My name is Steph and I joined the Stanwick Lakes Ranger team in May of this year. Working as a ranger is a very varied and exciting job, with my tasks ranging from clearing vegetation to teaching school groups and checking the play equipment.
Daily life as a ranger always begins in the same way. Each morning we arrive on site and check that all the play equipment is in working order before the public arrive. We also drive around the outer areas of the site to check that no trees have fallen and that the bird hides, bridges and benches are all as we left them. This allows us to look at the wildlife as we go around the site and we can also assess any work that needs to be undertaken. Alongside these morning checks we also litter pick the areas we check, not a pleasant job but a necessary one to keep the site looking tip top. Once the morning safety checks have been done then we can begin our other work for the day.
For my first two months as a ranger I was running our schools’ education programme. I covered topics from minibeasts, both on land and in the lakes, to building fires and shelters. Some groups came to make art using natural materials and to explore their different senses. The most popular school activity was pond dipping where small groups use nets to see what creatures they can find in the ponds. This was a great activity to teach as many of the children had never delved into a pond before and had no idea about the lifecycles of the creatures in them.
Outside of school term time I ran ‘The Otters Holiday Club’, which is based on site. This was a nice chance to go out and enjoy the nature and play equipment around the site at Stanwick Lakes. One of my favourite activities for the holiday club was playing on the play equipment, especially at the assault course and in the water play area. Even on the rainy days the water play area was great for racing handmade pirate ships! On the drier days I enjoyed taking the children butterfly and dragonfly netting and, although we mostly caught the smaller damselflies, we did catch a few speedy dragonflies. In between all the fresh air and running around we relaxed in the cabin, making crafts and playing with the toys.
When the schools went back the ranger team started on the winter site management work. As the site is a protected wetland we must manage some of the areas to optimize the habitat for the waterfowl that visit. Much of the winter management involves clearing areas of willow and every Wednesday the ranger team is joined by the Friends of Stanwick Lakes (FOSiLs) volunteer group. This amazing group of volunteers is a great benefit to us and many hands definitely make light work – or lighter work at least! While the site is quieter we also take the time to repair and replace any equipment, like the picnic bench in the picture below.
On a weekly basis, throughout the whole year we do a thorough equipment check. This involves carefully inspecting every piece of play equipment, both in the adventure play area and on the wider site at the assault course and on the adventure trail. Alongside inspecting the play equipment we also rake all the sand and turn over the bark chippings to check for rubbish and hidden items.
So, as you can see, being a ranger at Stanwick Lakes is a varied and enjoyable job. If you are interested in conservation, contact us on (01933) 625522 and come and join in with our Wednesday work parties and get to know the ranger team better.