Getting my feet under the table – or in the river! – Hannah Dry – Conservation Officer

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Here I am. Stood in a river, with the otters, kingfishers and dippers wondering how on earth I’ve been this lucky. This has been a frequent thought of mine since I began with WOLCT. When people ask me what I do, I have an element of pride to say I work for such a fantastic trust.

From a slightly stilted start to a full-blown run, when I did my induction back in April, it was hard to come away and wait a few more weeks before I could begin properly with the trust. To say I was itching to get going would be an understatement. When I finally arrived, I was put into a pair of waders and off I went (albeit nervously)!

Stepping into Charlotte’s shoes – or waders – was somewhat daunting, given her knowledge and expertise of the river from the last 20 plus years. I am aware of how much I have to learn, but everyone has been fantastic at making me feel welcome and helping out when I am not sure.

It has been a drastic change from working on my pervious river catchment on the River Medway down in Kent. The catchment was over 2000km2 and had 6 major tributaries. The project that I worked on researched how plastic pollution entered our river catchments and how we could remove legacy plastic already choking our rivers. I spent a lot of my time litter picking and hosting river clean ups, counting plastic items, and looking down drains to see what gets what’s washed. I think it stood me in good stead for my job on the Water of Leith.

Since I have started, I have been involved with everything from clean ups, Giant Hogweed treatment, the Leith boat clean up, wildflower surveys, Riverfly surveys, the Edinburgh Biodiversity Action Partnership, pesticide training, corporate groups, learning the ropes of the visitor centre and a wonderful demonstration by Helen of how to unblock the drains! It has been a very busy month and a half of getting stuck in and learning as I go, but there have already been some standout moments.

A personal favourite – spending two hours in the Murrayburn with volunteers who discarded their litter pickers so they could instead pull handfuls of wet wipes off branches, twigs and fences. It takes a special sort of person to spend two hours doing it, barely getting beyond the point we got in because of the volume of rubbish.

My first two weeks also wouldn’t have been complete without the otter making an appearance. It isnt everyday you turn up to work and get to share it with an otter – it’s not a bad ‘office’. I’m looking forward to more of the same and continuing to learn. Thanks for having me on board!

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