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
Nightingales; "What they lack in appearance, they make up for in song" said Sir David Attenborough; and as usual he was not wrong.
These small birds have an astonishingly rich repertoire, and are able to produce over 1000 different sounds, compared with just 340 by skylarks and about 100 by blackbirds. This is because the part of the brain responsible for creating sound is bigger in nightingales than in most other birds. But our UK nightingales are in serious decline, with the population falling by 90% in the last 50 years.
In Sussex however, they do still sing, and we love nothing more than to celebrate spring with them at RSPB Pulborough Brooks and RSPB Pagham Harbour.
Through night time safaris and guided walks, we will be helping you get close to these enigmatic creatures while they are at their most vocal on our reserves, but spaces are filling up fast - and from our Trip Advisor reviews you can see why!
“Forget Berkely Square! Just visit Pulborough Brooks nature reserve. We heard five singing during a two hour walk around and saw a couple too. Sight of a tree creeper feeding babies at a nest in atree crevice was also magical.”
“Knowledgeable staff, especially welcome on the evening Nightingale ramble, to help you identify what you can see and hear and a cafe serving hot drinks to warm you up afterwards! We only stopped off originally as we were staying nearby but we went back again specifically to attend the special evening event.”
“They will advise on the best areas to hear or see different birds and other wildlife. Very often, volunteers will have "field viewers" set up in hides so that visitors can observe the birds. A memorable experience is to hear Nightingales singing - truly a spine tingling!”
This year, we have teamed up with a whole host of other wildlife organisations to become part of the UK's first National Nightingale Festival, and there are events on offer around the country. Make sure you hear a nightingale sing near you this spring!
Live outside Sussex and daunted by the distance?
Why not make a weekend of it by staying with the RSPB's corporate partner, the Caravan and Motorhome Club, at their nearest site in Littlehampton? It's the ideal location for visiting our RSPB Pagham Harbour and RSPB Pulborough Brooks reserves.
In one of the most ambitious conservation projects ever undertaken, 20 UK species facing extinction will be brought Back from the Brink thanks to £4.6 million from the National Lottery.
Back from the Brink aims to save our most rare and elusive species, including the shrill carder bee, chequered skipper butterfly, ladybird spider and northern dune tiger beetle from extinction.
The habitat conservation work involved in saving these rare species will also benefit other threatened creatures including the field cricket, little whirlpool ramshorn snail, long-eared bat and pine marten.
In the South East, the Heritage Lottery funding will help us manage sensitive habitats for two species which we are already working to protect on our Pulborough Brooks and Farnham Heath nature reserves.
Two of the three remaining breeding populations of the lesser whirlpool ramshorn snail, or Anisus Vorticulus, are found in Sussex; with one population based at our RSPB Pulborough Brooks reserve. Despite the fact it is only 5mm in length, this fascinating snail can survive both extreme drought (desiccation) and freezing. it needs carefully managed drainage ditches to breed successfully, and this funding will help us to expand it's range on the reserve, making the population more resilient.
At RSPB Farnham Heath in Surrey, a small field cricket population was successfully established on an isolated area of restored heathland through translocation in 2010/11. It is now one of the largest field cricket populations in the UK. The Back from the Brink project will help strengthen this population, by trying to establish a second colony on a different part of the heath. The field cricket, or Gryllus campestris, is the most endangered true cricket species in Britain. Unlike most other crickets or grasshoppers, field crickets are flightless, so are unable to migrate long distances between fragmented habitats as they have to walk everywhere. There are also plans to establish a population at RSPB Pulborough Brooks reserve, by introducing young from population at Parham Park, which is adjacent to the Pulborough Brooks reserve.
Back from the Brink is the first nationwide coordinated effort to bring a wide range of leading charities and conservation bodies together to save threatened species. Natural England, the government’s wildlife advisory body, will work in partnership with and the RSPB, Amphibian and Reptile Trust, Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife to pool expertise, develop new ways of working and inspire people across the country to discover, value and act for threatened animals, plants and fungi.
The programme also aims to inspire the nation to discover, value and "act" for threatened species and take steps to help them.
This ground-breaking programme will:
Discover more about the wider Back from the Brink project
Saving nature one cake at a time
Now that Easter is almost here it really is time to celebrate the beauty of nature reborn after the winter wonderland is over - and what better way to do this than in edible form?
This April why not unleash your inner star baker and do your bit for nature by making something delicious for friends, family or colleagues. We’re launching a new campaign to help raise money to protect wildlife and wild places: Bake for Nature
Taking part in Bake for Nature is really easy. Just choose a date on or around 28 April, invite friends, colleagues and family and get inspired by our natural world. We’ve already had great fun creating meringue fungi, pastry snails and of course butterfly cakes!
We’ve put together a free fundraising pack which includes all you need to create a fundraising festival of nature inspired edibles: bake-themed bunting, a sugar shaker template, price tags, stickers, cake toppers, a fun game, a nest box donation tin plus plenty of ideas and inspiration. Go to rspb.org.uk/bakefornature to register for your free fundraising pack today.
All the money you raise will be used to continue our conservation work in the south east. So whether you’re planning an event with your community group, at work or at home, every pound you raise in your own Bake for Nature will help our work to give nature a home, from your friendly garden robin to the rarest hen harrier, and all that crawls, flies and jumps in between.
We’d love you to post your baking triumphs and disasters on Twitter and Facebook using #bakefornature
And, you can check out what others are making and download some great extra materials and recipes at rspb.org.uk/bakefornature