Me + South Africa = This


African Penguins

A terribly busy few days…

SANCCOB has been terribly busy and stressful over the last few days! Long hours and busy days, with hardly time for breaks and food.

Friday all paid members of staff went on there yearly day out, leaving just volunteers and interns running the place… These guys trust me really deserve that one day off, they all work incredibly hard, incredibly long hours for probably not alot of money.

I must say the worst day was Saturday where 7 people decided not to show! Now at the weekend there is only 1 rehabber and the rest are volunteers and interns. Take away 7 people and thats a third of the staff for the day! It was unnecessary stress for everyone and it was wonderful that everyone pulled together to get it all finished by 7. Just a quick tip.. If the place you have decided to volunteer isn’t for you… be polite and tell them, instead of not turning up! These people rely on the volunteers and interns, fair enough if you are generally sick!!! But be honest! Don’t lie, you will get caught out!

Yesterday was pretty bad, 3 of the same people that continuously do not show up… didn’t show up again! This meant that i was left at a super busy point in the day for my pen on my own! It also meant that through out the day people kept adding things to my forever growing list of things to do, when i hadn’t even finished the things i am supposed to do for the birds in my own care!


On a much happier note, went to see Fantastic Beasts yesterday with a few of the girls and we loved it. It was an awesome film and i will be going to see it again! Pretty soon! 🙂


I really am terrible at writing this, this time around.

So Saturday i went into to Cape Town to see Lucy whom i have known for a very long time, she joined the Marine Conservation project on Monday in Gansbaai. Little did i know when i decided to wear flip flops for the day that i would be walking 21.5km… Who does that? It was a lovely day, we walked around the VA Waterfront and headed to the Two Ocean Aquarium. Was super nice to see her and i really hope she is having a wonderful time in Gansbaai.

Now at SANCCOB its been crazy busy, chicks chicks and more chicks. I have been lucky enough to be on the penguin pens alot of the time. This means i am now allowed to feed, tube and administer medication to the birds. It also means my finger is not happy because it is used to keep the penguins beak open whilst doing these things… It led me to be put on ICU for the day yesterday, more cleaning and moving birds around then feeding etc… Until i was pulled off to help feed in pen 2 twice. I also had a stupid bug bite that meant that i ended up in the pharmacy because i was clearly silly allergic to what ever it was. Now i have been bit by mozzies before in actual fact i had a bite on my leg last week that was like the size of a 2p coin… The bite on my arm engulfed my elbow… I am just not lucky. Oh and to top it off i was giving the pelican darrows, which literally meant sticking my arm in its mouth anddddd the little or not so little guy bit me… future reference it hurts and i bled.

Today was a well needed day off and i ended up yet again at the wetlands. It is super pretty there and so peaceful, this time around i was lucky enough to see a Black Shouldered Kite.

The last few days

Busy few days if you ask me! Sunday i finally got put on a penguin pen. The pen where all the strongest and nearest to release birds go… This can only mean one thing, super sore and super bruised hands. Don’t get me wrong SANCCOB do make sure everyone wears arm guards and gloves… but if you have ever been bit by a penguin before you know this will only stop the cuts. You have to be super quick and really sure of yourself and your own stregth because these birds are strong and will get you when you least expect it!

Yesterday i was in the ICU. This is where all the sickest birds go! Its always going to be a busy day! I was lucky though i was shown how to force feed (sounds horrible, but these birds lives literally depend on it) a Hartlaubs Gull. SANCCOB are great when it comes to training. I have had experience all be it only a little with working with penguins, yet they treat everyone the same and teach you from the beginning. When you learn something you get signed off. For instance i can handle penguins, cape cormorants, kelp gulls and hartlaubs gull, but can only currently feed a hartlaubs gull. I will eventually be shown feeding of other birds and also hopefully tubing and medication. 🙂

Today was another day off, i again ended up at Rietvlei Wetlands! I love the place! I left at around 9 as i wanted to get there super early. I was so lucky today! I managed to see so much wildlife, including a Malachite Kingfisher and a mongoose! The place is by far one of my favourite places ever! It is so peaceful and relaxing! One problem though was today it hit 31 degrees… this means bugs…. Lots and lots of bugs… NO THANK YOU!

First week over.

I have officially been back in South Africa for 1 week! Its gone really quick and has been super busy.

Day 1 – I was dropped off at SANCCOB and put on mat and crates… Basically everything gets cleaned once and day. You jet wash everything then disinfect it, it then all goes back to where it came from.

Day 2 – General duties, this means basically you are in the kitchen area, prepping everything for each of the pens throughout the day… This could be formula, fish plates, darrows, syringe cleaning, normal cleaning and laundry. It is crazy busy in this section just because of the pure number of birds there are at the moment.

Day 3 – Pen 1 and Aviary 🙂 Basically these are the flying birds… For instance at the moment there are cape cormorants and kelp gulls. You get shown how to handle them properly (have handled cormorants and kelp gulls before) and then with your small team of 2/3 people are left to care for the birds throughout the day. For these guys that means food prep, tubing for darrows if needed (this is something i will get taught eventually) swimming the birds twice a day and general cleaning duties. Oh i also got taught how to catch a pelican and was allowed to restrain it whilst medication was given. 🙂

Day 4 – Nursery, this has been by far the most enjoyable day since being back! It is like being on general yet on a more chilled level. Though in this instance i was incredibily lucky, i was shown how to work the nebuliser and shown how to handle the chicks (not normally something you do) and then left unsuperviser to move the chicks from the outside pen, into the nebuliser 7 at a time and then into the indoor pen. I got to handle 41 ish chicks! Over half of which needed to be put in the nebuliser. I really do i hope i get placed on this section more, i’d love to be shown how they are tubed and fed!

CHICKS ARE SO FLUFFY. But they do still bite and it still leaves a mark.

Come around so quickly

It only seems like yesterday that i actually booked to go back to South Africa. People at work keep asking me if i am prepared and if i’m excited and what are my plans when i come back to the UK… Lets answer those…

Am i prepared? Yes probably more so then i let on. This time around was a hell of a lot more stressful to plan due to visa requirements. Yep you heard me i had to apply for a visa and goodness me it was a pain. Medical, X-ray, Police Certificate plus bank statements, a statement from Ed at Via Volunteers and a trip to London to hand it in… oh and the earliest you could apply was 9 weeks before you fly. I must say i heard some horror stories but my application process went smoothly. I had my passport back in my hands with 3 weeks to go.

Am i excited? This one is tricky. I have had a lot of rubbish go on in the last 7 months since being back in England. Of course i am excited to go back to Cape Town and Gansbaai to spend some time with the crazy wildlife there and the people of course. It is also my first Christmas ever away from my family and when you have had a year like us it was a huge decision for me to make… Ultimately made by the fact that life is to short. And of course i am excited to know that on my return i have raised a considerable amount of money for The African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary in Gansbaai. Its good to be able to give back to the people that taught me so much in a short space of time.

What are my plans when i return to England? Goodness knows! I handed in my notice for my job just under 3 months ago. I don’t want to go back there. I have spent the last 7 months volunteering as a Junior Keeper at BirdWorld in Farnham and who knows maybe there will be a seasonal vacancy to apply for when i get back in March. Honestly i really don’t know what will happen. All i know is that i would love to be able to continue to work with Birds and Penguins hopefully in a keeper/conservastionist role. I don’t have a qualification BUT i have the heart and i have some experience through my volunteering in Cape Town/Gansbaai and Birdworld… Who knows maybe i will be lucky.

PS. I also brought a new Canon 100D to help me with my love for taken pictures… Watch this space 😉


The Return

So in around 10 or so weeks i will be returning to South Africa for just over 4 months. This time around though i will be volunteering at 2 different projects.


For the first 6 weeks of my visit i will be helping out at SANCCOB. SANCCOB is an African Penguin and Seabird hospital based in Cape Town. I am super excited to be helping out here as i get more hands on experience working with the birds. SANCCOB also have a relationship with Birdworld in Farnham where i have been volunteering since my return to the UK back in March/April. Birdworld regularly hold fundraising events that benefit SANCCOB.

Marine Dynamics/APSS

For the final 12 weeks i will be returning to Gansbaai as an IMV for Marine Dynamics. Here i will again be helping out on the Shark Cage Diving boats/Eco boat trips, though i do hope to concentrate on helping out at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary. I can’t wait to return and catch up with the friends that i have made here. It was here that i found a love for working with birds and it is here that i am also raising money.

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