Getting there…

Recently, I saw a tweet by @Emma_Owl_Cole that linked me to an article by @OwainGabb on what you need to become a good consultant ecologist, or at least to look good to an employer as a graduate. (thanks both!)

“…a clear interest in his or her subject, some broad-brush field skills (or an emerging relevant technical specialism) and an ability to communicate well.  We are not looking for the finished article, but we are looking for someone who has an aptitude for problem solving, is likely to develop quickly (given training and mentoring), and will fit into our team.”

These things, I think, I have already and I suspect that I would hopefully fit into an ecological consultancy team. In the summer I’m going to get to some of the small mammal trapping sessions run by LaBMaG and obviously I’m trying to get as much bird ringing experience as possible! Should all add to my experience, plus all the voluntary I do with our Rural Skills Club.

Further on in the article it says that you need to stand out from your peers. At the moment I’m not sure how much I would stand out; I don’t really know anyone trying to get into the same line of work as me. I’m hoping that my ID skills would set me apart at least a bit. I’ve been told that there is currently a lack of graduates with field skills so that’s what I’m aiming to boost.

Speaking of identification skills, despite just getting 4 nice, new field guides (flowers, fungi, mosses, lichens), I’ve gone ahead and bought Collins “Spiders of Britain and Northern Europe”. After a comment made by @RyanClarkNature about the fact my Flickr page was lacking insects, I realised he was right. So I went and got that, although spiders aren’t insects, I know that, don’t worry.

More to learn…
A few spider pics from Flickr

I also bought a hand lens as I know I’ll need it for ID of some flowers, mosses, lichens, spiders… In fact it’s just a very useful thing to have! I managed to find one with 10x and 20x mag. on Amazon. I’m sure I’ll end up getting a microscope sooner or later.


Back to that article… The first specific thing that it mentioned and explained was the “Phase 1 survey“. As far as I have gathered, it is a way of surveying areas (usually big areas) to determine the habitats that are within that area and therefore the possible need for further surveying in order to determine whether the area is of importance to certain species, or many species. That’s a very rough definition of it, and probably slightly wrong. Some internet trawling ended in me fishing out this 82 page handbook on the Phase 1 survey, how to do it, what it’s for, etc. I read through about 30 pages then sort of skim read the rest. I’m tempted to carry out a mock mini-Phase 1 survey on perhaps my campus to see what it’s all about and how well I can do it at my current level of understanding, obviously using the handbook as a guide.

To be able to carry out the Phase 1 survey you need to have good botanical skills, which is great! Because I’ve obviously become quite enthralled in botany and everything (couldn’t you tell from my previous few posts?). So hopefully I’m on my way to being capable of Phase 1 surveys and stuff.

Other things the article mentions is Protected Species. Being able to carry out surveys for protected species would really help me stand out, so I’ll need to get experience on that front and perhaps get a European Protected Species survey license for something at some point from somewhere… somehow…

Chaffinches in winter sun

Ornithological Experience doesn’t appear to be so important since so many people have it, but it’s always useful, and I definitely have some ornithological experience! (can be seen if you look at posts made before getting my Flower Guide)

The article ends with this sentence:

To develop as an all-round consultant, the ability to communicate effectively in writing, as well as verbally, is equally critical.

Hopefully, although it is a very casual style of writing, my blog shows that I am capable of communicating effectively in writing. As for verbally, you’ll have to meet me to find out whether that’s true or not!


To finish off, something I don’t think I’ve mentioned before. I have my gran to thank for my passion for the outdoors and the natural world. But, it is possible that this runs in my blood as well. My gran’s dad was given this by the Linnean Society of London:


This isn’t the original as apparently that burned down in a fire. Sadface. Nevertheless, very nice to know that someone in my family managed to be recognised this highly for his work with plants. Perhaps that’s where I got this drive from…

Seaside Centaury – Centaurium littorale. Photographed in Findhorn 2014, Identified in my bedroom 2016.

P.S. Apologies if this post seems to just be me spraffing on and on about myself. That’s what it is, but it’s just a little marker in my career path where I’ve set my sights on what I want to do once I graduate, or perhaps even start doing before graduating. Who knows! Just have to wait and see where it all takes me. And I promise my next post won’t be so self-centred and maybe uninteresting to whoever reads it! I’m heading back up to the so-called “costa del Deen” tomorrow morning to start my second term at SRUC so it’ll probably be something to do with my Patchwork Challenge patch up there!


Getting there…

4 thoughts on “Getting there…

  1. lothianrecorder says:

    Quite interesting actually Gus; and though you say many have bird ID skills it is surprising how much duff information, or oversights, can appears in so-called EIA’s, LSW is one I have seen for a real case of a development in Lothian – that ID ultimately paid for by the tax payer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers for feedback Stephen. Trying to think what LSW might stand for… The page also says that there are “numerous regionally-based ornithological contractors with a high level of expertise and local knowledge.” Perhaps this is not the case here though. As I said, there’s a few organisations bemoaning the fact that a lot of graduates are lacking field/ID skills. Perhaps this is reflected by the fact that EIAs aren’t very reliable now! I’ll just have to keep working on my bird ID and hope that I can help in the future by not making those sorts of mistakes!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s