Who Are You?
I am Kate Rooney and I joined Lockhart Garratt as a Senior Ecological Consultant in July 2021, based in the Chipping Norton office. I first picked up a bat detector in my teens for summer work with a local freelancer, and otherwise prior to starting with Lockhart Garratt I worked for four years at an ecological consultancy near Oxford and three years before that at a large multi-disciplinary in Stroud. I have a BSc in Zoology from Durham and a MSc in Marine and Fisheries Ecology from Aberdeen.
What do you do?
As a Senior Consultant my role is slightly more office based than some of my colleagues in the Ecology team, with an emphasis on project management, report production and quality control, and providing sound ecological advice for our clients. Biodiversity calculations, typically involving active liaison with clients and landscape teams to maximise the biodiversity potential of a site is also becoming an increasingly significant aspect of the role.
Having said that, I relish any opportunities to get myself out in the field (it’s why we choose this career after all!), and usually manage a day or two of survey work each week. This can include site appraisal (i.e. extended Phase 1 habitat surveys), building assessments (which as a bat licence holder can involve shimmying around dusty attic spaces) and a variety of protected species survey work.
What projects have you found particularly interesting to be involved with?
I have been involved with all kinds of projects over the years, and most are interesting in some way – the size of a project in no way corresponds with its complexity! I have been lucky enough to work with some fantastic wider project teams in the past, and at an early enough stage for the ecology of a site to then inform the project design from the ground up. This then allows gains to be achieved both for biodiversity, and for creating great places for new residents to live. Other career highlights include bat inspections of a Cold War era military base and a 19th Century chateau, an adder photo-identification study, and bat surveys on the roof of Blenheim Palace.
At Lockhart Garratt, the current portfolio of works in the south-west includes areas of higher ecological interest (for example ancient woodland, horseshoe bats and rare invertebrates), which in turn bring interesting challenges in how to manage the impacts on these receptors. I am certainly being kept on my toes!
With a barbastelle during a trapping night in 2019
What has been your favourite Lockhart Garratt moment to date?
Highlights so far have included habitat surveys of some fabulous woodland and grassland sites down in Devon and finding a brown long-eared roost in a downstairs bathroom of an occupied house (the bat was actually flying through part of the hall to get to it). My last bat emergence survey of the year also had lesser horseshoe, barbastelle and barn owl passes (as well as multiple emergences by common bat species) which couldn’t have been a better way to finish the season!
What are your interests and hobbies?
As anybody who knows me is aware, my interest in bats leans towards obsession, and in normal (non-Covid) years they are as much my hobby as my career! Examples include plenty of bat box and hibernation checks, scrambling down caves in Gloucestershire counting horseshoe bats, and several mist netting/harp trapping surveys, with a shout out to one particularly amazing night in Wiltshire where we caught eleven species, including both horseshoes, barbastelle and brandt’s bat.
Away from bats, my interests include live music (as my partner is a proper metalhead, this tends to lean heavy!), cooking and hiking. We spend many of our holidays in the Pyrenees with my partner’s (French) family, and tend to gravitate towards mountains in our other breaks (e.g. in the last couple of years we have explored Skye and the Western Highlands, the Massif Central, and a good chunk of Snowdonia). Our long planned trip to Peru was unfortunately cancelled due to you-know-what, but we are keeping fingers crossed for 2022.
Summer hiking in the Pyrenees