A week in the life of a Corncrake Assistant – Tuesday

8.30am. Loaded the truck with corncrake food and water, and headed to aviaries on the reserve.
We feed them waxmoth caterpillars, mealworms, and defrosted crickets. Not all of them like the crickets, but they all adore the worms and caterpillars..
9.45am. I go to check on and replenish food and water of the decoy male corncrakes. As I wander through the long grasses to get to their aviaries I see flashes of electric blue damsel flies darting this way and that, and swallows swooping about just above the grass. It occurs to me that swallows, swifts and housemartins seem to fill the same niche. That’s not possible, so I must look that up and learn what differentiates their lifestyles.

I then spent the remainder of the morning washing dirty corncrake dishes, preparing for tomorrow morning (our first corncrake release day of the year), and updating admin.

2pm. Helped Jonathan (the reserve warden) to repair some of last years tables, damaged by the floods and wear and tear. The tables are used in the aviaries. Placed near to the door of each individual aviary they act as a weatherproof place to put food, and provide cover for such shy birds.

3.30pm. Afternoon feed time for the chicks.
We then saw a curlew, just the one. Its been on the reserve for a few days.

9.20pm. I start a corncrake survey on the Low Wash part of the RSPB Nene Washes Reserve. I hear a corncrake straight away. And then a second one a little further along.
I get two compass readings on each calling corncrake, pointing the compass in the direction of the bird from somewhere a little to the left and somewhere a little to the right. Tomorrow I will be able to draw the angles on a map of the reserve and by triangulation work out where the bird was.
I also hear cuckoo, snipe, and sheep!

10.30pm. I leave the reserve and take the truck back to where it lives when not in use. There are bats swooping about the yard.
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About Olivia N Masi

From art college drop-out, to office space-planner, to back-packer, to air stewardess, to brolly babe, to model agent, to wildlife conservationist. How? I've always believed in jumping at every opportunity that comes my way. This has taken me along some bizarre career paths. None of which I regret. I have been to amazing places and met fascinating people. And having worked in the motor sport industry I've sadly experienced too many beloved friends take one adrenalin step too many. I think of them always. I've hung out with pop-stars, sports personalities, and millionaires. I reached a point when nothing but VIP would do. And then something happened. My pops passed away and I felt the need to reconnect with my Italian side. Whilst in Italy, I learnt to be resourceful, to recycle everything, to listen to the valley, to grow my own veg, to catch and tame feral cats, and to follow my heart. My heart led me to a desire to save this beautiful Earth, and all the wonderful life upon it. And so I read, and then I studied with the Open University. I suddenly found myself accepted on a BSc in Wildlife Conservation, having left school with pitiful qualifications. So here I am. A qualified Wildlife Conservationist. A scientist I suppose. I love nothing more than to listen to birdsong, and watch, learn and photograph wildlife. So here is to me getting the perfect job where I can contribute to saving one of Earth's beautiful species. Do I miss the glamour of the old life? The VIP lifestyle? The petrol-head adrenalin? The buzz of being a successful business owner? Only occasionally. Though it seems more like the distant dreams of a previous life.
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