CHECK WITH CHARITIES
A range of NGOs and other noncommercial bodies offer courses covering identification and surveying techniques, often to volunteers but also to others including conservation professionals and students. Local Wildlife Trusts run regular handson courses ( www.wildlifetrusts.org), many of which are aimed at students. For example, Cheshire Wildlife Trust ( www. cheshirewildlifetrust.org.uk) offers a session on small mammal trapping and surveying, and Nottingham WT’s Attenborough Nature Reserve hosts species ID, photography and habitat survey training. Courses may be free to Trust volunteers – another good reason to offer your time.
The Mammal Society runs species-focused courses such as Dormouse Ecology and Conservation ( www.mammal.org.uk/training/courses), and also offers member discounts on training with allied organisations, such as Sea Watch Foundation Cetacean Survey Training Course. The Field Studies Council offers more than 300 courses across a wide range of natural history and environmental subjects ( www.field-studies-council.org/outdoorclassroom/universities/ careers-training.aspx), many of which help students develop skills in taxonomy and fieldwork. Grants are available, and undergraduates canca also undertake work placements.
Survey projects are a great way to get up close and personal with wildlife.