Sunshine in Scotland

Sun!  It may be getting late in the year, but at last we’ve had a few days of welcome sunshine in Cairngorms, Scotland!  This is something that has definitely been missed by all who work here for the past couple of years (or so it feels). To go with this joyful upturn in our weather we have also had a new student (Stephen) join the team this week. Stephen has joined us from Leeds University and will be with us right through until summer 2013.  He will hopefully leave us with many new skills and experiences that will help him at the beginning of his research career.

Although the intensive summer fieldwork is now largely behind us for another year, we have lots of samples and data that need processing over the months ahead.  It is time to swap the boots and waterproofs for laboratory coats and a warm office.  Over the next few weeks will be processing our collected invertebrate samples, typing up a summers worth of field recording sheets, and analysing our photographic and acoustic/ultra-sonic recordings.  Luckily there is still some routine field work to be done, so we still get to stretch our legs in the Cairngorm Mountains occasionally; and perhaps even enjoy a little more of this rare sunshine whilst it’s with us!

For Stephens first day on the project we did exactly that, and had the pleasure of a trip to the Cairngorms where we were fortunate to see some of the rarer and iconic birds of the National Park (Golden Eagle, Capercaillie, Black Grouse & Crested Tit).  Although such viewings gladden the day, there was work and learning to be done as Stephen was introduced to the research site and the monitoring protocols he will be working with for the next 12 months.

If Stephens first day was a relaxing jolly to the hills, then his second was a lesson in the most important skill a researcher can possess; perseverance during repetitive tasks!  To help our students learn about job responsibility we provide them with a task for which they will take responsibility throughout the year they are with us.  In Stephen’s case this will be the analysis of sonograms recorded by our ultra-sonic recorder to determine the species and behaviour of bats and birds.  Rather more dauntingly for Stephen however is that we currently have a backlog of nearly 7000 recordings from the summer of 2012 to be identified!  Initially this is something we can work on together as a team; at least until he is up and running that is!

Best wishes,

Christopher Andrews,

Center for Ecology and Hydrology/ECN site, Cairngorms


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