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. 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

Porcupine’s participation in the Lundy Marine Festival (www.lundymarinefestival.org.uk) is firming up and we now need members to book their places on the field trip. We have had a few bookings already, but we are hoping for more. The following provides updated information on Porcupine’s participation and revised prices and procedures for booking.

The Festival itself will run for 2 months, but Porcupine’s main involvement is the Bioblitz, July 14th to 19th, which we are running in similar format to our normal field trips, including both intertidal and subtidal (diving) recording. Some accommodation on Lundy and dive boats have been reserved for us, but the reserved spaces are limited and only reserved for a limited period, so interested Porcupines should plan to book soon to ensure getting places.

Booking & payment procedures. These are slightly complicated by the accommodation options, so please read carefully and do in this order:

  1. Accommodation – see options below, then email Jon Moore (jon@ticara.co.uk) and copy to porcupine@pmnhs.co.uk to book the reserved places. We will then reply to confirm that you have those places or to offer you the next best option if the places you have asked for are no longer available. Some members have already booked reserved places and it will be first come first served for the remaining. When they have gone then members will still be able to book spaces in the camp site (with the Lundy Shore Office). We will tell you how to make payment for the reserved places once they are booked.
  2. Boat transits on the Oldenburg – see info below and on the Festival website, then call the Lundy Shore Office (01271 863636) to book and pay.
  3. Dive boats – see info below and on the Festival website, then book and pay with the Lundy Shore Office. This can be done at the same time as 2).
  4. Email a summary of what you have booked to Jon Moore (jon@ticara.co.uk) and copy to porcupine@pmnhs.co.uk.

Boat transits on Oldenburg (adult return) – £35 day trip, £85 period stay (to cover the baggage handling). Rates for children (<16) also available.  Possibility that there might be an extra charge for carrying diving equipment, but Robert is hoping that will be waived. Booking and payments through the Lundy shore office. Boat times are given in the table below and you can mix and match outward & return journeys to suit your own itinerary. Transfers between Bideford and Barnstaple are available if you leave from one and return to the other. Transit time is approx. 2 hours each way.

Accommodation:

  • The Barn (hostel) – only available for the Thurs & Fri nights – 2 rooms, total of 14 beds, but 5 already allocated, so 9 reserved for Porcupine @ £10/person. [https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/search-and-book/properties/the-barn-4891/#Overview]. Book & pay through Porcupine.
  • Festival tents – 6 x two-person tents, each with 2 camp beds – free (for Festival participants).  Total of 12 beds but 3 already taken, so 9 beds reserved for Porcupine, for a limited period. Facilities: toilets and showers. As they are two-person tents then we will need to match any single people with another single, appropriately. Book through Porcupine, but also tell the Lundy Shore Office when you book the Oldenburg.
  • Camping in own tents – ~30 pitches available. Reserved and free (for Festival participants) for the first two nights of the Bioblitz (Thurs & Fri), but then £15/person/night for the last three nights (Sat, Sun, Mon). Not reserved for Porcupine. Facilities: toilets and showers. https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/search-and-book/properties/camping-5274/#Overview. Book & pay through Lundy Shore Office.
  • Examples – 2 nights in Barn (£10), then 3 nights in festival tent (free) = £10
    5 nights in festival tent (3 nights free, 2 nights @ £15) = £0
    If Barn and festival tents already booked – 5 nights camping in own tent (2 nights free, 3 nights @ £15) = £45

Food: 2 options (3 if you bring some with you) – meals in the Marisco Tavern (breakfast, lunch & dinner are available) or buying food from the shop. The Barn has a kitchen, for people staying there on the Thurs & Fri nights.

Intertidal Bioblitz:  The trip will start with a three-day BioBlitz of the rocky shores, helping to identify as many species as possible. We will be working alongside a team from the Darwin Tree of Life project (Natural History Museum and Marine Biological Association), surveying and learning together. Several shore sites will be targeted. While the focus is on those 3 days, participants are welcome to continue their recording on other days and continue to use the field lab (see below). Low tide times are given in the table below.  More information will be sent to people who have booked.

Boat diving:  Dive boat Obsession II has been reserved for Porcupine for two days (Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th). It has 11 spaces each day for Porcupine divers, plus 1 for Keith Hiscock who will be our guide. Cost is £82/diver/day, for 2 dives.  Porcupine divers can board in Ilfracombe, if coming just for the day), or from the landing jetty on Lundy (there is no difference in price). Transit time from Ilfracombe is approx. 1 hour 40 mins.  Robert is developing several possible marine biological projects that we can contribute to. Timings will depend on tides, weather and projects. More information will be sent to divers who have booked.

Shore diving – not many accessible sites and the more interesting ones would require some organising and good conditions but is possible on any day.  Quite likely that a shore dive will be organised on Sunday 17th for those who are keen and have their equipment on the island. Cylinder filling is available on the island and free to Festival participants.

Field laboratory – will be 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 basic field guides will be available for us to use; however, if you wish to bring your own, then please do so. [Note: you might also need to bring an extension lead]. 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 – Jon Moore (hopefully with help from others) will be collating records from the intertidal and subtidal sites. Bespoke recording forms and guidance are being designed for the intertidal and will be provided to recorders. Seasearch forms will be used for the subtidal sites.