Monday, 20 October 2014

"Why do we volunteer?"


 Keith at the Watchpoint
Here is a wonderful description, from one of our Wildlife Watchpoint volunteers Keith, about why he and many others volunteer at Lizard Point. It captures the wonder so many of us feel when we stand at Britain’s Most Southerly Point.



Why do we volunteer? It’s a no brainer really!! Southerly Point on the Lizard Peninsula is a microcosm of all things good about Cornwall, it encapsulates the vast and rich array of flora and fauna to be seen in this part of the country, it’s a place where time has stood still, where nothing has changed in decades and it’s our place of work!

In the sky we are fortunate to (probably) be the first to see the returning swallows. Later we will catch a glimpse of a sky full of kite having their annual day by the sea and if we are luckier still we may see hoopoe or rare warblers blown in across oceans ravaged by gales.  All this, against a beautiful backdrop of thousands of passing seabirds.


Lizard Lighthouse


In the sea we don’t have to look far for our resident seals, fishing in the coves, bobbing in the waves or just basking on the rocks in the glorious sunshine. Further out that glimpse of black in the tidal races show the porpoise on the prowl for food, or the passing pods of dolphin on their relentless journeys around the coast. When the warmth of summer really arrives and the Gulf Stream is in full flow we ponder at the sights of basking shark, sunfish or any other aquatic organism that has hitched a ride on the seas incessant current.

On land, the parched winter cliffs, left by howling gales and salt ravaged spray, suddenly erupt into a myriad of colours at the first sign of the spring sunshine. Huge varieties of plants, some so rare they are only found on the Lizard Peninsula, take their place for all to see.

Cornish Chough

 And as if not enough, we have our favourite Cornish Choughs cavorting and calling from nearby cliffs, resplendent in their iridescent plumage and unmistakable red legs and beak. Returned to Cornwall of their own accord as if by magic, to set up nest sites for us all to view. That’s why we enjoy volunteering, we just love the place.

But it is not ours alone, this Crown Jewel set on the most Southerly Point of the British Isles is for us all to share. Why don’t you take a peek one day on all that nature has to offer, we’d love to show you around.        - Keith




Keith with other volunteers and visitors at the watchpoi

Keith is an expert in the history and behaviour of Cornish choughs. Not only does he spend hours watching, tracking and protecting the nests of the choughs here in Cornwall, he also spends one or two days a week sharing his enthusiasm for these rare red-legged crows on the Wildlife Watchpoint. Keith has a fantastic way with words and loves to inspire people with his stories. He has entertained hundreds of visitors on the watchpoint, leaving them all with a smile and a new passion for these magnificent birds. Quite a few folk have been so inspired that they have joined the Chough Watch Team which is over 100 people strong in Cornwall. 

Volunteers, like Keith are at the heart of the Wildlife Watchpoint, helping people get closer to nature everyday. We want to send a huge thank-you to all our volunteers for their help, we couldn't run the watchpoint without them.



Keith 'choughed' at the Chough Project Wildlife Weekend

At this time in particular we want thank Keith who has supported us for many years despite his ill-health. (Please note: we have Keith's support and permission to write this.) Unfortunately, Keith was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2011. Since then his health has been up and down but he has still continued to volunteer regularly. As I'm sure you can sense in his words above, he finds the choughs and places like Lizard Point an inspiration. He says 'they keep him going... and without them 'he wouldn't be here today.' 




Keith is a remarkable character, an inspiration not only through his story telling and enthusiasm but through his 'winning' attitude. He has given so much time, effort and energy to the chough project. We (and the 'choughs') have been very lucky to have him on board. Knowing Keith's positive attitude, it was no surprise to learn that, despite his ill-health, he is still trying to do something good for other folk.

Chough - (photo by Terry Thirlaway)

Next month, Keith is planning to take part in ‘Movember’ (a charity event where men grow moustaches to raise awareness and funds for prostrate cancer research). 

It appears Keith has even got the choughs inspired! They seem to be doing their bit to rally up support. We wish Keith every success in his fundraising appeal and hope he feels better soon. 




If you want to see what other antics Keith has inspired for  'Movemeber' and / or if you would like to support Keith and the ‘Movember’ appeal please visit: 




- Cat




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