30 January 2015

Too good to be true?

By nature we're (mostly) a suspicious species or maybe it's learning through experience that when an offer seems too good to true it usually is!
Last week we had a phone call from a slightly worried Dad, his daughter had applied for and been accepted onto an Operation New World course,  they had received the information and Dad just couldn't believe it: training, a week on the Canary Islands, help with finding a job and all free.  Because the advert had been seen on our website he contacted us to find out if it was genuine.  We were delighted to be able to assure him it really was a good as it seems. 

Operation New World is an educational Charity established in 1992 in order to provide self-help programmes for unemployed young people. They aim to increase employability skills so that participants get off 'Benefits' and find worthwhile jobs. The success rate is very high: since 1992, nearly two thousand young have completed the course with 90% finding jobs or re-training shortly afterwards.
Anne Leonard, Chairman of the organisation says: "I wanted to help young people who could not get jobs and were getting depressed on the benefits system."

Find out more about Operation New World on their website: www.opnewworld.co.uk/ 

Sometimes, if you put your cynicism aside, you find genuinely good people doing fantastic things, like the note from the 'man on train at table with glasses and hat' giving a young mum a psychological boost and £5, because he says "What goes around, comes around." Wouldn't be lovely if this was such a common occurrence it didn't raise such a stir and go viral across the media network?

The countryside sector has a big heart, you only have to visit any one of the hundreds of reserves and parks across the country to see the volunteers in action and enjoy the fruits of their labours. People help out in all sorts of ways from the big jobs like path maintenance or litter picking to the smaller ones such as checking on collecting tins or simply recording sightings of animals or plants.

Where have all the finches gone?
The latest BTO Garden BirdWatch results show that there has been a significant decrease in the number of siskins seen in gardens and on feeders this winter. We can't remember the last time we saw a siskin in the garden, the numbers of goldfinches have dropped too although we have seen many more goldcrests than ever before.  In fact we've actually used far less bird food this year than for several years, and it feels that I have thrown away quite a lot of the seed which went rotten at the bottom of feeders - which makes the cleaning much more difficult, however, the fat always seems to be eaten up before it deteriorates.  Whether the decrease in bird numbers in the garden is down to the weather or that a cat has moved in next door is a debate for another day!  However, this morning I lost several minutes watching a pair (I think) of robins, we are at the cross over of robin territories and it is not unusual to have more than one or two taking careful turns at the feeding station. This morning the pair in question were sitting on opposite sides of a tree almost pointedly ignoring each other, one was definitely a female but the other refused to turn around to let me get a clear look to see if it was a male.
Last weekend's RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch was the biggest, most successful ever with over 115,000 survey submissions and incredible four million birds counted over two days.  The full results won't be known for a while because you have until 16 February to submit your results.   If you took part would like to do it again, more regularly then you could join BTO's Garden BirdWatch.

23 January 2015


"It's a penguin! Keith, look there's a penguin on the post over there!"
I don't remember this being shouted along the beach at Whitby (I was in a pushchair at the time) but I am reliably informed this is what my Mum excitedly relayed to my Dad on one of our first trips to the beach, probably some time early November.  Dad said it was in fact a guillemot, a bird Mum still enjoys watching but no longer gets confused over, no penguins here (although we do have a polar bear - sort of).  Mum will be the first to admit her early years in an industrial mill town were not spent learning bird or flower identification; however, she has since spent several years and very many happy hours pouring over the books and filling in the gaps in her knowledge.

By DickDaniels (http://carolinabirds.org/) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
By DickDaniels (http://carolinabirds.org/) (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

So why am I talking about penguins?  And no it's not because we've been shivering under an icy blast.  Or because Tuesday was penguin awareness day - yes, it's real and it even has a website; but because the Telegraph ran a story, possibly coincidentally on Tuesday, about people reporting lost penguins in Scarborough (they were of course guillemots and razorbills) we tweeted it out as bit of light relief and it became our top tweet for the week!  Most people had a chuckle and a wry smile, however, some comments were a little less than kind, not everyone has the advantage that we have had of spending time (and effort) learning to identify natural history, some because they have no interest, others because they simply don't have the opportunity.  The latter often devour the information when it's available: through TV programmes such as BBC's Winterwatch (on now) and articles online and in newspapers; the former group are much harder to reach. The Environmental Education and Outreach programmes of our many wonderful organisations do their best to help both groups, by providing opportunities, opening eyes, supplying information and guidance.  If you'd like to join their ranks and help people, like my Mum, learn the difference between guillemots and razorbills, never mind penguins, read last year's Focus on Environmental Education, the adverts may be a little out of date but the articles are just as relevant today as when we first published them in May 2014.
And this week's edition of CJS Weekly has quite a few educator posts in amongst the 93 adverts across 23 pages.  This week also has the Training Calendar of events happening in March

19 January 2015

Blue Monday?

Apparently the third Monday in January is "Blue Monday".  The most depressing day of the year, Christmas is well and truly over and the daily humdrum work is getting monotonous.
Well our Blue Monday is certainly one to be avoided:
  • Slushy / icy snow everywhere including the roads (no plough or grit) AW had an interesting trip to work this morning.
  •  My desktop computer is very blue, blue screen of death in fact, fortunately I have just got a new laptop  - but that only has half the software I need and until about 20 minutes ago no printer.
  • Then just to cheer us all up British Gas sent us yet another mis-addressed demand, apparently Mr Chris Field of C J S News owes them rather a lot of money and rather than trying to make contact with Mr Field someone has simply sent the letter to us - if you google C J S News our address is top of the results. When the first one arrived last year I spent rather a long time on the phone explaining we don't have mains gas and that our electricity is with another  company.  They promised the letters would stop and our details would be removed from the account but some may be in the system and to return those marked as 'not known at this address'. Which we've done with the two other letters which arrived since and will do the same with this one.  They're rather good at this, sending a letter to the Prince of Wales pub about an outstanding amount for HRH Prince of Wales (see article on BBC here)
If you're suffering the Blue Monday blues and want to change your job or just want to see all the countryside and wildlife news here's a offer from CJS to cheer you up. Sign up this week to CJS Weekly Digital and we'll give you a 25% discount off standard prices, that means you can get a copy for as little as 56p a week, less than a pint of milk (sore point) or a loaf of bread.  There have been over 170 adverts for jobs this year already, so what are you waiting for? Subscribe here.

16 January 2015

Lies, numbers and statistics

Mark Twain credited it to Benjamin Disraeli but then again it could have been Thomas Huxley who first said:
"Lies, damned lies and statistics."
Well, whoever it was it's crept into our language and is a universal acceptance of the fallibility of statistics or more precisely the manipulation of numbers to prove your point.  Which is why I like to see the raw numbers as well as the quoted stats, so here you go, see some of ours from this past week:

We're not entirely sure why our Facebook pages have suddenly leapt in popularity, all we did was put one link from one page to the other and a small notice in the daily email and there you go a 7,000% increase in page likes! Stunning, we must do it again sometime....

In the mean time we'll plod on with the usual day to day business of putting out CJS, the latest Weekly edition has gone to press and digital editions will be available very soon. all 22 pages of it with 93 adverts this week, 69 for paid posts.

15 January 2015

CJS Professional: January 2015 edition

The latest edition of CJS Professional is now online, read it in full here: www.countryside-jobs.com/Professional/current.htm   You may need to refresh your browser.

Happy New Year from the CJS Team. We're delighted to let you know that we have been able to keep advertising rates the same as last year.
There is now a wider range of options available but we have also simplified the online information pages to make it easier for you know which is the best options for you.
One new feature for 2015 is the addition of the option to embed a video into your advert. More detail here.

Jobs advertised in this Month's edition:
Nature Conservation Ranger, London Borough of Redbridge
Project Co-ordinator (hands on), Nimrod Environmental (Barnsley)
Arborist/Trainee Arborist and Grounds People/Tree Planters, Glendale Arboriculture (new contracts in London Borough of Hillingdon and London Borough of Harrow)
Ecology Consultant - Abingdon, ADAS
Seasonal Rangers, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
Estate Fencing Labourers,  Traditional Estate Fencing (Leicestershire based)
Estate Worker - Plant Operations and Maintenance, Ferne Animal Sanctuary  (based Wambrook, Chard)
Tree and Landscape Officer, Braintree District Council
Landscape Officer, Exmoor National Park
14 Seasonal Rangers, National Trust for Scotland (all properties particularly: Culzean Castle & Country Park, Glencoe Estate, Threave Estate)
Two chainsaw operators,  Kleen Kutt Ltd (Devon and Somerset areas)
Forestry Worker, Whitbourne Estate (Herefordshire)
Game and Gamekeeping Officer, BASC (HQ, near Chester)
Woodland Habitat Officer, Borders Forest Trust (southern Scotland)
Conservation Projects Manager, Trees for Life (across Scottish Highlands including Dundreggan Conservation Estate)
3 Month Survey and Monitoring Training Placements (x 12) Natural England Nurturing Nature Conservation Skills using National Nature Reserves (reserves across England)
Graduate Ecologist - 6 month contract, Tyler Grange LLP (Stroud, Gloucestershire)
Wildlife Supporter Officer, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
Project Co-ordinator,  The Wilderness Foundation UK (Essex)
Paddock Fencing Operative,  Professional Paddock Care (based Sleaford, Lincolnshire)
Senior Farm Ranger, Hampshire County Council (Staunton Country Park, Havant)
Project Manager, Northumberland County Council
Community Engagement Officer - Wildlife Gardening, Part time (3 days per week), Surrey Wildlife Trust
Pennine National Trails Partnership Manager, Yorkshire Dales National Park

Other adverts:
Cost-free course with week in to Canary Islands, run by Operation New World

CJS Notices
CJS Focus on Volunteering
The lead article from National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) will cover best practice in volunteer recruitment and inclusivity. Along the same lines the Campaign for National Parks (CNP) describe their successful Mosaic project and how it has helped get more people involved.
Apprenticeships are increasingly being advertised with CJS, the Skills Funding Agency have written an article about Apprenticeships in the countryside.
This edition will be published on Monday 9 February, included with CJS Weekly on Friday 6 February and in full in the next edition of CJS Professional on Thursday 12 February.  There's still time to send us your volunteer vacancies, details of volunteer conservation parties and work days or simply a please come join us plea! Send us your details here, and remember you can advertise free of charge (it's limited but it's free!). Deadline is a strict 30 January.

Top headlines from the past month including over Christmas: Click here to read

Training Calendar for  March 2015 Click here to read
If you run training courses or events for likeminded countryside professionals please send details to Helen on training@countryside-jobs.com  or feel free to recommend providers and we'll contact them to include their courses (you're not committing yourself or them to anything, and like most things with CJS it's free!)

13 January 2015

Signs of spring - hooray!

Whilst out for our daily trip to the Post Office to collect the papers Dido was distracted by a flapping flashing white-ish thing in the hedgerow so we had to go and investigate.   Turns out it was part of someone's bin liner - hardly surprising considering how windy it has been and the number of bins lying on their sides.  Having discovered it wasn't anything to be worried about Dido was ready to carry on but something else had caught my eye, there in the hedge bottom were the first spikes of Lords-and-Ladies or Cuckoo Pint (Arum maculatum for the latin botanists).
Lords-and-Ladies and Hammamelis (top right)
The first celandine leaves were also there brightly glossily green.
Another not so welcome discovery was that of a hedgehog skin, neatly emptied of all hog leaving just skin, prickles and feet (I didn't think a photo of that would be quite so welcome).  We don't have many hedgehogs in the village so to find a dead one is not good but it raises the question what was a hedgehog doing out and about in the middle of January when it should be safely tucked away sleeping peacefully?

What is a more welcome sight are the first ribbon flowers of the witch hazel in the garden, gently releasing their sweet perfume in the morning sunshine.

As it is only the middle of January maybe it's not a case for "hooray!" just yet.

09 January 2015

When does the movie start?

Back to work and in at the deep end,  unsurprising it's been a busy week here in the CJS office. The team have set to with a will, collating news, publishing job adverts and putting together the first CJS Weekly of the year - and it's a monster at 22 pages with 87 adverts for jobs and volunteers, the full news round up (including over Christmas) and details of Citizen Science projects recently added to the website. To get your copy find out more and sign up here.

Sulking Office Dogs

However for the office dogs it's been a different story. They're bored and every time I move they look at me hopefully - are we going out? No, oh well we may as well sleep some more. But after lunch they keep disappearing and coming back to nudge me hopefully, what are we watching this afternoon? When does this afternoon's movie start? We really want to be cuddled up on a sofa by a warm fire watching the TV (we've had a superhero-fest, from Iron Man via the Avengers to Batman). Staying in the office was met with such looks of disdain before they finally gave in a slumped on a bed with a huff.
Sulky office pups!
The ideal dog days: Shorter walks in the dark just don't cut it and long office hours mean very little TV watching, they'd approve year long holidays with long, wide ranging walks every morning, TV in the afternoons (preferably films where the person sits still and ruffles the ears but not rugby which involves lots of jumping up and shouting at the screen) and short rambles in the evening interspersed with feeding time, play time and if you must a few training exercises (as long as they involve edible rewards).  But then wouldn't we all or would we just get as fed up as office dogs?

Plane Watching

The windows at the back of the house have a wonderful view of the bird feeders - which have been very busy despite it being that bit warmer but on Thursday our watching activities changed from birds to planes as fighter jets circled overhead, practicing bombing runs and generally making a huge amount of noise.  We're thinking we could do with a spotters guide to military aircraft!  Being just down the road from RAF Fylingdales BMEWS we have fighters overhead quite often and frequently very low as we're within one the regularly used permitted low flying zones. Although we're not listed as a tactical training area (used a lot and officially can fly much lower), they seem to use the 'pyramid' as a target or homing beacon despite the base itself being a restricted zone (maybe that makes it more of a challenge?). However, there does seem to be a spike in activity just before our troops are deployed or after  / during terrorist activity somewhere in the world.  We also notice changes in our wi-fi signals but at least it no longer causes havoc with TV signals or quite as many car alarms and immobilisers.

07 January 2015

How Many??

Having waded through the mountainous number of emails we started on everything else including beginning the search for job ads for inclusion in CJS Weekly.
This is the feed count on just one of our multiple searches:

Yes, you are reading that correctly it really does say four thousand, two hundred and thirty two unread articles in other words over four thousand job adverts to check. But the really scary thing was that the person who usually checks this feed says that's actually only equivalent to three days worth!
This is one of several different searches for jobs and the news was almost as busy, one feed had nearly 1,000 articles, we usually deal with around two to three hundred per day.
We're almost caught up and the first job adverts went live yesterday and the first news headlines posted this morning.
The first CJS Weekly will be published on Friday as usual.

05 January 2015

Welcome back

Like many people the CJS Team returned to work today after the Christmas break
via Wikimedia Commons
There is rather a lot to catch up with!  So apologies if we're slightly slower than usual in replying to your email or returning your phone call.  If you do call us you may get the answerphone - please leave a message and we will call you back as soon as we're able.
The first online job adverts will be posted tomorrow, the first news updates on Wednesday.

22 December 2014

CJS is closed

Office hours: Please remember we take our annual holidays over the Christmas period when there are few or no job vacancies around. The office is now closed until Monday 5 January 2015.
Online: The next jobs update will be on Tuesday 6 January, the next news update will be Wednesday 7 January.
CJS Weekly: The last copy of 2014 was published on Friday (19 December) and the first of 2015 will be 9 January. There will be no copy published on 26 December or 2 January. Subscriptions: To receive the 9 January edition you must subscribe before 3pm Thursday 8 January. Advertising: To advertise in the 9 January edition copy to be received before noon Friday 9th, ie same day although earlier is appreciated.
Volunteers: Please note that due to the size of the first few editions in January we are unable to guarantee inclusion in any specific edition.  However, all ads will be published well before their closing dates and are included online at no charge on the volunteers page. Submit your copy here. Please consider CJS Focus on Volunteers, published 9 February.
CJS Professional: First edition of 2015 will be published on Thursday 15 January, one week later than usual.  All adverts must be booked before 5pm Monday 12 January and copy to be received before 12 noon Tuesday 13 January. 

19 December 2014

End of Term

So that's it then another 50 editions of CJS Weekly published and another year drawing to a close.  Which means that for us (at least) it's time for a well deserved two week break giving everyone that end of term feeling.  AW suggested that we could all bring board games for the afternoon like everyone used to at primary school.  Prompting a a trip down a memory lane cluttered with cards, kerplunk, mousetrap, connect four and snakes and ladders and ending with a lively discussion about which games everyone liked or didn't.
Scrabble (2399933493) by Tim Niblett - ScrabbleUploaded by MaybeMaybeMaybe. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Common

Turns out cludeo is AW's favourite, monopoly in our house (longest running game was for nearly a month and everyone ended up bankrupt after a certain person built four - yes, four - hotels each on Park Land and Mayfair), scrabble is popular with HB's family.  This last one caused quite a stir because we found out that TB has never played! So if we get time today (not likely in all honesty but we can save it for rainy day, indoor playtime?) the boards may just have to make an appearance!

12 December 2014

Doing the news

A task carried out by one of the CJS Team members every day, to bring you the edited highlights of the news across the sector. It can be anything from a stack of scientific papers to a big breaking story and all the reactions from the various organisations.  We receive hundreds of press releases every day as well as reading the countryside and wildlife related publications and relevant sections in the main daily newspapers. However, to find out what's happening more locally we use many specific watches and alerts set up to let us know of the latest stories, these are triggered by specific keywords.  One of our sources is of course google news where we have our personalised CJS settings.
snippet from our CJS news searches

And it's here that the fun begins, google is very good at finding specific words but not so much at looking at the context.  You'd be surprised how many seeming innocuous words are actually linked to other things, for example we know far more than we ever wanted to about Jodie or Kym Marsh, apparently there are several US sporting teams called badger and recently there has been a lot about the DJ Neil Fox!
Sometimes the shear idiocy of people leaves us speechless (although frequently results in a quick email around the rest of the team!).  Which is why we occasionally need the feel to double check that a news story really is what it says it is, hence the title of an article in the most recent CJS Focus "Glad to find it wasn't an April Fool" all about the Greater London Notional National Park. Read it here.
And then there's twitter to read....

Apparently we've sent over 25K tweets on our CountrysideNews stream, that's a huge amount of information and if you think that we tweet maybe one in 40 or more items read that means that since we started tweeting the news we've read approximately 1million stories - no wonder we're all cross eyed!

It all adds up to some large publications, this week alone we've produced over 60 pages of newsletters, and today has been a bit trying, one key member of staff off sick, one advertiser at the end of their tether with 'those upstairs' resulting in a very late advert for CJS Weekly and one problematic advert being handled by an intermediary (this one has been rumbling for a couple of weeks). But, as ever we all pitched in and the print edition is almost ready for dispatch, the electronic ones have just gone, phew.
And there's only one more left this year - heavens.

11 December 2014

CJS Professional December edition.

The latest edition of CJS Professional is now online, read it in full here: www.countryside-jobs.com/Professional/current.htm   You may need to refresh your browser.

Jobs advertised in this Month's edition:
Horticulture Warden (maternity cover) WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre
Senior Planning & Biodiversity Officer, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust (St Albans)
Ecologist, Aspect Ecology (Oxfordshire)
Parks Attendant, Falkirk Community Trust
Tree and Landscape Officer / Senior Arboricultural Officer, Wokingham Borough Council
Countryside Operative, Three Shires Ltd (near Melton Mowbray, Leics)
Project Manager Vacancy Rural Development Initiatives Ltd. (in partnership with the Institute of Chartered Foresters) (ideally be based at the ICF offices in Bristol)
Software Application Developers (3 posts), Software Application Test Manager, Technical Project Manager, exeGesIS SDM Ltd (Powys)
Outdoor and Environmental Tutor, Simonsbath House Outdoor Centre (Somerset)

CJS Notices
ONE: If you have advertised for volunteers with CJS over the past year you should have received an email from The Team with details about some special offers for you for 2015.  If for any reason you have not received the email please contact us and we'll resend - the offers are exclusive to each advertiser so you need your individual copy - and they're not to be missed!
Two: CJS Focus on Volunteering, published on 16 February 2015.
Booking adverts NOW!
If you're in need of a helping hand or if your volunteers group is getting a little small then place a FREE advert in the next CJS Focus. 50 word linage for general advertising about your project, work days, conservation tasks.
If you have a specific post then the usual Standard (Free) Linage is available - around 250 words per post.
Find out more here.  Or read the last Focus on Volunteering (published September) here.
And please spread the word: Do you have a Friends of group? Let them know about the Focus either to advertise for more members or just to read once it's published.
One last thing - deadline for ALL advertising is 30 January 2015.

Top headlines from the past month: Click here to read

Training Calendar for  February 2015 Click here to read
If you run training courses or events for likeminded countryside professionals please send details to Helen on training@countryside-jobs.

08 December 2014

Easier to remember

We're gradually working through the website, streamlining sections, removing unnecessary pages and moving others.
The latest is the the Volunteers Section. it now has a much simpler, easier to remember address: countryside-jobs.com/vols (or countryside-jobs.com/volunteers) All the same features, free adverts and vast wealth of information.  If you have the page bookmarked please update.