Paula Baker

RSPB Site Manager


What I do

I’m the site manager of an RSPB reserve near Loch Lomond in Scotland. This means I manage all of the projects, people and day-to-day work, to make it the best place it can be for nature and people. Unusually for a nature reserve, all of the team at Loch Lomond are female. 

How I got my job

I’ve been working for the RSPB for almost 12 years, and like many people I started out as a volunteer. I did a few different jobs with the RSPB before I got my current one, and I think that, combined with taking lots of good training opportunities, is what helped me get this job. 

What I love about my job

There’s no such thing as a typical day here, which is one of the things I love the most. One of my favourite activities is our dawn goose monitoring. We do this during the winter and have to be in place before dawn, which can sometimes mean an early, cold start to the day. We can often hear the geese starting to wake up before we can see anything (their eyes are better than ours are). We patiently wait for the light to peek over the horizon, then – WHOOSH! – before you know it, thousands of geese are flying overhead and we are frantically counting and identifying them.

What is difficult about my job

Being the manager means I get to do all the good things, but I also have to manage when things are going wrong. For example, we use cattle to manage the grasslands on site, and cows are very curious beasts! We often find them in places they shouldn’t be, like in a ditch, in the woods or in a neighbour’s garden. Once we get them back to where they should be, I have to make the apologies, pay for repairs and generally tidy the mess. However, they make such a huge difference to the birds and plants on site that we couldn’t do without them! 

What skills I need

You need to be able to juggle many different things all happening at once; you also need lots of patience and you need to be a good listener, as I deal with lots of different types of people. You need to be a leader and be able to set a good example for the people you work with.

Where to start

The best advice I can give is to start volunteering as soon as you can and, if you love wildlife, don’t be afraid to get outside, keep learning and keep exploring!