Students assist National Trust with Annual Sheep and Goat count

Students studying Countryside Management at Bridgwater & Taunton College’s Cannington Centre recently supported an annual feral sheep and goat count alongside staff from the National Trust, Somerset Wildlife Trust and other volunteers at Cheddar Gorge.

The ancient breed of soay sheep and feral goats naturally graze the Gorge to keep scrub and trees in control, and offer the rich Mendip limestone grassland a chance to flourish.

The annual census requires teams to walk the length of the Gorge, to count individuals and groups of the wild sheep and goat populations in situ and often in precarious positions. With maps and binoculars in hand the groups enjoyed a very successful collaborative day with industry, including some senior members of the National Trust Conservation team.

Alan Sinclair, Course Leader for Countryside Management at Bridgwater & Taunton College said,

“The opportunity to assist professionals in the field is always a positive learning experience for our students, especially when it is local and with organisations and employers we have close links with. The survey requires good observation and identification skills, while navigating paths and steep climbs; all essential skills for countryside rangers and wardens. As a final bonus, the whole group spotted three red kites flying high over the Gorge, a species not associated with the area.”

Student Ryan Tate said,

“It was a great day on the Mendips, we were lucky enough to spot many sheep and goats, as well as learning about the Gorge ecology and history. We worked closely with National Trust staff and I enjoyed having the opportunity to speak to them about their conservation work and potential future employment.”

If you would like more information about studying Countryside Management at Bridgwater & Taunton College please contact our Information and Guidance team on 01278 441234. Alternatively visit the College in person at one of our Open Events.