My (almost a year) as a Midweek Volunteer

I can’t believe it’s just under a year since I first climbed aboard the minibus and headed out to Croxall Lakes for my first day as a MidWeek Volunteer. Since that first day we’ve been out in all weathers, all across Staffordshire and completed I don’t know how many tasks. I’ve now done my last day with them and before I start my new adventure with Somerset Wildlife Trust I’ve been spending some time reflecting on the last year.

-It has seen me going all around the county, visiting some beautiful places:

2013-07-25 12.37.02
Croxall Lakes
Loynton Moss
Loynton Moss
Casey Bank
Casey Bank
Bateswood
Bateswood
Black Brook
Black Brook
Thorswood
Thorswood
Brankley Pastures
Brankley Pastures
Cotton Dell
Cotton Dell

-I’ve worked in all sorts of conditions and been up to my knees in mud on numerous occasions:

First time at jacksons
First time at jacksons
Jacksons again!
Jacksons again!
Water in my welly!
Water in my welly!
Guess where!
Guess where!

-I’ve had plenty of encounters with nosy livestock:

Cotton Dell
Cotton Dell
Brankley Pastures - this group tried to get in the trailer!
Brankley Pastures – this group tried to get in the trailer!
Casey Bank
Casey Bank
Beautiful Red Polls
Beautiful Red Polls

-I’ve learnt lots of new skills:

Tree felling
Tree felling
How to put up a bench
How to put up a bench
How to use a brushcutter on a ridiculous slope
Using a brushcutter on a steep slope
Dry Stone Walling
Dry Stone Walling
The art of wading across Jacksons!
The art of wading across Jacksons!
How to build a fence
How to build a fence
How to put a board walk together and supervise volunteers
Putting a board walk together and supervising volunteers

-I’ve helped out with worthwhile causes (all of it is a worthwhile cause but I’m sure you know what I mean)

Balsam may look pretty but it needs to be removed so that native plants have a chance to grow
Balsam may look pretty but it needs to be removed so that native plants have a chance to grow
Badger vaccination - it makes much more sense then culling!
Badger vaccination – all the evidence points to it being a better option than culling!
Making the wonders of nature accessible to all
Making the wonders of nature accessible to all

-My wildlife knowledge and identification skills have improved no end due to getting to see some fantastic wildlife:
(I could include hundreds of photos of all the wildlife I’ve seen but we’d be here for ages so here’s some of the highlights of what I was able to photograph)

Tiny rat babies
Tiny rat babies
Toad
Toad
The beetle I found: Anthocomus rufus which was it's first record for Staffordshire
The beetle I found: Anthocomus rufus which was the first time it has been recorded in Staffordshire
The Globe Flower
The Globe Flower
Common Carder Bee
Common Carder Bee
Mountain Pansy
Mountain Pansy
Green Hairstreak
Green Hairstreak
Great Crested Newt
Great Crested Newt
Froghopper - Cercopis vulnerata
Froghopper – Cercopis vulnerata
Emperor Moth
Emperor Moth

I’ve enjoyed all of these experiences (yes even working in the mud!) but one of the best bits about going out with the midweek volunteers is the people. Right from my very first day they were extremely welcoming and friendly. They’ve put up with with millions of ‘What’s that?’ questions and been willing to lend a hand when I needed pulling out of the mud. I can not say thank you enough to Lucy the Reserves Assistant who has let me shadow her for the last few months and Jeff who has also provided brilliant opportunities. The volunteers have taught me loads, from wildflower id to how to use a drill. They’ve been subject to my driving without any word of criticism about the times I occasionally stall the vehicle. Even when it’s raining and we were slogging through mud they’d see the bright side of a situation, always ready with a joke. For the last year Wednesday and Thursdays have been my favourite days of the week because I got to spend the day outside, learning new things and doing what I can to help the wonderful wildlife we share this country with, but also because I got to spend the time with such brilliant people.

The team who helped with badger traps in Staffordshire Wildlife Trust magazine
The team who helped with badger traps, photo from the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust magazine
Lunchtime at Brankley
Lunchtime at Brankley
Alan, with a smile even though he's emptying water from his boot!
Smiles even with water filled boots!
Midweekers :)
Proud of our work 🙂
Always ready to get stuck in and crack on with the task
Always ready to get stuck in and crack on with the task

Although I’m sad about saying goodbye I am excited about starting my traineeship with Somerset Wildlife Trust. I’m also aware that I  wouldn’t have got this position without all the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the last year with these amazing people. I’ve got brilliant memories of our outings across Staffordshire and will always look back fondly on my time as a Midweek Volunteer. Who knows, if I find myself visiting home on a Wednesday or Thursday I may find myself climbing aboard the minibus once again!

Beth 🙂

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