30 years with the National Trust: Mike Robinson
Area Ranger, Sherborne Park Estate
Mike has worked at Sherborne Park since 1978, and is now the Area Ranger. When he's not working he can often be found out capturing the estate's beautiful views with his camera.
How long have you been working at Sherborne Park?
It'll be 40 years next January. I was born in Sussex, but came to the Cotswolds when I was 19. When I started as a Forester the estate was owned by Lord Sherborne (Charles Dutton, 7th Baron of Sherborne).
How has the estate changed since then?
It’s changed a lot. We used to be responsible for 7,000 acres of farmland and woods – although at 4,000 acres the estate is still big.
In the sixties farmers were encouraged to plough areas like our water meadows along the River Windrush. About 20 years ago we got several grants to restore the 17th century meadows – re-digging the old drainage channels and replanting the meadow grass. With the Trust management we now concentrate on nature conservation - creating and maintain habitats within our parks and woodlands.
What’s the best thing about being a Ranger?
Ask any Ranger and they’ll tell you they enjoy the practical side of the job and being outdoors. Every season is different: in spring you’ve got the birds coming back from their migrations and in autumn I love to see the fungi in the woods. The work changes from day to day, and as someone who loves nature and conservation I think that being outside and working to improve habitats for wildlife is the best thing that I can do.
And the worst?
You get the occasional day when you're stuck at the desk doing paperwork. I definitely prefer being outside.
You're an expert on the estate's bats. How did you get interested?
I got into bats just sitting out in the garden in the evenings. I've always been interested in wildlife and I wanted to find out what species they were. I bought myself a bat detector and joined the local bat group.
I've been out with the Springwatch team watching a maternity roost of lesser horseshoe bats. Unlike most bats, which echo locate by shouting at each other, the lesser horseshoes' echo locate by blowing through the nose to create it's more like a warbling sound. The bat is no bigger than my thumb.