Botanical Training for Haymeadow Surveying

From February 2012, Stuart Hedley, botanist and trainer, ran a series of botanical training courses for the RSPB’s Twite Recovery Project volunteers to help get this valued workforce up to speed for the monitoring and surveying work to be carried out during the spring and summer on fields that have been re-seeded to help with food supplies for the Twite. Volunteers and project staff continued to check the re-seeded fields to make sure that the correct mixture of plants have germinated for our fussy little seed-eating finch. Some of the seeds being used, such as autumn hawkbit (a Twite favourite) can take up to two years to germinate so it is essential that fields are monitored to check the correct food will be available for the Twite during its breeding season in the South Pennines. 

The hay meadows don’t just deliver the critical food source for Twite, but many more species benefit too, such as the Bilberry Bumblebee and a whole suite of other native butterflies including the Small Heath, plus many more invertebrates. 

Volunteers and staff alike have found the training interesting and motivating. One volunteer gave his insight into the session: ‘After packing in my job as Company Director of a Halifax-based Web Design Company at the end of January to forge a new career path in conservation, I was looking to expand my knowledge and skills by volunteering for a variety of projects. One of them was to be a field surveyor for the Twite Project. I confessed immediately to having very little knowledge on a birding front, plant spotting front and general surveying front. So I was a little nervous and excited about the Twite training. I needn't have been - the existing volunteers, the Twite Team and Stuart (the botanist) were brilliant; it really didn't matter that I had no experience.   

By the end of the survey session I think I picked up more knowledge than I ever dreamed of. It was absolutely fascinating and I can't wait to get the surveys going over the summer and I’ll try and keep my eye in until then.’ 

To find out more about our feather friend and this project: Twite Recovery Project