30 Days Wild: A blog by work experience student Gabby

30 Days Wild is nearing a close now, and this week we have had work experience student Gabby with us taking part in all sorts of wild activities on the nature reserve. Below Gabby writes about her week. 

Work experience week 25th/06/18 – 29th/06/18

I started my work experience on Monday 25th at Lyndon osprey centre. We began by walking down to the two osprey hides. We spent many hours observing the wonderful birds. The 6-week-old chicks had begun to lift off the nest and hover – getting ready to start flying for the first time. I learnt a lot about the ospreys that day, such as; they have eyesight, which is 16 times better than ours is and have reversible talons to help them catch fish – zygodactyl. I also learnt about their winter migration to Senegal and Gambia in Africa. After lunch, I was working in the office creating a table showing the male behaviour of the father osprey during the incubation months. I learnt a lot that day about the different osprey behaviours and about ospreys in general.

On Tuesday 26th, I was working at Egleton birdwatching centre with the education team. I was helping with a primary school that came in. We went pond dipping, bug hunting and birdwatching. The kids loved all these activities, especially the birdwatching. My favourite activity was the pond dipping, as I was able to see animals I had not seen in a long time. The children caught newts, water boatmen and Ramshorn snails and lots of others too. In the afternoon, I was in the office with Dale and Luke. We were sorting through files and getting rid of any staff information we did not need so that it fit with the new regulations. I had a lot of fun working with young children and helping them hunt for bugs and telling them about the ospreys when we went birdwatching.

On Wednesday 27th, I was at the Volunteer Training Centre (VTC) helping the Habitat team. We started the day by loading the Polaris with tools we would need for the jobs we were doing that day. We had two tasks to do that day, first, we needed to catch a Hebridean ewe whose horn had grown deformed and was squishing her face, and then we needed to dismantle a metal fence to open up the habitat. I already knew a lot about sheep as I go lambing every Easter, however, I had never worked with this type of sheep before and it was nice to learn about them. We lured them into the pen that we made using food and then moved seven of the ewes into the trailer so that the vet could take the horn off the ewe. We then went to dismantle the fence. This was a tough task as it was boiling heat and there were hundreds of annoying bugs trying to bite us. As well as that there was, think grass to get through and stiff staples to pull out of the poles to take the wire off the fence. In the end, we got a lot of the fence taken down and we were very happy. That day, I learnt a lot about the Hebridean ewes and about the tools, we were using to take the fence down.

The next day, Thursday 28th, I was back at the Egleton visitor centre working in the shop. I was working with a group of lovely people. We spent quite a lot of our time talking and meeting people who came into the centre. A school group came to visit the education team that day and wanted to buy things at the shop. It then became very chaotic with kids wanting to buy things and then realising they do not have the money, which held up the cue.  We were frantically scanning and selling things to the kids for about an hour. In the afternoon, the shop was slow with people coming in and out every now and then. By the time I left the shop at 4 o’clock, over 130 people had come into the shop.  I learnt a lot about working the till and sorting out day permits and parking tickets. Additionally, I learnt about the sightings book, which birdwatchers write in to tell other birdwatchers what they had seen and when. I also learnt about different types of binoculars, as my dad had wanted to know about them so that he could see our barn owls.

My last day, Friday 29th, I was at the VTC again working with the volunteer team. We went on a walk around the reserve and went birdwatching around lagoons 3 and 4 while we were out. To begin with, I set up the upstairs meeting room with tables and chairs so that when we came back from the walk we could eat cake and drink coffee and tea. Before the walk, I wrote this blog about what I had done during my week. However, the exciting thing which happened while we were out on the walk seeing a Bittern, which is a very uncommon bird seen on the reserve as they move silently through reed beds at the water’s edge. Bitterns eat fish, amphibians and insects. They are a light brown – creamy colour with brown – green legs. At the hide where we saw the bittern, we also saw three cygnets. I loved watching the cygnets with their parents protecting them.

The view of the VTC from Plover Hide

The week of work experience was great fun, I met so many wonderful people, some of whom I knew from volunteering, and some I met for the first time. I learnt so much about the wildlife and how the reserve is ran. I believe that the week of work experience has enabled me to understand what aspects of the reserve I could go into. For now, working with animals and the reserve is a hobby rather than something I will go into in the future, however, it has shown me what I could do when I am older.