Fancy going wild in the country?

Mel Heyworth wreaks havoc with reeds.
Mel Heyworth wreaks havoc with reeds.

FANCY a wild and dirty occupation with a few hairy companions?

If you could get passionate about pond-dipping and poo-tracking, and are happy to mingle with the public of South Yorkshire, then this could be just what you’re looking for....

Old Moor Nature Reserve at Wombwell is one centre that is ready and willing to take on an internship volunteer for a year, to live on site and learn all aspects of a career in nature conservation.

Run by the RSPB, the scheme is geared towards people who revel in nature and wildlife, and are able to pull on their wellies and dedicate a year to volunteering on a northern England reserve.

Two different types of residential internships offer completely free accommodation.

One is more concerned with surveying wildlife and managing habitats, while the other’s focus is on handling visitors to the reserves, and whipping up enthusiasm in people of all ages about the wonders of wildlife.

Training, mentoring and support is all there, on the job.

Warden intern Mel Heyworth said: “If you’re willing to roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty, you can’t lose!”

Mel spent time at Blacktoft Sands Reserve and said: “Many times I got lost in the endless reeds in the baking heat with water sloshing in to my wellies.

“But when you’ve got bearded tits pinging all around and the chance of spotting an elusive bittern it doesn’t matter so much, because you’re really making a difference for nature”.

He records his most memorable moment as viewing chicks on a marsh harrier’s nest close up, as he placed protective fencing around them.

Michael Wilson, a visitor and publicity officer intern said: “I have done so many things that I wouldn’t have imagined doing a year ago. I always had a huge passion for wildlife and being able to pass this on is something I’ve really taken to”.

Old Moor’s Reserve attracts over 75,000 visitors a year and has breeding lapwing, redshank, snipe, little-ringed plover and garganey. Wintering waders nclude golden plover, goosander and widgeon.

Nine internship opportunities are available and start soon, in April, with the closing date for applications on February 16.

Nature reserves involved are South Yorkshire’s Old Moor, Fairburn Ings in North Yorkshire, and others at Blacktoft Sands, Lancashire and Staffordshire.

For an information pack containing the role descriptions and information on the reserves and accommodation offered, contact Alison Cook on 01484 868405 or email alison.cook@rspb.org.uk