As a small independent consultancy, CGO Ecology Ltd was focused primarily on amphibian and reptile consultancy in its early years; but now that our business is much larger, the breadth of our capability has grown. We have tended to subcontract out most of our bat work until now, using the services of other friendly local consultancies and freelancers. However, we do get offered a lot of bat survey work, and we decided it was time to acquire our own in-house expertise and technical capability.
Yesterday CGO Ecology's Chris Gleed-Owen and ARC's Nick Moulton were out on Studland Peninsula in Dorset, training reptile survey volunteers for the Cyril Diver Project. Despite a grim start to the weather, the sun came out, and we saw dozens of sand lizards, plus a smooth snake and lots of slow-worms.
Owing to our expanding order book, we have recently been recruiting new staff. An advert on the Countryside Jobs Service (CJS) website two weeks ago yielded well over a hundred CVs. We were pleased to have such a good response, and the standard of applications was generally high.
The spring is always a busy time for ecological consultancies, and CGO Ecology's calendar is pretty full this year. In fact, it never quietened down over the winter 2013-2014; we have remained busy throughout. Much of it was down to EPS licence applications and the protracted drama these seem to be causing most practitioners these days. Here's a synopsis of what we're up to in spring 2014:
Last Saturday I spent an enjoyable and highly-educational day learning about cetacean and seabird ID. The location: Dorset Wildlife Trust's Chesil Beach Centre, between Weymouth and Portland, with panoramic views of Portland, Portland Harbour, the Fleet, and of course, Chesil Beach. The trainer: Adrian from MARINElife, a UK charity dedicated to cetacean and seabird conservation through research and education.
Last weekend saw yet another excellent Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting, this time at Bristol Zoo Gardens. Thanks to ARC and ARGUK for organising it.
Yesterday a range of news sources reported that a Dorset badger cull is "looking increasingly likely", paraphrasing the words of Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill. The BBC, the Daily Telegraph, the Dorset Echo were among those reporting the story.
The following from Sergé Bogaerts:
A deadly skin-eating fungus is threatening Belgian Fire Salamander populations. Amphibians are already globally threatened by dramatic population declines, which are in part driven by infectious diseases. Despite the well-known occurrence of several infectious amphibian diseases in Belgium, hitherto they appear not to have significantly affected native amphibian assemblages. However, a novel deadly fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, was discovered in 2012 and almost wiped out the fire salamander in the Netherlands. This fungus now has been found in a dying fire salamander in Eupen, Belgium, by researchers at Ghent University.
Hottentot fig is an increasingly-common sight on British coastlines, and a rather attractive one. The problem is that it outcompetes native coastal vegetation, displacing rare species like the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis), and could even be adding to coastal erosion in some places.