Thursday, 8 September 2011

W.O.W. (Wildlife Observer Wales) courses

I would like to add a comment to the previous reviewers report on the benefits of attending the 'Wildlife Observer Wales' courses which were developed and are run jointly with Cliff Benson of 'Sea Trust' and the Coastal Zone & Marine Environment Studies Department of the Pembrokeshire college in Haverfordwest. The courses are accredited as OCN (Outside College Network) level 3 modules. For the past 3 days I have been on the W.O.W. 'Seals' course at the college which was the first of it's kind and I can say without reservation that it was excellent. Our lecturers from the college were Steve Morris and Powell Strong both of whom are recognised authorities on the Atlantic grey seal especially in Welsh waters so as you would expect our expert tuition was second to none. This year I have attended three of the W.O.W. courses commencing with the one on 'Seabirds' followed by the one on 'Cetaceans' and finally the 'Seals' course and I have enjoyed every one of them. Each course has not only given me an introduction to the I.D. of each particular group of animals and birds covered but also a basic insight into their biology too. Each course includes in-depth and detailed instruction on how to conduct scientific surveys on their populations from the perspective of both land based and boat surveys. The courses consist of a mixture of classroom work with subsequent written tests followed by a good deal of fieldwork. The fieldwork I mention is carried out in some of the prime wildlife watching locations in Pembrokeshire and so mix that with the great company of people from all walks of life but with a mutual interest and you have a recipe for a good course as each one I attended turned out to be. Anyone residing in Wales, or indeed anywhere in the UK come to that, with an interest in the marine environment and the animals which inhabit it should attend one if not all of the said courses and in doing so it will give you a better understanding of the natural World around us and perhaps persuade you to look at the environment in a more scientific (but not to scientific!) way without detracting from the aesthetic pleasure of watching wildlife. Please don't be scared off by the mention of 'science' as it's all actually quite easy to understand even for a simple layman like myself! So next year when the course dates are advertised (presumably on here and elsewhere) please sign yourself up for one or more of the courses I can assure you that you will gain great benefit from it. It's really like a mini-break in lovely Pembrokeshire!
I have actually checked with the college today (9/9/11) and there are still spaces left on the W.O.W. 'Seals' course which takes place at the college between 24th & 26th October.
If you are attending a course from Wales or outside and looking for good accommodation then I highly recommend the 'College Guest House' situated in St Thomas' Green in Haverfordwest only a 10 minute drive away and within easy walking distance from the Pembrokeshire college. I stayed there on each occasion as did a few other course participants. Take a peek at their website which is The guest house is close to the leisure centre where there is free parking so you can have a swim or even a workout in the gym after a long hard day in the classroom and in the field!