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Work Experience with Gwent Wildlife Trust.

Posted: Tuesday 10th July 2018 by Sarah Harris

Lloyd trying his hand at pond dipping at GWT's Magor Marsh reserveLloyd trying his hand at pond dipping at GWT's Magor Marsh reserve

Lloyd Vaughan from Rougemont School spent a week with the team at Gwent Wildlife Trust on work experience. Here's his blog on the adventures he had during the week.

My week began with a warm welcome from the Gwent Wildlife Trust team as I was introduced to the staff working at the GWT HQ.

For me, I had no objections to working in an office, as for the first time I was experiencing what it was like to be in a real work environment. Soon I was tasked with my first job of the day and I happily began working away on the events calendars for the upcoming year. Like a fish swimming though syrup, my progress was slow but definitely there, and before I knew it I had completed the task. It gave me a real sense of achievement and I was already glad that I had decided to choose GWT for my work experience. I learned a great deal of skills working with the team at Seddon House.

Day two on the job was certainly different to the previous day as I was sent to Magor Marsh where I helped to educate a keen group of children about the variety of wildlife that call Magor Marsh their home. Upon arriving, I couldn’t believe it when I saw a stoat just under the footbridge I was stood on and signs that water voles had recently been in the area! The day began with some pond-dipping. This involved moving a net through the water and cataloging the species we found in the nets. One species that particularly stood out for me was a smooth newt that we found quite early on in the day. The time flew by and we soon returned to the classroom at the Derek Upton Centre for lunch where we took a break from the sweltering heat to do some wildlife themed arts and crafts. After the kids put my artwork to shame, it was soon time to return to the outdoors where we now ventured off in search of grass snakes. I don’t know who was enjoying themselves more, me or the kids! Although we never found a grass snake, we were able to confirm that a grass snake had made its nest underneath one of the refuges we had put down for them.

On Wednesday and day three I was fortunate enough to spend the day surveying species up in The British. The British is a stunning post-industrial wildlife reserve with a huge variety of species, many of which I had the pleasure of seeing throughout the day. An example of one species which I found particularly fascinating is the palmate newts we found. I rarely see newts and have almost never observed this species before so for me it was fantastic to see them in a location where we now know they are breeding. Along with these newts, we saw yet another amphibian, as a tiny common frog just so happened to cross the path in front of us. But what really made the day special for me was the multiple sightings of the grayling butterflies which are currently in decline, and so were a real relief to see in such numbers. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any adders, however now I have visited the site, I will definitely be back again soon on the lookout!

Thursday brought with it the all staff meeting. Learning more about the company how the organisation works was very interesting. I was once again finding out what it was like to be inside of a real work environment, which is part of why I signed up to do work experience. The meeting soon finished and due to the favourable weather conditions, I was lucky enough to join the team on a picnic for the afternoon. It was a real treat to sit down and eat with everyone and share a few laughs as Andy decided it would be a good idea to perform an amazing table cloth trick before leaving. Unsurprisingly this resulted in more mess, and a slightly disappointed Andy. With everything tidied away, it was time for me to return to the office once more, where I said my goodbyes to members of the team I would no longer be seeing. As I left the office for the final time, I went for a last walk around the lake where I spotted some fantastic cygnets, which was a great end to a great day.

Finally came Friday. My week working with GWT was unfortunately almost over and to complete my experience I met table cloth magician Andy in perhaps the wildest location of the week yet, a pub car park! Joined by Lowri, we began our trip to a local grassland where we surveyed numerous plant species and where I witnessed a large dragonfly laying its eggs. Following our survey, we headed to Henllys Bog nature reserve, and I eagerly set off in search of the rare sundew carnivorous plant which we knew was located somewhere in the reserve. Looking for this plant was like looking for a needle in a hay stack, except in this case it was a single plant in one hectare of an overgrown nature reserve. In spite of this, we soon found the plant and after learning about its method of catching prey, we took some much-needed time in the shade before returning to our work. We recorded the numerous species of orchid and called it a day and with this, my time with Gwent Wildlife Trust had come to an end.

I would like to thank GWT for giving me the amazing opportunity to join them for a week and for being so welcoming. There was not a moment on the job where I wasn’t learning something new or enjoying time spent with wildlife. Believe me, when my friends told me how boring their work experience was, I took great pleasure in telling them about the week I spent with GWT.

Lloyd Vaughan.


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