The Count Down Has Started
I feel extremely privileged to have been accepted to undertake a placement with the Exmoor mires project in Devon. The nerves have started to kick in, the closer the placement is getting. I have had my accommodation booked for a couple of months now; it is a lovely old cottage in the middle of nowhere, which sounds perfect. On Sunday I will be starting my journey to Devon so the packing has commenced. At the moment I have only packed my wellie boots, walking boots, waterproofs and of course plenty of underwear, the essentials for this trip. According to the weather forecast there are meant to be a few sunny days, a few rainy days and the majority of the days cloudy. No tan for me then. However, I am not optimistic that I will escape 3 weeks in a peatbog in the middle of Devon with only a couple of days rain. The final items that are needed to be packed are the satnav (I have never been to Devon or driven that far on my own, so getting lost is quite likely) and a tick removing device (I am prepared for everything).
I picked up my equipment, which included a Russian corer to take soil samples. I was keen to have a little practice before I get to the sample site so decided to go to a local bog and thoroughly enjoyed it. Bring on the start of my placement.
The first few days of the placement are an introduction to the national park and vegetation training days; this is going to be an amazing experience and I am excited to learn in the field about different species of vegetation. This is not something I have done before so I am apprehensive but my excitement is counteracting the nerves.
My research comprises of multiple techniques to analyse the vegetation, water and soil quality for a couple of sites within Exmoor national park. I will be analysing water samples and the vegetation in the field. As well as preliminary analysis of the soil samples. I am most excited about extracting sediment cores by using a Russian corer. As well as the experience of working with the environment agency and south west water as well as other agencies to investigate the success of restoration for a site within the national park.
I will give another update once I’ve done my first week on my placement. There will also be updates on twitter, follow #rhulworkdiss.
My first week on the project.
My first week at the Exmoor mires project has come to an end and I’ve loved it. I had nothing to worry about as the people I am staying with are lovely and the staff at the mires project are so helpful and welcoming. The first day was extremely nerve racking but the nerves soon subsided when some of us went out into the field, including two interns who also had their first day. We explored a couple of the restored sites and learnt about the techniques used in the restoration. I also explored Dulverton, a beautiful village where the Exmoor mires office is, which has little quirky shops and lovely café’s.
For the next two days I was on vegetation identification training days, while it was extremely challenging, I learnt a lot. I have never had to look at different vegetation species and distinguish between herbs, grasses, rushes, sedges and mosses before. However by the end of the two days I was getting the hang of it and by the time I get home I will be a mire vegetation expert (well maybe not an expert but hopefully competent).
In the last two days I have started working on my research, it is such a daunting task doing independent research. With the minute amount of rain that has recently fallen the mires are unhelpfully dry and I am hoping for some rain, this is a first as I love the sun, but it is needed to make the soil soft enough for me to take cores and also find any pools of water to analyse. Due to the conditions I have had to alter my research plan but I am excited to continue with my research.
Each evening I have to do a tick check, as I am terrified that I am going to get a tick, so far I have not had one but before the end of this project is over I will have experienced removing a tick from myself.
So far this has been an amazing experience and I have learnt so much already and am going to continue to increase my knowledge over the next two weeks. I am planning to do some exploring of the south west coast this weekend and make the most of my time off.