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Winter work in wildlife, musings from Keeping it Wild Trainee Dan

Posted: Monday 11th February 2019 by

A winter afternoon at Woodberry WetlandsA winter afternoon at Woodberry Wetlands

Last week, Woodberry Wetlands was overcome by a bitter chill that brought icy winds, piercing sleet, frozen puddles, and a fine blanket of snow.

It’s the stay-in-bed kind of weather that makes the warmth of our duvets even more heavenly and the thought of heading out into the cold abyss all the more abominable. I used to find myself pining for the warm indoors; wrapped up in blankets, clasping a steaming, swirling cup of tea to warm my hands and hug my soul. But things have changed whilst working at Woodberry Wetlands and I have developed an extra woolly, warming layer, and the best thing is, it only takes two minutes! (Despite the murmurings of multiple people comparing me to Narnia’s Mr. Tumnus, this warmth is nothing to do with a beard nor the body of a goat.)

The recipe for success has been so simple that I felt inclined to share; waterproofs + layers + movement + glorious work in the great outdoors.

The trainees reeding and revelling at Woodberry Wetlands

Working outdoors alongside magnificent Mother Nature may frighten you, but you’ll be amazed at how quickly your frozen fingers become dynamic digits. You might just find yourself working up a sweat, shaking off your hat, and exclaiming that “the gloves are off”. What a feeling it is to be contributing to nature at a wildlife reserve with birds sat coolly on the shelves of ice and newts snuggled tightly under heavy logs. It’s not rocket-science; keep it moving and you’re in line for a good time!

I’ve got to be honest, winter on the water seemed a perilous prospect, but here at Woodberry Wetlands you’ll find everything you need to keep smiling through the cold. Winter at the Wetlands may seem serene, but there’s plenty to be done in preparation for the warmer days on the horizon. Whilst the worms are wriggling beneath our feet, the winter brings a window of opportunity for some much-needed maintenance around site, which we can carry out without too much disturbance to our fellow residents of the reserve.

If you enjoyed this blog post and want to free yourself from your bedsheets, come and join us on one of our volunteer days on the reserve!

By the time spring has sprung we will have completed some essential tasks thanks to your helpful hands. It is of course important to take the weather conditions seriously! So if you’re in need of respite from the cold, I can wholeheartedly recommend the cozy Coal House Café and their life-affirming hot chocolate... as if you even needed an excuse.

Alison, Peter and Dan repairing the steps in the Woodland Trail


1. Sunset at Woodberry Wetlands on a crisp winter’s day. The tranquility is unrivalled.

2. Trainees reeding and revelling at the Wetlands.

3. Here’s me, starting a fire with a King Alfred Cake and a reed head. Blissful warmth to gather round and tell tales.

4. Alison, Peter and I – repairing the steps in the Woodland Trail, wrapped up and warm, but only moments before the gloves were discarded and the cold was forgotten.


Keeping it Wild is a new project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, that will empower and inspire 600 young people aged 11-25, from backgrounds currently under-represented in natural heritage, to gain vital skills while discovering, conserving and sharing their experiences of the capital’s wild spaces. 16-25-year-olds are invited to apply for a 12 week Traineeship, paid via a bursary. They are based at one of our reserves, where they spend time learning from the London Wildlife Trust team, gaining valuable practical skills in urban nature conservation. 
Additional support for the Traineeships has been generously donated by the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers.

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