Posted on behalf of Matt, our newest residential volunteer.

Hello there, I’m Matthew Scarborough. A young and driven conservationist with a love for the outdoors and everything in it. My journey has brought me here to the amazing Burton Mere Wetlands where I’ll be a residential volunteer for the foreseeing months.

                                                                      
                                                                Stood outside Burton Mere Visitor Centre early morning

Before this I was an Assistant Ranger on the Farne Islands in Northumberland where I was part of a team that helped to monitor and protect the huge seabird colony that breeds there every year. Before that I was a RSPB conservation intern for a year split between Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire and Titchwell Marsh in Norfolk.

After being immersed in the RSPB way of life for a year, I always knew I would be back at some point and here I am! Looking to continue my conservation career by getting stuck right in it on the front lines and expanding my conservation experiences. Burton Mere Wetlands is a great place for me as it offers experience in both practical habitat management and visitor experience in a neat 50/50 split where I can hone those essential conservation skills. I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks and I’m already enjoying learning the ebbs and flows of the reserve, what kind of visitors we get and what surprises of the reserve has to offer.


                                                                    
                                                                             Interview with a Puffin, Farne Islands

While being a keen birder I’m also an amateur sound recordist and have been spending some time at Burton Mere Wetlands just standing still and listening. When you first enter the reserve, you are immediately hit with the contrast of nature and the surrounding industry covering the horizon. However, in the day, its very easy to block it out. The stunning wetland in front of you, I find, is way too distracting. Thousands of winter waterfowl and waders all just there to see with regular raptors causing eruptions of swirling flocks to the air make for a wonderful and peaceful landscape.

However, at night when the wetland is invisible, the soundscape reveals your true surroundings. The low flat hums, creaks, beeps and bangs of the industry are a constant layer of noise mixed with the roars of roads, and often local churches practising their bell chiming, gives a very human presence to the landscape. And yet, even through the thick messy background, the wetland gives itself away. Breaking though the industrial drone are magnificent electric shrills of lapwing and the honking conversations of groups of greylags. Delicate peeping calls of teal and charming whistling of the wigeon are mixed in with chattering jackdaw roosts and the outbursts of laughing mallards. It’s an amazingly noisy landscape that invokes a real mix of emotions.

But mostly I find it reveals the importance of reserves like Burton Mere Wetlands. It shows that even though our landscapes can be heavily influenced by human presence, nature can still thrive if we just give it the chance and the space to do so. It's experiences like these that give me hope and the motivation behind what we do as conservationists. I’m looking forward to what other surprises Burton Mere Wetlands and the rest of the Dee Estuary has on offer over the following months.

All the best,

Matthew

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