Reserve officer diaries

Neil Aldridge

Thanks for stopping by to check out my blog. I have wanted to start up a reserve diaries type blog for a while now, where I can share with you my role and the duties I undertake managing the Trust's wildlife havens. Unfortunately, I chose now as the time to start this off. (Unable to work on the reserves with the fantastic volunteer groups, instead in lockdown at home due to coronovirus, Doh!) So forgive my tardiness and bare with me for the first few posts. Hope you enjoy.

To kick of this blog series I will firstly start off with explaining who I am, what I do and how I got to be in the position I am to those who haven’t met me yet.

I am a part of the reserves team for Gwent Wildlife Trust, my role is to manage a set of reserves on the Gwent levels landscape area, found on the flat land that spans between Chepstow and Cardiff south of the m4. I'm able to do this with the fantastic support of the volunteer groups that I lead, who take time out of their week to help out, donating a staggering amount of time to the trust annually. An ongoing achievement that was recently recognised through being presented a GAVO volunteering award in 2019.

Volunteer group photo

The Gwent levels group photo, christmas 2019 taken by David Sankson.

Gwent Levellers GAVO award

Slate Gavo environmental volunteering award. Presented to the Levellers 2019

My involvements with the Gwent levellers volunteering group started on an autumn work task where I turned out to volunteer myself, as a recent graduate in biology from Plymouth University, looking to gain experience in the scary big wide world of employment searching. I immediately knew that I wanted to pursue that line of work following this first work task with the group and Richard, the senior reserves officer. Three years of volunteering followed with the trusts volunteer groups, including a winter’s stint of volunteering with the Scottish Natural Heritage on the incredibly picturesque and remote Isle of Rum, West coast of Scotland. As well as picking up some certified tickets in machinery use like brushcutter and chainsaw during this time period

Isle of Rum

On the Isle of Rum

Red Deer

Red deer silhouette on the Isle of Rum, taken by Ben Boylett

In 2018, I was then fortunate to be offered my current role that I had applied for. As the Gwent levels reserve officer, supporting Richard with reserve’s management duties on the Gwent levels and leading the work parties I used to volunteer with (Sorry again Levellers!).

My duties are fairly dynamic when it comes to the reserves work. Hopefully making a varied and interesting read, through a continuous series of posts about the work I do and the wildlife I’m fortunate to see whilst doing so.

 I am lucky to live where I do, where I have wildlife quite literally on my doorstep. I aim to share with you what I can see and hear, hopefully spurring you on to take the time to see whats out of your window too. 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for a moth trap update soon . All the best, Ben.

Those who are interested, be sure to check out the Gwent wildlife spotting facebook group set up by our Gwent Wildlife Trust conservation monitoring officer Lowri Watkins. See and share your own wildlife snaps, ask any wildlife questions you need answered and challenge yourself to wildlife identification.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/GwentWildlifeSpotting