I’m currently nicely sunburnt after volunteering at RSPB Old Moor’s Springwatch event. It was my first time volunteering at an event of this kind (I was supposed to do one in April, but it was the weekend before I moved house), and it was good fun.
I spent the morning signing in visitors, who had brought their kids to pond-dip, hunt for mini-beasts, make wildlife masks, and go on guided walks. Although your hardcore birders whinge at loads of kids arriving at reserves like this, I think it’s great every now and then, and if some of those kids have an interest in wildlife and conservation kindled then it’s a job well done.
I spent a chunk of the afternoon helping to mini-beast hunt, but to be honest my helping was more swiping nets around the grass and asking the guide what my bugs were, thus becoming another big child for him to answer questions for! As well as catching some mean spiders, plant bugs and froghoppers, there were some dragonflies and damselflies around, as well as loads of butterflies. The guy leading the hunt got quite excited when he spotted a large skipper, and even more so when he found a dingy skipper. I really must brush up on insects – it’s National Insect Week very soon, and maybe I’ll have a garden mini-beast hunt to celebrate…
Then I went along on one of the guided walks. The first interesting point was a reed warbler singing its head off in some reeds, very close to the path. Frustratingly you could see branches moving which showed I was inches away from it but never actually caught a glimpse of it. I suspect it was invisible.
Then the walk went on to a wooded part, usually roped off to visitors, where tawny owls are breeding on the site for the first time. The female was roosting in one of the trees, and it was great being able to help point it out to the assembled crowd.
In between I managed a small bit of birding too… common terns are back on the site and I saw a fair few, as well as my first ringed plovers of the year. Apparently a hobby, marsh harrier and some black terns were among recent sightings. Why do I always miss the good stuff?!
So yes, a fun day volunteering. If anyone likes the sound of the events that took place, it’s also happening tomorrow (Sunday 10th).