Blogger: Mev Ahmad, Nuffield Volunteer

Excited to study Geology/Earth Sciences at University in 2012, I applied for the Nuffield Science Bursary and waited anxiously for the letter of acceptance. I was thrilled to discover that I had a 4 week placement with the regional RSPB office in Norwich.

My job involved working in the Volunteer & Farmer Alliance Project (V&FA). There are two sides to the project: fieldwork and office work. My work is office based, so no stomping around in fields, but still absolutely fascinating!

Collating this year’s bird survey data and analysing it improved my problem solving skills. Particularly in analysis which is the toughest aspect and by the time I approach my last week, I am able to identify flaws in my own work - which I think you will agree is in itself a challenge.

Now here comes the science bit. I got the opportunity to use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software. Its fantastic mapping the location of the birds electronically so you have all the data at your fingers tips. After a while though, all the number crunching does give you “brain overload”. I’m happy I got exposure to it as the skills I gained here will benefit me in the long term during my studies and ideally in my future career.

I know that the RSPB is a lot more than birds but I have to say during my work experience they were really great at increasing my birdy knowledge. I went from knowing close to nothing to now knowing all the champion species in our region, their habitats, which ones are threatened as well as background history about the V&FA Project.

Working at the RSPB is FANTASTIC. The atmosphere is amazing here! Everyone is so lovely, helpful and passionate which itself is an inspiration. I had a sweet treat as the office celebrated my 18th birthday! Emily Field made me a delicious chocolate cake and we had a little party in the office. And when I say delicious, I mean delicious. It was a momentous occasion because it also meant that I could vote for the first time – using my vote to support Robert Law for the Nature of Farming Award

Overall I’d say it has been a truly rewarding experience. I had an amazing time and 4 weeks have nearly flown by. I’d recommend anyone reading this to volunteer for your local RSPB office or reserve - you’d be surprised at the opportunities on offer! I plan to go on a RSPB Volunteering Residential next year...maybe abroad?


PS: I would like to thank Emily Field (V&FA Project Officer at Norwich) for teaching me these past 4 weeks, James Knightbridge (UEA Environmental Sciences grad and another volunteer) for a helping hand, the Conservation Team for being amazing and thank you to the RSPB for having me here!