Tales from the Trainees: Abi’s story

A blog by new Trainee Reserve Officer Abi Mustard, an old friend of the nature reserve back to join us in a new role after completing her degree.

“The natural world is the greatest source of excitement.  The greatest source of visual beauty.  It is the greatest source of so much of life that makes life worth living.” ~ Sir David Attenborough

The view of lagoon 4 from the Volunteer Training Centre, where Abi is based

I like the idea of starting this piece with a quote and feel it is only appropriate for it to be from Sir David Attenborough.  As he puts so eloquently, the natural world is jam-packed full of fascinating phenomena, stunning habitats and picturesque landscapes.  In my biased opinion, Rutland Water is one such example of natural beauty, and has been the place where I have developed a keen interest in the world of conservation, which is what I shall be babbling about in this entry.  But before any of that I should introduce myself.  My name is Abigail, but most people call me Abi, and I am lucky to be one of this year’s Trainee Reserve Officers (TROs).

So, let me start at the very beginning when I first began my volunteering career at Rutland Water seven years ago.  The Rutland Osprey Project’s Education Team, who included one of the current team members Ken Davies, visited my school to do what they do best – talk ospreys.  After such a fascinating and enthusiastic presentation, I couldn’t help but see if I could get involved, and I was able to arrange two weeks’ work experience with the Rutland Osprey Project.  This involved monitoring the ospreys, as well as volunteering on one of the Rutland Osprey Project’s osprey cruises on Rutland Water.  It was, to put it simply, fantastic, and I have continued to volunteer with the Rutland Osprey Project and at the reserve since.

The view from Waderscrape hide, where Abi has spent many hours volunteering with the Rutland Osprey Project

During the lead up to my work experience with the Rutland Osprey Project I got involved with lending a hand with the Wildlife Watch group, which involved helping younger children with various nature related activities – I don’t know if it is possible to get ‘too old’ to go pond dipping!  Another group that I started volunteering with was Wild Skills, a more practical bunch of people of my age.  With the Wild Skills group, we had the chance to carry out habitat management strategies, including coppicing and bird box construction, and we had an exciting opportunity to witness a bird ringing demonstration close up.

 

Having finished (thankfully) my A-levels I headed off to Aberystwyth University to study a degree in Ecology.  During the university summer holidays I got involved volunteering with Ken and the Rutland Osprey Project’s Education Team.  It is always great to watch the children’s excitement and enthusiasm when learning about the Rutland ospreys, particularly trying their hardest, and with great success I might add, to remember one of the key terms zygodactylic!

 

Throughout the final year of my degree I started to think about life after university and what I would actually like to do as a career, and remembering all the different experiences I have had, whether it be volunteering at Rutland Water or with my degree, I knew I always enjoyed being outdoors.  Having spoken to a few of the previous years’ TROs, I decided to apply for the traineeship, and I cannot wait to see what this year brings.  I have already had so many new experiences, including an opportunity to assist in the checking of bat boxes.

Weighing a bat caught during a bat box survey