Each year, Suffolk’s Touching the Tide scheme funds a graduate trainee to work with them and gain valuable experience as they take their first steps on the career ladder.
As part of that role, the graduate trainee each year spends time also working with the RSPB and with the National Trust at Orford Ness.
This year’s Graduate Trainee is Catherine Mercer, who has just completed a two-week placement with the ranger team here on the Ness, and here she tells us about her experience:
Although I have spent most of the summer working as a little tern warden for the RSPB, the final two weeks of my contract have brought me to Orford Ness, to learn a bit about working with the National Trust and managing such an unusual property.
I had never visited the site before, so it was great to be given the chance to explore and learn about both the history and the wildlife found here.
My first few days involved getting to know the site and I enjoyed a personal guided tour, first of the buildings that make it so unique and interesting, and second to see some of the local birdlife.
It was during one of these drives that I was lucky enough to see a teal grabbed and then dropped by a passing peregrine falcon.
There was also time for two nights of helping with moth trapping, giving me the chance to improve my very rusty moth ID skills.
After finding my feet, I have got stuck in to all manner of work, from brush cutting marshland to helping the volunteers as they welcome and chat to visitors.
As an aspiring conservationist, I’m always on the look out to learn new things that will help me in the pursuit of a more permanent job in the conservation sector.
In my two weeks at Orford Ness I’ve done everything from changing my first tyre, to driving a digger and learning how to manoeuvre a boat.
The staff here have been so generous with their time, taking every opportunity to teach me something new.
After a summer monitoring little tern colonies it has been great to get back into more practical work. The two weeks have flown by and it feels all too soon to be saying goodbye to Orford Ness.