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Darren is based at Abbotts Hall Farm
Vole lotta love
The Essex Wildlife Trust's Water for Wildlife Officer Darren Tansley has devoted most of his life to giving nature a helping hand. We find out about his work and his other passion in life - music.
What does your job entail?
There's a lot of work to do with wetlands and rivers mainly. So there's a lot of survey work to do to find out what wildlife we've actually got out there.
There's also the actual practical habitat work to try to improve the habitat for various species that are in the rivers and wetlands.
Water wildlife is dear to Darren's heart
How did you first get into the job?
I was doing an awful lot of survey work in Essex anyway, specifically to do with water voles and otters, trying to find out where the animals were.
That kind of led on to working with the Suffolk and London Wildlife Trusts and from that, to the Essex Wildlife Trust and this job.
What first inspired you to do what you do?
I volunteered for Green Peace in my teens and early 20s, when there was a hideous seal virus which hit seal populations along the East Anglian coast and the whole of the North Sea.
That's what really sparked my interest in wildlife and trying to protect the species that we've got here.
I eventually decided to do a degree in conservation to actually learn about what I'd been talking about for many years in a completely uninformed, but enthusiastic way.
Then there was a lot of volunteering - I don't think you can ever get into these sorts of jobs without doing several years of hard graft for no money!
What is the best thing about your job?
It's certainly not the money! But it is just one of those things that gets into every fibre of your being and you really enjoy being out on the rivers and seeing what's out there.
Particularly, you get a really good buzz when things start to work well and species start to come back because of something you've been helping to do.
So it is really that love of wildlife and wanting to see it continue for future generations.
What do your friends think about what you do?
They kind of wonder when I'm going to get a real job!
Darren loves being able to work outdoors
I don't know if they actually see it as work as such, they think maybe I'm just wandering around, having a great time up and down the rivers!
But actually you do put in a lot of hours and you do invest an awful lot of yourself in this because you care about it.
Where is your favourite place in Essex to work?
I do like the river valleys, particularly the ones I'm familiar with - the River Colne and the River Stour, which is the border with Suffolk.
That's an area where I grew up in, so obviously I have a great love of that area, because I know it so well from my childhood.
We've got some brilliant rivers running right into the London borders. There are some fantastic rivers there, so you don't have to be right in the middle of the countryside to have really good wildlife around you.
What are your other passions away from nature?
Music is a big thing for me. I've been a professional musician in the past and have really enjoyed that.
This man-made reserve was once a field
Again, I think music is something you get very passionate about and can really enjoy. It's always been music and wildlife. Ever since I can remember, I've been fascinated by both.
I've realised now, by talking to people that I've met through wildlife and also archaeology as well, that there are an awful lot of musicians in both professions.
Ecologists and archaeologists seem to be very musical people, so I don't know what it is about us - we're all kind of linked together and you don't find that out until you start talking to people.
last updated: 14/05/2009 at 14:45