I have now been here at Rutland Water since the beginning of September. I should have known what to expect when I started, as I have been volunteering at Rutland Water for four years with the Osprey project, but it has been even more interesting then I first thought. I began volunteering when I was at college working towards my A-levels and subsequently started studying for a degree in Wildlife Conservation at Nottingham Trent University. Part of my degree is a year in industry; this involves taking a year out of studying to gain experience and knowledge in my chosen profession.
My first week at Rutland Water was with the habitats team. I was trained along with the other Trainee Reserve Officers how to operate the tools and machinery that are used on the reserve. This included how to use a brush-cutter and how to operate the tractors and other vehicles on the reserve. The habitats team have also trained me in managing the many different habitats found on the reserve from woodlands to lagoons.
I work with the osprey winter work group at Lyndon on a Monday. We have been really busy with activities such as coppicing and willow weaving. I am also working with the projects team, this can involve early mornings going out into the cold bird ringing, as well as taking part in owl and bat box checks. All of these activities give us an idea of the size and health of the wildlife on the reserve.
Additionally I am working on the water vole project that takes place on the reserve and in the wider Rutland area. Their population is monitored by counting the amount of water vole droppings left on rafts which are placed around the areas being surveyed. This has been very successful at Oakham canal, an area which is being monitored at the moment. It currently has lots of positive water vole signs.
As well as outside work I have been helping Becky coordinate the volunteers. This involves making volunteer rotas, recording hours, sending emails and making sure everything is up to date. Furthermore I have been visiting schools teaching children about Rutland water and the ospreys.
As you can probably tell the first three months of my time here have already been really busy. I have gain lots of invaluable knowledge and experiences from identifying birds to how to drive a tractor. But most importantly I have had fun doing it and have met some of the most interesting, hands-on and kind people I have ever met.