The training was designed and delivered to the delegates by our Principal Ecologist, James Grundy. He has dedicated over fifty years to the study and protection of GCN and there’s (in his opinion!) nobody better placed or a course better designed to train and support young ecologists who are working towards becoming a Registered Person on the Natural England GCN survey or research Class Level 1 Licence (CLO8).
The training was carried out under the terms of Jim’s personal GCN Science, Education & Conservation licence (2021-55825-SCI-SCI) and comprised a mix of morning class-based activities at our Ecus Manchester Office, involving adult specimens of all three UK newt species, their eggs and larvae. The class-based activities were followed by afternoon and evening field work at the Stapeley Garden GCN Compensation Area and included an enjoyable and productive Torch Survey of nine ponds (that have historically returned peak counts of over 100 GCN).
The training course encompassed legislation, licensing, newt identification, their ecology/biology, GCN survey methods including the use of the Habitat Suitability Index (HSI), GCN environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling, egg/leaf fold search, hand netting, torching and bottle trapping. With delegates actively encouraged to demonstrate their understanding of and individual competence in the use of the survey methods. With Jim’s oft repeated phrases ‘count in and count out’ and a ‘lost trap is a death trap’ rapidly becoming the delegates’ memes of the day!
Demand for places on the course was high with ecologists from most of our Ecus offices throughout the UK attending. Delegates also attended from POS Landcare (a land/habitat management company), the Cheshire Wildlife Trust, and officers from the Cheshire Police Wildlife Crime Unit, who provided some useful insights and interesting discussion points from a different perspective.
Feedback on the course has been very good and we are currently looking at the possibility of offering the course to a wider audience. If you or your company would be interested in similar training, please get in touch.