Hi, I’m Mark and I’m a Bird Aware Solent Ranger. My previous jobs weren’t in the environment or conservation sectors, so initially I was apprehensive about joining the Ranger team. However, from day one I was made to feel very welcome and it was clear that the enthusiasm and passion of the team is huge. This infectious outlook is a joy to be around and it certainly makes a big difference in helping to protect the winter birds of the Solent for generations to come.
One thing I have come to appreciate is how important it is to have a visible Ranger presence along the coast. I am often surprised by the number of people that see birds scatter after being disturbed, yet they do not realise the impact of this. I try to explain that this disturbance contributes to loss of feeding time and additional energy use which can threaten the bird’s chance of surviving the winter. I’m really pleased to say that this usually gets people’s attention and it’s then I see a change in their outlook. It’s in this ‘eureka’ moment that the difference the Ranger team makes on a daily basis is really highlighted. Most people out enjoying the coast already have an appreciation of the environment and wildlife, we just help them to connect to it.
Here are a few of my highlights whilst being out on the coast this winter :
- Seeing the amazement on a group of school children’s faces when I told them dark-bellied brent geese fly 3000 miles to come to the Solent.
- Being told by a lady, “Bird Aware Rangers have made me really appreciate the birds. My friend and I are now avid bird watchers”.
- The feeling of sharing the awe of nature with someone. Whenever I show someone a curlew through the telescope I always get the response ‘WOW’!
- Spotting a snow bunting on the beach near Hill Head and waiting for it to approach so a nice photo could be taken. Patience is a virtue in photography.
- After a cold day, seeing the sun about to set and the birds feeding peacefully. The large photo in this blog was taken at Bunny Meadows near Warsash.
Thanks for reading and hope to bump into you soon for a chat!