This blog is a celebration of the nature in the South East and highlights ways you can get involved and explore nature in the region. If you've got news of the South East’s nature that you'd like to share, please contact the RSPB South East office on 01273 775333 or email SERComms@rspb.org.uk
We hope you’ve enjoyed our South East Christmas Countdown! Over the last two weeks, we’ve shared with you some of the good news from 2016, in our work to help give nature a home in the South East. There’s still so much to do, but it’s good to look back and see that together, we really can help wildlife. So for all your support, our heartfelt thanks.
We’ve lots more for you to get stuck into in 2017.
Join the half a million people who already take part in our annual Big Garden Birdwatch, which helps us build a picture of garden wildlife across the UK. The event will be running between 28th and 30th January so get ready by registering for your FREE pack, full of fascinating facts, tips and advice.
If you register before 30 January, we'll give you £5 off your next order from the RSPB shop, plus free delivery. You must be 18 or over. Terms and conditions apply.
Just for fun (as it’s Christmas), we have also set you a small daily puzzle to solve too. Here’s one last puzzle for you – can you find the names of all of our 12 species in this word search?
Welcome to our South East Christmas Countdown no.1.
Did you guess that the turtle dove has been given an extra special present by some RSPB members? If you missed no.2 in the Countdown, you can read it here.
Christmas is a time of celebration! In our countdown to Christmas, we would like to share with you some of this year’s success stories, about some of our most threatened birds in the South East. In September, the State of Nature 2016 report was published. It highlights the alarming decline of many UK species, but it also showed that we can turn the fortunes of our wildlife around, given determination, resources, public support and conservation action.
About turtle doves
These birds are more often heard than seen, and their distinctive, gentle, purring song has long been a characteristic sound of summer. Although adults will travel several kilometres to find food, juveniles only fly a few hundred metres to feed in the first few weeks of their life.
Turtle doves are the only migratory dove species in Europe, travelling from sub-Saharan Africa to breed in the south east of the UK. We now know that turtle doves migrate largely at night, covering up to 700km (434 miles) in one flight, and flying at speeds of around 60kph (37mph)
This iconic British species has suffered a 93% UK population decline since 1995, suffering from hunting on migration, disease and a loss of suitable habitat in both its breeding and non-breeding range.
Good news from 2016
We are working with farmers across the South East in Turtle Dove Friendly Zones (TDFZs) to give the birds a home. We are researching the decline of these birds through the partnership project Operation Turtle Dove. Two turtle dove advisors have now been employed, and they will support the development of new habitats off reserve. Our most recent success story is in Staple, Kent, where, with our support, four RSPB members have purchased a plot of land to turn this into a miniature turtle dove reserve.
David and Ann Tingey and David and Bridget Burridge joined forces to protect a patch of private land, which they bought using their own money and donations from friends.
The open ground has been a summer home to migratory turtle doves for over seven years, but the habitat was at risk as part of the Summerfield Nursery sale. So the two couples, passionate conservationists, approached the landowners and with the RSPB’s support, agreed the purchase the land.
Up to four male turtle doves were heard making their distinctive purring call at the site this summer. The RSPB will be giving ongoing practical help and expertise in managing the land for the birds as part of Operation Turtle Dove.
Tara Proud, Operation Turtle Dove project manager, said “We’re absolutely thrilled by the generosity and enthusiasm that has been shown by the Burridges and the Tingeys. Turtle doves need all the help they can get and patches of land like this, managed with the birds in mind, play a vital role in their conservation.”
Find out more about this story.
Our work wouldn’t be possible without your continued support, through membership, volunteering and even your Christmas purchases in our shops. On behalf of our teams and all the wildlife you have helped us to save, thank you, and have a great Christmas!
*data sourced from Breeding Bird Survey bird population trends
One final puzzle for you!
We’ve celebrated success stories from 2016; we hope you’ve enjoyed them! Tomorrow, we’ll give you some ideas on how you can get involved and make a difference in 2017 and provide one final puzzle for you!
Welcome to our South East Christmas Countdown no.2.
Did you guess it is the tree pipit that parachutes from tall trees? There’s a clue at the bottom to tomorrow’s story. If you missed no.3 in the Countdown, you can read it here.
About tree pipits
The tree pipit has a remarkable song flight, given while flying up from a tree and parachuting down on stiff wings, usually to a different tree. Tree pipits like open habitats with scattered trees; they use glades and clear-fells in woodland as well as wood pasture and wooded heathland. They need song perches in trees to attract a mate. Ground-nesting, they can lay up to two broods of eight eggs in each.
This species is currently categorised as being at the “diagnosis” stage. This means that we do not yet fully understand the problems it has been facing. Before we can help populations of this species to recover across its range, we will need to be sure that we know what action is required. We know that tree pipits breed at RSPB Broadwater Warren in Kent, RSPB Farnham Heath in Surrey, and RSPB Hazeley Heath in Hampshire. By creating even more suitable habitat on these reserves, we can benefit a number of specialist woodland birds, including threatened tree pipits.
The tree pipit species is featured on the Birds of Conservation Concern list, moving from the green to amber list in 2002, and, most recently to red in 2009 on the strength of its UK population decline. Across England, 44% of the population was lost between 1995-2014*. The causes of the population decline are unclear, but are thought to be linked to changing forest structure, where new plantations have matured, and also the reduced management of lowland woods.
Thanks to donations from Cory Environmental Trust in Britain, Ibstock Cory Environmental Trust, the Sussex Ornithological Society and the Chalk Cliff Trust, last month we started work on a new forestry and wildlife corridor at RSPB Broadwater Warren. This will allow wardens to manage a further 100 hectares for wildlife that, like tree pipits, need this habitat to survive.
Our story for December
We’ll celebrate another story tomorrow, so keep an eye out for it, but in the meantime here’s a clue to keep you guessing…
Which of our conservation priority species has been given a very special and generous present by RSPB members?