Sunday, 1 March 2015

BTO Work Experience

During my half term holiday I went to the BTO for a week of work experience. I wanted to do this through my school, however school wouldn't let me go out of area, as this was my dream placement I decided to go in my free time (I'm also  going to do work experience with school at the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust in March).

I worked in the ringing office, where I could begin to understand how the department runs. It was really fascinating seeing recoveries from the past and hearing the stories of how people had found rings on birds. I really enjoyed working in media, where I wrote 'Bird Of The Month' for March which is Long Tailed Tit and also learn more about National Nest Box Week, which I also wrote about and tweeted about when I did some social media work. It was really fun tweeting and doing Facebook, Ieuan sent me some stats on the amount of people some of the tweets potentionaly had reached and it was nearly 3 million views!!

I also spent time in the survey office, where I worked on BBS data and wrote some promotional information for BBS with Sarah in regions across the country ( This was very fascinating finding out what species were decreasing/increasing in different areas. I also discussed with Debbie how the BTO can further engage with young people.

My sister Abby looking after the birds!
During my week of work, Justin Walker and Lee Barber took my family and I ringing on the BTO reserve and to another local site. We caught many birds, including Robins, Tits, Finches, Lesser Redpolls, and Marsh Tits! The first session we did Nick Moran came with us and he spotted a Barn Owl, my favourite bird flying over the field near one of the owl boxes. On the second ringing session, Ieuan also came. I gained more experience removing birds from the nets and I am very grateful for Justin, Lee, Ieuan and Nick for passing on their knowledge. It was interesting to see the variations in different ringers techniques to that of my ringing group.

Sarah Harris and Neil Calbrade took me around the BTO reserve during our lunch break, where I learned a bit about the reserve which is a mixture of wetlands, woodland and pasture. The BTO offices are a great place to work at, having that reserve on their doorstep. We saw a lovely pair of Kingfishers and many other birds, it was interesting to see the collar rings on the geese that Lee has been ringing. They also took me to a local area known for Hawfinches, unfortunately we didn't see any!

I was also very lucky to get a chance to go out with Mike
Toms and Lee Barber to try and catch a Tawny Owl to ring as Mike and Lee need to study the population in Thetford Forest to secure funding for nest boxes. My family and I helped to get the nets up, a tape lure was set playing and we waited until we thought an Owl might have flown into then net and we checked the nets. After the second check a male Tawny Owl had made its way into the net. With the help of Lee I got the chance to ring the Owl, measure its wing and beak, then release it (Lee weighed it and worked out its age and sex). Thank you so much to Lee and Mike for giving me the opportunity to ring the 5th or 6th Tawny Owl in that forest!

 Thank you to Andy Clements for allowing me to come and work at the BTO.

Also, thank you to Viola Ross-Smith and Ieuan Evans for looking after me, you made me feel very welcome!

I would also like to thank everyone at the BTO for being so welcoming and supportive. It was great fun! I loved being there and it was much better than school which I didn't want to go back to!

I had a wonderful time, doing and learning amazing things that I will never forget. On the journey back home I was wishing I could stay, I smiled the whole way back, especially after having opening the Owl book!! I hope to be back for my year 12 work experience!

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