July, 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.
  • Saying it with flowers

    Blogger: Niki Williamson, Fenland Farmland Bird Adviser

    Have you ever wondered why flowers make people smile?  Many things that make us happy are things that promote our survival - a good square meal, a thirst-quenching drink on a sunny day. 

    But what about flowers?  Sure they’re nice to look at, but you can’t really live off them, or use them to fight off predators.  But I love walking to my front door through the colourful blooms alongside the garden path.  And on those rare occasions when my fella brings me a bunch of flowers, my grin lasts all evening!  So if we’ve evolved to feel happy about flowers, maybe they’re more than just a pretty face.

    Farmer Andrew Brodie obviously feels the same.  He’s managing nearly four hectares of nectar rich habitat on his Cambridgeshire farm, through a Higher Level Stewardship scheme. 

    The habitat consists of patches of flowering plants, chosen especially with nectar-feeding insects in mind.  Clovers, Lucerne, Sainfoin, Black Medick and Birdsfoot Trefoil flower alongside each other, splashing the farm with colour.

    But by planting the mix he is not only growing flowers, he’s feeding bees, butterflies and beetles.  In turn they’re eating aphids which would otherwise be spreading disease in his crops.  They’re also pollinating crops like oilseed rape and beans – pollinating insects are thought to be worth £430 million annually to the UK farming industry.  They’re also producing lots of yummy caterpillars which Andrew’s resident corn buntings, grey partridges and lapwings can feed to their chicks.

    Andrew is not new to Stewardship, having been in the Entry Level Scheme since it began.  He planted some of these patches back in 2005 and they are still going strong, thanks to his careful management.  By cutting half the area in June he extends the flowering season, and by cutting the whole lot again in autumn he is continually removing nutrients from the system that would otherwise encourage grass to dominate the flowers. 

    With help from RSPB advisers, Andrew is stepping up for Nature.  “It’s crucial that modern farming goes hand in hand with environmental concerns,” he says as we stroll through the flowers, surrounded by lazy buzzing.  “We’ve got to look after our bugs, bees and birds so we can carry on ourselves.”

    Andrew Brodie loves Nature.  And he’s saying it with flowers.

  • I spy with my little eye...

    Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Manager

    Last Sunday was very much like most other Sunday mornings in our house. Alarm ringing out at 6am and a mad dash out of the house. Sandwiches made, energy drinks prepared, book packed, bike kit in the boot, sat nav programmed in and a big cup of tea for the journey! Ok, so perhaps it’s not the calmest of ways to spend your Sunday morning, but I really love it. My other half, Mike, races his bike most weekends and I go along to watch; trying to be supportive and help where I can. Although this does mean incredibly early starts and no Sunday morning lie-in with the papers, it does have a few benefits.

    As we drove along the A11, with Essex as our destination, the sky was a calm pale blue as if it too was anticipating the day ahead. It can be quite intoxicating, driving along an open, empty road. The rooks lined the edges of the fields, busying themselves with chitter chatter while a kestrel hovered overhead as if trying to hear the whispers beneath him. Suddenly, interrupting the lush green verges of Thetford Forest, stood a small, gentle muntjac deer, quietly snacking on grass and leaves. It’s creamy brown coat and kind face was totally oblivious to the concrete junction it was approaching, let alone my cries of astonishment at how beautiful he was! There were three of them in total, lined up as if having an early morning quick snack before the day really kicked in, and they were simply gorgeous.

    In the split second that we were both able to enjoy the sight, it left us thinking about how much nature can boost your spirits. In all it’s simplicity and beauty, it can leave you totally captivated and after this extraordinary sighting, I was suddenly awake; my heart beating hard and goosebumps appearing on my arms!

    In reality, nature and wildlife is hugely dependant on us, from feeding our garden birds to growing nectar-rich plants in our gardens. But my heart tells me the opposite. Surely we are more dependant on nature than it will ever be on us? From the air we breathe and the crops we grow, to the basic, fundamental wellbeing of us as humans; nature enriches our lives for the better.

    These stunning deer may have only been in my vision for a mere few seconds, but they have made a lasting impression – I shouldn’t ever take nature for granted. They put a smile on my face when I least expected it (more than not because it was 6am!) and I feel privileged to have seen them.

    We would love to hear about your wildlife sightings at www.facebook.com/rspbintheeast 

    Photo Credit: Muntjac deer by Liz Cutting (RSPB)

    Photo Credit: Latest wildlife spot at RSPB Fowlmere by Adam Murray

    Article in Eastern Daily Press on Saturday 16th July 2011

  • KISS, The Grateful Dead and Kate Doubleday...what a line up!

    Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer

    Being in charge of our wedding i-Tunes playlist was a joy but a big responsibility. You always remember wedding with dodgy music. I like a bit of cheese but not a fan of the chicken dance or pushing pineapples or shaking trees. As our wedding was next to the beach we had a lot of great oldies that were marine related. My lovely lady joined me with Beyond the Sea by Bobby Darin, we had The Sea by Morcheeba, Underwater Love by Smoke City and even Octopus’s Garden.

    This got me thinking if I was to make a RSPB playlist what little gems could I have on there? So here is an eclectic mix for starters:

    1. Albatross by Fleetwood Mac
    2. anything by The Guillemots
    3. Three Little Birds by Bob Marley
    4. Songbird by Oasis
    5. Rockin’ Robin by Bobby Day
    6. Bird Song by The Grateful Dead
    7. Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd

    I would even have KISS in there not because of any bird or wildlife related pun but because there are many candidates out there in the bird world that could even be considered for the masked rocking crew.


    If you want something a little more sedate and relaxing than KISS then check out Kate Doubleday’s Hide Tour across our sites in the East. Tickets are selling fast so get in there quick this week for the following gigs: 20 July at Frampton Marsh, 21 July at Titchwell Marsh and 22 July at Minsmere.

    Photo Credit: RSPB images