Take up a new challenge
Kate Titford from the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust finds helping local wildlife is one New Year’s resolution that’s easy to keep
NEW Year’s Resolutions are funny things. Despite starting the year with good intentions it’s easy to slip back into familiar routines.
Taking up painting, joining a choir, Zumba classes I’ve tried them all, briefly at least. Then a few years ago I made a resolution that I’ve actually stuck to.
I decided to volunteer at a monthly work party for the Wildlife Trust. It was close to where I live and just one morning a month, so the commitment wasn’t huge.
But the rewards have been well worth it and five years later I still go.
Our little group get involved in a whole range of activities over the course of a year.
In winter it’s often cutting things down – doesn’t it seem that so much conservation work involves cutting things down!
It is important though as the space created and new growth which results brings so many benefits for wildlife.
We cut down shrubs and small trees in woodland to allow spring sunlight to reach the woodland floor, which encourages flowers to grow, bringing insects and birds too.
Hedge-laying makes hedges sturdier as a barrier and thicker over time, providing nesting sites for birds, shelter for small mammals and, of course, flowers, nuts and berries as food for wildlife through the course of a year.
In spring we cart wheelbarrow loads of woodchip to make seating for an education area where BBOWT inspires thousands of schoolchildren about conservation each year.
We help with butterfly surveys, clear out clogged up ponds, rake endless amounts of cut grass and all with a smile on our faces.
Or at least word of encouragement to each other when muscles are starting to burn!
It’s not just the thought that I’m helping wildlife that keeps me coming back. I’ve made friends in the group (and managed to encourage a couple of my friends to join us too).
I get some exercise outside in the fresh air and I’ve learnt new skills – from identifying more plants and animals to the best way to rake a field, some skills more useful than others.
Throughout Bucks there is a whole range of volunteering opportunities with the local Wildlife Trust on offer. Getting out and about, hands-on and in the fresh air is what I love. But, there are plenty of other ways to get involved, from helping at events or checking on the Trust’s livestock to meeting and greeting volunteers at College Lake.
I’m sure that if doing something useful is one of your New Year’s Resolutions then becoming a volunteer for BBOWT will be a resolution that’s easy to keep.
Find more volunteering opportunities at www.bbowt.org.uk/ volunteer
Winter wanderings: Sheep on the frozen ground by Phil Townsend