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Work Experience with NHSN

30th August 2019

We are incredibly grateful to Jenny Snell for her hard work during her time as a volunteer in the NHSN office and continued work as a trainee bird ringer at Gosforth Park Nature Reserve. The below blog, written by Jenny, aims to summarise her recent placement.


My name is Jenny I’m 17 and I did 2 weeks of work experience with NHSN (8th-19th July 2019). I am a member of the society and volunteer on the winter conservation tasks at Gosforth Park Nature Reserve, I am also a trainee bird ringer. My 2 weeks with the society involved a variety of activities which allowed me to get experience in a variety of areas, as well as meeting Hazel’s rescued baby bats and spying on the Lesser Black Backed Gull out of the office window to try and read the ring number on its leg.

On my first morning, I was shown around the office, library and introduced to the office staff and volunteers. I also joined in the weekly team meeting in the afternoon.

As I am a trainee Bird Ringer, an activity I spent the 2 weeks completing was entering Bird Ringing data for Dr Chris Redfern’s project on Sandwich terns on the Northumberland coast. This involved me filling in data about sightings of the birds from around the UK, Europe and Africa into a spreadsheet. This was very interesting as I could look at past sightings of the birds and many of these gave a description about what they were doing so, I got a real insight into the behaviour and lives of the birds.

On both Tuesdays, I spent the day doing face-to-face engagement with the public in the museum. This involved answering any questions people had about ‘Dippy’ or local wildlife while raising the profile for NHSN and what we do by giving out leaflets and postcards about the society and the reserve.

On the first Wednesday of my 2-week placement, I went to the reserve and joined in with the work party where we were cutting back sycamore, to let more light in for native species to grow.

In preparation for the upcoming open day in August, I prepared, printed, cut and laminated photographs taken to go up in the hides at the reserve to brighten them up and show what wildlife is at the reserve.        

Jenny and NHSN Ornithology Section-Lead, Chris Redfern

On the first Friday evening, we had a member’s event to see ‘Dippy’ the Dinosaur so I was on the door with Clare and Sarah to welcome people as they arrived and show them where to go and answer any questions they had. 

On the second Monday there was a school group visit from Gosforth Academy to the reserve; the year 9s wanted to learn about photography and the general ecology of the area. We split them into 4 groups one doing macro photography and looking at camera traps, one group in the Ridley hide and along the boardwalk leading up to it and the other two groups walking around the reserve taking photographs.

Another task I did was scanning images from Colin S. Pittendrigh’s report on Gosforth Park Nature Reserve, which he wrote and illustrated when he was 17. This was done so that the report can be digitalised and possibly go onto the website. This was very interesting to look at the intricate drawings and diagrams he drew and read about how the site has changed since 1935.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my two weeks with NHSN, I want to thank Clare, Hazel, James, Sarah and all the Volunteers I met over my time here for being so welcoming and teaching me many things about our reserve and wildlife in general.

Jenny Snell, NHSN Volunteer