After all events had been held online since our start last October (2021), QUADRAT DTP Cohort 3 finally had the chance to meet up close and in person in March (2022). The first test of our field course in Cromarty was how to travel there in the most climate friendly, expedient way possible while optimising resources. How did we fare? Parts 1 and 3 were passed with flying colours, Part 2 suffered from the other requirements, but isn’t that how feedbacks work?

Unforeseen circumstances – a very realistic component of any field work – made some training impossible, but the situation was quickly remedied with presentations on the many projects of the marine station in Cromarty, diving into ornithological studies, learning about botany as well as boat safety and completing an orienteering course.

Aerial survey tools a.k.a. drones with their wide range of applications for the public and private sector were demonstrated, which naturally led into risk assessments and planning for field trips. Each group was then tasked with organising a field trip to collect data for a specified research project, involving study design, logistics, manpower, travel, finances, securing permits and much more.

The obligatory day at the beach was dedicated to palaeoecology and reflected quite well the limited accessibility of some field work locations. Carrying the necessary equipment in and the collected samples out, along with keeping everyone focused and safe, can determine the success or failure of a field day. Luckily, this one found the whole group searching for and collecting fossils, asking questions and benefitting from each other’s expertise.

Some of us welcomed the last day by watching the sunrise above the outlet of Cromarty Firth, before we finished the week with a hike in the highlands, interspersed with stories about early human settlements and influences on the landscape in these parts of Scotland.

While the days were spent at the marine station or outdoors, the historical ‘Cromarty Brewery’ provided the backdrop for meals and evening activities, for games, conversations and just getting to know each other. Highly motivated by our first cohort activity, we look forward to more field experiences as a group.

QUADRAT DTP, cohort 3 in Cromarty, March 2022. Photo: Jyothi Basapathi.