Rachel is one of our volunteers at Cley Marshes
helping visitors on the reserve and in the bird hides. “I have been interested in birds and bird watching since the age of 13. I am not a twitcher, as such, but I love watching birds and listening to their songs wherever I am. Being on the reserve each week is an absolute treat. The reserve guides are out and about whatever the weather and it can get quite wild out there, but that just adds to the pleasure and of course the magnificence of seeing 2,000 pink footed geese fly over, or a huge flock of golden plover. What is also special is sharing these sights and experiences with our visitors, some of whom are regulars and others who have never been before. We have some visitors who know the reserve well and who are extremely knowledgeable. It is great listening to their experiences and sharing their expertise on bird behavior and identification. Then there are other visitors who have no previous knowledge of bird watching, or what they are seeing, and who are extremely grateful when the birds are pointed out and identified.
"I think some of my best moments are when I am with a group of visitors and we are on the board walk and hear a bird singing, for instance, a wren, and they are absolutely amazed that such a small bird can produce such a glorious song and they go away in wonderment.
"I remember showing a young family around the reserve and their 6-year-old daughter seemed to have a natural ability to identify and remember the birds that we were watching. We were sitting in the hide together when suddenly a peregrine falcon flew past very quickly and very close to us. We both spotted it at the same time and were equally as excited. I reflected afterwards that she would remember the sight of that Peregrine for the rest of her life.
"I have to say that being a female reserve guide is a bit of a rarity and there should be more of us! Perhaps there is a general feeling that bird watching is a bit of a male preserve and sometimes walking into a hide full of men can be a little daunting. But I find that as soon as I sit down and ask what they have seen, conversation soon starts and common ground is found.”