Shortly after the highly motivational 'RSPB Experience' I headed off to “Three Holes” an off road training centre in Cambridgeshire to join my fellow conservation interns on a two day quad bike course. The quad bike is an essential piece of equipment used on many of the RSPB reserves. The course is designed to ensure we know how to operate the bikes properly and safely. After a morning of best practice and health and safety in the classroom we were raring to get stuck into the practical part.
The Eastern Region's finest in action under the watchful eye of Andy
Tango Man himself – Ricky where on earth did you get that boiler suit?
I thought it was high time to write another update about what I've been doing at the Brighton office.
Since I last wrote, I have made another poster (see above), which was for a science fair stall about owl diets - hence the owl chef! (That's right, it really does say 'house sparrow roast' on his menu!)
Over the past few weeks I have been working on a series of illustrations for the RSPB's Pulborough Brooks reserve. These will be going onto the information boards around the reserve, highlighting things for visitors to notice and look out for. So far I have drawn a mole, a plump of moorhens and a hedgerow full of berries and small animals. Luckily, I was able to go and visit the Pulborough reserve before I started making the pictures, which has been incredibly helpful. Everytime I begin a picture, (as well as looking up images online), I take myself back to that day and it really gets me in a creative mindset!
Today I have been doing some more illustrations for Jenny, to go in the Summer edition of Involve for the South East Region. One of these pages was especially interesting, featuring the Gola rainforest. I now know what a white-necked picathartes looks like, and if someone says the word 'bongo', I might think 'antelope', rather than 'drum'!
Anyway, hope you've enjoyed reading,
April has arrived and it is officially the start of my Conservation Internship. Most new RSPB employees and some full time volunteers are invited to attend a two day induction course at RSPB Head Quarters at the Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire. The aptly named “RSPB Experience” is an excellent opportunity to meet fellow RSPB employees and volunteers and understand what exactly they do within the organisation. The course also outlines the RSPBs’ operational areas and how the membership money is spent. The highlight for me was an inspirational lecture given by Dieter Hoffman of BirdLife International giving us a very clear snapshot of the crucial work carried out internationally by the RSPB in partnership with other global conservation institutions.
The Lodge in all it's sping splendour....
All around the Headquarters the RSPB have created and nurtured a diverse range of habitats for birds, insects and mammals alike e.g. one of the hillsides was once home to many pines and other species of tree, but they have been removed to encourage the growth of heather, which has dramatically declined across the region and across the country.
I’m hedging my bets yew know what bird this is……!!!!!
You may remember that over the week Monday 7 to Sunday 13 February 2011, I asked you to recycle your old mobile phones in an attempt to help us beat a world record, and raise money for our conservation work.
Well, as always, you rose to the challenge and I’m delighted to tell you that we smashed the world record, beating our own target in the process. The week saw a whopping 6,130 mobiles donated, many more than the old record of 3,883.
Doug Christie, Licensing Manager, said "This was a tough challenge and we are delighted with the magnificent response. Not only have we managed to set a new World Record, but we have raised £5,214 to help fund our conservation work. This is a wonderful effort by all who took part and we are extremely grateful."
While the World Record Challenge is now over, the Recycling Appeal continues and donations of mobile phones, inkjet cartridges, digital cameras, sat navs, iPods and game consoles are accepted. For more information visit the website www.recyclingappeal.com/rspb or phone 08451 30 20 10.
Perhaps next year we'll try to break our own record!
March was an incredibly busy month. I went up to the RSPB’s reserve at Strumpshaw Fen to attend an interview for the Eastern Region Conservation Internship scheme. The interview was split into three sections, firstly I had to answer some gruelling interview questions posed by a panel of RSPB wardens and assistant wardens. I then had to make a presentation to the wardens on a recent conservation project I had been involved in and finally I had to undergo a really challenging wildlife identification test with Annie “Mrs Motivator” Sadler (Volunteering Development Officer, Eastern Region).
Once that was over, I could relax and I was taken on a brief tour of the reserve. During which I was totally elated to see four otters in the wild for the first time ever. They were only metres away playing with and devouring an eel right opposite the visitor centre. I couldn’t believe my luck, it was absolutely marvellous. Alas though, there aren’t any pictures as my faithful point and shoot camera isn’t ideal for wildlife photography.
A week later I was delighted when I was informed that I had been accepted on the Conservation Internship Scheme. I would be continuing at Old Hall Marshes for another six months full time as of April. The scheme is a dual residential voluntary initiative, whereby after finishing up at Old Hall I would then transfer over to Minsmere, Suffolk for a further six months in October. Although I am still a volunteer, my lodgings and utilities are paid for. The RSPB provide accommodation in a shared volunteers’ cottage just outside the reserve at Old Hall Lane and in Minsmere there is a weather boarded volunteers’ shared bungalow located on the reserve itself.
In the Eastern region Titchwell Marsh and Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk are the other reserves participating on the Conservation Internship scheme. In total there are four places available on this programme and I was delighted to be one of those privileged four people.
The Conservation Internship is primarily focused on helping the RSPB staff with their weekly programmes of work on each reserve. This includes habitat management and maintenance work around the reserve, along with the collection and collation of avian and non-avian survey data, participation in stock management and monthly hydrology surveys. I would also be responsible for organising and representing the RSPB at local and regional events.
More to follow next week......