Area Ranger, Formby, Liverpool
With a love of wild places, and especially the coast, Kate Martin always knew that she wanted to work outdoors and connect people with nature.
At Formby in Liverpool, Kate has it all – red squirrels, rare natterjack toads and mile upon mile of sandy beaches and dramatic sand dunes.
In 2004 she started taking seasonal work in countryside conservation, but also working as a bank cashier to keep funds going. Then in 2009 she finally landed her dream job as area ranger at Formby.
This is the perfect place from which Kate can share her natural enthusiasm through the media – from rock pooling with Chris Packham, to sharing the screen with red squirrels on Newsround and highlighting the dune restoration project.
What about Formby makes it such a great place for wildlife?
One of the main reasons is the mosaic of habitats we have here. From mobile sand dune system to dune heathland, grassland through to planted conifer woodland, Formby has a lot to offer. This varied habitat gives lots of places for rare species to live and thrive including natterjack toad and sand lizard.
We are lucky to be part of one of the longest sand dune systems in the UK and also to be in an incredibly important area for migratory birds, wildfowl and waders. The area is recognised internationally for its conservation importance through many conservation designations.
Tell us about Natterjack toads, how do you monitor them?
During the breeding season, typically May to June, we head out to our natterjack pools and count the number of spawn strings in each pool.
We then monitor this spawn and the tadpoles to keep an eye on numbers and, if we are lucky, we might get a chance to see some of the young toadlets taking their first steps out of the pools.
Formby is famous for red squirrels, how often do you interact with them on a day to day basis?
We see the red squirrels every day at work whilst undertaking our day to day tasks. We have a small number of dedicated volunteers who go out every day to put out a small amount of food in our feeding stations for them. You never get bored of spotting one.
How would you encourage people to discover nature near them?
I think the main thing is just to get out and about and discover what is around you. It is amazing if you just take a minute, to see how much nature you can see and hear.
We have a lot of events and activities on our site, for at all different age groups, that show people the fantastic nature on view at Formby and hopefully we can spark their imagination to do the same at home.
And not forgetting, how was rock pooling with Chris Packham? Did you find anything remarkable?
It was really good fun. To be honest I don’t take any persuading to go rock pooling as I absolutely love it. It is one of life’s real pleasures to put on a pair of wellies, grab and bucket and have a root in a rock pool.
Chris and I spent a couple of hours poking round some amazing rock pools and turned up some real beauties including a sea hare (which left a nice coating of purple dye on my hands which took a few days to get off), a squat lobster and a pipefish.
To get in touch with Kate please contact our press office on 0844 800 4955.