February, 2012


Love volunteering? Here's your chance to connect with other volunteers who feel just like you. Or if you've not taken the plunge yet and have a question about getting involved as a volunteer, ask away!


  • Grasping the nettle – for corncrake conservation (Work Party No 2)

    RSPB volunteers gather nettles for corncrake conservation written by Patsy Harbinson - Volunteer and Farmer Alliance Project Officer

     What a day we had in Glenariff last Friday on the second of our stepping up for corncrake nettle gathering work parties!  As I drove with a carful of volunteers through the glens towards Glenariff that morning I am sure I was not the only thinking...”what am I doing?!?!”.  The weather was not promising with showers of sleet and even snow on higher ground, and it hadn’t improved much when we reached the farm where we would be digging the nettles.  However, in the spirit of all things volunteering and as the forecast predicted things to improve throughout the day we blattered on!

    The task for the day was once again to dig up nettle roots known as rhizomes which would later be taken later to Rathlin Island and planted as part of corncrake habitat regeneration work the RSPB is doing there.  There is a shortage of nettles on the island and so we have had to ship them in!

    We had a team of six keen volunteers prepared to brave the cold and roll up their sleeves to help RSPB staff up root and bag nettle rhizomes from a midden on the farm.  And boy did we gather nettles!  Incredibly the group managed to gather more than was gathered on the first work party – I think we got lucky in what would be a spectacular patch of nettles in the height of summer.  These nettles will soon be planted on Rathlin where they will regenerate into another spectacular patch of nettles which hopefully will prove irresistible to passing corncrakes who will use it to hide in and call for a mate in the spring.

    Before we knew it, it was time to stop for a well deserved lunch and then not long after that until we were packing the nettles onto the trailer bound for Rathlin.  There is definitely a high level of satisfaction in seeing the final result of your hard work all bundled up and ready to go, not to mentioned the obvious benefits of getting outdoors surrounded by wonderful scenery to do a spot of work with likeminded people.

    Would you like to come along to a future work party and help us gather some more nettles (we need lots) or clear brambles where they will be planted on Rathlin Island?  Here are dates of upcoming work parties we are still looking for more volunteers to help with

    • Friday 10th February – Nettle gathering, Glenariff
    • Friday 17th February – Nettle gathering, Glenariff
    • Monday 20th February – Nettle gathering, Glenariff
    • Friday 24th February – Bramble clearing, Rathlin Island (book early as spaces limited)
    • Friday 2nd March – Nettle gathering, Glenariff

     If you would like to get involved or would like more information please get in touch with me on 028 90 491547 or patsy.harbinson@rspb.org.uk to book a space.

    Please note booking is essential and that all work parties could be cancelled at short notice due to adverse weather conditions. Travel expenses of up to 25 miles (50 miles there and back) may be claimed and cost of ferry to Rathlin will be covered.

  • Love Volunteering and Volunteer Love at The RSPB

    It's Valentines' day tomorrow and I'm already planning the dinner I've promised to cook my other half. No doubt we will talk about how we met - which gives me a great topic for my volunteering blog this week...and I don't care if you think it's soppy......Happy Valentines

    Second Month at work and an email sits in my inbox. "Get involved" it says and asks staff to volunteer and be trained in stone wall building techniques on the reserve. Well I'm not much of a bricky but having joined the RSPB a few weeks before I was feeling rather chipper and RSPB 'eager'.

    So the email asks for volunteers and I definitely do want to get involved. I badger my Dad into going with me and suited up in old clothes and armed with lunch and drink, we march down to the reserve on a Saturday afternoon full to bursting with enthusiasm (this sensation is now becoming more familiar, the RSPB seems to do that to people).

    Whacking the stones into perfect shapes and lining them up ready to be put back into the Stone wall was brilliant fun, and the demonstration by the stone mason was eye opening, there is a lot of skill involved. Fun was definitely had all round and I was pleased as pie with a phone number from one of the other staff volunteers having got chatting while wielding a hammer (men; they like the oddest things!)

    My introduction to volunteering and the RSPB never slowed down, after stone wall building came scrub bashing, reed planting, Osprey monitoring, and the lovely brown eyes I met over the stone chippings became my husbands. Two children later and I can safely say that working and volunteering for the RSPB changed my life completely. It has given me a husband and two children! but more than that it has given me what was missing before; the motivation to support something bigger than myself , the knowledge that I am now part of a bigger group of like minded people and the realisation that I can make a difference.

  • Will this be the year you Do Something Different?

    Hooray - the new 2012 Residential Volunteering brochure “Do Something Different” has just come back from the printers. Every year we spend a lot of time and energy to make our brochure appealing and exciting – so those who read it are inspired to have a go. It’s always a little bit nail biting in the lead up to publication – after the final proof has been approved, there’s nothing more to do but wait and hope! Will the photos look as good as they did on the computer screen? Will the cover make you want to look inside? We try to keep the brochure looking fresh and new – and this year we have changed to untreated paper – less glossy, but greener! With input from all our wonderful wardens, each reserve has it’s own entry so you can get a flavour of life in the great outdoors – whether it’s manning a view point watching peregrines or puffins, or getting wet and windswept in the wild blue yonder doing winter farmland bird surveys!

    Of course the 2012 brochure will be available to view on line as a download on our website – but we continue to produce a paper copy for those who prefer to have a booklet to look at. However you get one, make sure you do and don’t miss out! Come and “Do Something Different” as an RSPB residential volunteerstep up for Nature with us and you won’t regret it!