Diary of a Field Assistant - Week 11
By Taylor Wildlife, Jul 11 2017 10:00AM
As the curtains close on another field season, the team is working especially hard to ensure that surveys can all get finished before the final deadlines, which is currently completing the fourth and final round of the upland Brown & Shepherd surveys this year. QGIS and hand-drawn maps are being closely inspected at the moment too. Sharp eyes are scanning digital data for small but critical errors such as the wrong 2-letter BTO code being entered, which could result in embarrassing claims! Common mistakes include surveyors entering their initials in the wrong field on QGIS, suggesting strange and unlikely species such as black-tailed godwit, long-tailed duck and even red-backed shrike. Commonly confused codes are mistle thrush (M.) and marsh tit (MT), swallow (SL) and sedge warbler (SW), and red kite (KT) and redshank (RK). Unlikely or unusual species can be checked against field sheets and queries can be raised with the originall surveyor. This prevents claims of odd species (for example, a ring-necked parakeet up a munro) from ending up in report data. The more mathematical minds cast their eye over the neatly copied up field sheets, checking that dates, routes and survey durations are all in keeping with the relevant methodology and that no squares need to be re-surveyed.
Having the opportunity to explore the Scottish Highlands this summer, striding across remote land which sees few visitors, has been very special indeed, although not without it's challenges! The Highland landscape is utterly imposing, with its vast cliff faces, sinuous crisp, crystal clear burns, and silent valleys, but this beauty is tough and shows no comfort when legs and minds become tired. Respect is a word which has played a significant rold in this position with Taylor Wildlife. Respect for the natural elements, respect for team-mates, and importantly, respect for your feet! This, along with a strong sense of self-belief and the occasional baked treat, have allowed the Field Assistant Team to triumphantly complete the 2017 survey season.