Setting out the bat detectors again for the next round of surveys means I was up early to collect, check and deploy them all. Early so that I can finish sooner but also to try to avoid the stifling heat of the mid-day sun. What with traffic, a small detour round a road closure and some battery problems (always always take spare batteries on field work!!) I missed the cool morning and was working through the heat of the day. Everything about planning and risk assessments had gone out of the window – my water supply was getting hot in the car (and quickly running out), the suncream was acting as a glue, keeping seeds and bugs and dirt trapped on my skin and I was far too hot to wear my full leg trousers out to the survey points. Striding through long grasses and undergrowth without anything to protect my skin I felt a million scratches, bites and stings tingling my skin. While one nettle sting is painful it seems that a whole leg full numbs the pain – not that I recommend this of course, but after the first few the rest didn’t really matter. Thistle thorns, grass seeds and other burrs work their way down into my boots and prickle my feet with every step. Meanwhile the sun shines on, unflinching, unrelenting. I am exhausted and I still have two sites to go.
My last farm is something of a problem child. The first crop failed this year – a disaster for the farmer, no small part played by the unusually cold winter we had this year. On top of the loss of income from the cropping, the farmer now needs to use labour and products to return the field to use. He opted to spray it with herbicide, which will add a new field treatment to my survey plan (best made plans and all that…).
As I returned to my car after setting the last detector, a small piece of eggshell caught my eye. I’m not exaggerating, this was tiny. Creamy, with specks of brown, the shell finish was almost glossy. It crumbled in my palm, so thin and so delicate. Without knowing anything about shell colours I guessed wren. After a sneaky google it still fits the bill. A nice little extra today. Now I’m off to cool down.