What are we up to this autumn?

As autumn hits us with a rather-wet bang, here is a summary of our current workbook. This month CGO Ecology is working for a range of clients in a variety of sectors: road, rail, minerals, forestry and golf to name a few. Diversity is the key to job satisfaction after all.

One of our major projects is reptile mitigation associated with roadworks on the A338 dual carrirageway, planned next year by our client, Dorset County Council. Last week we were out with digger and driver, excavating sand scrapes to enhance breeding opportunities for sand lizards along the road corridor. For the remainder of the autumn, our habitat management team will be tree-felling and scrub-cutting to prevent invasive pine, birch and gorse on heathland sites adjacent to the road.

Elsewhere in Dorset, we are carrying out a sand lizard translocation, under licence, for a quarry operator. Despite only obtaining the Natural England licence a few weeks ago, we have already nearly finished the capture. The autumn started off very warm, which helped.

Over the county border into Hampshire, we are very pleased to be working for the Forestry Commission, on a desk-based exercise in the New Forest. The status of adders in the open heathland and inclosures of the New Forest is little known, and the Commission wants to gain greater insights into adder distribution, and in particular the location of hibernation areas.

Over in Ireland we are currently completing a large research project into the status of a rare whorl snail species on a sand dune system. The site is operated as a commercial concern, and it is imperative for the operator to demonstrate the favourable condition of the snail.

Back in Dorset, our work advising Network Rail on reptile mitigation needed for cabling and bridge works continues. A high-voltage feeder cable is being installed as a back-up supply for the railway's power supply, and its route affects sand lizards and smooth snakes among other reptiles and wildlife.

As well as all these projects, we continue to be asked to perform Extended Phase 1 Ecology surveys for developments of all shapes and sizes. We also supply a lot of staff time voluntarily to charitable concerns. The field season for much of this is drawing to a close, but we are happy to be heading over to Madagascar in November, to join a meeting of minds discussing the future of amphibian conservation there.