You will find out about all the exciting stuff going on with the RSPB in the east of the UK. We cover our sites in the following counties: Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, and some of our great Lincolnshire ones. So if you are if you have never heard of the Strumpshaws and Snettishams or Stour Estuary or Sutton Fens here is you chance.
It was the summer equinox over the weekend, on the 22 September. It is a time of year that makes me feel both happy and sad at the same time. The sun, pitched perfectly against a clean, crisp, blue sky, watching down on us from its highest position gives me a real boost. A natural energy shot! But, at the same time, there is that slight chill in the air. A chill that makes it uncomfortable to wear short sleeves. Your nose gets a little nip on the end and it reminds you that the fresh air of Autumn is only round the corner. So, you can imagine how this might send our natural world into a bit of a frenzy. It is one of the busiest times for wildlife with plenty of sights and sounds out there to distract you from the seasonal limbo.
As the daylight hours start shrinking and the temperature drops, birds both in our gardens and across the countryside will start to congregate. Small flocks of sparrows will start gathering in your garden. Chattering away, sharing information about the best places to find food before they roost together for the night. Hugging tight to keep warm. Rooks and starlings will also start to assemble, seeking comfort and protection in numbers. And being very noisy with it!
Our summer visitors will have migrated down south for their winter in the sun, feeling the warmth on their feathers as they leave the UK for another season. However, when one lot of visitors leave, another inevitably arrives! Walking outside, I am always keen to look up to the September sky. You may well start to see the skeins of geese piercing through the countryside on their way to find a suitable resting place for the evening. We are lucky enough to have a third of the UK's population of pink footed geese here in the East and a trip up to the North Norfolk coast in the next few months will not leave you disappointed. In their arrow-head formations, they are able to conserve energy by rotating their turns at the front of the pack, ensuring they are as efficient as possible. It's a bit like Mark Cavendish and his lead out train for our Team GB cyclists.
One of the most important things at this time of year, is to make sure that our garden birds are kept well fed. We can play a vital part in their survival over the autumn and winter months and this will ensure that they have plenty of energy stores. So, if you have some spare time this weekend, make sure that your bird feeders are stocked up - your feathered friends will thank you for it!
Featured in EDP, Saturday 22 September
Blogger: Jacqui Miller, Conservation Officer
Last month I swapped my wardening job in the Cambridgeshire Fens for the life of a Conservation Officer at the Regional Office in Norwich. What a change - moving house, working in an office, and in a city as well! I was a bit worried to be honest. I love the outdoors, and loved being able to work in the midst of wildlife every day. Work parties in the reed beds – ‘oh look, here’s a harvest mouse nest...listen to the bearded tits over there...was that a bittern flying low on the horizon?’ Where would I get my nature fix in the city?
Well, for a start, my new job is great! I get to work for wildlife across a whole area, making sure that planning applications consider wildlife as well as people and looking for new opportunities for conservation. It did involve buying a new set of clothes though – ripped combats and a holey fleece don’t seem to be quite the thing in the office!
And have I found any wildlife? Of course! It has surprised me, working in a city, just how much you can see. Popping to the supermarket and looking up at the gull colony on the roof, the fledglings yelling madly while most of the shoppers pass by, oblivious to their screams. Watching migrant hawker dragonflies dance outside the office window. And lunch break is best of all. Then I can get out into the city to go wildlife watching. We are lucky in this office to have several wild places to visit nearby; the cemetery for example. You do have to be a bit careful about telling people you like to spend lunchtimes in your local cemetery, because they give you funny looks, but Rosary Cemetery has a lovely wild bit where you can find all kinds of things. This was ancient woodland, and it still has that feel.
Common darter at Rosary Cemetery
My favourite bit is a little overgrown wall where various insects like to sit in the sun, and so do I. In half an hour one sunny lunchtime I saw common darters, meadow grasshoppers, wolf spiders, dock bugs and many hoverflies here, and it gave me the chance to look at them much more closely than I have before. I’ve also seen foxes here, and sparrowhawks, and one of my colleagues was lucky enough to see a purple hairstreak fluttering around an old oak tree.
If you live or work in a city, have a look for your nearest local nature reserve or ‘wild bit’. I’ve definitely enjoyed looking for those unexpected treasures to brighten up the working day!
Blogger: Hilary Hunter, Wallasea Island Public Engagement Manager
With the new Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, officially launching the construction of Wallasea Island yesterday, we are now inviting members of the public and the local community to come and celebrate. The Wild Coast Weekend takes place on the 22 and 23 September and is totally free!
For the first time, visitors will be able to see the large construction machines being used to shift the 4.5 million tonnes of soil from the Crossrail site in London to Wallasea Island.
Crossrail has constructed a new jetty and an excavated material handling facility at Wallasea Island. At its peak 10,000 tonnes of material will be unloaded from 4 ships per day.
The Wild Coast Weekend is the chance to really get a feel for the scale of the work happening here. It is such an exciting time to visit the Island and it’s amazing seeing people’s reactions to the work. There will be loads going on over the weekend, with activities, exhibits, food and craft stalls and local refreshments. There is also a nature trail to follow that will give you the chance to take in all the sights and sounds of the big landscape at Wallasea.
The Crossrail earth will be used to create 670 hectares of higher and lower ground to restore the wetland landscape of mudflats, saltmarsh and lagoons last seen 400 years ago. As a result of this, the Island is expected to be home to a returning abundance of wildlife including tens of thousands of wading birds, fish, ducks geese, terns and seals.
Admission to the Island on the weekend is totally free, with free parking and a free ferry from Burnham on Crouch with a bus from Essex Marina to the event. For more information about the Wild Coast Weekend, please contact us on 01621 862621.
Photo Credit: Ben Hall (rspb-images)