Tuesday, 16 September 2014

16th September: Special blog from Millie, high school placement student

I’m Millie, a year 13 student who has just finished a work placement here at Lindisfarne NNR.

MONDAY: After arriving in the morning and registering as a volunteer, I was straight over to the Island with Reserve Warden Laura. We went down onto the beach at the Snook armed with black bin bags and a litter picker. I was surprised at the amount of rubbish that the recent, really high tide had washed up but we managed to clean all along the stretch of beach, leaving it litter free.

Litter-free, but we found many small crab shells

After lunch it was then time to visit the Window to Wild Lindisfarne building to refresh the box of leaflets about the Reserve and check it was clean and tidy for the public. We then proceeded to do the same for the Lookout to Wild Lindisfarne, not without admiring the view!

TUESDAY: the day started with another round of cleaning up after the high tide litter, but this time along the causeway.

It was then time to complete the weekly butterfly survey that runs throughout the summer. It was a very sunny day so we were hopeful to see a few, despite it being a little windy! Sadly, we were only able to see three different species and a grand total of six butterflies. This was due to it being late in the season, meaning many had died off, including the Reserve's “star” butterfly: the dark green fritillary.

Dark green fritillary

Back at the office, I was able to look at the data collection sheets from the most recent Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and process some of the data in a spreadsheet. It was interesting to see the variation of a species over the years.

WEDNESDAY: after briefly helping with the BBS spreadsheets again and making some graphs, we were back out the office to another part of the reserve at Cheswick beach. The NNR site was larger than I realised! Here, Laura and I carried out a Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), counting the number of each species with a telescope and recording it. Aside from the numerous herring gulls and cormorants, we saw some eider ducks, terns and a group of at least five porpoises just offshore!

The Reserve at Cheswick, where we started the WeBS

THURSDAY: on my last day, it was time to help remove some of the many Scots pine saplings that were sprouting up in the dunes. These trees would change the valuable sand dune ecosystem that is home to important species on the Reserve, so we pulled them up at the root where possible.

Scots pine sapling before removal

On another part of the island there is a freshwater pond, the Lough, with a hide looking out onto it. We walked there and gave the hide a quick check and clean. We had to be quick as inside there was one nest of swallows still not fledged and the parent birds wanted to come in and feed them.

Massive thank you to the whole team at the Lindisfarne NNR and Natural England for letting me have such a fantastic week of work experience. It gave me an insight into conservation work in this country and parts of the job that I had not even considered. I hope to volunteer with them again in the future!

- And from us at Lindisfarne NNR, many thanks to Millie for doing a great job helping the Reserve team throughout the week, best of luck in Year 13 and future studies!

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