Community Champion: Richard Bolton

Richard BoltonRichard Bolton

How did you first hear about or come across OPAL?

I learnt about OPAL through my local ranger service and thought it would be a great project to get involved with in Castlemilk, near Glasgow, where I live.

What made you want to use/ work with the OPAL project in particular?

The OPAL surveys were an ideal way of get local people more involved in their local park and a good way of building up data on what species are present within the local area.

What do you enjoy most about using the OPAL resources/ what has been your favourite part of working with OPAL?

The surveys are very user friendly and I was fortunate to receive wonderful support from OPAL's Community Scientist in Glasgow, Jo Dempster, who led many of the sessions for us.

Which is your favourite OPAL survey and why?

Castlemilk Park from nearby hillsTwo real favourites were the Soil Survey - I really enjoyed the worm charming - and the Air Survey as this really improved my identification of lichens.

How are you using OPAL to make a difference in the community?

The OPAL surveys are helping members of the local community learn new skills, and identify the Park's rich flora and fauna.

As people know more about the biodiversity of their local area they can play a larger part in the long term management and have a great sense of ownership.

What is special about the area and/or community you work in?

Wild garlic and bluebells in woodlandThe woods of Castlemilk Park, once part of the designed landscape of now demolished Castlemilk House, run through the heart of Castlemilk.

The woods in early spring are full of Wild Garlic, Bluebells and bird song.

The Castlemilk community is so passionate about Castlemilk Park and discovering the flora and fauna of the woodland.

Is there a person, place or animal that inspired you to work with nature?

I joined a bird club at school and got interested in nature and conversation and through volunteering with a local conservation group I quickly realised this was what I wanted to do for a career.

Do you have a favourite animal, plant or fungi and what makes it your favourite?

Swift in flightWith so many wonderful species it’s really difficult to pick one, but as a keen birdwatcher in the UK I would have to say Swifts.

Worldwide I love watching vultures and lammergeier (Bearded Vulture) is probably my favourite, it’s a magnificent bird with a wingspan of between 7 and 9 feet.

What advice would you give to people wanting to encourage others to get involved in science and nature?

The OPAL surveys are great way to encourage people, the resources make it easy and enjoyable for everyone to take part.

Choose a good meeting place and promote your events to the local community.

Follow the Friends of Castlemilk Park on Facebook

About OPAL Community Champions

The OPAL Community Champions scheme aims to acknowledge the contribution made by individuals to the OPAL network, to thank people for their efforts, and to act as an inspiration for others.

Over the next few weeks and months we'll be profiling 20 Community Champions, nominated by OPAL's team of Community Scientists from across the UK.

Photo credits: Castlemilk Park by Stephen Sweeney, CC BY-SA 2.0.