We are running an art competition to gather a few more sheep for our sheep shearing event in July if you would like to take part you can print the instructions and template below. If you are having trouble we also have printed instructions in our visitor centre - just ask at reception for a copy.
HELP SALTHOLME NEEDS SHEEP!
The lambs at Saltholme are lonely and need some new woolly friends
Enter our sheepish competition to be in with a chance of winning some fantastic prizes
To continue from yesterday's post...
During my traineeship, I have had a lot of involvement with Saltholme's social media. I have made a few blog posts here and there and the odd tweet too, but mainly I have been working on the RSPB Saltholme Facebook page.
Myself, our assistant warden Toby Collett and marketing officer Liz Morgan head up the social media team and together we structure and organise the content to go on our Facebook page every week, which takes the form of a social media calendar, which I email out to the regular contributors. As regular Facebookers might know, we often give you reserve news and sightings in the mornings, with a supplementary story in the afternoon.
Above is a photo of the recent sightings board, which I usually photograph so I can remember what's been about on the reserve!
A big positive from my time here has been the training courses. Sometimes it can be difficult leaving the reserve for a few days as you do fall behind with other work, but the training has been invaluable in proving me with key skills for future employment within the sector. I won't list all the courses I attended here, but I will say the most valuable ones to me were the interpretation courses and the marketing and brand training.
You can see me here at John Veverka's introduction to interpretation course in Wales, presenting a smoking lapwing! - It was a little exercise where we designed an anti-littering poster :D
One more positive for me to take from this traineeship is that I met the love of my life at Saltholme! Jane was on a placement from Teesside University at the time and helped with the family activities during the summer holidays. I can proudly say we are engaged and are very happy together :)
So that just leaves me to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped me over the last 13 months. My line managers Ben Calvert, Caroline Found and Liz Morgan have been very supportive throughout, and excellent mentors. I also got great support from the Nature Counts team down at the RSPB Lodge, thank you to June Laban-Mitchell and Heather Giles. I must also extend gratitude to HLF for making these traineeships possible - without their generous funding, all this great experience would not have happened!
Today is officially my last day, before I get ready to move down south with Jane, to work at a pub doing marketing, social media and events! The idea is to keep the work experience going and make a better job of saving money, not always easy these days :D
Take care all!
Visitor Services Trainee
On April 2nd 2012 I officially started my 18 month traineeship with the RSPB, at the magnificent Saltholme reserve. The traineeship is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund – they do both ecology and visitor services traineeships. I am the latter – a visitor services trainee!
My job is to engage people with nature, and throughout my traineeship I planned and delivered family activities, events, talks, guided walks, interpretation and lots more besides. I will dive in now with a two-part bevy of pictures that I accumulated through the past 13 months...
Part 1 is today, and part 2 will be tomorrow J
Things start on a surreal note! Barely a month into my new role, Saltholme got an unusual delivery – the World’s largest hot cross bun! I still can’t quite remember why we hosted the delicacy on the reserve, but it did make the evening news under ‘currant’ events :P
Summer was fast approaching, and my then line-manager Ben Calvert was inducting me on the range of wild-guiding activities on offer for families during weekends and holidays, which led to a summer of pond dipping...
Some of you might recall my enthusiastic pond-dipping blogs – I really did enjoy pond dipping as much as the kids! The three-spined sticklebacks were definitely one of the highlights; children would spend a good couple of hours exploring the entire Discovery Zone trying to catch these little fish.
Water scorpions are brilliant, and once we’d found a reliable spot for them (they like the shallower, leafier edges of the pond), they started to become a more frequent find for families, and they did attract a lot of interest!
It wasn’t all about pond-dipping though. I helped design and implement trails around the reserve. Above is the Jubilee spotting sheet, which at the time was part of our red, white and blue theme, with the Queen’s Jubilee and the upcoming Olympic summer providing the inspiration.
It may come as a shock to you, but sometimes it does rain at Saltholme. Not often, I grant you, but when it does we need to make sure we have something of interest to the families who visit on the wet days. The classroom provides a great space for families to shelter if the weather isn’t so good, and we always make sure we have an activity on come rain or shine. The above photo shows the cockle-shell sculptures that we made to coincide with the common terns arriving back at Saltholme in their hundreds.
That’s all for now, part two coming tomorrow!
I’m sure you are all too familiar with the sharp stinging sensation of the common nettle. But while you are frantically rubbing the afflicted area and scrambling around trying to find a dock leaf to relieve the pain, have you ever noticed how great nettles are for wildlife?
This week (15-26 May (yes I know it is more than 7 days)) is national Be Nice to Nettles Week. Nettles provide a fantastic home for many kinds of wildlife.
The nettles formidable sting keeps grazing animals at bay, creating a safe place for many insects to hide. In fact, some insect species such as the nettle weevil survive only on nettles.
The most notable and showy inhabitants of a nettle patch are butterflies. Species like small tortoiseshell, red admiral and peacock frequent our nettle patch - the plants provide ample food and shelter for their caterpillars. Aphids also love nettle patches, and in turn they provide food for other creatures, especially ladybirds. Any birds which are agile enough to dart around nettle stems can take advantage of this tasty insect buffet. Later in the summer nettles provide huge amounts of seed, which is wolfed down by many of our seed eating birds.
You might be lucky enough to see peacock butterflies around the nettle patches at Saltholme
To honour the humble nettle, this Saturday and Sunday 18 -19 May, we are celebrating here at Saltholme with some special Nettle themed activities. You can take part in planting some wild seeds, try to spot wildlife in our nettle patch and even try some nettle tea. We will be continuing our nettle festivities the weekend after too (25-26 May), hopefully, with some tasty nettle soup.
Come along and take a look in our nettle patch, and let us know what you see – just be careful you don’t get stung!
I will leave you with something I hve learned about nettles today: Apparently Nettles have anti-fungal properties which seem to protect neighboring plants from fungal diseases and can be used as a packing material to prevent mould growth on fruit.
See there is much more to nettles than their sting!
The week brought with it some glorious hot sunny days which created ideal conditions for our weekly butterfly transect. Species recorded during the survey included, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, and Green-veined White.
Wader passage was a prominent fixture during the week with a traditional May Temminck’s Stint being a real highlight (Saltholme West, 7-8th). Other wader species recorded during the week included, Avocet, 2x Little Ringed Plover, 1x Ringed Plover, Dunlin, 1x Little Stint (Back Saltholme, 10th), 3x Wood Sandpiper (Saltholme West, 7th and 8th), 1x Common Sandpiper, Greenshank, 25x Black-Tailed Godwit and 1x Whimbrel (Fire Station Field).
This Wood Sandpiper showed superbly well from the Saltholme Pools Hide. Many Thanks to Renton Charman for the photograph.
I was up bright and early during the week to survey the Haverton Pools. On arriving at 4:00 I spotted a couple of Common Pipistrelle bats feeding on midges along a hedgerow. Bird song is particularly prominent at this time of year and given the early start I managed to record the progression of Saltholme’s dawn chorus. On arrival Blackbird, Reed Bunting, Lapwing and Song Thrush were already singing, the first Sedge Warbler burst into song at 4:25 followed by a sharming Water Rail at 4:37. By around 5:00 most birds had woken up, a Marsh Harrier flew over at 4:50, Grey Heron arrived to feed on the pools at 5:20 followed by a whistling Whimbrel at 5:25. Swallow, Yellow Wagtail and Common Tern were the late starters not arriving to the area until 5:45.
The Grey Heron behaves like any traditional fishing enthusiast in that it likes to arrive bright and early to fish the best spots. Many Thanks to Ray Scott for the photograph.
Other interesting sightings this week included, 2x Lesser Redpoll on the feeder next to the Phil Stead Hide (6th), singing Reed Warblers in the Discovery Zone reedbed, a drake Garganey, 2x Grey Partridge (Carpark, 5th), 3x Wheatear (Saltholme Clay Field dung heap, 7th) and 2x Whinchat (Dormans Pool).
Finally, more chicks emerged from the comfort of their eggshells during the week with a couple of Canada goose families and at least two Lapwing nests hatching. Hares could be seen grazing in many of Saltholme’s fields and Red Campion has started to flower en masse in the carpark.
The scratchy song of a male Common Whitethroat can be heard from most of the scrub at Saltholme. Many Thanks to Ray Scott for the photograph.