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Coll goes out for volunteers…

RPSB Scotland searches for volunteers to live and work on remote island reserve

A remote RSPB Scotland nature reserve has opened its doors to residential volunteers with the launch of a new purpose-built facility.

Cow on Feall

The coastal reserve, on the island of Coll in the Inner Hebrides, is managed for a rich and diverse range of wildlife including corncrakes and hen harriers, and also supports a number of rare insects such as oil beetles and great-yellow bumblebees.

Residential volunteers will have the chance to stay on site in a new barn conversion and help with a wide variety of tasks, including working with visitors, wildlife surveys, and general agricultural tasks.

James Duncan volunteered on Coll this winter, staying a total of eight weeks and writing regular blogs about his experiences. He said: “My time on Coll has been absolutely wonderful. It was a truly invaluable experience owing to the kind support and assistance of the staff, the fantastic accommodation and the sheer beauty of both the reserve and indeed the entire island. I won’t forget it in a hurry.”

Volunteers are encouraged to come to Coll for between four to 16 weeks, to get used to both island life, and the varied tasks that will be part of their roles.

Ben Jones, RSPB Scotland’s reserve manager on Coll, said: “The new barn conversion is a huge boost to our work here on Coll, which is an incredibly important site for some of Scotland’s rarest wildlife. A new warden started on the reserve last year, which has doubled our workforce! But with more volunteers, we’ll not only have the capacity to improve the reserve for nature, but also run more events for the public, and have closer connections with the local community.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in finding out what island life is really like, as well as giving people the chance to experience living beside some amazing wildlife. Who wouldn’t want to stay in a place where you can regularly see corncrakes just outside the window!”

If you would be interested in applying for this volunteering role, please contact volunteers@rspb.org.uk. Further residential volunteering roles are also available at other RSPB Scotland reserves, including the Mull of Galloway, Loch Lomond, Loch Gruinart on Islay, and Insh Marshes. More information can be found at www.rspb.org.uk/volunteering.

RSPB Scotland will be running events as part of the Coll Bird Festival on May 12-14. http://collbunkhouse.com/coll-bird-festival-may-2017/.

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