January, 2011

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South East

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  • Hidden corners

    I love living in London. Just when you think you know a place, someone comes along and blows your notions out of the water.

    I've been introduced to an amazing new space in Dalston, the Eastern Curve Garden. Anyone who knows the Dalston Peace Mural can find the entrance to this little green, wedge-shaped gem. It was established as a temporary community space but I hope it can find a way to remain. It's got wi-fi, picnic benches and huge potential for wildlife. There are grand plans to manage it with wildlife in mind. Which, in this built-up area, close to Ridley Road market, would be fantastic.

    RSPBs Mark Avery (right) in St James' Park, explaining the Birdwatch to Minister for the Natural Environment Richard BenyonThey'll be running a Big Garden Birdwatch event this Saturday. There's another on Tottenham Marshes run by the Wild Place Your Space project. The Friends of Greenwich Park have organised some activities in the Secret Garden and, on Sunday, the RSPB North West London Local Group are out in force in Canons Park. So, plenty to visit if you're not busy checking out the wildlife in your own hood! 

    For many Lodoners it will be a pretty unique experience; staring out your window for an hour, ignoring the distractions of mobile phones, Wii and online shopping. 60 minutes of peaceful contemplation. If we're not all careful, this 'slow ' approach to life could become habit forming. But, if this gentle activity seems too big a challenge, you can multi-task by having a warm cuppa at the same time or maybe discussing what you see with a partner, children or even a friend. You could post, Twitter or even text sightings if you're going techy cold turkey!

    However you do it, thank you for participating. The info people send us helps direct future conservation work, ensuring the species most in need get help. A recent Government report found a fifth of our native birds are now red-listed. That's a worrying trend. Why are so many of our birds struggling to survive... or rephrased .. why aren't more people concerned that our wildlife isn't thriving? Have they not heard of the canaries in the coal mines?

    Panic not. Just pull-up a chair to the window, have a pen or pencil and some notepaper close to hand and take direct action for global conservation by recording the birds you see and then sending us the results. You can then class yourself as an eco-warrior. If you're encouraged to do more by the simplicity of this plan, check out the options on offer and aspire to become an eco-chieftan, bravely leading others down a green path to a healthier, greener life ahead.

  • Make 2011 count with us.

    It's been an emotional start to the New Year.  Tears of happiness and great sadness.

    Now, with the Big Garden Birdwatch looming it's time to pick myself up, shed the extra pounds gained over the seasonal break and step briskly forwards into 2011. For birds, they'll still be looking to maintain or gain weight. In their case, weight loss is a slippery slope towards death. I've said enough in previous blogs about the importance of  putting out food for wildlife so won't repeat it again.

    There are a number of events being staged as part of the Birdwatch weekend. The Friends of Greenwich Park will be running activities on Saturday 29th. Our Bexley Local Group have a photo exhibition at Hall Place and our reserves, Rainham and Rye Meads are busy too.

    The point of the birdwatch is to get a national snapshot every year of the changing numbers of different birds. Comparing results from previous years shows if populations of birds are changing. These changes reflect the health of our surroundings.

    It's going to be a busy year. We're already out recruiting new supporters at the Outdoor Show, taking place right now at Excel until the 16th of Jan. It includes the London Bike Show and the London International Boat Show, so everything you need for the outdoors under one roof (well 3 roofs but you know what we mean).

    February and March see us out enjoying all we've learned and acquired at The Outdoor Show as we go free range with our Dates with Nature. From mid-February we'll be in Kensington Gardens pointing out the tawny owls that live and breed there. In March, Battersea's herons will be the focus of our telescopes. It's free to use them to get close up views of these amazing dinosaur-like birds and their young.

    2011 will be all about enjoying the natural wonders around us and de-stressing with nature. For me, this year's Big Garden Birdwatch will be dedicated to the lovely Nathalie Schorbon, who died suddenly just before Christmas. Her enthusiasm for sharing her great knowledge of wildlife with others will stay with me forever, thanks Nat.