My name is Ryan and I have been working at Froglife for a week now and can positively say I have thoroughly enjoyed my first week here.
Monday began with my induction where I met the team and learnt about their roles. Then it was straight out to the Olive Branch where I was greeted by an enthusiastic group of children. The children and I went pond dipping searching for frogs and any other eccentric life that might have been hiding from us. Then soon after we discovered a few tadpoles and froglets we all went harvesting and enjoyed the fresh food that there was on offer! Later on during the day we were off to see another group of young children to help finish a wildlife themed mural based on sessions where the children were taken out to local woods searching for wildlife and inspiration like lady birds for example. The children took it in turns to contribute to the mural with help from a professional street artist!
Tuesday consisted of several exciting surveys at the Hampton Nature Reserve. My work experience colleague Matthew and I surveyed a few ponds searching for signs of water Voles. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to find any but we did see some signs of life.
Wednesday we were in the office all day meeting the team and learning about how they got to where they are today in a greater depth which I found fascinating as it’s so inspiring and gives me ideas of what I should look into and strive to achieve when I leave school. After our meetings it was back to work with several tasks around the office.
On Thursday we had a butterfly survey back at the reserve and undoubtedly the best day so far! Searching the reserve high and low for butterflies all shapes and sizes was nothing but amazing, I’ve learnt how to identify several butterflies and what families they belong to, for example the ringlet which is a deep brown in colour. It has two distinctive spots on each wing when spread and derives from the Nymphalidae family. Also we were extremely lucky to see a Marble white shown on the right, also along with a few Cinnabar Moths that made an appearance.
Friday was a calm day at the office doing jobs for people and helping out. Then out at 7-9pm for a guided walk informing the public about a local reserve. Also luckily I lifted a mat that was placed to attract reptiles and hiding below in the undergrowth was a female adder! The only venomous snake in the UK.
The weekend soon went by then it was back to work on Monday but unfortunately the 2 outdoor sessions with young people were cancelled due to the weather but it was no problem as I helped the Dragon Finder team to prepare for the next day out with a primary school instead.
Tuesday started off with an outdoor session at the Olive Branch with 2 teenagers from voyager school. We were accompanied by Keely Mills, a poet and friend of Froglife. All of us began harvesting potatoes and had a very successful yield that we shared amongst ourselves. Soon after that we rushed off to Boardwalks Nature Reserve to aid the Dragon Finder team in their session with a very large group of primary school students. Becca and I took half of the children pond dipping while the Dragon Finder tam were planting vegetation for a newly built pond, the kids really enjoyed themselves!
Wednesday it was back in the office which swiftly went by to Thursday where we had an extremely successful butterfly survey and found a total of 650 butterflies of 17 different species! The few “Commas” that we found were by far my favourite of them all. Also we were extraordinarily lucky to find a “Painted lady”. Accompanied by all these lucky finds were a few Common blues that had not been seen this year until Thursday.
Finally on Friday I was back at the reserve planning reptile tin installation and placement. Unfortunately we didn’t see anything like I did on the walk but hopefully these will attract reptiles of all sorts in the upcoming future.
I can definitely say on the whole I have thoroughly enjoyed my two weeks here, and have learnt a great deal as before I came I knew near enough nothing about conservation. Teamwork has been a key role in this job and it’s worked out perfectly and I’ve enjoyed being a part of an effective team. Next year when I have more spare time I hope to come back and help out due to my great experience here!