Blogger: Jacqui Miller, Conservation Officer

Last month I swapped my wardening job in the Cambridgeshire Fens for the life of a Conservation Officer at the Regional Office in Norwich. What a change - moving house, working in an office, and in a city as well! I was a bit worried to be honest. I love the outdoors, and loved being able to work in the midst of wildlife every day. Work parties in the reed beds – ‘oh look, here’s a harvest mouse nest...listen to the bearded tits over there...was that a bittern flying low on the horizon?’ Where would I get my nature fix in the city?

Well, for a start, my new job is great! I get to work for wildlife across a whole area, making sure that planning applications consider wildlife as well as people and looking for new opportunities for conservation. It did involve buying a new set of clothes though – ripped combats and a holey fleece don’t seem to be quite the thing in the office!

And have I found any wildlife? Of course! It has surprised me, working in a city, just how much you can see. Popping to the supermarket and looking up at the gull colony on the roof, the fledglings yelling madly while most of the shoppers pass by, oblivious to their screams. Watching migrant hawker dragonflies dance outside the office window. And lunch break is best of all. Then I can get out into the city to go wildlife watching. We are lucky in this office to have several wild places to visit nearby; the cemetery for example. You do have to be a bit careful about telling people you like to spend lunchtimes in your local cemetery, because they give you funny looks, but Rosary Cemetery has a lovely wild bit where you can find all kinds of things. This was ancient woodland, and it still has that feel.


Common darter at Rosary Cemetery


My favourite bit is a little overgrown wall where various insects like to sit in the sun, and so do I. In half an hour one sunny lunchtime I saw common darters, meadow grasshoppers, wolf spiders, dock bugs and many hoverflies here, and it gave me the chance to look at them much more closely than I have before. I’ve also seen foxes here, and sparrowhawks, and one of my colleagues was lucky enough to see a purple hairstreak fluttering around an old oak tree.

If you live or work in a city, have a look for your nearest local nature reserve or ‘wild bit’. I’ve definitely enjoyed looking for those unexpected treasures to brighten up the working day!