Hi everyone! My name is Kai, and I am so excited to get stuck into my new position here at Abernethy as a volunteer visitor experience assistant. Hopefully, I will become a friendly familiar face to the locals and frequent nature centre, visitors.

I graduated last year from the University of Aberdeen with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology, focussed on parasites, disease, and a bit of wildlife ecology. I spent a few weeks working with the elusive water vole (Arvicola amphibius) and its angrier little cousin the field vole (Microtus agrestis) up in the wilderness of Assynt. This has left me with a bit of a soft spot for those voles! I am a latecomer in my appreciation of Scottish natural beauty- how could I have been so blind? But now that I have awakened to my surroundings, I get excited about all the wonders of our wildlife, from the weeny wood ant to the awesome osprey.

This picture of me is with a particularly chubby water vole that I named princess Sophia. At first glances I assumed that princess Sophia was a pregnant female, however, upon closer inspection I found out that princess Sophia was just a well-fed male. He had no qualms with his title, so ‘princess Sophia’ he shall remain.

My favourite bird is the wren. Yes, that’s right, I said wren. Although being the most common breeding bird the UK, their plucky attitude and industriousness in spite of their size make them a joy to watch. The wren symbolises action, accuracy, watchfulness, and enthusiasm in life. With their little tails pointed up, I can’t help but think they look like they want to start a fight, like a feisty chihuahua.

I have recently become fascinated by fungi, although fungi facts don’t take up mushroom in my brain at the moment. The underground fungal networks connect the forest roots and act as a nutrient and information highway. I think that fungi do a far better job at keeping communities connected than mobile networks out here in Abernethy. When late summer comes around and the mushrooms begin to emerge, I will have my eyes glued to the edges of paths, bases of trees, and decaying deadwood in search of some fantastic fungi.

A pair of birch polypore mushrooms in the snow. A common mushroom to see year-round on dead/decaying birch trees. It is also known as ‘razorstrop’ as barbers used to use this woody mushroom to sharpen razors.

In my spare time, I like to keep active. Living with pinewood trails and majestic mountains on my doorstep opens a treasure chest of outdoor experiences. I can lace up my running shoes/hiking boots, hop on my bike, or chalk up my hands to tackle a boulder challenge. Abernethy is my oyster, and I shall catch it *whee* *whee* (a very poor oystercatcher joke, I sincerely apologise).

Don’t be afraid to come up and chat to me. Be it a query, question, or Queen song quotation; I’ll be happy to hear it all and will try my best to help you out however I can.

I am looking forward to meeting you all!

Anonymous