It was early January when I wrote something about The British Trust For Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) and published a video of someone called Cathy who worked on islay at the time to research mining bees. I found another post today of Mary-Jane Fleming (family of Jack Fleming, reserve manager), who is also Natural Talent apprentice with the BTCV, and she summarised her three week visit to Islay and the work she has done there: "While on Islay, my time was divided between working with the wardens to carry out surveys and practical conservation work, and talking to the farmers, and land managers about their management practices. Most of my time was spent at Loch Gruinart Reserve, where I was able to spend time with Eion the farm manager, discussing the benefits and limitations of farming on a nature reserve."
I think it's a fantastic way to get to know the island and such an important nature reserve too by doing voluntary conservation work. Most of us don't get the chance to have such a close look "in the kitchen" so to speak. Mary-Jane's summary is very interesting to read and I found something else that raised my interest as well, another quote: "I spent some time with Andy Schofield, manager of the Oa reserve on the south of the island. The Oa is one of the RSPBâ€™s biggest reserves, and Andy has a lot of good ideas to manage the site. While I was there, he showed me his plans to control a huge area of rush which is preventing the site being suitable for the majority of birds. He had started to cut some of the rushes in order to encourage lapwing to nest next to one of the lochs. He also has plans for a number of abandoned fields, which he intends to bring back into agricultural production. He grazes a huge area of cliff for chough, and I was lucky enough to see the resident golden eagles at the same time, pretty exciting!"