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Claire Bending BSc Hons

Claire Bending BSc Hons


YCN role: Botanist/Wild Flower Walks Guide

Qualifications: BSc Hons Agriculture

Personal Profile:

A Westcountry girl who used to think York was in East Anglia, Claire spent a free-range childhood exploring the downs and woodlands of West Dorset and completely took for granted having a swathe of species rich downland right next to her home. Many happy hours were spent watching the jewel-like blue butterflies, collecting grasshoppers (they did get released again) and looking at the different flowers, and she can still remember the excitement of discovering a bee orchid with her father when she was ten.

Claire’s career started in farming, following the family business, firstly working on dairy farms and then specialising in crop science during her degree in agriculture. Her interest in nature led her to study how efficient crop production could still be achieved with wildlife friendly farming.

After she graduated, Claire worked in York for Defra (having successfully located York on a map), writing reports in their alternative crops department. However she found it very difficult being trapped in a small office all week and was fortunate to find a job instead working as a farm conservation adviser with the North York Moors National Park Authority.

Since then, she has spent the past 16 years working with land managers to improve their farms for wildlife and undertaking habitat surveys, and has also worked for the National Trust and The Grasslands Trust, as well as freelance. She can easily match James Herriot when it comes to stories of working with farmers, from the funny to the downright bizarre!

Her work has taken her all over the country and she has been lucky to work in a myriad of stunning habitats, from Hampshire water meadows to a Herefordshire Farm untouched by modern farming methods, and Yorkshire Dales hay meadows to Magnesian Limestone sea cliffs in County Durham.

Working in such a wide range of habitats gave Claire a chance to develop her botanical knowledge, which started out as a hobby and somewhere along the way turned into an addiction. Often found crawling in the grass, kindly people frequently ask her if she has lost something and a quick walk can take hours when a patch of something interesting is discovered.

Claire volunteers for the Species Recovery Trust, monitoring field gentian (a vulnerable red listed species) populations in the Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines and also takes part in the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS).

She has a keen interest in folklore and plant lore, and enjoys making corn dollies and playing the tin whistle (badly).

Claire loves to introduce people to the wonderful world of plants, and very much looks forward to guiding wild flower walks with Yorkshire Coast Nature.