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Erin Taylor

Erin, aged 22, is currently a Masters student at the University of Bristol. Here she tells how her experiences at Wildlife Watch influenced her. 

Where it began

 

I joined Wildlife Watch in 2002 on a trip to the Forest of Dean to look for deer. Unsurprisingly we didn’t see a great deal, but making casts of slots and seeing nibbled branches was enough to get me hooked! I’d always been very keen on wildlife: I was fortunate enough to be raised by a bird ringer, so hands on nature was a passion from a young age. It was brilliant to be around other people my own age who also wanted to spend their weekends pond dipping, moth trapping and listening for bats.

 

There have been two truly memorable sessions that have always stuck with me. Firstly, moth trapping in Tiz’ garden which was incredible! We caught loads of moths and it introduced me to some common species such as ermines and setaceous Hebrew characters. From then on I put a trap out in my garden every night possible in the summer (and still do). The second session was looking for spiders with the Gloucestershire county recorder David Haigh. This may seem like an unlikely choice for an arachnophobe like me, but it was just brilliant to be around someone who knew so much! He really was inspiring and helped teach me about Latin binomials (a fancy way of saying animals' Latin names) which has come in very useful since.

 

Choosing a future

 

 

I’d always known that I wanted to study zoology so when it came to picking universities, the course choice was simple. I decided to study at the University of Bristol and I loved it so much I've stayed on for an extra year to do a Masters! This is where Watch has come in so useful. Not only did I use my rock pooling skills during a second year field trip, but my whole Masters is based on Longworth trapping small mammals. It’s these types of skill that I learnt at Watch, along with a dedicated passion for field biology.

 

Experiencing Skokholm Island

This incredible start to my wildlife career, combined with my lifelong love of birds, led me to my summer work on Skokholm Island. For three and a half months I was lucky enough to live in a lighthouse and study birds. I was brought onto the island as the Storm Petrel researcher and as such I spent my days clambering around rocks listening out for these tiny, enchanting sea birds. Night times were spent catching and ringing ‘Stormies’ by playing a tape next to the mist net, or heading into the quarry to see them coming back to their burrows at night to feed their lone chick. I was also involved with all the other birds on the island including Manx Shearwaters, Great black-backed gulls, Puffins and many more. It was an incredible experience and something I hope to continue with in the future.


All of this from the confidence I got from learning to identify and explore nature at a young age with the Wildlife Watch group in Newent.


Erin Taylor


Read more stories from our ex-Watch members here!