Meet our volunteer James on the project “Spread your wings” as a part of the European Solidarity Corps
My name is James Jackson and I am the European Solidarity Corps volunteer with BIOM, based in Zagreb.
I am an enthusiastic young conservationist from Bristol, England and I have come to Croatia to make the best of the opportunity to develop my professional skills, improve my ecological understanding, and see some nice new wildlife.
Since I was a very small child, my parents have always taken me out to see the wildlife and natural spaces around Bristol and I was raised to be a bird watcher. A particular favorite place of mine was always the nearby Nature Reserve at Slimbridge Wetlands Centre where I developed a deep love for water birds, especially Ducks and Geese.
This early passion to the protect the beautiful nature I grew up with drove me to volunteer on a range of conservation projects and study Environmental Conservation at university. Here I had the opportunity to study Lepidoptera and this became a joint passion with ornithology. In my free time I would travel extensively around the UK in pursuit of fulfilling wildlife experiences, some of my favorite places being the wetlands of Norfolk and the rugged Scottish Islands.
Following my studies I took the opportunity to do an internship, then later work on a project, at the Slimbridge Wetlands Centre Nature Reserve. At this important wetland reserve, I spent one year carrying out hard practical habitat work in all extremes of weather and learning all kinds of skills from the highly experienced staff of the Reserve Management Team. With the role involving a range of public engagement activities, I quickly discovered a deep enjoyment for sharing my passion of the natural world with people, something I hope to do more of in the future.
After completing the internship I stayed at Slimbridge to work on a pond restoration project. Making full use of my practical and volunteer management skills, I helped to return the old pond to its former use as a Duck Decoy, allowing the Reserve Management Team to catch Ducks for ringing studies and public engagement purposes.
In April this year I bid farewell to my friends, family, and beloved Ducks and Geese and headed to Zagreb, Croatia.
Since arriving, I have had the opportunity to see much of the country and its amazing wildlife while on Ornithological Fieldwork.
I spent the month of July helping run the Habitat Restoration Camp in Učka Nature Park, an unforgettable and challenging experience which drew on the full extent of my practical and people skills. Učka’s quality of habitat, range of wildlife, and peacefulness inspired me deeply, being a world apart from anything I have experienced in the UK. I find it deeply rewarding and fulfilling knowing that I have contributed to the conservation of a wide range of species which rely on the meadows around Rovozna Pond.
I also like to take the time to go bird watching and exploring around Zagreb on weekends, some of my regular spots being Park Maksimir and the River Sava.
A few of my favorite moments so far were seeing magnificent Ural Owl (Strix uralensis) in the beautiful Plitviče forests, watching a Large Copper (Lycaena dispar) butterfly and a pair of Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava) somewhere near Zagreb, and listening to the whistling wings of Alpine Swift (Tachyparptis malba) as they soared around my head on the top of a peak in Učka Nature Park.
My other pastimes include painting, writing, and music – but mostly I prefer being outside in nature cycling, hiking, and camping.
I hope to see much more of the fantastic wildlife and scenery in Croatia before my project ends in April 2020, so if anyone has any places you could recommend I visit, please let me know!
If you are interested in volunteering or working on projects abroad and want to find out what this offers you and how you can apply, see the European Solidarity Corps website and inform yourself. Biom Association can support you in your application.