Wednesday, 3 June 2015

An afternoon with Ranworth visitor centre volunteers

Angela Collins, Volunteer coordinator
Today I visited our Ranworth reserve to meet some of our fabulous visitor centre volunteers. The volunteers were invited to take a boat trip by one of our experienced boat guides, so they could learn more about the broad, its wildlife and can tell visitors what they can expect when they book a boat trip. Plus, because of the way that the visitor centre works, the majority of volunteers have their set days of working and so don’t often get to see each other: this was an ideal opportunity to meet and get to know others in their team and share experiences.

Ranworth Volunteers: Stuart and Sue
The boat trip from the floating Broads Wildlife Centre was great. The highlight was definitely watching an otter swim by, a rare treat for us all. There were plenty of baby birds around, including great crested grebe, mallards, Egyptian geese & black headed gulls. Unfortunately we didn’t see the osprey which has been spotted again several times this year - some lucky people having a boat trip only last week had the osprey fly directly overhead. The views from the boat as it circled around the broad were so peaceful and beautiful, the quietness of the electric engine meant that we were able to get close to several birds without them being disturbed and flying away. Maurice our boat guide, talked of the history of the broad, how it was formed by peat digging, and how the different edges of the broad age and change its shape. The tree lined edges are very prone to erosion and there were several trees stranded within the broad where it would have once been water’s edge, whereas the reed bed edges slowly encroach on the broad.   

We talked about the bio-manipulation experiment; a floating cage with water plants and a curtain to the floor of the broad, keeps fish out and inside water fleas were able to thrive and eat the algal bloom keeping the water clear. The volunteers were clearly all enthusiastic and passionate and already knew a great deal about Ranworth, but the trip showed there is always something new to learn.

Ranworth Volunteers: Jean, Lorna and Linda
We then returned to the floating visitor centre, where the comments book showed that visitors arrive from all over the world; Australia, Canada, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand, Italy, and Cyprus were all found in a quick flick through the book.  The volunteers all felt that meeting and talking to a vast variety of people was what made their role so interesting and enjoyable, and being at a stunning location helps. On the webcam in the centre we were able to watch 2 baby terns on the nesting platforms on the broad. These can also be seen on our website if you can’t get to Ranworth.  

It was a pleasure to meet some of our volunteers, and hear about their experiences, and why they volunteer. Our visitor centres could not open as often as they do, and provide such a warm and informative welcome to our thousands of visitors without the week-on-week support of our wonderful volunteers. A big thank you, on behalf of the Trust, to them all.  

Ranworth Volunteer: Joan
If you are interested in volunteering with Norfolk Wildlife Trust, please have a look on our website at opportunities currently available, or contact me 

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