I have joined the National Trust team on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. I have been living on site in a farmhouse with 4 volunteers. I first applied for the role after finishing my degree in Wildlife Photography. I was hugely passionate about nature and conservation, the National Trust seemed like the perfect opportunity.
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.
The paths are generally maintained by myself and the team however we do manage a small herd of ponies who graze the cliffs and maintain the vegetation by trampling and feeding. We simply monitor their progress throughout the year and round them up once a year to be checked over by a equine dentist.
One of the toughest and most rewarding experiences for me was to monitor a nest of schedule 1 Choughs. A single pair nested on the Lizard and I spent 80 hours monitoring and recording the actions of this pair of birds. By studying a single I was able to notice changing behaviours and predict their movements.
The Choughs had a very strict time schedule as they would feed the 5 chicks within their cave. On a few occasions a raven would fly around the entrance to the cave and this caused the parents to begin diving and swooping to deter the intruder. Although I was too far away from the nest to get decent photos when the parents came towards me I was able to capture some images.
Whilst I have been at the National Trust 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.
Once a year the National Trust hosts an annual conference in the county so I get the opportunity to stay at a National Trust property and network with other rangers. At the conference I got the opportunity to hear about a BBC filmmaker and tested out the cycle track at Lanhydrock as well as visit the spectacular woodland surrounding the house.
Tremayne Woodland is my favourite location on the Lizard and I have learned a lot of information while working here. It is a narrow wood along a creek where I have helped to fell invasive species, divert a river and learned about identifying trees.
I was out swailing the cliffs at Predannack when I learnt about the conservation benefits of removing vegetation in this way. As the fire burnt through the gorse it removed the dead material and kept the new growth allowing the landscape to regenerate.
During my role as a National Trust ranger on the odd occasion I get the chance to participate in surveys. I have helped to study the moths in our garden throughout the summer, the crustaceans in rock pools and the litter on our beaches.
As I have spent time living in this special part of Cornwall I have learnt about unique locations that I was unaware of before. I now have a new understanding of the Lizard and this is through my voluntary work which I hope will develop into a permanent job.
This blog was also featured on the here on the Lizard and Penrose blog.