Earlier this week saw me boarding a train to Lincolnshire. My final destination was Frampton Marsh, an RSPB reserve and I was going because I had an interview for a Conservation Internship.
I managed to avoid any major nerves by thinking about all the wildlife I could potentially see; I’d never visited a proper wetland reserve before and was hoping that it’d give my bird id practice a real boost. Unfortunately it wasn’t going to be quite as I imagined. At some point on my final train going from Nottingham to Boston I entered a patch of fog, and remained in it for the rest of the day.
After studying the route with the use of Googlemaps the night before I set off on the four mile walk from the station to the reserve. I’m glad that it was the middle of the day as it did cross my mind once or twice that it could have been the beginning of a bad horror film; I couldn’t see very far ahead as I walked along country lanes, the fog made it difficult to tell where sound was coming from and the odd shapes in the distance, luckily, turned out to be nothing more than scarecrows guarding fields of cabbages.
After just over an hour I made it to the reserve. My interview wasn’t until half 3 so I’d arrived with plenty of time to have a look around. That was also a good thing as two friendly RSPB staff in the visitor centre informed me that the interviews were being held at the farm house half a mile back the way I’d come. Luckily for me they very kindly arranged for one of the residential volunteers at the reserve to come and pick me up 15 minutes before my interview to take me up there.
Just being in the visitor centre it was clear that there were plenty of birds around, lots of dark shapes dabbling around on the water through the fog, so I dug my bins out my bag and set off. I very quickly realised that I was going to have a problem just as annoying as the fog; because of the cold, my binoculars misted up every time I put them anywhere near my eyes. I don’t know if this is a problem with all binoculars or just mine (they’re a pair that were knocking around in a drawer at my mums) but I resigned myself to that fact that I probably wasn’t going to be able to identify any new birds as I wouldn’t be able to see any distinguishing features well enough.
I managed to walk along the reedbed and wash trails but didn’t have enough time to walk around the wet grassland trail. For about the millionth time I found myself wishing that I knew bird calls; it was eerily beautiful walking along in the fog, unable to see very far, and listening to the sounds of the birds on the water, splashes, the whoosh of wings, whistles, trills and honks. I was wandering for over an hour and in that time only passed two people, one who was a member of staff. Despite the fog I could still appreciate the beauty of the place, especially once the path had taken me up on to the bank and let me looking out onto the salt marsh. With slightly better visibility the place must be stunning and I’ll have to go back in the future to do it justice.
After a quick change into something more formal than my walking boots and waterproof it was off to the farmhouse for my interview. I started with a wildlife identification test where, after consulting my books on the train home to check some answers, I didn’t embarrass myself as bad as I’d first thought. This was followed by a quick presentation and then it was down the the probing questions. I left feeling pretty happy with the performance that I’d given and bolstered by that fact that even if I didn’t get any further then I’d done very well to be one of the few selected to attend an interview.
My day wasn’t a complete failure at recognising birds. Amongst all the vague forms of ducks and geese I watched a group of coots feeding on the water and some moorhens on the grass. There was a quick glimpse of a brown wader ducking for cover amongst some reeds (I couldn’t see enough to identify it but it was a better view then I had of many other birds!). I was also treated to the sight of a Little Egret, my first definite sighting of one 🙂 Hopefully it won’t be long before I can get to another wetland reserve and fingers crossed there won’t be fog that time!
Unfortunately I’ve had a phone call telling me that I didn’t get the internship. However I was given some really helpful feedback and advice on what I could do next to help me in my ongoing quest to begin a career in conservation. I’ve a very determined state of mind at the minute and with a couple more interviews in the near future and a big pile of application forms to get through I know I will get where I want to be!