I started my new role as a Project Officer for SCRT just over two weeks ago and I have learnt a lot since. On my first day, I had a few introductory meetings to learn the basic protocols of the trust alongside my first look at my probation plan, which outlines my targets for the next three months. This day also gave me a nice opportunity to meet the rest of the team as everyone came in and for most, time is still spent between home and office working. I also set up my first social media account under the trust @HannahTSCRT on Twitter. I am hoping to start putting out some tweets soon!
The next couple of days involved lots of reading to get a good grasp of some of the regulations, farmer handouts and river features, such as the online Pinpoint training. This was supported by trips out to the Coniston and Poaka catchments to see some of the work the trust has already carried out as well as where future projects could take place. This was a really good way to see how some of the solutions put in place have an impact.
On the Thursday, I had my first go at electrofishing to survey fish in two of the becks around the Duddon. This was primarily focused on looking for trout and salmon, to identify the quantity and age range of fish from these species in different becks. This was done by visually identifying the species then measuring the fish to estimate their age. This was a really interesting day, although we didn’t manage to find that many fish, but we did catch a few eels.
Picture: Measuring eels and the catch from one of the becks!
At the end of the week, I had my first trip to Lambrigg to meet the contractors as they began working on a restoration project. Whilst here I was also taught how to identify some of the issues that can occur in a river with limited flow variation, as well as how to spot features in rivers and on floodplains.
During my second week I attended a few more meetings, both within the trust and with external bodies. This was a good way to see how the trust interacts with different parties and meet some of the people I may be working with in the future.
At the start of the week, I began to look at the reports for the United Utilities Raw Water project and begin creating a year one annual report. This was beneficial to provide me with a good background of the project in order to progress with further work on the project. Towards the end of the week, I also began doing some independent catchment checks around the Poaka catchment. This was followed by a summary report of what I had found. Following on from this we highlighted a good starting project for me, putting in fencing and a drinking point to decrease diffuse pollution. I am hoping to contact the landowner about this, to move this project forward over the next week.
I also learnt this week to use the water quality kit to identify the levels of copper in water samples. I will also be learning to use the machine to for nutrients in the water course in the next few weeks.
This week we also returned a few times to the project at Lambrigg Beck, to see how the work was progressing. This included my first solo trip to help with guidance for construction of a pond, which will act as a natural flood feature as well as create a nice wetland habitat. This was followed by writing a report to outline what had been decided and the work so far. Whilst visiting the site I also noticed signs of an otter and identified some possible locations to place some camera traps to see how active they are on the river.
Picture: (Left) Pond digging. (Right) A spot with otter spraint, a sure sign an otter has been through!
Alongside this, I also began reading the reports for the Winster and Gilpin project which I will also work on as part of my role. This included identifying projects for myself to begin working on. Wednesday, I had my first weekly catchup meeting to discuss my understanding of the Winster and Gilpin project, as well as my own progress so far. Following on from this meeting I was able to use what I had learnt earlier in the week about the Winster and Gilpin project, to investigate and contact some landowners about reviving some projects that had been scoped and agreed but had not gone forward.
I am excited to see where these go in the next few weeks!