We started volunteering for the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales at Parc Slip Nature Reserve in 2003, firstly helping out with the office work and greeting people at the Visitor Centre. Also keeping this open at weekends. Then we helped with the Parc Slip Watch Group for several years and taking guided walks for schools and groups. We had great days out on the stands at shows visited by the Wildlife Trust and also enjoy the meetings at the Bridgend Group.
Since summer 2003 we have been walking a transect for the Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation. We included birds in this transect as birdwatching is one of our main hobbies. The transect goes around the reserve in a circular route and the first couple of times we did it we covered a lot more than the 2 miles as we had to double back to check the butterflies!
Over the years we have seen a vast reduction in the butterflies seen per transect.In 2004 we saw 115 Common Blue, 578 Meadow Browns,195 Gatekeepers on their peak weeks, in 2012 after two years of wet summers we only saw 6 Common Blue the whole season, and 47 Meadow Browns,13 Gatekeepers on their peak weeks. The staff are planning to have wildflower meadows to increase the butterfly habitat, just hope the weather is better this summer.
We really enjoy walking the transect, there is always something to photograph as there are 130 species of birds listed as being seen since 1998 to the present day, special species that come to mind are Buzzard, Goshawk, Crossbills, Lesser Redpoll, Kingfisher,Goosanders, and the summer warblers. The birdsong at Parc Slip is amazing in the woodland in Spring with large numbers of Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiff Chaff visiting.
We have also had Grass-hopper Warbler, Whitethroat, and Lesser Whitethroat. Over the years we hear the same birds using the same trees as their singing posts and greet them like old friends. It is also good to see the wildflowers develop during the spring and summer and looking out for anything new. Then there are the interesting, friendly people you meet around the reserve some of which have become friends over the years, there is a lot of knowledge out there willing to be shared.
We would definitely recommend volunteering, there is always something fulfilling you can do to help.
Margaret and John