June, 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.
  • Let's get every child outdoors!

    Blogger: Charlotte Pledger, Youth, Education & Families Officer

    I don’t know about you, but so many of my childhood memories involve welly-booted, muddy fun outdoors, searching for creepy crawlies, collecting leaves, shells and other bits and bobs from nature that took my fancy. Then, I took nothing for granted – every creature, nest, bug or strange shaped rock I discovered was a little miracle, something to be cherished.
    At the RSPB we think that these experiences in nature are so important for young people. Not only are they enjoyable, health giving and soul feeding, but we hope that they also plant a seed in a child’s heart and mind that will grow into the strong oak of environmental consciousness that is crucial if we are to succeed in protecting our special environment for future generations.
    And I, for one, wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t believe that every child should be learning outdoors. Whether this is formal or informal education is not important – the experiences a child gets from being outside leave a far stronger legacy than those inside. Having come from a background in classroom teaching, with no easy access even to the school grounds, it is such a joy to watch children learning at RSPB reserves around the county, all of whom go away wanting more.
    Just last week I was teaching at Strumpshaw Fen and as her class was leaving, one little girl said about the reserve, “I wish the whole world was like this”. Just think what little seed of an idea has been sown there and what she could do in the future to join us in protecting our wildlife.
    Learning outside the classroom not only offers an environment to deliver all areas of the National Curriculum but it also gives children who may find it difficult to engage in a more formal environment to shine. Teachers are quite often amazed that pupils, who are usually disinterested in their education, suddenly become entranced by pond creatures resembling aliens and start asking questions to find out more.
    It amazes me the number of teachers and parents who come with school groups who are unaware of the reserves that are right on their doorstep.  We have 26 reserves right across the East that are home to a vast array of fascinating wildlife species, many of which just can’t be seen in day to day life (unless you are lucky enough to work on one of our reserves of course!). 
    Many of our reserves offer field teaching sessions to school groups throughout the year; host an array of family activities that will enthral even the biggest of kids (including Mum and Dad!); and host Wildlife Explorer groups which offer young people aged x – x the chance to  get their hands dirty learning about nature at monthly meetings.
    Today we are raising awareness of the special experiences that the RSPB offers to young people right across the region in an initiative we call ‘Every Child Outdoors’.  We have a number of school visits planned across reserves in the East, and MP Therese Coffey is coming to join the children of Reydon Primary School as they pond dip, mini-beast and bird watch at Minsmere.
    We hope that they all have a great day, and if you’d like to share in the fun today, or at any time of year, why not find out more:
  • Farming fuming

    Blogger - Erica Howe, Communications Manager

    It’s been a shocking week to say the least! And it’s only Tuesday!

    The RSPB announced today that the EU are planning to sever a rather important leg from our Common Agricultural Policy. That all sounds rather jargonny I know so i’ll try to make it as simple as possible. Our old friend Mark Avery couldn’t have put it better himself.

    Farmland covers a whopping 75% of our region and is a vital part of the ecosystem for some our most loved (and threatened) wildlife. If  President Barroso makes this decision, the money that goes directly into conservation and farming  to ensure that our countryside stays fit for wildlife will vanish, along with our turtle doves, our skylarks and many more species along the way.

    I for one, couldn’t think of a worse scenario to be in. It worries me greatly that our European leaders think that this is a GOOD idea! If our UK farmers were to lose this vital stream of income and organisations like the RSPB were to lose funding for major species and habitat recovery projects because of this short-sighted approach, then we can all kiss goodbye to a countryside full of birdsong for our grandchildren.

    There is something we can do. By signing this e-action you will be pledging your support to the RSPB and perhaps we can get this decision reversed.

  • Midsummer magic is in the air!

    Blogger: Rachael Murray

    Midsummer’s eve is upon us, and, thanks to a memorable childhood trip to see Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, my escapist sensibilities are kicking in and my thoughts are turning to magical woods, fairies and a delightful abundance of other-worldly flora and fauna found amongst enchanted undergrowth.

    I still remember that night, snuggled in a sleeping bag on my portable camping chair in the moonlight grounds of Hever castle, a flask of steaming hot chocolate by my side.  As the last of the sun drained from the sky, I watched as the magical tale began to unfold.  Adorned in rich velvets and majestic jewels the committed actors made a bid to capture our full, rapt attention, as they told their tale of love, mischief and magic.

    And they were marvellous at it too; I really did try to keep my attention focused on their efforts.  But what those talented fellows didn’t realise was that they were competing with a myriad of glow worms, moths and other insects that had gathered around the stage lighting, which, to a child’s eyes, were just mesmerising.

    Imagine, as my ears absorbed a story complete with fairy king and queen, my eyes were drawn to the tiny glowing, flickering entities dancing in the twilight.  Could they be....?  Was it possible.....?

    Well, as an adult, I am now fairly convinced that what I saw was just normal, everyday nature at work.  So, technically, not magic at all.  But in my view, nature is, in itself, magical. Like the best fairy stories, our natural environment is choc full of tiny creatures with gossamer wings that flutter, glitter, shimmer and glow.

    During the summer, a visit to an RSPB nature reserve is likely to reward you with a sight of brilliant metallic dragonflies, bold and colourful butterflies, velvety moths and perhaps even a glow worm or two if you are out late enough!  And ok, so they are not fairies, but some of these little beasts are almost as rare.  The British Swallowtail butterfly is now so scarce that it can now only be found in the fens and marshes of the Norfolk Broads. Also only found in the Broads is the rare Norfolk Hawker dragonfly, which enjoys its clean and unpolluted waters, and the rich covering of plants.  We work hard on and around our reserves to ensure that we create a habitat that will secure the future of these rare species, and amongst a plethora of other beauties, these two species could be considered the jewels in our sparkling crown of insect-life.

    Many of the RSPB reserves around the region are managed specifically to create the kinds of environment that our fairy-like friends enjoy. And with amazing natural experiences around every corner at RSPB reserves throughout the East throughout the summer, including evening Moth Walks at RSPB Minsmere, what better way to experience some of the magic for yourself?

    Visit www.rspb.org.uk/reserves for more information.