hunt for black grouse. My dad has been in hospital all this week. They suspected Coronavirus, He doesn’t have it, yet but is on a ward with people that do. I have taken some comfort in visiting the beautiful bluebell woods above Queendown Warren and talking to Trevor, who has a good heart.

    • Sorry to hear about your dad, I assume he is in Queens Hospital. What is he doing in a ward with virus patients? They should be segregated.

      • Yes, Queens. They thought he might have had it so they put him on the coronavirus ward but when they tested him he was negative. Now they say it’s hospital policy not to move him.

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