Paul Anderson reflects upon his experience in 2018 as a Species Protection Officer, monitoring osprey at Loch of the Lowes.
“It is 6 am and the Loch is starting to come alive. The last of the mist lifts from the surface of the water and the sun suddenly sets everything alight. I murmur my appreciation and my watch-mate takes a few dozen more photos. LF15, the female osprey, is waiting for the return of her mate, LM12. Her begging calls tell us he’s close and she’s impatient for the first fish of the day. For us, it’s the start of our shift and I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be.
It all began months before with my discovery of the ad on the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s website for ‘Species Protection Officer’ (SPO), a job title that does no justice to the opportunity of spending two months monitoring ospreys during their breeding season in a stunning part of Scotland.
I was a kid when ospreys were just starting to get established again in the UK. Loch of the Lowes played an important part in their recovery, overcoming the threat of egg-collectors year after year to become one of the most successful nesting sites in the country.
All in all, it sounded like a great job, in a great location and a great way for a newbie conservationist like me to further his career. I applied, was fortunate to be accepted and the role certainly did not disappoint. I gained experience of species monitoring, data recording and analysis, public engagement, report writing, blogging, video editing and helping with volunteer and database management tasks. By running beaver watch events I was able to practice my public speaking skills.
Opportunities didn’t end there and the incredibly friendly and supportive staff at the reserve offered plenty of chances to get involved in other tasks. I even went on to do a further three months there as Assistant Ranger, something I would never have been accepted for without my SPO experience.
Of course, it is nature that is still the hero of this story. Watching LF15 lay her first egg, seeing LM12 fish right in front of the hide and wondering at the never-ending parade of wildlife around the reserve, these are the true highlights that await future SPOs.”
If like Paul you feel inspired to explore a career in wildlife conservation follow the link below. The closing date for this year’s Species Protection Officers is 31st January.
S.Rasmussen (Perthshire Ranger)