Amy’s Blog 1- Amyable

Hello everyone,

I’m Amy and I am a new regular volunteer undertaking work experience over the summer months before returning to Aberystwyth University to complete my Countryside Management degree.

I have only been here a few days but I thought it would be nice to update you all on what I’ve been doing. After briefly meeting the team last Monday I was taken out to assist with the piezometer sampling. This strange looking piece of equipment measures the dissolved oxygen levels and temperature in gravel beds using pre-installed tubes submerged in the gravel. Sounds easy! Well when you can find the tubes it is, when you can’t find the tubes it’s a little harder. After a few minutes to ‘get your eye in’ and distinguish metal rods and tubes from rocks and sticks we began recording the data. Luckily Jayne is very experienced in finding the tubes and soon we had found all 15. The data collected has been added to past data to identify if sites are suitable for freshwater pearl mussels.

My afternoon was spent in the office, preparing for a school visit the following week. Tuesday, I was again out doing piezometer sampling this time with Matt. With both of us relatively new to the game of finding metal rods and test tubes a rough map was drawn up with the location of the tubes marked. For example, tube 7 by big rock or tube 3 under bank, it worked and again we found all the tubes! Back to the office again for the afternoon but this time preparing for an event the South Cumbria Rivers Trust is putting on at Crosthwaite. This event is a short discovery trail (ideal for families and people interested in all kinds of water life) and will lead to a demonstration area where activities and information surrounding the Winster and Gilpin project will be held.

As I write this I am now onto my second week and time flies when you’re having fun and yesterday it sure did! Myself, Kath, Mike, Matt and Les all spent time with the year 7’s from John Ruskin secondary school, after a very informative talk by Kath we headed down to Church beck and Yewdale beck where we spent most of the day kick sampling. Kick sampling is an amazing way to see what invertebrates live amongst the stones and gravel. Your feet disturb the stones and the flow from the stream washes the invertebrates downstream and into the net. Identification sheets were then used to identify the captured invertebrates. We returned the majority of the samples back to the becks with a small number of samples taken back to the classroom where the children used microscopes to look into more detail of what they had caught. Don’t worry we did return everything back at the end of the day to the correct beck!

Over the next month or two I will try and check in again with you all before I return to university to write the dreaded dissertation on the impacts of land use on sediment levels, hopefully the work I undertake here will help in some way to get my head around how I should sample the water courses around Aberystwyth. Hope you enjoyed a small insight into the work the SCRT undertake and if you’re interested in volunteering don’t hesitate to get in touch!