Top tips for improving your ID skills during lockdown

In our recent blog we talked about the value of undertaking a bit of reseach to enhance your understanding of the nature conservation sector and who the key players are, what they do and how they work.

It sounds obvious perhaps, but do remember that the ability to search and research via the internet is a truly amazing capability. Search engines are a brilliant resource that can be applied across all our activities. Books, videos and more available for us to explore to help our understanding of almost any subject area….. wow!

This time we’d like to share some practical ‘outdoor’ activities you might like to consider to help you strengthen and enhance your skills for nature conservation.

How about making a footprint tunnel for your garden (we used a search engine to ask this questions and a number of great videos came up). You may need to improvise with some of the materials – but remember that just doing that is wonderful material for an appropriate interview question answer. When you improvise you are being resourceful. That’s a great skill.

If you don’t have access to a garden, how about trying to capture some mammal hair (for identification) from places around your locality using sticky tape. You might need to fold it back on itself to make it double sided if you can’t get hold of any double sided tape itself. If you look along the bottom of fence lines and at the bottom of gates you may see places where animals are pushing through/under. Look for slight discolourations of the wood/metal of the fence/gate (usually its brown mud that’s rubbed off the upper or under side of a passing animal). A bit of sticky tape attached so that the sticky side will pick up some hair from a passing animal probably won’t be removed by anyone for 24/48hours, which is all you need to see if something is passing by. Then its back to your friendly search engine (or a book) to discover how to identify it – cat, dog, fox, badger… who knows what you might discover.

How about looking in detail at one plant (each week) – this is a wonderful way to build your observational skills and your plant i.d. (a skill in relatively short supply these days = big tick for Countryside Ranger jobs). Plants are beautifully constructed manifestations of nature and a great way to remember them is through drawing them. We just hear your intake of breath!! The quality of your drawing is not relevant here – and who’s going to see it anyhow during lockdown – so now is your chance to practice with a bit of drawing in order to help you remember that plant and appreciate its beauty. Go on, give it a try.

We would be delighted if you would share your results with us.