NHSN Volunteer Ranger, Ian Hogg, shares his lockdown naturalist experience from Gosforth Nature Reserve
In Braemar where I work, or at least did prior to lockdown and furlough, the wildlife has been enjoying the lack of tourists and subsequent peace and tranquillity. My work colleague who remains up there, reports juvenile red squirrels feeding from his hand as he is so far, the only human contact they have had.
I got a similar feeling on revisiting GNR last week. There was a post-lockdown calm about the reserve and perhaps even if it was only in my imagination, the wildlife seemed more visible as if the fear of human presence had, at least momentarily, evaporated.
Although the traffic outside was slowly approaching usual levels, walking past the Lodge was like stepping through a wardrobe and entering a different reality. And this is one of the beauties of GNR. It provides an insight into the natural world made all the more pertinent by the immediate proximity of urbanisation. A contrast I so value and am keen to share.
It was with this in mind that I volunteered as a reserve warden, for at least as long as I am unable to return to my usual employ. Many of the regular visitors and long-term members are known to me and it has been a pleasure to catch up with them again via such a shared interest. In addition, we have welcomed many new members, some of whom have literally joined “at the gate”.
I met one such, a father with his two small children. Like many, their path led them directly to the Ridley Hide where, to the delight of all, they saw an otter traverse the distant shores of the lake. I met them again as I was walking the woods and they were equally amazed by their beauty and tranquillity.
I do not recall if they chanced upon any Roe deer; subsequent visitors saw not only adult deer, but also a fawn. Others stood and marvelled at the plant life and abundance of insects busy about their daily activities. Both new members and existing members who had perhaps not visited in some time regaled to me how much their visit had meant.
Volunteering as a Reserve Warden is an opportunity not just to meet up again with good friends and acquittances, but to help introduce new members and through patrolling the grounds, ensuring that it remains a sanctuary for nature, a resource for this and future generations to enjoy and benefit from in so many ways. I can thoroughly recommend it.
By Ian Hogg, Tyneside/Scotland
About the Author
With the hospitality sector on hold in Scotland, Ian returns to the NE and shares his thoughts on Volunteering at GNR