WILDLIFE trust volunteers are being given expert advice to help enhance their practical and conservation skills.

As part of National Volunteers Week, from today until Tuesday, Durham Wildlife Trust is staging three free training days for its helpers.

It includes advice on surveying for water voles, detecting their greatest threat, the American mink, and outdoor activities to improve the habitat for voles, at the trust's Rainton Meadows nature reserve, near Houghton-le-Spring, County Durham.

Further training sessions cover identification and surveying techniques for the dingy skipper butterfly, as well as fire safety and the use of fire extinguishers.

Volunteers take a break from their studies tomorrow with a celebratory barbeque, using the trust's sustainably produced charcoal.

Anyone thinking of joining the team of volunteers is welcome to attend a taster day on Sunday, at the trust's Low Barns reserve, in Witton-le-Wear, near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, where existing volunteers will build a footpath leading to a recently built bird hide.

Full details of volunteering activities and the taster day are available from Kerry Watson, at the trust's headquarters, on 0191-584 3112.