I was a residential volunteer with the RSPB team in Forsinard. I volunteered for several reasons: I was employed as a senior ranger in an urban park but was feeling completely bogged down with paperwork and admin and had very little contact with the natural environment. I also wanted a holiday in which I wasn’t on my own. I was concerned that being older than most volunteers I would not be fit enough for very heavy maintenance tasks so that was part of the reason for choosing Forsinard. Another part of my choice from the RSPB options was that I did not want to be involved in visitor services as I needed a change from my day job!
What have I gained?
- The opportunity to visit the far north of Scotland. To visit Orkney, see gannets diving, a golden eagle (even if it did look like a huge chicken in the distance!), hear deer rutting at close hand, feed and be rewarded by the sight of a pine marten; the stars that go on forever.
- Being part of a team undertaking scientific research- to feel like a scientist again!
- A greater understanding of the range of work undertaken by RSPB, especially research into Flow country and the relationship with international bog habitats.
- A sense of scale of the wilderness of the Flow country.
- An enormous respect for the young people starting off in conservation work. The commitment in time given to gain the experience to get on the job ladder is enormous-years for some. We suffer from a national loss of contact with the natural environment and these young people are countering some of this loss.
- I appreciated the responsibility given to volunteers and the high work ethic expected of us. It was great to be given the reasons for our work and to appreciate such a different environment to my local area.
- The place has a magical beauty. The Patterned Lands is a good description.
Thank you all for the experience.