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.
Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer
If you keep travelling East from our region and then down a bit you will find yourselves in the beautiful friendly isles of Fiji. This time last year I was working in Fiji running environmental campaigns across the Pacific. Yes, I know sounds a bit fancy but most of the time it was really hard graft. You're still not feeling sorry for me right? OK, there were some perks. At weekends we would sometimes use the local rate and stay a night at the fancy pants 5 star hotels that all the smug honeymoon couples and overly tanned retirees would frequent. On the 26th March last year m'lady and I were staying at one of these along the Coral Coast (a treat for my birthday weekend) and were pleasantly surprised to find that such a large hotel was going to take part in the global event that is Earth Hour. This is where we all have the opportunity to turn of all our electricty for just 60 minutes. The hotel set up some sweet tea light lanterns in the shape of a big 60 ready for 8.30pm. As the time approached the hotel turned off all their lights and the beautiful BIG 60 was set alight - literally paper bags ablazing - the one poor soul in charge of heath and safety looked panicked.
Ironically, in true Fiji Style, the band, with their large electrical amps continued to play sweet music to the residents to make it more atmospheric - slightly losing the point of the hour. All in all in did get people chatting about how simple actions can help towards climate change. The origin of the campaign can be traced back to Australia in 2007 when businesses and residents in Sydney turned off their lights for one hour to make a statement about energy use and global warming.
So just think if they can turn off the lights on the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, as well as over 4,000 cities from 131 countries, then surely turning off the lights in your home this Saturday should be easy. Just think about how enjoyable the peace and quiet and the fun you can get up to in the dark. "Earth Hour is your chance to vote for Earth by shutting down your lights between 8.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. your local time," the WWF website reads.
Whether you are worried about world scale changes to the planet, climate change shifting migrations of our beloved birds or worried about sea level rises to those low lying Pacific islands or even in our own region - Earth Hour is our chance to take action. Show us your before and after photos here or on our Facebook page.
Blogger: Rachael Murray, Media Assistant
Here at the RSPB we work on wildlife conservation on all scales, from people's back gardens all the way up to the dizzying heights of our large landscape work. Following the launch of 'Stepping Up for Nature', our most ambitious campaign to date, here in the east we would like to announce a groundbreaking landscape scale conservation project in the Fens.
The new RSPB Fens 'Futurescape' project aims to save great places for nature and put back vital habitats that have been lost, by working with a range of partners including conservation and non-conservation organisations and landowners and farmers.
The vast open landscape of the Fens covers over 3,000 square km spanning across Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. This special area offers a unique place to live and visit and an environment that is vitally important for both wetlands and farmland wildlife. The iconic Fens landscape has changed dramatically over the past centuries. Drainage started in the 1600s has caused the loss of 97% of the original fenland habitat.
Despite this, pockets of the area are still some of the richest places for wildlife in the country. The area is home to the black-tailed godwit, one of the UK's rarest breeding birds, and other special wildlife including otters, water voles, a variety of scarce aquatic plants and insects including rare fen violets and broad-bodied chaser dragonflies.
In addition to its wildlife, The Fens contains some of the UK's most productive farmland including over half of the UKs Grade 1 agricultural land, supporting over 27.000 people in employment, and enough wetlands to help protect nearly 1,000 properties and over 29,000 hectares of farmland from flooding. But without significant investment, these small pockets of land will diminish in size and quality, putting this crucial landscape under threat.
The key objectives of the RSPB's 'Futurescape' project are to create new and inter-connected areas of essential wetland and reedbed habitat, and to help farmers to integrate the needs of farm wildlife with those of their business. As part of the Fens Futurescape project, The RSPB will help farmers to access financial support from government agri-environment schemes to implement nature-friendly farm management. The RSPB Fenland Farmland Bird Recovery Project (another acronym to remember), set up jointly with Natural England, is currently working with more than 80 farmers who are stepping up for nature across the Fens. The RSPB is keen to work with many new farmers to do more for their farm wildlife.
There is a wide variety of ways to get involved in the Fens Futurescape project whether you are a farmer, landowner, conservation organisation or an enthusiastic volunteer. Potential partners who have a commitment to making the Fens a better place for people and wildlife can contact our very own Simon Tonkin on 01603 660066 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Photos: We can help array of vulnerable species of farmland bird including corn buntings(top), tree sparrows (middle) and yellow wagtails (bottom).
Credit: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
The race is on to get entries in for this year's RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award with applications being accepted until Saturday 30 April.
The award aims to find the UK's most wildlife friendly farmer who has put in the most work on their land to help threatened countryside species. It's run by the RSPB, supported by Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife, and sponsored by The Telegraph.
Entries are already coming in thick and fast. After the closing date, entries will be shortlisted to eight regional winners then a panel of experts will decide which four should go through to the national finals. The UK public will then decide the winner by casting their votes online via The Telegraph or at country shows throughout the summer.
Last year's regional winner was James Bucher at Hall Farm, Knetishall. James won the award in recognition of the measures he puts in place to help wildlife thrive on his land, including the creation of skylark plots in winter cereals, areas of unharvested crops, and nectar rich areas which attract a range of farmland wildlife. Water voles and otters were also helped in the area and margins cultivated around the land for arable plants. James commented; "It is vital that we as farmers implement targeted measures to ensure the resources we rely upon, such as good soil condition, clean water, farmland birds and other wildlife, are protected for the future. It's quite simple: my farmland birds are like a miner's canaries. If they are okay, then I am okay. I can't think of a better legacy to leave my son."
All the details on how to enter can be found on the RSPB website at - www.rspb.org.uk/natureoffarming.
Photo: Stone-curlew plot, within first year arable reversion. Winterbourne Downs RSPB reserve (Manor Farm). Wiltshire, England. September 2008.
Credit: Andy Hay (rspb images)