I've a real success to report - my first day of volunteering with the RSPB!
My duties at the Carsington Water ABB event consisted chiefly of inviting Joe Public to peer through at the Little Owls I'd, with a little luck, been able to centre to the scopes upon. I may also impress on them the conservation work the RSPB and Severn Trent Water (must never forget to include mentioning them both apparently) do at the site and even coax them to sign up for RSPB membership and newsletters. I'm not so hot on pushing that line, it's money and details and I'm all about the birds, fortunately the other volunteers - a little older than I am and less shy - are better in that regard and we sort of naturally organised between ourselves who does what and mucked through the day well. They're pretty cool like that, I guess when you all believe what you're doing is utterly worthwhile that team cohesion is easy to come by, and being volunteers we're all grateful for one another turning up for the event. And you'd be amazed the energy some of the older volunteers can muster!
At the wildlife centre we had around 600 people through in six hours, at least 25 at any one time, so it was always busy. Mostly these were holidaying families and retirees, and I'm sure I nabbed at least a quarter of them to look at the owls. To my enormous good fortune the Little Owls showed the entire day, variously sitting in the open on fence posts and exposed tree branches in their regular spot. They look like fluffy balls, almost toy-like, yet with those enormous raptor eyes they're full of an apex predator's charisma. With such a great bird to look at we got great reactions from all who viewed. Tell me who's going to say no when asked, do you want to see an owl?
Young and old, so many said 'wow!', etc. The resident RSPB staff told me she watched a small girl skipping back to the car park gleefully telling mum and dad about the owl she'd seen. That really makes me feel good inside, the light was sparked, you know?
I'm pencilled in for one day a month, possibly two should I choose, that's all the RSPB asks of volunteers.
It is tiring because there isn't a moment's peace from dealing with a public you must approach, and for a few days I'll be seeing Little Owls every time I close my eyes. I'm happy though.
We also picked up an occasional male Redstart flitting about in the same fence posts, a good bird for the county, a good bird for any county really.
How to conclude? Oh yes, Aren't Birds Brilliant!