PMNHS Field Meeting(s)

Porcupine field meetings – why would I want to go on one?

One of the characteristics of Porcupine is that many of its members are experienced field ecologists – typically marine biologists with ID expertise in one or more taxonomic groups who also have a large store of tips on methods and field lore.  Thus, they can show you useful bits of equipment, often adapted to do the job better, where to look for interesting species, techniques for getting good photos, protocols for improving consistency of recording, how to collect and preserve specimens of particular types, the pros and cons of particular identification guides, etc.

Porcupine field meetings are an opportunity to join these ecologists as they do what they do best, and our aim is to structure the meetings to make them a learning experience for everyone.  Known experts are encouraged to offer their skills and carry out informal master classes.  Everyone is encouraged to show and discuss tips that they have picked up.

A list of people attending, including a summary of their expertise and their ambitions for the day, will be prepared and disseminated a few days in advance.  The meeting will start at an agreed time and location, approx. 2 hours before low tide, where introductions will be made, a brief summary of the area will be explained and a rough plan of who is going where will be described.  Depending on the weather, people tend to drift away from the shore after 2 to 3 hours and make their way to the arranged field lab, where the meeting will continue and more master-classes and tips will be exchanged.  A compilation of species recorded from the site will be coordinated and a write-up of the meeting will be prepared for the Bulletin.  The species list will go to Julia Nunn (Porcupine’s Records Convenor) for entry into Marine Recorder and export to the NBN Atlas.

The next Field Meeting is:

PMNHS Summer Field Meeting 2022

 Lundy Island – Thursday 14th to Tuesday 19th July

Join us for an opportunity of a lifetime as for the first time ever we sail the seven seas (Celtic Sea) from the North Devon mainland to the first marine reserve established in the UK, Lundy Island! Not only is this a great chance to explore the island, intertidally and subtidally, but we will also be participating in the Lundy Marine Festival 2022 (see article by Robert Irving also in this Bulletin). The trip will start with a three-day BioBlitz of the rocky shores, helping to identify as many species as possible. We will be able to work alongside a team from the Natural History Museum’s Darwin Tree of Life project as well as other local coastal organisations, surveying and learning together. The spring tide rock-pooling and rummaging (low water times will be between 1-3 pm) will be followed by afternoons and evenings spent in the ‘pop-up’ field lab. and in the only pub on the island, the Marisco Tavern. During the second half of the trip there’s the opportunity to keep exploring the shores or the 3 mile long island, or go diving from the shore and two days of organised boat diving.

Read more about what the island has to offer here: https://www.visitdevon.co.uk/northdevon/explore/villages-and-towns/lundy-island

Accommodation

As it is the height of summer we will be staying in three accommodation options:

  • A dorm style accommodation called ‘The Barn’ – this is available for 10 people for the first two nights only. Priority will go to those that need to sleep in a bed. https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/search-and-book/properties/the-barn-4891
  • Camping in established field tents with campbeds – ~20 spaces available
  • Camping in your own tent – ~30 pitches available, but not exclusively to Porcupine

Food

For food there are two options:

  • The ‘Tavern’ pub which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner at reasonable prices
  • The well-stocked island shop for self-catering, drinks and snacks.

The Oldenburg ferry

The Oldenburg ship only sails on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays weekly. For those who can manage the whole six days, we will be travelling out to Lundy on Thursday 14th July and returning on Tuesday 19th. However, people are also welcome to leave or arrive on Saturday 16th, or even just for single day trips. The boat is scheduled to leave Ilfracombe on Thursday 14th at 10am and we will return to Ilfracombe on Tuesday 19th at around 6:30pm. (Bear in mind that you need to arrive well in advance of the sailing time in order to collect tickets, deposit luggage etc.). The Saturday boat departs and arrives back to Bideford which is a 30-minute coach ride to Ilfracombe (organised by the Lundy Company for a small charge).

More information on the Oldenburg can be found here: https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/lundyisland/timetable/

Due to the boats leaving in the morning and arriving back in the evening it is recommended that you book accommodation in Ilfracombe/ Bideford the night before and after sailing. This will not be arranged by the Society but suitable and affordable places to book can be recommended.

 Boat Diving

A hard boat is at our disposal for Monday 18th & Tuesday 19th July. The boat can take a max. of 12 divers. At least 8 divers/boat will have to be booked in 10 weeks before these dates, with fees fully paid. If 8 divers can’t be found, then we forfeit the whole booking. There’ll be no refunds (unless the trip is cancelled because of adverse weather conditions), so any withdrawals will have to find replacements.

It may be possible that divers can come out to the island on the dive boat and return on the dive boat, if they do not plan to stay on the island. It may also be possible for them to return to Ilfracombe on the Tuesday evening, instead of on the Oldenburg. If that does happen, there would be no refund for only a one-way trip on the Oldenburg.

e Diving

Weather permitting it should be possible to do some shore diving on Sunday 17th from Lundy. Divers will need to bring all their equipment (including filled tanks) and dive with a SMB. Free air refills will be available on the island after Sunday (mainly to facilitate boat diving on the Monday).

Field Lab

There will be a ‘pop-up’ field lab set up in a section of St Helen’s Church, where we will be able to process samples. This space will be available for the duration of our stay. Some microscopes and field guides will be available for us to use; however, if you wish to bring your own, then please do so. Special permission will be in place from Natural England to allow samples to be removed from the shore and from under water to be preserved for identification purposes.

Records

As usual we will be recording all species found during our shore and dive forays. These will all be recorded for the Marine Festival and the records made available to the society. There are a variety of ‘festival activities’ to take part in which can be found here: www.lundymarinefestival.org.uk. The site will be launched sometime during January.

 The options to you

The whole trip on the island is for five nights. However, you may wish to join in with either the whole trip or just part of it. Please refer to the image below where the five options are outlined. Please note that a bed inside a building can only be guaranteed for the first two nights; for the final three nights, everyone will be camping (unless they you choose to only dive, not stay on the island and return to Ilfracombe each evening).

Prices

To make this trip as attractive as possible for those interested, the Lundy Marine Festival has generously provided excellent rates and facilities, making a visit to Lundy affordable to everyone participating in the Festival. All payments will be made to the Lundy Company Ltd. via the Lundy Shore Office (01271 863636). These payments can be made from mid January onwards and no sooner.

The prices are as follows:

ProvisionCostPlaces available
Festival Fee (flat cost rate for anyone to attend the Festival)£10Unlimited
Return boat journey from the north Devon mainland (Ilfracombe or Bideford) to Lundy Island on the Oldenburg (approx. 50% reduction on normal fare)Day ticket*: ~£25 adults; ~£12.50 <16 y.o. Period return*: ~£42.50 adults; ~£22.50 <16 y.o.Boat capacity (~ 250)
Boat diving – 2 dives each day with free refills (available from the mainland or on the island)£60/ dayMaximum = 12 Minimum = 8
Shore diving: a charge will be made if transporting diving gear (including full cylinders) to/from the island aboard the Oldenburg£25 
Accommodation in ‘The Barn’ on Thursday 14th and Friday 15th only£10/ night10$
Camping in established tents (with camp beds provided free of charge)Free~20 spaces
Camping in own tentFree~30 pitches, first come first served.

* The exact price of Oldenburg fares has still to be agreed, but will be shown on the Festival’s website early next year. Higher period returns reflect the additional cost of dealing with luggage at each end of the boat journey.
$The NHM staff have been allocated an additional 4 places, so these 10 have been allocated to Porcupine

This trip is organised for Porcupine MNHS members only. If you’d like to join as a member (Full = £18. Students/ seniors/ unwaged = £10) then more information can be found here: https://pmnhs.co.uk/why-not-join-us

To book your place

Now here’s the important part: you need to confirm if you are attending the trip by emailing porcupine@pmnhs.co.uk – Cat Joniver and Jon Moore are organising this trip and Cat will pick up these emails and provide all the information you need. We are also happy to answer your questions and queries. If you do want to attend, then please provide the following details:

  1. Your name and anyone else in the group who will be attending with you
  2. Which option you would like to join for (It is also possible to do day trips on the Thursday and Saturday)
  3. Your marine biological interests as well as your skills and preferred survey methodology (if any) which will help us to facilitate recording and a skills share.

We will provide all the details you need to pay for your choices and the dates you need to do this by. It’ll be on a first-come, first-served basis, so don’t hesitate for too long. There are number restrictions on diving and staying in the barn and both need to be booked by the 30th April 2022 to secure the bookings.

Please note, any updates to information about the Lundy field meeting will be available on this webpage.