New wildlife officer swaps Kielder for the Northumberland coast

A new trainee reserves officer is in post at Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Catch My Drift project at East Chevington.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 2:29 pm

Joel Ireland, who spent a student placement year with the charity’s Kielder Living Landscape team, joins following a degree in wildlife conservation from Nottingham Trent University.

Although Joel will be based at the Trust’s Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre, his project trainee role will see him learning practical skills such as reed bed, meadow and woodland management and carrying out brush cutter and chain saw work. He will also be taking part in survey work and leading volunteers on tasks on the 185-hectare site.

Once restrictions are been lifted he will also be out and about helping to host public information and awareness sessions, talking to local groups and meeting visitors to the reserve.

Joel Ireland with his new team mates Sophie Webster and Chloe Cook. Picture: Anthony Johnston

Joel said: “I absolutely loved my student placement with the Trust so jumped at the chance to return. I’ve swapped Kielder Forest for a site containing lakes, ponds, reed beds, woodland, meadows and farmland, so I think it’s safe to say no two days will be the same.

“I’m also really looking forward to the easing of lockdown restrictions and getting involved in all the community events we have planned around the reserve and local area.”

The Catch My Drift project, which last year received a funding boost of £415,800 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, is working to improve biodiversity and reconnect people with nature at the East Chevington reserve on Druridge Bay.

In a typical year, the site attracts 10,000 visitors and is home to nationally and internationally significant species such as marsh harrier, red squirrels and great crested newts.

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