Trip reports

RSPB Volunteering

RSPB Volunteering
Winnie Thomson

Sunday, 7 October 2012

ME TIME

At the end of a busy week I look forward to a little "me time". This may be a relaxing read of the Sunday newspapers accompanied by a cup of tea or a variety of activities which differ from the weekday routine.
Today I had opted to give something back. Rosie, Hugh, Margaret, Jon and I met the other volunteers at Aberlady car park. John Harrison, the warden, cycled in to greet us and count in 11 pairs of willing hands for Sea Buckthorn control.
In single file we marched over the bridge, appreciating the slanting sunshine across the mudflats picking out the shining shelduck and many waders. The birds were out in force this morning with song thrush, redwing, goldfinch, bluetit and linnet. A small skeine of pink feet flew across while we watched the mallard, little grebe in moult, and two moorhen at the Marl Loch. There's that lamb again. Oh no it that little camera whirring away.

Arriving at the 'shed' John loaded two wheelbarrows with various tools and first aid kit then asked us to select a pair of thick gloves from a bucket full of them. Like 11 dwarfs we 'hey ho'd' up to Gullane Point, beyond the tank blocks to where a pyre of buckthorn sat. Here we had a quick coffee break. 'Does anyone remember the twix advert song?' piped Rosie who was unwilling to give us an example. We were then given a short talk on the safe use of the tools and how to attack the buckthorn with as little damage to ourselves. Off we went searching out the young bushes to dig out and thrown on the fire. John elected to light the fire then spent the next hour fanning it to keep it alight as it was a windless afternoon. He was lucky enough, whilst endeavouring to rid the smoke from his eyes to see a flock of redpoll. Hacking away and extracting the bushes for a good couple of hours worked up an appetite. The sun shone as we relaxed and ate our lunch. The fire smouldered but insufficiently to enable a hoped for sausage sizzle. Liz had brought some ready prepared potatoes to bake but sadly the fire wasn't hot enough. Margaret produced some ghostly marshmallows which we did toast to a lovely sticky mass. Yum!
The fun over, we soon returned to work. Before we knew it it was home time. We wheeled our wheelbarrows through the paths long and narrow back to the container. On the way we passed an enthusiastic bird watcher who pointed out a pair of late migrating whinchat then John spotted a stonechat sitting on the electrified sheep wire. The chap with the telescope mentioned he had seen a ring ouzel earlier.
The tide was well in when we crossed the bridge and bade our farewells.

Winnie Thomson