Meet our BoPH Engagement Supervisor – Debbie Parker

About Me

Hello, my name is Debbie and I have lived in Dorset now for three years. I grew up in Cheshire and then moved to Yorkshire, where I did my Undergraduate degree. Since then, although I have also lived in Devon and Hampshire, the northern accent remains and has often been commented on by visitors to the HQ over the past few months!

I am a qualified teacher and have taught children from as young as 2, up to 11 years of age. I have also been a Deputy Manager at a local forest school inspired nursery. Each day we took the children on two outdoor walks in the local area, spotting birds and other wildlife along the way. As well as working as a part-time Engagement Supervisor with Birds of Poole Harbour, I also work as an Early Years Team Leader and Content Writer for an online educational publishing company.

My first memory of bird watching is at my grandparent’s house. I loved the little blue Bird ID book they had and would ask, “What’s that?” about every bird I saw fly into their garden. I loved looking in the little book to check. Since moving to Dorset, my interest in birds has continued to grow and grow! When I first moved to Poole, I booked to go onto a bird boat trip and I was astounded by both the variety of birds we spotted and the enthusiasm and passion of the other bird watchers. I was hooked! I love exploring new areas in Poole Harbour, birding and attempting to take photos of the amazing birds along the way. Volunteering on Brownsea Island has also helped to improve my bird knowledge, particularly of terns and waders.


Working in the BoPH HQ

Over the last three months, I have been working one day a week in the HQ and it has been a fantastic experience. Visitors to the area are always shocked when they find out in the HQ about the variety of birds we have within Poole Harbour, especially the ospreys! Many locals also visit the HQ, sometimes on a regular basis, and I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing stories and hearing about their birding experiences. I have also been very lucky to work with a variety of extremely knowledgeable volunteers and staff in the HQ. My understanding of birding sites in the harbour has improved greatly due to the specialist knowledge they have kindly shared with me. One of the most rewarding parts of my job has been to see how the children and teenagers have engaged with the information presented in the HQ and learnt lots, without even knowing they are doing it! As well as learning about ospreys as they climbed into the osprey nest, they have listened to bird sounds, used binoculars to look for birds on the Quay and asked questions about the birds they can see on the webcams.


School Bird Boat Project

I am very excited to be involved in Birds of Poole Harbour’s inspirational School Bird Boat Project. As a teacher, I saw how excited and inspired the children were when they returned from these boat trips. The children would tell me all about being given their own pair of binoculars and what birds they had seen during their trip. I can’t believe I have now been given the opportunity to be involved in the project, helping to take around 1500 local school children out on boat trips exploring the harbour during the winter months. Think I best go and buy some thermals! I can’t wait for the opportunity to help to engage with and teach the children about Poole Harbour and the extraordinary birds that can be found here. I have created a variety of resources that I will send to each school as a follow up after the boat trip. These resources provide the children with further opportunities to learn more about Poole Harbour and its wildlife and link to a variety of curriculum subjects. I have also created resources for the schools to send home with the children. The resources provide a selection of activity ideas that families can take part in together, linked to learning more about the birds in Poole Harbour and connecting with wildlife in their local area.

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