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.
The little tern is one of the UK’s rarest seabirds, having suffered chronic declines over the past 25 years. These little birds travel a 6,000 mile round trip each year to breed on the beaches of the British Isles, but their numbers have been declining as they struggle to find safe beaches to nest and feed their young, free from predators and human disturbance.
In the 1980s there were 2,500 breeding pairs, this fell to less than 2,000 pairs in 2000, and it is now estimated that there are currently 1,500 pairs or less.
Now, over half of the UK breeding population makes a home on the East Anglian coast during the summer, and some of the largest colonies are found in Suffolk. So EU Life+ Little Tern Recovery Project volunteers and staff work shifts to watch and count little terns at Kessingland, Suffolk, throughout daylight hours, when the birds are most vulnerable to disturbance.
Unfortunately, this week, this important colony has suffered another devastating decline through illegal egg collecting.
Between the Sunday evening and Monday morning shifts, human footprints and dog paw prints were discovered in the fenced area and 10 little tern eggs disappeared. The previous week, before the incident took place, the team counted 109 eggs spread across 48 nests. Now not only are there are fewer eggs, but as a result of the disturbance only 19 adults on nests and nine chicks have remained in the colony.
This is very sad news for the team of dedicated staff and volunteers who have devoted a lot of time to protecting these amazing seabirds, and we can’t be sure at the moment, of the long-term effects of this incident on the colony.
How can I help?
It has been illegal to take the eggs of most wild birds since the Protection of Birds Act 1954 and it is illegal to possess or control any wild birds' eggs taken since that time under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Taking little tern’s eggs carries a six month prison sentence.
In response to the incident, the RSPB and officers at Suffolk Police are appealing for information from anybody who witnessed anything suspicious between 8.30pm on Sunday 18 June and 7am on Monday 19 June. If you have any information please call Suffolk Police on 101, quoting reference 43221/17.
However, there are other ways to help by looking after your local little terns – whether you’re at home or on holiday...
Five ways you can help little terns:
If you are heading to the beach, and would like to help the recovery of little terns, here are a few tips:
Become a volunteer
Whilst this incident happened in Suffolk, we are most in need of volunteers on our Norfolk beaches at Winterton-on-sea and Eccles. If you think you can help out, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blogger: Adam Murray, Communication Officer
You may find yourself humming the classic Christmas line about a partridge in a pear tree this festive season, but pear trees can be a great gift for all sorts of other wildlife too.
We are encouraging people to think about planting pear trees now, to benefit birds and other garden wildlife in the future.
At the time when most of us are thinking about all the chocolates and mince pies we have been eating, why not think about a healthy, fruity start to the New Year for our wild garden visitors.
In early spring, pear flowers are brilliant food sources for hungry honeybees, solitary bees and bumblebees. Providing sources of nectar and pollen early in the season can really help these insects. During summer and autumn birds like thrushes and blackbirds will benefit from the fruit as windfall. The foliage is nibbled by many caterpillars, which later turn into beautiful moths. The adult moths are great food for bats.
Adrian Thomas, wildlife gardening expert from the RSPB says, “What I REALLY like about pear trees is that they are good for us and wildlife – they look great in blossom; the pears taste great, and wildlife can share the bounty.”
Kate Merry, Project Development Officer for Butterfly Conservation, said: “Pears and other fruit trees are fantastic feeding stations for our butterflies and moths. The caterpillars of a number of moths such as the Dark Arches and Vapourer moths feed on the foliage. In the autumn, Red Admiral butterflies can be seen drinking the juices from the fallen fermenting fruit.”
A well-planned garden can provide a mix of areas for wildlife by using plants of different shapes and sizes. This will provide wildlife with a variety of places in which to feed, shelter and nest. Planting a mixture of different trees and shrubs is a natural and sustainable way to provide year round food for wildlife.
The best time to plant trees and shrubs is right now. ‘Bare rooted trees’, those not in pots, are the cheapest ones to go for and are best planted before the end of December.
If you don’t have a huge garden and think a tree might take over, follow the example of many urban gardeners and train it alongside a wall. More and more urban allotments and community gardens are adopting this tactic as the best use of limited space.
The wildlife will still benefit, no matter what shape the tree ends up!
For more information on the RSPB’s Homes for Wildlife, please visit www.rspb.org.uk/hfw
BLOGGER: Adam Murray, Communications Officer
The RSPB currently has 52 Facebook accounts which include regional, reserve, country, volunteering, online shop and national pages.
This lack of consistency is confusing. It makes it difficult for good people to find what they’re looking for and for.
It is not practical for every reserve to have its own account, as we are lucky enough to have over 200 nature reserves (38 of which are in the East of England) and as such we need to have a number of pages that makes sense to everyone.
So over the next few weeks or so we are in the process of having a bit of a Social Media Spring Clean (OK call it an autumn clean). Some existing pages will be closing, some being renamed and some newbies on the horizon. So watch this space and get migrating.
The revised structure that follows loosely replicates the BBC's regional broadcast media structure:
RSPB Love Nature
East of England
RSPB Three Counties
See you soon Facebookers.
Photo Credit: Migrating turtle dove by Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)