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Plants, Birds and Beasts: Ecological Surveying with Birdwatching and WildSoc

This task was little bit different to usual - a new site, a collaboration with other awesome nature-related societies at Sheffield, and a whole new job for SUCVers…

Firstly, a little bit of background. Over the summer SUCV were contacted by Grith Pioneers - a voluntary organisation that looks after 42ha of woodland near Derby. This area was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the 80s because - and here’s the cool bit - of a survey conducted by SUCV. In the survey they found several rare species of aquatic invertebrate (namely freshwater mussels), bryohpytes (mosses, fungi and lichen) and undisturbed areas of woodland.

However, since then, no further surveying of the site has been carried out, so Grith Pioneers asked us to come in and find out what was still present.

Lacking experience of ecological surveying, we enlisted the help of Sheffield Birdwatching Society and Nature and Wildlife Society (formerly Natural History Society), and on the 8th October set out to investigate.

Safe to say we had an awesome day. SUCV members got the chance to carry out aquatic invertebrate water monitoring (a first for SUCV). This is where water invertebrates are collected and assessed to indicate water quality. Some of us even had a try at NVC botanical surveying (along with the help of WildSoc, APS students and some identification books).

A full report on the survey findings has been created for Grith Pioneers to help with the ongoing management of the woodland, such as invasive species removal (the kind of thing that SUCVers usually do). Unfortunately no rare mussels were found this time - however some pretty unusual fungus was still knocking about (see pics).

We are hoping to return to the site to conduct a follow up survey in the Spring, and have added Grith Pioneers as a regular contact so that we can help them carry out woodland management in the future.


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