I often get asked ‘what kit should I have as a field ecologist?’ There are some obvious answers; binoculars are useful and often essential (especially if undertaking bird surveys), field guides can be handy too, a notebook is wise, but there are lots of other pieces of equipment that can make the life of a field ecologist simpler, more comfortable, more enjoyable and importantly safer. Here are my top six additions to your kit repertoire.
Download the app here
This free mapping app is a perfect backup to traditional paper maps and compass! It works with geospatial PDF so if you’ve been supplied PDF maps by your client or GIS team then you can load these into your phone and the location services (GPS) of the phone will position you on your PDF – clever stuff!
Check out the Cotswolds website for options
Old school I know but when all else fails (and sometimes it does) surveyors need to know how to get themselves to safety using a fail-safe method. Silva is an excellent brand and produce good, reliable compasses from £13. Most compasses also have a centimeter measuring edge as well as 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 scaled edges. Make sure to learn to use it properly so that you can safely navigate off sites just using a compass and map.
I’m a stickler for neat field notes. Remember that everything you write in the field often requires translating in the office into meaningful data. Life can be particularly stressful for the office bod responsible for data input if your field notes are scrawled and unclear so use good quality pens/pencils and write as neatly as you can! Using multiple colours can often make maps, especially flight maps for vantage point surveys, much easier to read.
Field ecologists should have a good HB pencil, basic coloured pencils for Phase 1 maps, coloured pens and black ink pens (if the conditions are dry). The best field pens in my opinion are Pilot Pens which are ideal for tasks such as breeding bird maps when multiple registrations in a small area need to be clear and concise.
NHBS have a good selection of hand lenses see here
Now, this is a hidden gem of a purchase! It is essential for the botanist, crucial for the entomologist and fascinating for the all round ecologist. It quite literally opens your eyes to a microscopic world around us. They weigh almost nothing and can live quite happily in your pocket or around your neck when in the field. You can even use your smartphone camera held up to the lens for macro shots!
‘Britain’s Habitats’ Book
Sophie Lake & Durwyn Liley 2015 Princeton University Press
Check out the book in more detail here
This book is a must have for all ecologists. It provides a thorough introduction to all of Britain’s habitats outlining their distribution, habitat characteristics and many typical, associated species. There are examples of key sites for each habitats as well as information on nature conservation designations.
You’re going to need something to carry all your kit in and if you’re anything like us then you probably have several bags for various eventualities. Cue the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack (£25). This brilliant little backpack crumples down into its own inbuilt stuff pouch which fits nicely in a pocket. Whilst it is not designed to carry heavy loads or for huge hikes it’s ideal for packing in a few key items, lunch and water proofs, and can be packed away into your pocket if you’ve eaten, drunk and are wearing everything! For more info on this pack check out the Osprey Website