I was fortunate to secure a week’s work at NWT Cley Marshes last week and what a wonderful week it was. I enjoyed a varied week with many different activities to keep me occupied and to give me an insight into the different areas of work needed to operate such a popular place.
I started the week with learning about the history of Cley and the reserve which was very interesting to learn how such a great nature reserve has evolved into how it looks today. In the afternoon it was good to get out onto the reserve and it was a chance for me to see the wildlife being recorded throughout the day. Highlights were: curlew sandpiper, spoonbill, little gull, grayling butterfly and red-veined darter dragonfly.
Day two was a much more active day as I was assisting the Summer Warden with general maintenance to keep the reserve running smoothly. This was very enjoyable and I learnt many new things about botany and insects. I learnt that cigar flies stimulate the reed head to grow abnormally in to a sort of cylindrical ball where the fly then lays its egg which pupates into the adult.
Day three was working on reception. I was told this was a very important job as this was the public’s first contact and therefore the organisation would be judged on this. At first I was nervous about this task but after serving my first customer I became a lot more comfortable and it ended up becoming one of my favourite tasks of the week!
On Thursday I helped out with a free taster session which was pond dipping. This was very enjoyable and we spent the afternoon seeing what fresh water animals there were. We found many dragonfly nymphs and one moulted its exuvia in front of us which was great.
I spent my final on reception again and fishing for plankton. We threw a very fine net into the ocean and dragged it in the water and we then collected the sieved water in a bottle. This was then taken back and we looked at the water under a microscope and found two plankton species. This was very interesting as I had never seen plankton before. There was also a chance for me to help set up a community open evening where everyone who lived within a certain range of Cley Marshes could visit various stands about wildlife and could be given tours of the reserve. I enjoyed showing members of the public these different tables where different areas of natural history was being exhibited.
I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to spend a week in such an amazing environment. I would like to thank all the staff at Cley for such an opportunity, for making me so welcome and a special thank you to Rachael Wright who organised all my activities.
We will be able to offer one or two Year 10 placements at Cley in 2016. Please look on our website volunteer page for details of how to apply in the new year.