A Magical Week + Personal Reflection on the Last 6 Months

I am more or less half way through my years traineeship now, although I blog about it monthly on the Natural Talent Blog, I thought I would reflect on the last 6 months here, as the traineeship hasn’t been the only thing affecting my life.

Just over 6 months ago I was living at home, working in local authority ecology, and generally unhappy. I didn’t realise quite unhappy I was until I left that job. I had been applying for a variety of jobs and traineeships, and getting nowhere. My introversion played a huge part in that. I thought the same would happen when I got an interview for the entomology traineeship I am on now, they literally had hundreds of applications, so why chose me? Well it seems that Natural Talent, and my placement providers at Buglife and Natural England, saw something in me. I am so pleased they did! I won’t pretend that the last 6 months have been easy for me, they haven’t. But they have been full of change and non stop excitement. Moving away from home to a city has been scary at times, but I love it now. I stay out in the countryside and travel in which works well!


It took a week away for me to realise quite how much my life has changed in the last 6 months. I now say yes to things a lot more now. Yes I can do a talk, yes I can deliver a workshop. It still scares the living daylights out of me, but I feel happier in myself to do it now. So my confidence has grown in the last 6 months, that means far more to me than the taxonomic knowledge that I have gained, which has also been huge. Huge thanks must go to John Mcfarlane, Jon Webb and Sarah Henshall.


Sarah, Jon and myself. 

But my traineeship hasn’t been the only thing that has changed my life, my girlfriend Sophie has too. She has brought me out of my shell more and shown me that some people like me for me, the geeky wildlife recorder that I am. It is due to her support that I went for the traineeship. I really don’t know where I would be now if it wasn’t for her. Sophie lives up in Lancashire, which is far from close to me. But the time we spend together is everything I could want and more. Last week is the perfect example of that. I stayed with Sophie on the coast in Lancashire and we spent most of the week recording wildlife! I am so lucky to have someone who understands my passion for biological recording and is interested too… Especially when she can send me photos of species I haven’t seen before!


We went to a variety of places including Brockholes, a newly created nature reserve that was packed with wildlife. We also went up into Bowland, which I really wanted to do, it is so picturesque up there. Here, at Beacon Fell, I saw my first bilbery bumblebee, Bombus monicola, an unforgettable experience. My favourite trip was to Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve though. Where we saw my first ever otter, alongside marsh harriers and alsorts of wonderful species. Sophie pointed out a insect on a flower which she didn’t recognise, and I have never grabbed it so fast in my life. I knew straight away that this was a rare hoverfly, and it was, the lovely Callicera aurata. A beautiful and uncommon species. We recorded 250 or so species (I am still identifying stuff!) on the trip, which is great but the best thing for me was spending time with the best friend and girlfriend I could ask for. That may sound soppy, but she has changed my life.


My ‘first otter face’


Beautiful Bowland


Callicera aurata



It is no secret that I suffer from bouts of depression, and was suffering from them fairly often 6 months ago. With the help of the the people mentioned above, I have taken control of it a lot more though, there are still bad times, but I feel supported now and suffer less frequently. My life has been so hectic recently that I haven’t had the time to blog as much as I would like, but that may not be a bad thing. I have no idea how many species I have seen so far this year and the skills I have gained in identifying them. As some readers of this blog will know, I keep a pan species list detailing all the species I have seen alive in Britain. I haven’t had the chance to update this since the end of December, so haven’t a clue how I am doing, but I don’t much care either. I am enjoying myself and must hold onto that while I start looking for jobs for after I finish my traineeship.



10 responses to “A Magical Week + Personal Reflection on the Last 6 Months

  1. I’m so pleased to read this, Ryan. I hoped that this would happen, that life would begin to open up for you and that your confidence would increase. I know you still feel low at times but your determination to keep moving forward and learning and growing is admirable. Bravo!

  2. What a wonderful post, Ryan. You are really brave to talk about yourself in this way. You give us younger, doubting, introverted and perfectionist budding naturalists hope. Thank you. Dara :))

  3. Brian Eversham

    Brilliant to hear life has turned a corner, and great to see the joy in your eyes… and not entirely from wildlife… Well done! The skills and experience you’re accumulating should be exactly what you need after the traineeship.

  4. Excellent Ryan, great to head you’ve turn your life round and that you are enjoying yourself doing what you love the most. Confidence is a transformative thing which will allow you to flourish and give your best. Keep it up!

  5. Ryan, young, vibrant and passionate naturalist like you are the future custodians of our Natural assets. I’m sure that you have a bright and exciting future ahead. I’ve really loved every minute of managing you. And PLEEASSSSSE, always be yourself!

  6. Thank you everyone!

  7. This is a wonderful post Ryan. Honest, optimistic and true to yourself. It’s certainly wonderful to have you on the AFON team and I am sure that you have a bright future ahead!

  8. Hi Ryan, next time you are in Lancashire, the back copies of BW are still here for collection and looking for a good home, cheers, Dave McAleavy

    • Hi Dave. Guess who completely forgot about that! It would have been the perfect chance. Thanks for the reminder! I am sure it wont be very long before I am up again.

      Kind regards,


  9. I’ve only just seen this post but it was great to read! Sounds like life has changed a fair bit in a short time and hopefully things will just carry on getting better for you!

    Dave and I lived far apart for 5 years but we got by and it was brilliant when he was finally able to move here. His parents live in Lancashire (near Clitheroe) and I love visiting Bowland and Brockholes – and many other place. I’ve not yet visited any of the RSPB places though.

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