A group of A Level Biology students have spent three days at the Cranedale Centre, a specialist residential centre in North Yorkshire which provides fieldwork courses to support the A Level curriculum.

The biologists concentrated on their ecological fieldwork techniques, so developing their practical skills for the course. The first day was spent on Filey Brigg using belt transects within the inter-tidal zone to quantify the biomass of organisms and to observe anatomical.

This was followed by the dissection of owl pellets in the evening. After dissecting a pellet, they used microscopes at low power with graticules to make a scale scientific drawing of the pellet’s contents and so identify what the owl had been eating.

Day two was spent at Tophill Low. This is an SSSI, a site of specific scientific interest, and is a managed nature reserve run by Yorkshire Water. The students observed the management of succession, including pond clearing, coppicing and pollarding. They gathered data from different stages and measured soil, microclimate, flora and fauna having worked out the optimum size of quadrant to use for their sampling.

On the final day the students carried out fieldwork at Brompton Beck to identify the impact of crayfish on the biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems.

Freya Lockley said: “It was an intense three days, but it was so worthwhile. We did lots of practical work relating to ecology and saw lots of things we wouldn’t see in our local area.

Doing the practical work helps me to remember things alot easier. It was also really useful and very interesting to speak to specialists in conservation and ecology.”

Mr Lowden, Head of Biology at Derby Grammar School, said: “Spending time at a specialist centre such as Cranedale enables our students to learn so much more about fieldwork techniques – skills things that simply can’t be taught in the classroom.

Undoubtedly, the time spent on this trip will help each student in their final A Level examination.”