Tales from the Trainees: Abi’s story

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 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...
Work Experience: A week at Rutland Water by Anna

Work Experience: A week at Rutland Water by Anna

The words: “Rutland Water” had been thrown around multiple times before I signed up for the work experience; whether it was relating to the beaches, sailing or the water park. I had driven past it numerous times, seeing a vast expanse of water and had walked down to the tip of the Hambleton Peninsula and back to Oakham. What I didn’t know at the time was that it hosted a nature reserve and how large it actually was. I discovered the work experience when I was given a pamphlet of work experience options during one tutorial period. I was immediately drawn in as I had already heard of the name numerous times and how much I enjoyed walking down the Hambleton Peninsula. Living in China for a few years, I realised how important it is to protect our natural environment. It was almost as if the job had my name on it, so I wrote an application and sent it in, crossing my fingers that I’d be picked as a volunteer on work experience. I was absolutely overjoyed when I got an email offering me a place. I started my work experience on Monday the 2nd of July at the Lyndon Visitor Centre. Here I initially worked at the cash register, selling tickets for the numerous people who had come to see and watch the ospreys. I worked with another girl on work experience called Helen who had similar interests with me and was super nice. I was surprised by how many people came in the visitor centre- around 40 people did. They ranged from young families who went...
Wild Horizons: CV and Interview Workshop

Wild Horizons: CV and Interview Workshop

Many of our Wild Horizons members are looking for jobs in the conservation sector, an area which is now quite competitive – understandably, working on a nature reserve is a popular career choice! It  can often be tricky to even get an interview – thankfully, Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust staff were on hand this weekend to help us tweak our CVs, practice our interview skills and give us tips on presenting under pressure. The day started with a presentation from Rutland Water Nature Reserve Manager Mat Cottam, on how to write the perfect CV. All of our members had brought their own CVs in for editing, and after the presentation we got the chance to go over them with a mentor. Ken Davies, Osprey Education Officer, then delivered an excellent presentation on… how to deliver an excellent presentation! Ken has captivated audiences of all ages on the topic of ospreys and was able to give us some handy tips on how to keep our presentations interesting and engaging. Finally, Simon Bentley, Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust Director, gave us a talk on how to succeed at interviews. We were then able to practice possible interview questions for our chosen jobs in small groups, with a mentor to give us tips on where we were going wrong. It was helpful to be put on the spot with interview questions, as we might be in real life. Thank you to all of our mentors on the day, Simon Bentley, Sarah Proud (Volunteer Coordinator), Ken Davies and Mat Cottam, for their assistance and advice – I think we will all feel more confident...
A Year of Mothing at Rutland Water by volunteer recorder, Paul Palmer

A Year of Mothing at Rutland Water by volunteer recorder, Paul Palmer

People often ask me what time of year do moths fly and are surprised to hear the answer: ‘Every month of the year.’ It is true that not so many fly in the colder months, and that they avoid windy and very wet weather, but many species, such as the Dark Chestnut and Dotted Border, hibernate as adults and readily appear in brief mild nights throughout the Winter. Others, like the appropriately named Early Moth, emerge from their pupa when the weather is mild in the first 10 weeks or so of the year. It therefore follows that to get a really good idea of the moth species present recording should take place throughout the year whenever the weather seems suitable. In 2017 my moth recording at Rutland Water started on the evening of 19th February when I started to find places to run traps near Sharple’s Meadow and Lagoon II. I was joined by someone new to moth recording, who best remain nameless, who watched with great interest as each trap was carefully located on level ground, and secateurs used to clear trailing brambles, dead twigs and small nettle shoots. After a while, a voice said: ‘Ah, I see what you are doing: making a clear zone to improve the effectiveness of your traps. Very clever.’ One must always be encouraging, so I replied: ‘Yes, I am sure you are correct, but I find removing the brambles stops them snagging my clothes, cutting the twigs prevents them poking me in the eye, and trimming the nettles reduces stings later in the year.’ Moving quickly on to the following...
Wild Horizons: Brilliant Bryophytes

Wild Horizons: Brilliant Bryophytes

This weekend we were lucky to have bryophyte expert Uta Hamzaoui lead a workshop on mosses and liverworts for our Wild Horizons group. Uta is the bryophyte county recorder for Leicestershire and also works as a Conservation Officer for Leicester and Rutland Wildlife Trust. Bryophytes consist of mosses, liverworts and hornworts, and over 1,000 species can be found in the UK. Almost all of the members of Wild Horizons had little knowledge of bryophytes before the session started, and Uta gave us an excellent introduction to the subject. We started by heading out into the field to see how many species we could find. Armed with a small ID guide featuring the most common species at Rutland Water Nature Reserve, we began looking for mosses and liverworts in a quiet, damp, wooded area of the reserve. We didn’t have to move very far, for within about a 10m radius we found 11 of the 12 species on our ID guide, with the final species just a short walk away. The only downside to finding so many bryophytes in such a small area was that we weren’t moving very much, so we soon got very chilly! After a couple of hours outside we retreated back indoors to look at the specimens we had collected with our hand lenses and microscopes. We learnt that bryophytes are non-vascular plants that reproduce by releasing spores from their ‘sporophytes’ (stalk-like structures), which can be carried on the wind to recolonise new areas. Instead of roots, bryophytes take up water by absorbing it through their surface, and as such they prefer damp places where they can thrive. We watched mosses drying...
Tales from the (New) Trainees

Tales from the (New) Trainees

It’s a little overdue, but the time has come!  We are the new trainee reserve officers (TROs) and we’ve come to the blog to say “hello!”.  Let us introduce ourselves…   “Hello everyone, I’m Claire and one of the TROs this year. I’ve had a varied background having never found a career that has made me happy or satisfied at the end of a long hard day. Most recently I was an accountant. After a year and a half sat behind a desk I knew that it wasn’t the career for me. Before that I was a volunteer personal assistant for a tetraplegic man, this was a challenging but very rewarding time however it was always going to be an interim between university and a job. Finally, all that happened after I completed a degree in Biomedical Sciences! A varied background, as I said. Through it all I’ve always had an interest in the natural world and have always been happiest when outside exploring so I’ve decided to indulge this passion and am excited at the prospect of this coming year!“       “Hello, my name is Alexandra, better known on the reserve as Alex!  I’m a new TRO at Rutland Water.  My background is grounds maintenance/horticulture at an ornamental city park.  I decided to apply for the TRO programme because I really enjoyed my previous job.  I enjoyed using tools, working outdoors, working in teams and getting hands-on, and realised I wanted to do something similar throughout my life. I’ve always wanted to work outdoors to protect the environment, either for the benefit of people or wildlife,...

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