This was our first full team visit to Batts Combe quarry. After a site safety induction we were driven to our first survey site - a quarry bench. The weather held off at this point and we took video and stills of vegetation using our drone. In less than 20 minutes the drone’s survey was complete, with some excellent photographic results, though we did note some downdraft effects on tall vegetation.
We then set out 4m2 quadrats and recorded plant species and estimating percentage cover. We also noted plant species present but outside of our quadrats, as well as invertebrate species such as the green tiger beetle Cicindela campestris.
We were then driven up to our second site on top of the quarry. This was a tipping site that has since been restored to species rich grassland using green hay. It was here that the students had an opportunity for their first (successful) drone test flights. However this was cut short by rapidly deteriorating weather conditions.
By the time we reached our third site of study - the green hay donor site, our drone had used all 8GB of its memory and was un-flyable in the intense rainfall and we and all our belongings were drenched. But we still managed to have a quick look at the species found on the donor site before surrendering to the weather.
Overall we had a successful day, familiarising ourselves with the range of species at all three sites and test flying the drone. We are now in a position get on with field work in earnest.