Wednesday, 7 October 2015

My year with the Lizard Ranger Team

Self Portrait
I have been volunteering with the National Trust for the past year. I first applied for the role after finishing my degree in Wildlife Photography, as being hugely passionate about nature and conservation, the National Trust seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Brush cutter on the coastpath
Photo Michael Hirst
I have been volunteering with the practical ranger team who care for the Trust’s land on the Lizard. When I first started I had very limited experience and knowledge about conservation work so there was a steep learning curve. I have slowly gained more and more confidence and competence and I have since gained a qualification in use and maintenance of a Brush cutter.

Mullion Harbour last winter
Photo Michael Hirst

During the Monday morning meetings and yearly ranger conferences I get the opportunity to hear about the range of projects that the whole team are involved with. There has been a large scale project to restore the harbour wall at Mullion Cove after the winter storms of 2014 and the BBC came down to film the 'Sounds of our Shore' project.

Chough defending the nest
Photo Michael Hirst
One of the projects I really enjoyed was helping to monitor and protect the rare schedule 1 Choughs. Cornwall is a stronghold for the Chough in the UK and they feature on the county’s coat of arms. From the natural return of just 3 birds to Cornwall over 10 years ago, a small population has grown. My job was to watch and protect a single nest on the Lizard. As I noted down the activities of the two parents I noticed repeated behaviours as they would feed their young. My time with the Choughs came to an end  when the 5 chicks were rung (identification rings placed on their legs) in the nest shortly before they fledged. The Chough doesn't migrate so when I am out walking year round I often see the Choughs flying overhead, which is always a welcome sight.

Tiger Moth at Poltesco
Photo Michael Hirst
Bunny at Lizard Point
Photo Michael Hirst

With the National Trust I have learnt more about the natural world through first hand experience working within the woodland at Tremayne Quay and swailing (controlled burning) the cliffs at Predannack. I have also participated in surveys to monitor the moths in our garden, the crustaceans in our rock pools and the litter on our beaches. Whilst working at the watch point at Lizard Point I have had some of the most rewarding wildlife encounters including seeing two Bottlenose Dolphins, a Barrel Jellyfish and watching a kit first emerge out of a Rabbit warren.

I hope you enjoy seeing these photos, captured in my year with the Trust on the Lizard.


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