So, Tuesday morning I got up bright and early, jumped in the shower and made myself look quite respectable (I opted for practicality, comfort and a little bit of style if that's what you'd call it). I wasn't at all sure of the weather (come on, it's England, we can have all seasons in an hour) so boots and leather jacket it was. I wolfed down some breakfast (thank you lifesaver of a boyfriend), grabbed my Kindle for some light reading on the train (Little Women) shoved this and that into my bag and proceeded to train station with about 10-15 minutes to go. Note: This was during rush hour in York, i.e. very very busy indeed, particularly coming through one of the main roads into York... Still, I made it with about 5 minutes to spare (another big thank you to boyfriend who played taxis that morning) and flopped on the train for an hour and 5.
I met with Katherine at Middlesbrough station and we made our way to Redcar Rocks or Redcar 'Scars' as it is commonly known. We took a walk down the beach and set up just before the development of flood defence structures and just before the actual rocks.
|Redcar Scars - flood defence development to the right|
|Behind where we took the bird surveys from - vertical pier, coastal area regeneration.|
The scope was set up, binoculars were at hand and survey sheets were out - Katherine showed me how the methodology was actually done for the two hour survey (in summer, just one hour in winter was sufficient). It was important to do a bird count (species present and abundances of each) before the survey started. Species we were looking for included: cormorant, curlew, dunlin, knot, oystercatcher, purple sandpiper, redshank, ringed plover, sanderling, turnstone and then we could mark down other species. During the actual surveying of bird disturbances, we had to record the number of humans in and around the area, what they were doing (i.e. dog walking, angling, diving, bait digging, horse riding etc) and whether their activities disturbed any of the birds and to what extent. It was quite interesting anyway.
|Redcar Scars - beautiful beach.|
|Redcar Corus Steelworks and the South Gare (I think?) sand dunes, an ecosystem built on the slag (waste products) from the industry.|
Once we had finished having a look around this site, we quickly piled in the car and head towards one of the booked rooms where we could meet Mike (also from Natural England), do the formal introductions to him and the rest of the team and discuss which direction I could take my placement. I still need to have a proper think about this but I have plenty of time. I then sat through their meeting reviewing the methodology and assessing whether aspects of it needed changing (simplification, replicates, further investigations etc). We then discussed my project and what I need out of it regarding the MSc assignment (I said I didn't know, Rach just forgot to check the VLE didn't she? Silly thing!) and I sat through their discussion of Katherine's Code of Conduct (CoC) that she had formulated - it looked great! It was a voluntary CoC for all recreational users of the beach, highlighting the problems of their activity, recommendations for where they should do it (i.e. further up the beach, away from feeding birds etc) and other considerations. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it even if I did go a little quiet when it came to discussing improvements. Still, it was a great experience for me to sit through a typical EMS meeting like that.
I'm currently in the process of penning an e-mail to those I met on Tuesday thanking them for the day and giving them a little more information on what my project requires and although it states that this is not work experience I would definitely like to get some work experience alongside doing my project. I mean, hey, I might not get a chance like this again!