21 November 2014

wet or dry, warm or white?

There have been plenty of opportunities to get and about without needing the full wet-weather gear, however, underfoot is a different matter entirely everywhere is sodden and rapidly turning into a quagmire. HB has two pairs of waterproof muck boots to use in rotation, I stick to heavy-duty walking boots and gaiters but I was looking at the gaiters as I took them down to put them on again and thinking they really need re-proofing but when am I going to get an opportunity to knock all the mud off, get them clean and dry and then wax them? At this rate not before the New Year.  AW's dogs can't even get out for a puddle without coming back clarted up and brown from head to tail (they're collies and Bill is - or is supposed to be - mostly white!) at least it doesn't show up so much on my black-coated tribe and the new fully paved dog yard is very much appreciated.
On Tuesday evening office dog Dido and I sat on the bench outside church, enjoying the peace and quiet, we listened to the owls (much canine head cocking involved) and picked out a few constellations (not many the church is flood lit) but the really odd thing was the weather-  it was ridiculously warm, an unzipped lightweight jacket over a mid-weight fleece was more than ample. And then news came in that every one of the 50 American states (yes, inducing Hawaii) had experienced temperatures below freezing.  This was closely followed by the incredible pictures of the snow storm across New York State, we like this one best! The US National Weather Service warned that the snow, generated by cold air blowing over the warmer Great Lakes, would continue and could eventually total 6 feet in places.  It's these unusual weather conditions that have created this freak-storm or so they say but round here tradition has it that what NY has we get two to three weeks later, so we're stocking up! Fingers crossed that large blocking low does its stuff and keeps it on the other side of 'the pond'.
Safe and warm in the CJS office the latest edition has gone to press, the main edition is quite small by our standards but we make up for it with the January calendar of professional events and courses and the latest CJS Focus (more of that on Monday).

13 November 2014

CJS Professional: November 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:
Senior Warden, Thames Basin Heaths Strategic Access Management and Monitoring project, Natural England (Flexible, but must be able to travel to the Thames Basin Heaths SPA on a daily basis)
Operatives, Glendale (2 x Salisbury and 2 x Chippenham in Wiltshire)
Regional Officer Central, BASC (Home based but ideally the Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire or Northamptonshire.)  
Field Studies Tutors, Cranedale Centre (Malton, N Yorks)
Consultancy Internships x 2, Maydencroft (Hitchin, Herts)
Chief Officer, Aberdeen Greenspace Trust
Business Opportunity to Deliver Learning at Grizedale Forest, Forestry Commission
Project Manager, Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (New Lanark)
Public Affairs Officer,  Scottish Land & Estates
Countryside Engagement & Marketing Officer, Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme, Cambridgeshire ACRE (Littleport, Cambridgeshire)
North Wiltshire Reserve Manager, Natural England
Seaton Jurassic Centre Manager, Devon Wildlife Trust
Education & Community Officer (Maternity Cover - 9 month contract), Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust (Based at Far Ings National Nature Reserve, Barton-upon-Humber)
Site Foreman, Five Rivers Environmental Contracting Ltd (South of England)
Senior Education & Community Officer (Marine Specialist), Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust (Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve, Skegness)
EcoSkills (Volunteer Training Programme), Natural England Based at East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve, Bovey Tracey
Senior Ecologist, Amec (London or Newbury)
Roding Valley Ranger, Essex Wildlife Trust
Humberhead Levels Transport Corridors Project Officer, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Top headlines from the past month: Click here to read

Training Calendar for January, this month's edition also includes details of courses available on demand or on an ad hoc basis, the calendar is4 pages Click here to read
If you run training courses or events for like-minded 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!)

07 November 2014

Can we go home now?

Today has been a bit trying to say the least. One of those days where you just want to go to bed and wake up tomorrow. Various canine related ailments; the rain has not stopped and the land outside the office will now be a quagmire; we had a thunder storm directly over head which knocked off the electricity 3 times and then this afternoon we discover that half the village is without water. Wine anyone?
We have managed to produce a CJS Weekly through gritted teeth and it's a big one, 20 pages with 50 paid jobs (32 of which came directly to CJS) and 15 volunteer posts. This week also includes the surveys and fieldwork posts added and updated in October.

31 October 2014

Bangers and bonfires

Apologies to anyone who has phoned CJS over the past week and has heard the odd muffled bang or screamer in the background.  It's nothing to worry about, it's simply Office Dog Hebe's firework desensitisation 'music' - as part of her therapy we play her recordings of fireworks at odd times with increasing frequency up to the actual day / event before knocking her out on a specially prepared herbal mix heavy in lavendar and valerian (we have a herbalist vet so it's perfectly safe, we wouldn't recommend mixing your own!) administered over the course of several days.  With the 'real' bonfire night falling in the middle of the week we have two weekends to deal with.
Fireworks by Kabir Bakie, via wikimedia commons
It's a shame she's so sensitive because I love fireworks! I have very fond memories of the smell of burning swede from the carved out candle lantern, teeth stuck together with McEwans Highland toffee and the scent of cordite hanging in the air as the magnificent fireworks exploded overhead at my Dad's school's organised display.  And nothing beats writing your name with a sparkler!
It's the first time we've had a firework phobic dog and it's been a real eye opener, before we started the herbal and desenstisation therapy she would dash about the house screaming with fear and run round and round rooms not quite managing the 'wall of death' feat but almost.  She is a highly strung dog, probably slightly overbred with 'lots of red' (meaning champions, field trialling in her case) in her pedigree and needs careful handling it doesn't take much to make her overexcited and her energy reserves seem to be pretty much inexhaustible unlike mine!  Despite her firework problem she's fine with virtually all other noises which is a relief but that makes the firework thing even more difficult to manage.
Fortunately, although they are still crackers, the pups are not bothered by fireworks and old duchess Maia is totally oblivious; completely the opposite of her late sister Juno who like me adored fireworks and would stand paws on windowsill watching each rocket scream skywards her tail wagging providing the canine oo's and ahs.
Needless to say after that little lot we're not having a bonfire.  However there are several heaps of leaves and general garden detritus scattered around - because of the work on the dog year we've not been able to get to the compost bins so the cuttings, clippings and tidyings up have been left in what were neat tidy heaps until the pups launched themselves with labradoric abandon into the middle of them.  Which saves me the task of checking for sleepy hedgehogs but does mean it all has to be collected up again, oh well.

Everyone has picked up on the hallowe'en theme the google doodle is tearing itself apart after dark, and there is lots of news about spiders (we've had enough of that in recent weeks) but also werewolves (yes really, read RSPCA news here), friendly bats and bat-sized Death's-head hawkmoths - think Silence of the Lambs (these two are in our news round up today).

So we'll sign off today by wished you all a Happy Hallowe'en or Spooky Samhain (whichever is your preference!). And whatever you're doing this weekend (or next) remember to check your bonfire for sleepy mammals, and amphibians too, before lighting them, sigh over the fireworks, sign your name in fiery sparkles, slurp the soup, munch the bangers (sausage variety not gunpowder) and have a wonderful time but spare a minute or two to think about all the animals, pets and wildlife alike, terrified out of their skins...

24 October 2014

It's beginning to feel a little bit like.....

Oh, no it isn't

It's that time of year again, you know the one when every one says but it's not even Hallowe'en yet and already they're advertising Christmas. Last week we heard White Christmas on the radio multiple times, the first sofa adverts appeared in the papers over the weekend and then this email arrived.

To which the reply was "NO IT'S NOT!!".

Closely followed by one with this included

We're not scrooges really, we love Christmas (the office is closed after all!) but please, keep the festive season short, really nothing until advent, after Armistice if you must. Then it will be more special and enjoyable - at least that's our thought.

(Although much to everyone else's chagrin I have almost finished my Christmas shopping!)

Despite all our humbugging we have put together this week's edition of CJS Weekly which is now it's way out to you.

20 October 2014

Another glorious sunrise

Red sky in the morning...  So fingers crossed we don't get too battered by the predicted storm.

17 October 2014

Mixed fortunes

It's been a week of contrasts.
The weather has been alternately heavy rain and then blue skies.
the view out of the window on Tuesday
The ground surface is supersaturated and the rivers are full to not-quite-overflowing, the Ellerbeck across the field (and thankfully 50+ feet lower) can be heard roaring over the rocky river bed.  We're having a new dog yard laid and on Monday the waterbutts were emptied to be moved, by Wednesday morning they were full to overflowing again.  In between the deluges though it's been surprisingly warm with occasionally high clear blue skies, the wood stove was required in the early part of the week but yesterday was allowed to go and today we've not bothered to relight.
The contrary weather is playing havoc with the plants as well, the other evening I went out to my herb bed to pick some parsley and chives to go the salad and there in the gloaming was a beautiful white flower on the garlic chives.

The borage is still flowering and the marigolds (calendula not tagetes) have been in flower virtually non stop for the best part of eighteen months - crazy, but a very welcome sight from the kitchen window.

In keeping with the contrary theme the packaging with my new computer mouse was both fantastic and ridiculous! The mouse for my laptop starting suffering from hiccups, most disconcerting, and no cure was found so it had to be retired and a new mouse purchased. Bearing in mind the size of a computer mouse how big does the delivery box need to be? Apparently nearly big enough to put the printer in! and stuffed full of scrunched up brown paper. Once found and removed from its nest of the paper the mouse was wrapped in a thick layer of heat-sealed hard plastic, remembering past extractions I was envisaging a battle involving scissors and much frustration but I was delighted to discover that the back of the plastic blister pack had two finger holes and perforations and with a firm tug the whole back peeled out. So simple, so successful - why has no one used it before and why doesn't all blister packaging have holes both large and small??

Whilst talking of advances, did you notice that in last week's edition of CJS Weekly we published our first advert for a paternity cover contract?
This week's edition has gone to press with plenty of jobs, lots of news and the latest calendar of training courses.

09 October 2014

CJS Professional: October 2014 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:
Country Officer Northern Ireland, British Association for Shooting and Conservation (Lisburn)
Chainsaw Operators & Tree Planters, On Foot Forestry Ltd (Cumbria, Durham and Nottinghamshire)
Conservation Planning Officer, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Lecturer in Fishery Studies - HE,  Sparsholt College Hampshire
Business Development Manager, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Business Support Officer, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Senior Ranger, Historic Scotland Based at Holyrood Park, Edinburgh and Linlithgow Peel, West Lothian

CJS Notices:
This edition includes CJS Focus on Volunteers in association with The Conservation Volunteers
The next edition will feature urban greenspace, if you have any ideas of things to include or would like to advertise your urban park or project please contact Amy on focus@countryside-jobs.com

Top headlines from the past month: Click here to read

Training Calendar for December is 2 pages Click here to read
If you run training courses or events for like minded 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!)

03 October 2014

Autumn with a crackle

According to the Met Office we've had the warmest (and possibly driest) September on record.
30 September 2014 - Early Met Office figures show this is set to be the driest September across the UK since records began in 1910, with exceptionally low rainfall for many parts of the country. Read more
And, despite our week of mist and fog we can well believe it, windows open, lightweight  jacket if any at all.  However, October arrived and changed all that, yesterday (2/10) there was a sharp overnight frost and gloves and zipped up jacket were needed for early morning dog walking and mid-afternoon we actually gave in and had half an hour of heating in the office.  Today the sun is shining but the wind is particularly blustery and it is certainly cooler. As if that wasn't enough on Wednesday seen out of my distracting window was the first goldcrest of winter and the yew is full of song thrushes and blackbirds performing acrobatics to pick the berries from the ends of the slender branches.  The hawthorn and rowan are both stripped clean and the elder is not far behind.  However, our bird feeders are not swarming as they have had to become an intermittent feeding station as there is a lot of trichomonosis in the village (find out more about this nasty disease here). This means that the feeders are being cleaned even more frequently than usual and as soon as a possibly infected finch is sighted the feeders come down for a day or two and the whole area is cleaned and disinfected (we're getting though a lot of formula H and arkclens!).  However, we think (hope) that there is enough naturally available food in the area but if, and when, the weather turns wintery we'll think again about our feeding and cleaning regime.

The invasion of the eight-leggers continues to cause consternation not helped by the vast amount of media coverage it's being given this year, see the multitude of articles and news stories on google here.  Apparently it's a particularly good (or bad depending upon your position) for spiders.
Niall offers this advice:Conquering Arachnophobia:
The Spider problem is directly proportional to the size of the beast. This is the Sid Factor, also called the Sidatiousness of the beast.
Wee Sid is a minor problem, rates less than 3 on the Sidatious Scale and can easily be swept aside or even rescued.
Mid Sid has a Sid Factor of 4 to 6, visible eyes, and may require a sheet of kitchen roll to expedite its removal.
Big Sid has a Sid Factor of 7 to 9, has very watchful eyes, and may require more than one person plus a long implement to deal with it (NB: This is not always a ‘rescue’, depending on the circumstances, and may be achieved in any manner, preferably humanely).  
Mega Sid has a Sid Factor of 10 and is much more a matter of personal survival, very close to a national emergency, and the use of Tyson the Dyson or a Henry is often justifiable...
Good luck!
I'm leaning towards a pet tarantula - an amateur spot of CBT, familiarity breeds if not contempt then at least not revulsion.  Not sure that idea is going to float but if I keep suggesting it.... watch this space (web?)

The latest CJS Weekly has gone to print, 18 pages this week with plenty of jobs and news too, digital editions will be dispatched soon.

26 September 2014

Nothing to report

Today's Weekly is in the envelopes and online. It does run to 23 sides due to the inclusion of all regular workdays from the CJS website. So if you would like to get fit, be outside and help a charity with conservation work, it's worth having a look at what's available. There are 31 paid posts advertised and 6 volunteer positions in this edition. 
Hopefully something more exciting will happen next week.

19 September 2014

Animal Adventures

First was Tony the optimistic tortoise, he belongs to the Worley household, part of their eclectic smallholding's menagerie. He did have a partner but he wandered off never to be seen again, the delights of greenhouse were insufficient to hold his attention and he dug out of the border.  Well now it seems that Tony has also taken a liking to escapism. A shuffling and rustling sound came from the room where his raised two storey tortoise table resides (no effort or expense is spared for Worley livestock, they are the only people I know to have potted up dandelions just to feed the animals!!) shortly followed by a thud - Tony had climbed to the top of his table and mountaineered over the edge only to fall to earth landing shell-side down.  Mr W put him back in his table run, only for similar noises to be heard later that night and he had again climbed out, this time he was put to bed and the lights turned out (that stopped him). After discussions it's been decided that the top tier needs a higher boundary wall which will be this weekends project.  His adventures are quite apt as the optimistic, flying tortoise picture was doing the rounds again on twitter this week (see it here if it's not reached you yet).
Next comes the new cat in the neigbourhood, he's called Toby and is a handsome tiger striped tabby with white socks, he's adopted CMH and has taken to following her home.  His owner says he likes having two houses, well he's not moving into ours, Hebe would soon make sure of that and if she failed then I would have to evict him in favour of breathing!  However, he's a hunter cat and is quite amusing to watch stalking through the field, he does favour small rodents above birds; no, he won't wear a collar he simply shreds them before leaving the broken pieces scattered in his wake and keeping him indoors apparently means his household gets no peace so out he goes.  As his adopted second household so far we've had two vole sized gifts left by the gate (he's learning not to venture into the garden, dog patrol is ensuring he remembers too), Dido very carefully picks them up and delicately drops them at my feet as if to say, "OK, Boss, I've found it and brought it - now what?".  We are faring much better than his primary household who receive very regular 'presents' of the, usually dead, furry kind; the other morning his owner came down for breakfast, made a coffee and sat catching up on the TV news before starting on breakfast proper.  Later a flat mouse was found on the sofa - HB is still shivering with revulsion at thought of it.
And last is one of HB's sprollie pups who slid under a gate to gaze at (she promises it was only to gaze and not to investigate more closely and never to chase) the wooly sheep but in doing so also ran into the electric fence. She beat a hasty retreat!

And for the resident arachnaphobe, to help deal with our spider conumdrum partially answering my plea for "ideas for 10 reasons why spiders are wonderful and should be welcomed" OPAL have published a new guide helping identification of common household spiders. Find out more about our eight-legged lodgers here, or download the guide (PDF).

This week the weather has been dire: thick fog every day, and when it rolls out a little it is only replaced by misty, damp, dreich murk all very autumnal particularly the fences and gates festooned with cobwebs decorated with crystalline dew drops, all except for the temperature which has been tropical for the time of year. Last night when I put the dogs out before bed it was 15oC - positively balmy!

15 September 2014

Now published: CJS Focus on Volunteering in association with The Conservation Volunteers

Our second offering this year runs to 34 pages in total. The lead article is from The Conservation Volunteers, it details their Employee Action Days, giving some information about how beneficial such volunteering is to the participants and how TCV manage the projects. Trees for Life run Conservation Weeks where participants give up their time to volunteer with tasks such as tree planting, fencing and invasive species management. They run us through a typical week on one of their holidays in Scotland. The European Citizen Science Association introduces itself. Annie Robinson from the University of Aberdeen and OPAL talks about what happened at the Digital Conservation conference and how digital technology should be fully incorporated in to nature conservation. There are many opportunities to volunteer in zoos; Adam Cook at Dartmoor Zoological Park discusses the importance of volunteer involvement in his research work and how you can help out. Wildfowl & Wetland Trust talk about some of their opportunities and how they match volunteer expectations within their recruitment process.  The increasingly important role of a Volunteer Manager is discussed by the Canal & River Trust and Rachael Whaites at South Somerset District Council talks about the apprenticeships that the Council run, why they decided to deliver the service and how much they get from the recruits. Volunteer Groups and how to succeed – Dorset Wildlife Trust give details on the many groups that are run within the county and provide some tips on how best to set up and run such organisations. This edition also includes 99 specific volunteer positions most included only in the Focus and many adverts for projects, websites, work days & volunteering offers.

12 September 2014

The spider conundrum

Following on from last week's conker problem or more precisely the lack of conkers problem a new philosophical debate has been in progress and so far no side has 'won'.

If, due the aforementioned shortage of conkers, you can't dissuade the spiders from entering or setting up house (web) in your home what's the best thing to do?
I favour the eviction route, carefully shepherding them out of the nearest window, usually to a background chorus of "no, it'll only come back when you're not looking".  However, it's been pointed out that this might not be very kind, turning out a poor unsuspecting Sid into the the cold, possibly wet, dark night (yes, it's usually night-time when they make their present felt isn't it) to fall two storeys to the hard concrete or soggy grass below.  Not to mention the stress of being caught or trapped and then tossed aside.
So perhaps it's best simply to leave them be and to remove any offending webs? But then again our eight-legged friend has spent many hours carefully constructing their webby home and to thoughtlessly destroy it could be even less kind than the eviction route and maybe even worse because of the additional energy and resources our arachnid will have to expend creating a new one.
Which leaves us with the arachnaphobe's favourite of all out extermination. Swift, decisive, low stress (to spider and person - apparently) and permanent.
Alternatively I could try the 'spiders are actually very nice' approach and change points of view.  It worked on moths (look at the lovely furry body, and those fantastic antenna, this one is a 'Mr' moth with the feathery ones and, wow, such wonderful wing colours) and to a lesser extent on craneflies (look, it's not a spider, it's only got six legs, oh,dear,- they fall off, this one only has five now - go on grab a daddy long legs and turn it out). Any ideas for 10 reasons why spiders are wonderful and should be welcomed? or am I fighting a losing battle, according to news from The Telegraph arachnophobia is all down your ancestry.

So onto other nature news.
On Wednesday an osprey passed by on its way south, a very rare occurrence for us and certainly note worthy. It was just above the moor (opposite the office) circling on thermals gaining height and not in slightest bit bothered by the mobbing corvids and gulls before setting off again with barely a wingflap required.
We've had several hares in the field in the evenings this past week and one evening when the sheep had wandered off the field was alive with rabbits before the local hunting cat meandered through!

Remember Mr W's monster marrow? It was ripening too early due a lack of thermals, well that won't happen again as HB is donating some old-fashioned traditional thick wool long johns from her Gran.  However, it turns out the marrow wasn't just ripening it was in fact rotting inside.  Once this calamity was discovered Mr W harvested it to put into cold store in the hope that it would survive until it could be exhibited at the Harrogate Autumn Show. But it was not to be - as he was carrying the 40+lb fruit down from the veg plot it started pouring out water and began collapsing (only a little but folding inward nevertheless). 

And to finish, the usual numbers: CJS Weekly has just gone to press, 16 pages this week, with 47 adverts for paid posts plus five for volunteers.  it also includes the second 2014 edition of CJS Focus on Volunteers - more about that on Monday.

11 September 2014

CJS Professional: September 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:
Deer Officer, The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC Head Office near Chester)
Warden (two posts), Thames Basin Heaths Strategic Access Management and Monitoring project, Natural England (Thames Basin Heaths SPA)
Senior Warden, Thames Basin Heaths Strategic Access Management and Monitoring project, Natural England (Thames Basin Heaths SPA)
Rural Estate Head Forester, Grosvenor Estate (Eaton Estate, Cheshire)
Support Officer - Rights of Way, Exmoor National Park
Teaching Trees Education Coordinator,  Royal Forestry Society (RFS HQ, Upton Estate, Banbury, Oxon)
Volunteer Development Officer - North and East, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

CJS Notices:
1.  Apprenticeships and Interns:  Over the past year we've noticed an increasing number of apprenticeship and intern posts being advertised. Therefore, we've created a new section specifically for this type of post and there's free advertising too.
2. Advance Notice: published on Monday CJS Focus on Volunteering, look out for more details in the coming weeks. (included in full in next month's edition)

Top headlines from the past month: Click here to read

Training Calendar for November is 4 pages Click here to read