My name is Steven Williams. I have returned from bonnie Scotland, where I have experienced the might of the Cairngorm’s in all its changing seasons but the depths of winter, to ensconce myself as a residential volunteer at Burton Mere; That feathered edged no mans land at the fringe of Northern England a stones throw from Wales and the boarder lands of Cheshire and the Wirral where it appears that every one in four people that walkith on this particular stretch of earth duth brandish a scope. Forgive me my shell shock and desire to run back to Scotland.

I have been reading ‘The Outrun’ by Amy Liptrot that details the Orkney Islands; that does sound appealing. The Island part, not the recovering from alcohol part! Well worth a read. Yet like the waders that come to the Dee I have migrated for the winter to southern climes so here I am in between boarders in between days. Rather apt now I think about it as far as places to end up go, like a traveller with a ticket restlessly waiting at an airport for a plane that has been grounded. Or perhaps a bird feeling the incessant and instinctive urge to migrate, pulling it, feeling it, magnetizing it to its destination even whilst a weather front temporarily holds back its movement.

Point of Ayr work party – not a bad place to spend the day. Dee estuary, October 2018.

There are some things in life that we are drawn to without rationale. I am pulled to reacquaint myself with those pine forests and good friends whom I have met. I know I will.

To be in the present is not to clock watch but I find it is to know where you are going even if you don’t know the destination. With this in mind I hope to gain some good experience, see a new reserve, meet interesting people and support the team at Burton Mere during my stay. I have already visited the Point of Ayr to remove fencing, been initiated into the daily goings on of the visitor center, successfully mastered the coffee machine, watched two badgers scoffing peanuts for the best part of an hour and witnessed the demise of a snipe being swooped on by a hen harrier at relatively close distance. (Does flying at almost eye level within meters of the visitor center window count as relatively close?!...Distance is itself relative no?)

I look forward to being at Burton Mere, for the three months I will be here, where I have already come to enjoy the sheer variety of waders and ducks at this time of year together with an assemblage of birds of prey. I have yet to have good views of barn owl, see a short eared owl or a merlin and spot a kingfisher here. I am working on a few projects for the reserve which you may hear of in the near future and hope that I catch up with a few on my wildlife wish list.

For now here are a few photos I would like to share with you. I have taken them on my travels volunteering with each capturing a place or moment from this year or 2016 when I first explored the Cairngorms and volunteered with Trees For Life.

Glen Affric National Nature Reserve, Scotland. October 2016.

Glen Feshie sculpture trail, Cairngorms, 2016.

In the clouds at Glen Affric. October 2016.

RSPB Loch Garten and Abernethy National Nature Reserve. August 2018.

RSPB Forsinard, Sutherland, Scotland. September 2018.

RSPB Loch Insh, Cairngorms, Scotland, 2016

A quotation on the bothy wall, Trees For Life, Glen Affric. October 2016.

A quotation on the bothy wall, Trees For Life, Glen Affric. October 2016.

Tree planting with Trees For Life, Dundreggan, September 2018.

RSPB Ham Wall, Somerset, September 2018.