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Survival at Brownsea Island

May 20, 2009

After a brief trip up to the Urban Wildlife Centre, we were advised of the new plan for the day and set off in the car towards Brownsea Island to meet Amanda and her volunteer party to do some proper conservation work – Rhododendron clearing.  Nigel checked that we knew our way there, with Renukas map reading abilities, Laura’s calm nature in any situation, and me behind the wheel, we told Nigel not to worry about us and set off.

Who says you can't pose whilst doing conservation?

Who says you can't pose whilst doing conservation?

We arrived in Poole promptly and decided we had a few extra minutes to spare so took a few additional sight-seeing tours and scenic trips on the way, believing that you really can’t be lost when you know where you need to be!  Bang on time, having driven round Sandbanks twice to find a parking space, we got to the Jetty, to be greeted by the happy smiling faces of eager volunteers.  Renuka and I had previoulsy worked with the group and were pleasantly surprised to find they remembered us and checked up on the progress of our placement.

The group embarked on their seaward voyage and crossed the rough seas of Poole harbour, it really was quite windy.  Reaching the other side, the boat about-turned and left us on Brownsea, we didn’t know how long for but we knew what we needed to do.

Laura gets her muscles ready for the work ahead, Renuka's not so sure!

Laura gets her muscles ready for the work ahead, Renuka's not so sure!

On reaching the Villa we loaded ourselves with saws and loppers and made our way to the site we were working when we had previously visited.  A mass of volunteers from Barclays were already hard at work, so we joined in and starting clearing the Rhododendron.  Rhododendron were brought to the island by the victorians as a very attractive flowering shrub.  Unfortunately, its invasive nature has meant it now dominates the island, starving tree saplings of resources, so they can’t establish.   This means that the Red Squirrel population is loosing out on its own natural resources which it depends on for its survival.

Amanda (right) gets stuck in with the other volunteers

Amanda (right) gets stuck in with the other volunteers

Clearing Rhodedndron is a big task requiring lots of man power, time, effort and patience, it’s a fairly time consuming process!  However, as we cleared, we struck on an idea that could potentially save our lives.

If we were to be stranded for a long, long time, we needed a shelter.  So over the lunch break, as the other volunteers tucked into their food, we decided to build everyone a robust, warm and cosy shelter.  Unfortunately you could not fit much more than 3 hands inside, but it was warm, it was cosy and we shall let you know if it was robust!

The shelter, modelled by Laura (with antlers) and Renuka (without)

The shelter, modelled by Laura (with antlers) and Renuka (without)

Deciding that the shelter wasn’t all that practical, we all headed back to the jetty in hope that the boat may one day return and save us.  On the way, Amanda suggested we stop off at the Villa for a nice warm cup of tea, and a slice of cake to celebrate Robin’s birthday (one of the volunteers with us).

With everyone feeling warm and full, we carried on to the Bird Hides to have a little look at what was about.  It was really good to see everyone so intrigued by the birdlife of the island, watching the birds catch fish, gather nesting material, sqwuak (a bird noise!) and simply just sitting there all casual.

Volunteers observe the birdlife under Amandas' guidance

Volunteers observe the birdlife under Amandas' guidance

Squabbling Sandwich Terns on the gravel beds

Squabbling Sandwich Terns on the gravel beds

Eventually we made it to the boat, a close call mind you, Renuka and myself almost missed the boat and would have had to wait for another day 😦 but Laura had run the fastest I had ever seen (well jogged) to get on the boat, and tell them to WAAAIIIIT!

The return journey was a little rougher and I had the feeling that some of the group weren’t quite enjoying it as much as the others, but we got back safe and sound none the less.  We thoroughly enjoyed the day and had quite a little adventure, unfortunately Steve’s efforts to break our spirit still haven’t worked!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Steve permalink
    May 22, 2009 8:42 pm

    Ha ha! Sounds like you had a great day over there.. I didn’t realise that you had challenged me to break the Team spirit – I’ll have to gte my thinking cap on for next week!! Hmmmm…..

    Great work, keep it up and you might just survive your placement..

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