Rebecca Wallbank, our second long term volunteer has just started a week or so ago and has been thrown in the deep-end straight away with helping with the island gull count as well as learning about the island so she can pass the knowledge onto the visitors, here is her first blog posting:
Dear visitors to the Isle of May blog,
I am the newest member of the warden team. I’m here as the second long-tern volunteer and I will be staying on the island for 10 weeks. I have finished my first week and I’m still smiling! But who wouldn’t be! The island is absolutely stunning, from its scenery to the flowers to the quarter of a million birds wheeling in the sky above my head.
The moment I arrived on the May, I was straight into learning the ropes. Sarah showed me around the island footpaths. We were available for visitors to ask questions and also ensured everyone was staying on the tracks. At this time of year it is essential that the paths are kept to. Even a small step off can result in crushing a puffin burrow, disturbing a sitting eider or breaking the camouflaged egg of a tern. Beside the disappointment and embarrassment this would cause to the person, it can have serious effects on the breeding success of the birds.
As a warden, however, it is sometimes necessary to leave the paths to manage the habitat or monitor the birds. I have been learning the technique to walking off the path and it is quite stressful! You have to concentrate the entire time, scanning the ground in front of you for eggs and sitting birds not to mention making sure you don’t fall down an overgrown rabbit hole!
The breeding season is unfolding before my eyes and never lets me forget for a moment why I am here to help. I feel privileged being close to wild animals especially ones who are so focused and determined to bring up their young.