EcoEireann > EcoBlog > Meet the Team > Meet the Team: Maria Thompson, Ecologist

Meet the Team: Maria Thompson, Ecologist

Maria Thompson, EcoEireann Ecologist

Following the introduction of our ‘Meet the team’ page comes our mini blog series. Each week, hear personally from our team members about their roles at EcoNorth and more. This week, meet Maria, our Ecologist.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a 25-year-old Ecologist, originally from Manchester. I moved to the North East to study some 7 years ago and haven’t looked back! I enjoy living by the North East coast; the perfect place to get outdoors with my dog and enjoy the natural world. 

Summarise your role at EcoNorth

I joined EcoNorth in 2016, drawn by the small and friendly team and its connection to the Northumberland Wildlife Trust. My role comprises undertaking and managing protected species survey work, producing reports and assessments and managing projects. I am licensed to work with bats, great crested newts and barn owl and I am also a qualified tree climber!

What got you into Ecology?

A love of the great outdoors and an inability to sit still!

As a child I loved wildlife and nature; getting outdoors, climbing trees, plodging through rivers and reading nature books. As I went through school I was heading in a different direction, with an interest in music and the arts, however volunteering on conservation projects during Sixth Form reminded me of my passion for wildlife. A change in direction for University was the best choice I have made and studying in Newcastle was a fantastic experience.

What do you like most about working as an Ecological Consultant?

I love the variety of my job, the people I meet and work with and, of course, the wildlife I encounter. There’s no better feeling than seeing a 300+ strong maternity roost return to a building just after sunrise.

Describe the project you have worked on that you are proudest of. What did you do that worked out particularly well?

I have really enjoyed working alongside the rangers at Center Parcs, Whinfell Forest. The site is teeming with protected species and we have created a real partnership where we can share knowledge and skills to protect the wildlife for generations to come. I have particularly enjoyed surveying the site for wild flora and fauna; handling brown long eared bats from a long-term roost on site was a particular highlight.

What do you see for the future?

As I progress through my career I hope to develop my knowledge and confidence in bat ecology, an aspect of work which I am particularly interested in. I’d love to become licensed to undertake harp trapping / mist netting and get involved with bat research projects. The North East is an important place for the relatively unknown ‘ Nathusius’ Pipistrelle’ and bat ecologists here are currently obtaining data to support pioneering research in to the species.

Finally, what advice would you give to anyone starting out?

Experience, experience, experience. If you have a passion for nature and you’re motivated to work in consultancy there are numerous ways to get involved and to gain that vital experience which helps you stand out from the crowd when it comes to applying for jobs. Join your local interest group or sign up to undertake bat/newt surveys with your local consultancy. Find a local patch and get ID’ing!

Meet My Dog: Poppy

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a three-year-old Springer Spaniel called Poppy. I love to dig deep, hazardous holes at the beach, I love to squeak toys incessantly and most importantly, I love my ball.

What do you like most about coming to the office?

My favourite thing to do, after running zoomies around the office and saying hello to everyone, is to raid the bins for scraps – I am a spaniel after all!

How do you help your owner to be a better Ecologist?

My owner is teaching me to be an ‘ecology’ dog; one day I’ll be able to bark when I find a newt, but for now, the tennis ball will do.

What is the funniest thing you ever done?
We don’t talk about it, but I have proven myself quite apt at grey squirrel control.

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