Having arrived at Minsmere on Easter Sunday this will be my 7th week here as this years first new “Conservation Intern”. Having come from Ireland and having done all my studying, training, volunteering and indeed birding there, Minsmere is quite an experience. The location of the reserve on the south east of England means it is in an optimal position to play host to many species of birds and the more than occasional “rare” one.
I was really overwhelmed by my first three sightings, a green woodpecker, a nuthatch and red-legged partridge. I can hear you all laughing already but these birds are not just rare but non-existent on my native isle. Coupled with meeting all my new work colleagues and friends, moving to a new country not to mention into a house which sports a 1000 hectare nature reserve as a garden. Needless to say, I was stunned. This all came before my first Bittern, bearded tits and my new alarm clock a very very vocal nightingale that perches just outside my window, all I will say is that its pleasant been woken by him the first 10 times.
As I met my managers, fellow volunteers and collogues, I soon realized the amount of experience and knowledge available to me here. I am for all intensive purposes assuming the roll of a sponge, soaking up all the information humanly possible. If identifying all the visiting bird species at Minsmere was not a steep enough learning curve, I am now learning bird song, Moth identification and Damsel and Dragonflies. On top of all this, I have completed “Brush Cutting” (Industrial strimmer) course and “ATV” (All Terrain Vehicle) training. The use of both are essential in day to day reserve management. Tomorrow I am down the coast to RSPB Old Hall Marshes Reserve for a “Wet Grassland Management” course just one of the many more to come.
I was home the weekend just passed, back in Ireland I tried to explain to my eighty something year old granny what I actually do. I told her I am a bit of a farmer, teacher, tour guide, warden, carpenter (bad one) and many other things. She understood and gives her blessing.
I feel very privileged to be here, the easiest way to tell you enjoy your roll is when you get up at 4.30am to do some work and have a massive smile on your face. I know anyone with similar interests (Nature) will envy both myself and all the other lucky people who get to call Minsmere “The Office”
The next time you hear from me I will be hopefully after hearing and if I am luck seeing a Nightjar to name but one species that we expect to arrive soon.
Thanks for reading
Minsmere’s newest arrival
Ricky Whelan – Conservation Intern