I would like to share my experiences about a magical and fantastic place in our world. I hope you will enjoy it, but first let me introduce myself. I am Mirella from Hungary and I am on an European Voluntary Service placement at the Scottish Wildlife Trust. This means I can spend an amazing year in Scotland and learn all about conservation work. I finished my degree in Wildlife Management Engineering and my dream was to find a placement in Scotland. This country has always fascinated me; I love the Scottish landscape, the culture and the people as well. I cannot imagine a better place to learn and get new experiences in the world.
I started my placement in March and I have already learnt a lot and I love to be here. I am working with Michelle Henley who is the reserves project officer for the Highlands and I work and share a flat with Erika from Spain, who is an EVS volunteer as well. We work on wildlife reserve all around the Highlands, meaning I get to work in different places, whilst getting insight into different kinds of ways to manage a reserve. We are doing lots of practical work, such as footpath work, waymarker siting, building bridges and doing surveys and monitoring programs.
I could not choose a favourite part of our job because I love all the tasks so far! However, I can tell you more about some of the special things which I have enjoyed the most.
We have a small reserve called Talich where we conducted lesser butterfly orchid surveys. The day was amazing, counting all the orchids which I had never seen before. I also saw a baby roe deer on the grass! We just took a quick picture and left her alone, so as not to disturb the baby and her mother who was probably close by, waiting for us to leave. That day I learned a lot about different kinds of orchids which I really enjoyed.
Michelle is a really good teacher and I always learn a lot from her. She makes sure we learn as much as possible, even booking us on a fencing course! This is something I have never done before, so it was good to learn a new skill. This course was on Ben Mor Coigach which is my favourite reserve, another reason why I enjoyed it so much! It was organised by the Scottish Crofting Federation. I found it really impressive because we started by just digging a hole, but in the end, there was a full fence which we all built together. If they organise another course in the future, I would like to be there again.
A part of the EVS placement is to develop my own project. I am doing a general biodiversity survey on Achlochan, part of Ben Mor Coigach reserve and I have a few tasks to do which are small mammal trapping, bird surveys and water vole surveys.
The water vole survey is the most exciting part for me because I have never heard about them before! They are such cool guys in the running water areas and you can easily find signs of them if you know where to look. I could talk about my placement and Scotland a lot, but maybe this would be never ending. But I would say if you have not visited Scotland yet, you must come and discover it. I think this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been!