Baker Consultants

The Diary of an Ecology Apprentice: The End of Survey Season & the Start of Desk Work Season

After a jam-packed survey season, Baker Consultants’ Ecology Apprentice, Matthew Keough, is now embarking upon a season of desk work. From Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) mapping to Continued Professional Development (CPD) sessions, there’s still plenty for Matthew to learn when he’s not out on the field.

October is officially the end of survey season as outings become far less frequent. This month I have been desk-bound, doing mostly BNG mapping and Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) reporting. I have been filling gaps with CPD sessions, learning about bryophytes, winter twigs and bat call analysis ID.

This month we are completing a job in Wales that spans 46km, the transect also has a 50m buffer either side. My task is to do the desk study and BNG mapping, which takes a while. But, by sticking on some good music and getting my head down, it slowly but surely gets completed! It’s a satisfying thing to watch as this 100m wide line slowly fills up with colourful parcels. The notes I map from also require me to know the condition assessments of different habitats and hedgerows, so this job is making me quite adept at BNG condition assessments.

Fungi season is well underway and in my spare time I am often visiting woodlands in search of new and interesting species to study. Rarely have I ever used a hand lens in the past to inspect small fungi, but this year I have. Several rash looking marks on trees are caused by fungi and, using a hand lends, you can see some weird and wonderful shapes that the naked eye neglects. There is one type of fungi I have yet to find; biotrophic fungi which live on bryophytes (Mosses, liverworts and hornworts). Most bryophytes are small themselves and the bryophilous fungi are significantly smaller than them, so it’s a real hunt.

I am very excited for next month, I am attending the CIEEM 2023 Autumn Conference, going to Rothamsted research facility (to help Carlos and Karthik and hopefully gather my first lot of data for my dissertation) and hopefully… moving into my first house!

The Baker Consultants team is highly experienced and we are passionate about what we do. If you need advice related to ecology, surveys or conservation, then please get in touch with us via our contact form on the website, or you can call us on +44 (0)1629 593958 or email us on