After nearly two and a half years here at Lakenheath Fen, the time has come to say “au revoir” – until we meet again. I’m moving on to pastures ‘old’, back to the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) where I started my career in conservation, to take on the role of Berkshire Reserves Officer. This is an exciting move for me but I’m also very sad to be leaving Lakenheath. It’s an amazing place to work. The staff and many volunteers are all such great people and make up a really good team – it’s been an honour to be a part of it!
Below are photos that show or represent some of my highlights from Lakenheath:
Photo credit: Suzanne Harwood - Katherine and I on the boat
Funnily enough, as a wetland site, some of our work involves using the boat. I have enjoyed paddling through our channels in the sun, seeing and hearing bearded tits on all sides. Work we've carried out with the boat includes opening up views for people, work on islands and attempting to stop reeds completely taking over in places!
Photo credit: Ali Blaney - volunteers working in the frost
Back in winter 2012/13, a lot of our time was spent down in Botany Bay. The work had started the previous year and the overall task was to open up two new areas of overgrown fen for grazing. This involved many volunteers and us spending many hours down there, with fires and chainsaws (always fun!) If you think the photo above looks cold, it got even colder....
Photo credit: Ali Blaney - snowy excavations
I really enjoyed this work, even if it did involve lugging lots of heavy equipment up and down the footpath! I have some very fond memories of us all gathered around the fire, eating our lunch and warming our fingers and toes.
Photo credit: Ali Blaney - Bittern fledgling!
Bittern watches have been a big part of my time here. Last year was particularly exciting as I saw some bittern fledglings from the nest I had been watching! I have quite mixed memories of the bittern watches, mainly due to the weather - some have been absolutely freezing while for some I have basked in the sun. Those moments (in the sun!) have been pretty special - gazing out across the reedbeds, surrounded by amazing wildlife.
Photo credit: Ali Blaney - cranes in the snow
Cranes have played a huge part in my time here. It's been so interesting learning about crane ecology and observing them. I've had the joy of seeing both of our resident pairs fledge young in 2012 and the sadness of failed attempts since. I remember hearing cranes for the first time during my interview for the post here, we all dashed to the window to see them flying over! I even managed to see two cranes today which was nice to see before I leave.
Photo credit: Ali Blaney - garden tiger moth
This photo represents a huge amount of memories covering visitor work such as guided walks, events, school visits and campouts. Seeing the excitement and enthusiasm on peoples faces when they get involved in new things is always great to see and it's very satisfying being involved in this kind of work.
Photo credit: Ali Blaney - the boardwalk!!
I couldn't not put up a picture of the boardwalk. What a task this was! This represents such an amazing amount of teamwork with us and our volunteers, we are all so proud of this achievement and how we worked together. It was great being part of this. It does of course have slightly mixed memories for me as my thumb got a bit mangled during this task and I missed out on the final stages, but I'll have a constant reminder of our achievement in my misshapen right thumb!
Finally, one of my last tasks was rather poignant.....
Photo credit: Dave Rogers - Me waving goodbye!
Dave and I finally got around to digging in the new branded 'Thanks for visiting' sign. We clearly picked the worst place in the fens to dig a hole and it took us two sweaty hours to complete the task!
So there we go - I could have put in many, many more photos and memories but simply didn't have the time (plus my first attempt at writing this resulted in an error message, lost work and a very restrained reaction from me!) If you've visited Lakenheath in the past couple of months and bumped into me, you should have spotted how much my time here has meant to me - in April I got a nice Lakenheath Fen related tattoo on my left arm, featuring a crane, a bittern and a hobby in a nice reedbed scene. A daily reminder of the reserve and everyone I have had the pleasure of working with (well I like it anyway!) I hope you've enjoyed reading my blog over the past couple of years, it's been a pleasure writing it and often learning new things while researching my topics. Thanks for reading and commenting folks!