A week in the life of a Corncrake Assistant – Saturday

8.20am. I awoke. A late breakfast for the corncrakes today.
9.30am. I finally get out of the house and head to the reserve/aviaries to feed my wee corncrakes. I inspect two piles of swan feathers, at different locations but within the same territory as one swan family. A swan pair with five cygnets. It worries me. Is one of them moulting, or did a fox get the whole family?
Its a nice morning, so I brought my camera out for the first time in a long while. After feeding, I hung around outside the aviaries, stalking insects.. I think I got some corking photos of the diddy folk. Whilst I’m photographing I can hear the corncrake that we caught last night calling away. The teasels are smothered in aphids. But where are all the ladybirds?
11.15am. I finally head back to base. It takes me a long time though as I keep spotting delights to photograph, poppies, bees, caterpillars, butterflies, and flowers I’m yet to identify. And then, huge colonies of peacock butterfly caterpillars. Tiny diddy ones and big fat ones. They live on nettles, so look out for them. They look like a black mess from a distance, or a shrivelled black flower. But when you get close they are beautiful. They have bold beige feet, spikes down their backs (which don’t scare me), and proper little heads.
12 noon. I finally reach home.

2pm. I make up the large food tubs for the waxmoth caterpillars. Weetabix, oats and honey. Then I move the tubs upstairs to the office along with all the caterpillars, who are all still in their travel boxes. I can transfer them, removing all the sawdust, whilst watching Laura at Wimbledon!
4.20pm. Well done Laura. Chick feeding time next. On leaving the aviaries I came across my favourite swan family. All there, the two adults and five fuzzy grey cygnets. Phew. I photographed mum teaching them how to forage. Cute unlimited!
5.20pm. Then over to the three decoy males to feed them.
I watched a female marsh harrier hunting again. In the field where we released the corncrakes. And then a male, two minutes later.
6pm. Back to base to continue with the waxmoth caterpillar relocations, in front of the Djokovic match.

10.15pm. I leave the house. Corncrake survey time. The weather is calm, pleasant and dry. Three corncrakes heard tonight. One in a totally new area, and the other two have moved slightly. Cheeky crakes.
00.20am. Home to bed.
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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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