April, 2011

Our work

Our work
You might be surprised to read that our work is far broader than nature reserves and Big Garden Birdwatch. Read more about what else we do.

Bugs, Birds and Beasts in the East

All of our up to date fun and frolics in the East from office antics to great conservation stories and those magical connections with nature.
  • Thinking outside the (egg) box this Easter

    Blogger: Aggie Rothon, Communications Officer

    We got desperate the other night. We were having one of those 'after dinner pudding cravings' which saw us rooting to the back of the cupboard where we had stashed the Easter eggs ready for the weekend. Paul's egg was in fact a giant white chocolate Easter bunny. The bunny now no longer has ears or a face. We felt bad, momentarily, for the demise of poor Peter but, hey, it's Easter time! A time for ribbons, and bright foil-wrapped eggs and sunshine and treats.  

    It's at this time of year that everything turns blue for me. Not because I'm feeling sad - far from it - but because I remember my art teacher once telling me that his favourite colour ever had to be duck egg blue. Since then, Easter has always been a lovely shade of soft turquoise-blue in my minds eye. But it's not often that you'll see signs of a blue egg. The shards of egg shell that we find flung in to the garden as a hungry chick barges its way out of it's casing are usually white or speckled-brown. Or there are the tiny rows of yellow eggs glued to the underside of cabbage leaves deposited by weightless white butterflies and the crisp black packages known as Mermaid's purse that you find washed up at the beach; in fact the egg cases of sharks or skate. Isn't it amazing how nature has found so many different shape and sizes for eggs - something for all occasions and for all beasties.

    Avocet checking on the next generation. Photo Credit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)

    So, this Easter do as Mother Nature does and think outside the (egg) box. Sit up, take a breath and take the next step. Already an RSPB member? Join us as a volunteer! A seasoned Big Garden Bird Watch participant? Have you tried Make Your Nature Count? First time visiting our reserves? Donate and buy one of our lovely pin badges!

    Have a great long weekend and regardless of the weather make the most of this Easter time!

    All the best from your Communications Team in the East - Erica, Aggie, Adam, Rachael & Janet

  • Top Prize £1000

    Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer

    The Nature of Farming Award celebrates the fantastic work farmers are already doing for wildlife - with a top prize of £1,000 for the very best! Nature of Farming Award entry deadline is fast approaching on 30 April - the May Bank holiday weekend.

    We are putting out a final call in the East for applications for this year's Nature of Farming Award. The competition aims to recognise and reward farmers who are making efforts on their land to help threatened countryside species.

    After the closing date, entries will be shortlisted to eight regional winners. A panel of experts will decide which four should go through to the national finals, and then the UK public will decide the winner by casting their votes online via The Telegraph or at country shows throughout the summer.  

    The judging panel will include (not the ubiquitous Simon Cowell you will be pleased to know):

    Darren Moorcroft - RSPB Head of Countryside Conservation

    Martin Warren - Butterfly Conservation Chief Executive

    Victoria Chester - Plantlife Chief Executive

    Fergus Collins - Countryfile Magazine

    This year will have a 'Highly Commended' category for the first time - awarded by our judges to farmers demonstrating excellent conservation management. So if you know a farmer - and there are many in the East - or you are one of these great individuals then find out more and fill in and send the entry form that can be found at www.rspb.org.uk/natureoffarming.

     Species that need your help in the East; (top to bottom) skylark, corn bunting, lapwings, stone curlews. Photo Credits: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

  • Remembering Cuckoos

    Blogger: Aggie Rothon, Communications Officer

    Photo Credit: Dunnock by John Bridges (rspb-images.com)

    I don't know what it was that reminded me. Perhaps it was visiting Gunton park, my childhood home, or the eerie sight of a field of ewes stopping to stare at me mid-chew as I ambled past their field; they were absolutely resolute and motionless. Or it could have been catching a programme about the cuckoos at Wicken Fen on my beloved Radio 4 the other day. But whatever it was, the memory of the nest full of blue tits came back to me as if it were only yesterday that I was bowling along in the sun revelling in the golden glory of being seven years old and spending my Easter holidays at home in an ancient copse-filled woodland.

     I would spend my days outdoors from morning until early evening, riding my imaginary horses over homemade jumps put together from anything I could find; wheelbarrows, laurel prunings, bamboo canes and buckets.  Or I'd explore the woods making new dens or in quieter moments, lying in the long grass with my guinea pigs. It was in one of these moments that I heard the dunnock chicks. No more than a chorus of squeaks, but loud enough to fill the musky evening air with a collective enthusiasm. The sound took me to a bank of brambles and, guinea pig nestling plump in one arm, I curiously parted the looping branches to find a delicate nest filled with tiny, naked dunnock chicks, jaws gaping to be fed. They were the joyous epitome of new life and Easter-time. And what a privilege to find them I thought! I would revisit, if only to hear their voices and imagine them thriving and existing in the nest.

    It was the following day that I returned, dragging my mother by the hand to listen to the choir of chicks. But as we arrived we could hear only the leaves in the breeze and the distant cluck of broody hens. Craning to see the nest through the thicket of thorns I was dismayed to see no crowd of twinkling dunnock mouths but instead the lumpen matte grey form of a cuckoo chick staring blankly back at me. I didn't dislike this intruder but it didn't fit the gracefully woven nest or my expectation of nature in miniature.

    But is that what is so wonderful about nature? It constantly betrays our human moral expectations and lives exactly in its own way. I may not admire the poise or delicacy of the cuckoo chick but my goodness, I more than admire their performance in the game called, 'Survival of the Fittest.'  

    Want to Step Up for Nature? There's lots you can do from volunteering on our nature reserves to local campaigning or becoming a scientist in your own garden. Go to www.rspb.org.uk for more details.

    Photo Credit: Cuckoo chick in dunnock nest by Mike Richards (rspb-images.com)

    Article in Eastern Daily Press on Sunday 17th April 2011