Meet Nigel Tomkinson, East Cornwall Countryside Warden

Hi, I am Nigel Tomkinson and I work as an Area Countryside Warden for South West Lakes Trust (SWLT) covering East Cornwall, this includes Siblyback, Colliford, Porth and Crowdy.

Being older than Bodmin Moor means I have a very long and varied background. Originally I worked as a photographer in ‘that there London’, before joining Hertfordshire and Derbyshire Councils as an Area Countryside Ranger. I have also worked as a trainer and an employment advisor for A4e and Groundwork Plymouth and am presently a volunteer with the Marine Stranding’s Network and Seaquest South West.

I joined the SWLT team approximately three years ago and have never looked back. Every day I feel privileged to be working on some of the best countryside sites in the area with no one day ever being the same. This means you can find me on a tractor, in a boat, wielding a brush cutter, carrying out a survey or eating cake with a volunteer – though obviously not at all the same time!

Working for the SWLT you get to meet some really dedicated people, not only working/volunteering for the Trust, but also through other related organisations. This has enabled me to work on some really exciting projects. For example: At Colliford, with The Royal Society for Protection of Birds and Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society, we managed some trial areas to benefit Snipe. Although Snipe are found in large numbers during the winter, only a handful actually breed in Cornwall and this ongoing initiative was set up to help assist in restoring the habitat they require. At Siblyback, I and local volunteers, planted approximately 290m of traditional native hedge along the edge of the camping field and dog walking area (that’s a lot of cake eaten!). The hedge, supplied through a Hedgerow Grant Scheme from the Woodland Trust, will form a valuable ecological link to the areas of open access and improve habitats for wildlife as well as offer more secluded and sheltered experience for campers. More recently, at Crowdy, working with Butterfly Conservation I helped carry out a Fritillary larval search and web count as part of the All the Moor Project. This then led to me meeting up with volunteers from Butterfly Conservation to learn more and assist in a survey on two sites near Siblyback with the aim of assessing if we had any land to make more suitable for Marsh Fritillary.

We are always looking for volunteers to assist on our sites, so if you fancy a day of hard but rewarding work (and cake) please contact our office – 01579 346522.

Another great thing about working here is you are constantly learning things. Fishing was something that I knew little about, other than building fishing platforms. Fortunately, the team of volunteer bailiffs soon put that right with their valuable input and knowledge. This has certainly broadened my understanding and appreciation of this sport and I now feel confident in writing catch reports, overseeing fish stocking and talking to anglers – especially about the one that got away!

The sites I help manage are all very special and I love to watch how the seasons constantly change the light (an old photographer never dies!). One of my favourite things at this time of year is watching the dramatic sun sets and the dark skies roll in over Siblyback. It gives me chance to sit down, grab my thoughts and think, what a great place to work.

See you at the lakes.

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