Blogger: Jane Delaney, Local Groups and Volunteering Support Officer

I wanted a holiday but was on a budget.  How could I get away and discover an exciting new location, meet new people, have fun and do something useful?  I know,  I’ll go residential volunteering!

 I spoke to the lovely ladies in the Residential Volunteering department and we looked at the options available for just a week  – RSPB Saltholme it is! Saltholme is a new and exciting urban reserve near Hartlepool that only opened in 2009.  The flat I stayed in was great with a sea-view and some lovely other vols and staff, Dan & Rhian.

So, what would I be doing? 

Day one I helped out at the visitors centre by encouraging people to sign the RSPB marine pledge and telling them about the “Date with Nature” (DWN) event with common seals that were just down the road.  In the afternoon I went down and joined the “DWN” team, it was great to see the children (old and young alike!) enjoy looking through the scopes and watching the seals play and lounge about on the bank.

Day two was more of a challenge – I was chief pot washer in the VERY popular Cafe as I was soon to find out!  The Cafe has a great team lead by Anne and although hard work and a bit hot and sweaty at times I had a fun day and a free roast dinner to boot!

Day three and four I had off and explored the reserve and surrounding area – great fish & chips in Whitby (drop me a line if you want a recommendation!)

Day five I spent the morning with Barbara, an inspiring and passionate reserve volunteer who has been at Saltholme since before it opened.  She was planning a guided walk for the next day for some VIPs and I was her guinea pig!  The afternoon was going to be a whole new territory for me – children!  There was a school visiting with lots of enthusiastic 6 and 7 year olds.  I helped the Susan, Lifelong Learning Officer, teach the children how to use binoculars to find birds and then took them along to the Wildlife Watch Point hide where they had a brilliant time spotting the birds from their bingo lists.

My last day on the reserve I joined the VIPs on their guided walk, they were new RSPB members in the area and were keen to explore the reserve and hear all about it’s history.  We chatted over soup and a roll for lunch and then went back out exploring and spent some more time in the hides.

Did I enjoy my resi vol holiday at Saltholme?  I think the fact that on my last day I had to be asked to leave the Phil Stead hide in the car park, long after closing time, so they could lock it up answers that!

 Jane “Swamp Sparrow” Delaney bird spots of the week – pectoral sandpiper and garganey!

 If you fancy trying some residential volunteering you can find out more at or talk to Kate Tycer
Tel: 01767 680551, E-mail:

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