Volunteering at RSPB Dungeness

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Our education co-ordinator Karen Stanley, had a productive day on (a very cold!) Monday 28th January when she joined the volunteer effort to manage some willow growth at the RSPB reserve in Dungeness. The reserve is set back from the sea, a headland on Kent’s south coast and boasts mile after mile of fresh water pits, open shingle, wet grassland and wildflower meadows. Affinity Water and the RSPB work in partnership as owners and managers of this unique environment.

Getting involved with these kinds of initiatives is always really valuable for the education team so that we can develop our education programmes with up to date knowledge and understanding – and share it with the young people we work with.

The relationship with the environment and our water bodies is as crucial for humans as it is for wildlife. Did you know that we can help you find out more about this through free in-school workshops or through our free online resources? If you are interested in a FREE Affinity Water day in your school then why not contact us to arrange a visit?

Our outreach days are designed to be age appropriate and linked to the curriculum. The activities on offer are practical and totally interactive – promoting strong links to STEM subjects – which will ensure that your students have lots of fun while they learn!

Karen was working with our RSPB colleagues to find out about the importance of looking after the natural environment – and how this helps to keep nature and our water supplies healthy! Karen and the team also learnt about the importance of maintaining the habitat, in order to encourage nesting and breeding amongst the many bird species found at the reserve – including wigeons, gadwalls, teals, mallards, goldcrests, goldfinches and robins. The ponds here are also important for Great Crested Newts who breed and lay their eggs in winter.

The team rolled up the sleeves of their woolly jumpers and helped reserve workers with the ongoing task of managing the willow growth. The volunteers made many trips (Karen lost count after 50!), wading through the pond and carrying the cut branches out of the water and piling them at the water’s edge from where they could be safely removed.

The willow trees had begun to get out of control around one of the ponds. It is a fast-growing tree that can grow up to 3 metres per year and so is often used to develop habitats quickly. However, the downside to this is that it needs careful management to prevent it from becoming too dominant.

It was a really worthwhile day for all involved and Karen was really pleased to be able to discuss some of these key environmental issues with other volunteers from Affinity Water and RSPB.