I grew up not far from WWT Slimbridge and have fond memories of visits to the centre with my family and on school trips, from a young age. I have been interested in wildlife for as long as I can remember but my passion for birds in particular, really kick-started during my time volunteering alongside the reserve team at Slimbridge following my university studies. I really enjoyed my time at Bristol University where I obtained a BSc Honours in Biology. I have always had a caring instinct, my father always thought a career in nursing would follow for me. I suppose my current role at WWT is not far from this, caring for the captive spoon-billed sandpipers and young godwit chicks for Project Godwit, prior to their release.
As well as a keenness for birds and other wildlife, I also enjoy playing netball, walking and travelling the world.
I started my career at WWT as a volunteer with the Slimbridge reserve team. Over the 10 months in this role, I gained experience in bird and water vole surveys, fencing, habitat management and predator trapping.
In April 2011, I was recruited as a support aviculturist on the Great Crane Project. I assisted with the hatching and specialised costume-rearing of Eurasian cranes at Slimbridge, and maintained high levels of biosecurity at the crane rearing facility in accordance with strict project protocols, import requirements and the Balai Directive. I was also involved in post-release monitoring of released cranes in Somerset as well as egg collection in Germany in April 2012.
In September 2011, I became Conservation Breeding Assistant. In this role, I was the main carer of the captive spoon-billed sandpiper population at WWT Slimbridge. This role allowed me to develop a great deal of avicultural skill and experience, including the incubation, hatching and rearing of redshank and spoon-billed sandpipers. I played a key role in successfully rearing 17 spoon-billed sandpipers in July and August 2012. I was also required to manage the facilities used for spoon-billed sandpiper: the quarantine station in Slimbridge village, the spoon-billed sandpiper winter accommodation and summer breeding aviaries at WWT Slimbridge.
In June 2013, I was a member of the expedition team responsible for headstarting spoon-billed sandpipers in Chukotka, arctic Russia. I was part of a small team responsible for all avicultural aspects of the headstarting process, including incubation, hatching, rearing, release and post-release monitoring of the spoon-billed sandpiper fledglings. We were able to release a total 16 spoon-billed sandpipers in August 2013.
For the following three years, I continued in my role as one of the main carers of the captive spoon-billed sandpipers and also Baer’s pochard, which the team acquired in 2015, behind the scenes in the Conservation Breeding Unit at WWT Slimbridge.
In 2017, I was the lead aviculturalist of the 2017-21 EU Life Project to headstart black-tailed godwits at WWT Welney. This included the collection and translocation of eggs, incubation, hatching and rearing as well as the release of 26 fledglings and the monitoring of these fledglings for the first few weeks following release. A total of five of these released birds were sighted in Portugal and France during the 2017/2018 winter season. In April 2018, the first of the birds released in 2017, and for the project, returned to WWT Welney.
I am also key to the PR/media outputs of the spoon-billed sandpiper and black-tailed godwit projects: giving commentated feeds, writing blogs, giving interviews for press, radio and TV.