Last year I spent about six months volunteering with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. It was one of my more pleasant volunteering experiences.
The Suffolk Wildlife Trust is a small charity which has nature reserves all over Suffolk. I volunteered at Lackford Lakes which is a few miles from Bury St Edmunds. It is largely a reserve for birdwatching though there were also rare orchids and moths and butterflies to be seen.
My role was to greet visitors and explain the work of the Centre to them. I also served tea and coffee and refreshments. My favourite task was actually filling up the bird feeders which could be seen from the picture window. It was also good when I got to refill the leaflet boxes as I could then walk all around the reserve taking in the view from each hide.
Lackford Lakes was absolutely beautiful. The habitat was largely wetland with man made lakes though there was some planting of shrubs and trees. Walking around on a sunny day was as near to Paradise as it’s possible to get. There were many birds to be seen including kingfishers, hobbies, herons and cormorants.
The volunteers were lovely and mostly retired. I enjoyed their company and they were friendly and welcoming as well as really knowledgeable about birds. We had some good chats and laughs together. The manager was also really nice. There was only one paid member of staff I didn’t really like as she seemed to like to boss people around and throw her weight around but she was the only fly in the ointment.
In the end I left for another opportunity. I used to feel a bit of a fraud as I wasn’t an expert on birds and I couldn’t really see my role developing into anything unless I wanted to take some kind of ecology course. It was possible to volunteer to be more hands on helping with the practical tasks on the reserve. I kind of regret leaving as I miss it very much but I felt the need to build into something else.
I would recommend volunteering for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust to anyone with some time on their hands and an interest in birds or if you are looking for work experience.
Lackford Lakes truly is a magical place.