TVERC Spring Recorders Day in Oxford

TVERC Spring Recorders Day in Oxford “Linear habitats and pollinators”

About 60 people attended TVERC’s spring recorders’ day on 27th February at Oxford University’s Natural History Museum. We had several excellent talks and workshops considering the variety of ways in which linear habitats contribute to our wildlife and the practical ways in which species, including pollinators, can be supported. The talks included great examples of how we scientists (whether amateur or professional) can harness the time and effort of other people to help monitor species. Craig Blackwell set the tone for the day, describing a project that complements farm stewardship schemes in and around Chipping Norton. In persuading a new medical centre in Chipping Norton to plant for bees, he showed how small-scale action can lead to positive results. Ecologist Judy Webb talked about a variety of linear habitats including hedges, ditches and road verges and explaining how management can make for an abundance of plants to satisfy the needs of different pollinators. We moved on from here to a project run by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, hearing from David Wembridge about harnessing the destructive nature of roads for science by getting the public to record roadkill whilst driving around the country. Allen Beechey introduced us to the Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative, using anglers to record river invertebrates and then from Sam Amy about research at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology into compare the effects of different hedgerow management options for wildlife.

During the second part of the day, attendees were invited to attend one of four workshops. Ellen Lee gave a brief introduction to otters and the groups then successfully found otter spraints alongside the River Cherwell. John Melling, Frances Buckel and Ivan Wright led a lively discussion about the future of recording for birds and other taxa. Judy Webb led a walk around the museum and University Parks, finding good examples of early spring plants for pollinators. Steven Loiselle and Hilary Phillips talked about WaterBlitz, a citizen science project to monitor water quality, and gave a short demonstration of the simple sampling technique.

The talks and workshops demonstrated how important data is for good decision-making, from the Environment Agency using riverfly monitoring data to trigger water pollution investigations to Natural England altering stewardship scheme options for hedgerow management. Camilla (the TVERC Director) highlighted how all the data provided to TVERC by volunteer recorders (70% of the data we receive) is made into high quality data products by TVERC staff. These data products are used on a daily basis by all the local authorities in Berkshire and Oxfordshire, BBOWT, RSPB and the Environment Agency to make sound decisions on how to manage land and waterways and the design and location of development.

TVERC runs conferences and training courses for recorders in Oxfordshire and Berkshire. To learn more, contact TVERC (tverc@oxfordshire.gov.uk; tel: 01865 815451).