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.
More often than not, when I tell people that I work for the RSPB, their response is ‘Wow – that must be a great place to work’ or ‘Blimey, that’s a cool job’. And do you know what, they're absolutely right. On a weekly basis the work of a Communications Officer looks a little bit like this; 30 cups of tea, 3 press releases drafted and sent out, 3 radio interviews given, 8 meetings attended, 1 proper lunch break, 5 blogs written, 1 trip out to a reserve, 10 enquiries from journalists, 4 documents proof-read - and so on! You get the picture. In between all of that, there is fairly little time to actually get out and enjoy the wildlife that we get to write about so frequently.
Our RSPB office day out yesterday was a welcome respite from our computer screens and to-do lists. As we congregated at Strumpshaw Fen nature reserve in the Broads, kitted out in wellies and waterproofs, we went off for a day of outdoor adventure. Broken up into teams, we were given The Apprentice-style challenges to undertake. Needless to say there was a little bit of competitiveness in the air and we delighted in trying to win points from the other teams.
It’s fair to say that the weather was pretty miserable yesterday, but Strumpshaw Fen can make even grey skies and drizzle seem atmospheric! One of our activities for the morning was pond-dipping and mini-beast hunting! If you’ve never been pond-dipping or taken your kids along to a family session where it’s going on, I urge you to go and try it out. We took our nets and vigilantly scooped them into the water, swirling figure of eights on the surface of the pond. And from this quick dip in the water, the outcome was astounding. We found whirligig beetles, ramshorn snails, damselfly lavae, waterboatmen, mayfly lavae, pond louse and so many more. Our trays were absolutely teaming with life. From such a small snapshot of pond life, we were able to witness this amazing world that normally goes totally unnoticed. One of the cool facts we learnt is how fierce a predator these creatures can all be – each with their own unique techniques (water boatmen kill their prey by jabbing it with their feeding tube and injecting its toxic saliva) they have found a way to stake a claim on their little slice of pond and keep safe from anything getting in it’s way!
Our afternoon was spent doing some genuine ‘hard graft’ out on the reserve where the management of the reedbeds is vital for the future condition of the reserve and the wildlife that lives there. To keep the reed from growing and embedding in excess it needs to be managed, and that means getting your wellies on and your rake at the ready. Scraping all of the cut reed and piling it up is no easy task and after an hour we were all holding our backs, our arms were aching and our hands had blisters on them! Don’t get me wrong though, our afternoon was wonderful and being out in such a remote part of the reserve was stunning. I was only mildly jealous that the other team got to see a bittern flying over them as they worked!
As the day drew to a close and dusk fell over the reserve, a rather weary but glowing team of RSPB staff tucked into a delicious bbq and chatted about the day’s activities.
Back at my desk this morning, i’m definitely missing the fresh air and wildlife of Strumpshaw Fen. But it makes me smile to remember what a fantastic organisation the RSPB is and how proud I am to work for them. Whatever job you do at the RSPB, desk based or out on a reserve, the cause is the same and our motivation and commitment will always be sky high.