Friday, 16 December 2011

Winter Snow! (sort of...)

Today definitely seemed like a proper wintery day with 'almost' snow falling (very slushy rain...)! I was working with Maddie today (the girl who was on the same placement as me last year) and we started out over on Verralls with the weekly checks on the koniks there. Apart from all looking a bit fed up with the weather, everyone was fine. The ponies' coats always look so different when they're wet, it's makes it harder to ID them because they almost change colour! When we were on verralls, we also fixed a bit of fencing that was broken whilst we were trying to get a horse (George) out of the ditch the other week.

After verralls, we headed over to Bakers/Guinea to do the weekly checks on the cows and the breeding herd of koniks. Everything was fine with everyone, which is always good news! We also saw a barn owl and a short-eared owl over on guinea, which was great to see. By then, a brew and lunch was definitely needed so we headed back to the office and finished off the afternoon typing up some data for Carol's phD. She's been collecting data now for about a year, and with data being collected most weeks, there's a lot to type up... It'll be really interesting to read though when it's all finished and written up, and it'll be useful for the running of the grazing system here and in other places.

That's all from today, have a good evening and thanks for reading!

Monday, 12 December 2011

The Vision

Hope you all had good weekends!
I was taken around the Vision Project land this morning by Martin, one of the managers here at the fen who helped set up the project. If you want to know more about the Vision, it's well worth taking a look at and thinking about it - I didn't know much at all about it when I started here, and think it's such a great project to be involved in! Here's a link if you're interested at all
All of the money put into the project is spent on purchasing and reviving the land to how nature 'intends' for it. The ancient fen is so isolated that it needs land around it to buffer the effects of agriculture and drainage systems in the surrounding land. So the National Trust are aiming to expand to a larger scale reserve and in the process, keep the species already present and also to make it available for people to enjoy too! Ok, I'll stop going on about it now, but there's loads more to it than just that...
This afternoon I went out to do the weekly checks on all the animals. Everyone seems to have calmed down a bit now, and it should (hopefully) stay like that until springtime, when everything will kick off again! There are only a few minor problems with any animals at the moment - one of the cows (Snowdrop) is slightly lame and has been for quite a while now, though it is improving! Also one of the dominant stallions in the breeding herd of koniks has had a badly weeping/swollen eye for a few weeks, though again this is gradually improving. Keeping the herds 'semi-wild' means that for some situations such as these, vets aren't always called in unless they get worse. However, the animals are definitely cared for here!! They are also all looking rather fluffy at the moment - I'll try and get some pictures later in the week to post up - with their winter coats!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Another windy day!

After a long weekend off, I came back to work today and started the oh so glamorous job of poo collection on the koniks on Verralls. This is done every 2 or 3 months so that we can then analyse the poo for worms and assess the approximate level of them in each sample. As we don't worm any of our grazing animals, this is an important thing to keep up as it is the only way for us to see whether worm counts are worryingly high for any individuals. Generally they can cope with quite high levels, and over the year the levels change - in the summer, worm counts are higher than the winter, and so this flux is expected as seasons change.

Spending all the morning out on Verralls waiting for the koniks to poo eventually was finished and I headed back to the office for a well needed brew! In the afternoon, the weekly checks on the rest of the animals needed to be completed. Quite a few of the animals were a bit flighty today due to the strong winds. Over on Harrisons I think Isle (one of the females) is coming into season or has very recently been in season, as lots of the bulls were following her around and the dominant bull (Edmund) was guarding her. When the females are in season, there is definitely more activity going on in the herd and the males frequently are grumbling/braying. It's not a good idea to get too close to them when they're doing this!

After a couple of weeks of carrying out some observations of the group of cattle on Harrisons, I've decided to do my mini research project on the bulls aggressive behaviour. I'm not sure how much I will observe over the coming months, but hopefully enough to do some kind of analysis on and produce something that will be useful! Before christmas, I am going to finalise the details of it and potentially start some data collection. That reminds me, all the visitor centre decorations have been put up today (and over the next couple of days) so it's well worth a visit to come and see them! Also, on Saturday is the 'late night shopping' evening at the fen, a good chance to see all the festiveness around here!

Hope you have a good evening and thanks for reading!