A week at Haweswater – Josh’s work experience

Last week, we welcomed Josh on a work experience placement from sixth form. Find out what he got up to on his time as a Haweswater Warden…

I am a student at Carlisle’s Trinity Sixth Form, studying Biology, Geography, and Media Studies. From a young age I have loved the outdoors and wanted to work with nature, now I wish to achieve a career in Ecology or Conservation. I was required by my 6th Form to complete a week of work experience from the 17-21July 2023, and I thought no better location to do this than with the RSPB at Haweswater.

Haweswater seemed ideal due to the reserve’s location in the rugged eastern Lake District, the nationally important projects that the reserve coordinates, and the hugely diverse range of flora and fauna species. As you can imagine I was overjoyed to learn that I would be staying at Naddle Farm residentially for the week, allowing me to wander up the valley in the evenings, spotting a variety of birds, and listening to the dawn chorus.

On arrival I was greeted by Bea, who is the Officer at Haweswater. Bea gave me a tour of Naddle Farm where the RSPB office and volunteer’s accommodation is, and introduced me to the team. Afterwards, I helped Bea replace pin badge boxes, process ceramic memorials for Celebration Wood, and check up on some young trees destined for Celebration Wood.

Day 2 saw me helping Jo in the where native flora species are germinated and grown to be added to the Cumbrian Landscape here. I was moving 2-year-old Hawthorn from their germination tray into individual pots to allow them to grow into saplings. Saplings from the Tree Nursery are taken up onto the fells of the Naddle, Swindale, or Mardale Valleys, where the RSPB work to restore the natural landscape of Haweswater. The trees provide habitat for a diverse community of wildlife, improve drinking water and reduce flood risk for not only the individual valley but the wider Eden catchment as a whole.

Some of the Hawthorn seedlings that I potted up in the nursery.

On Wednesday, a group of staff from RSPB Lake Vyrnwy visited and I was lucky enough to tag with along with the RSPB Site Manager as he gave a tour and detailed overview of the Haweswater site, including the Naddle and Mardale valleys. On the short drive to Mardale Head, Lee gave me some really interesting information on predator reintroduction in the UK ( and Lynx), gave some insight on the new Osprey platform, and shared some career advice. On the tour I spotted 2 Peregrine Falcons, 6 Buzzard, and 3 Golden Ringed Dragonflies! After the Vyrnwy group departed, the shiny, new and I ventured for my first time to . Pete showcased the nationally popular ‘ and the Hay Meadow, where we observed a family of Stonechats with their recently fledged young.

Guided tour with the Lake Vyrnwy team. Image taken by Josh.

I spent my penultimate day with Richard who works in the Warden Team. On the day, we joined Derek Gow, Gerhard Schwab, Dave Greaves (Conservation Officer from Eden Rivers Trust),  Steve Garnett (RSPB Ecologist at Haweswater), and Bill Kenmir (the Conservation Delivery Manager from ), to assess the site for Water Vole reintroduction in Naddle and Swindale. We made our way to Naddle Mire and the bogs of Swindale where I gained valuable information about Water Vole habitat and all of the factors needed prior to and during the reintroduction. Soon after I travelled back up to Naddle Mire with Richard in the 4×4 Mule to replace some Mink traps – controlling the Mink population is vital to ensure a successful Water Vole reintroduction. To conclude the day, Richard and I travelled to the flanks of Haweswater Reservoir to collect wild seeds for Jo in the Tree Nursery. The seeds included Wood Cranesbill, Water Avens and Wood Sage.

On my final day I helped Annabel the Visitor Experience Manager with day-to-day visitor activities, including cleaning the and counting the Mardale cairn parking donations, before writing this blog!

I thoroughly enjoyed my week of work experience with the RSPB at Haweswater and will definitely be back for some more . I would recommend anyone thinking about volunteering at Haweswater to do just that, as it is a valuable experience I will never forget! 

My view over Haweswater on the guided walk, with a regenerated Rowan tree at the front.

Huge thanks for Josh for all his help and enthusiasm on his placement with us.

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