My first day as a Buglife volunteer!
Bees, I have always had a soft spot for them. I was that weird fearless child who would push past my screaming mother with a glass and card to save that panicked little bee who just couldn’t figure out why the window wasn’t a passageway to the outside world again. But bees aren’t the only important and interesting pollinators. From a very young age, I have always respected a huge range of animals and found them absolutely fascinating, particularly invertebrates.
As a recent Zoology graduate from the University of Leeds, I am a huge environmental enthusiast and have a driven passion for pursuing a career in conservation. Throughout my educational life, I have come to realise more and more how invertebrates are the foundation of our ecosystems, and without them everything would simply crash! I heard of Buglife through a friend and instantly jumped on my computer to proceed with some thorough research. What I found was very exciting and was exactly the kind of work I wanted to be involved with. The Urban Buzz Project in Leeds was a perfect opportunity for me and I was soon bothering many different Buglife people to find out how to be a part of it. The project officer, Catherine Jones, very quickly got back in touch with me and soon got the ball rolling for me to become a volunteer. She was very welcoming and friendly and her enthusiasm for the project was infectious!
Soon enough my first volunteering day came around and I was very much looking forward to getting stuck in! We made our way to Skelton Woods to join the Skelton Woods Conservation Trust where we worked together in the chilly morning fog to plant over 500 bluebells, a fantastic flower for pollinators. I thought my fingertips were going to fall off after spending a couple of hours squatting down with my hands enthusiastically buried in the freezing mud, but the whole experience was very enjoyable and totally worth it knowing that these flowers were going to benefit a lot of important critters.
Later that same day we also joined the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Leeds University Union Conservation Volunteers, other volunteer groups I often work with, who were clearing and maintaining areas of Kirkstall Nature Reserve to allow for the establishment and growth of wild flowers and grasses that are particularly good for pollinators. It felt especially good that we had three separate groups of people all coming together for the same cause with the same vision of helping our pollinators. Nothing was put to waste and the removed tree branches were used to create invertebrate habitat piles, something I have never done before! Catherine explained that the base of the pile should be tight and made up of bigger pieces of wood which could then be built on with smaller thinner sticks to create a warm dry environment for lots of little critters to hide in. I was rather proud of my creation, as you can tell from my excitable face and pose!
All in all it was a wonderfully varied, informative and enjoyable experience where I felt very welcome and an important part of the Buglife team. Bring on the warmer weather – I can’t wait to do more this year and maybe I’ll even get a tan whilst doing it… pah!