My Sydenham Hill Experience by Alex Nicol

I have been volunteering with the London Wildlife Trust, Sydenham Hill Wood Reserve for a six month period of time (October-March) in order to complete a  work placement as part of my course requirement at Hadlow College, in partnership with the University of Greenwich. Part of my placement was intended for work and skills development in order to gain a wider knowledge, implement lecture knowledge into a practical situation and gain some management skills, the other part was to be a personal project: designed, implemented and concluded by me. I have been requested to write a blog of my time with the Trust, thus I have decided to write this short piece.

I will start with a necessary introduction. My name is Alex Nicol and I am 21 years old. I have been considering a career in conservation for some time now which has led to my degree study and a number of placements including this one.  I  found my time at Sydenham Hill Wood very enjoyable, there was freedom and sociability and a good and diverse group of people which added to the experience.

Practical work I conducted during volunteer workdays included path edging, Step cutting, practical habitat management, assisting with a public event (Halloween), wildlife surveying and monitoring. There was also work on other sites: Chapel Bank and Hutchinson’s Bank, as well as off site excursions to One Tree Hill to assist with some habitat management work and a day excursion to the Cliffe Pools RSPB centre to bird watch. Some days were also spent assisting the Dulwich Society Wildlife Committee plant a hedge. There was a variety to this placement I had not experienced in other jobs, volunteering groups or other work placements which was enjoyable.

My survey, as some of you will be aware, was woodpecker surveying and monitoring. The aim of this was to survey the two species of woodpecker in Sydenham hill wood to analyse short term and long term increases or decimation of population size and the amount of activity recorded, which were evaluated for statistical significance which would allow an estimation of a minimum population number. This was not possible from the P values gained from my data however, yet a find of no significance is still a result.

Now that I have finished my placement, I have decided to stay on with the London Wildlife Trust to further improve my  skills, gain some others e.g. brush cutter and first aid certificate. I am thinking of a dissertation for my third year and could well still be at Sydenham Hill Wood when the time comes to conduct my dissertation and beyond.


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