December workday.

(Click on image to enlarge)

1st December 2011:  At 09.45, I stood at the river side of the orchid field gate, gazing into the south end of the middle wood. It was cold, and I was waiting for the working party to arrive. Five or six willow tree trunks are marked with red dots, denoting that they would be felled later today. I heard rustling and movement seconds before the sleek, muscular shape of a young muntjac deer emerged from between the trees. This doe was the epitome of sheer pent-up animal power as it sped, terrified, into the open. The work-party made its way noisily through the wood, carrying the various items of equipment it would need to complete the day’s work schedule. The muntjac passed so close to me, in a desperate attempt to escape the hullabaloo, that I could have jumped on top of it.

I heard the chatting and calling of the work party before I could see the individuals walking through the tree line. As well as their own personal rucksacks containing food, drink and spare clothes, they carried the Trust’s large yellow lopping saw, bow saws and long-handled secateurs.

Today’s tasks are to fit twenty bird boxes seven feet up on various tree trunks, fell the trees marked with the red dots, cut the trunks and branches to manageable lengths with a chain saw, and stack them in tidy piles. The wood piles will provide homes for small mammals and insects, until they rot down. The work is to be carried by fifteen of us, varying in ages from late teens up to, I guess, early seventies.

It is a very pleasant experience working with people who genuinely have an interest in and a love of nature, who are willing to give their time freely, benefiting the marsh, in particular, and the environment in general. It really is an experience not to be missed. Furthermore, it is a very healthy social as well as work activity. There is no pressure during these work-days; it’s an easy-going atmosphere. People work as fast as they are able, or as slow as they wish. It doesn’t matter whether you carry one branch or a large arm full to the wood stacks. There is plenty of time to chat. So if there are people out in the blogosphere who would like to spice-up their leisure time, meet interesting people and learn about the nature in their area, then volunteering with your local Wildlife Trust might be the way to go.

We finished the workday by mid-afternoon.

6 Comments on “December workday.

  1. What a great way to spend an afternoon. Thanks for sharing this idea, and thanks to those wonderful volunteers for making sure the woodland creatures survive and thrive.

  2. I agree. Without the selfless services of volunteers, so many things would not be possible in all kinds of areas affecting not only our cultural heritage, but schools, hospitals, charities, and more. It makes me so mad when I hear people say that the organisations that make use of volunteers are just taking advantage. I don’t want to be unkind, or in any way condescending, but if more of these detractors would make an effort to get off their backsides to do something worthwhile for someone else, without expecting to get something in return, the world would be a far better place. Volunteering is vital to our lives, just a few hours a month can make such a difference to peoples lives.

    • Thanks for your comment, Jeff.

      Volunteering doesn’t appeal to everyone. I bet the Pope has said that things would be easier if everyone was Catholic. It’s not going to happen. The best we can do is to help those who are thinking of volunteering to take the first step. It can be difficult for people to step into the unknown. There are many people who would benefit tremendously from volunteering, but being confident enough, or aware enough, to take the first step is not always easy. However, taking that first step it is as easy as making a telephone call, writing an email or, perhaps, a blog comment.

  3. I am currently living, working and traveling as a volunteer. In our part of the blogosphere, North America, one of the kinds of wild places where we can make life better for animals, and indeed, keep some species from going extinct, are National Wldlife Refuges.

    Most refuges have Friends groups, which sponsor a lot of volunteer activity from working in the Visitor Center to removing invasive species, gardening, doing upkeep to the refuge and gardening.

    I started volunteering at Anahuac NWR when I was working full time and then worked there for 11 months after I retired. Now I’ve started to spend 3-4 months at a refuge and then move to another. I’m getting to see the world on my limited retirement income, learn lots of new fun stuff, meet fantastic people, have exciting adventures, enjoy wildlife on a daily basis, and most of all, encourage other people to love and respect our wild places, animals and plants. I feel younger and am stronger than I was two years ago and think I’m also giving myself a happier, healthier end life.

    Volunteering jobs abound here in the United States. Natural History Museums, Nature Conservatory lands, National Forests, National Parks, Nature Centers in urban areas, and National Wildlife Refuges are some of the places needing volunteers. And many city parks are adding native components and making wild places and need help building, maintaining and then leading informational tours through them.

    I can’t recommend volunteering somewhere enough and be sure to bring your kids. They will also love it.

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