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: Rachael Murray, Media Officer
It’s traditionally used to follow friends, famous faces and current affairs, but this Autumn we are using Twitter to track the arrival of thousands of wintering geese. As part of a UK-wide initiative, the conservation charity is asking people in Norfolk to ‘tweet’ sightings or pictures of the birds using the hashtag #goosewatch.
Every year, as part of their migratory journey, hundreds of thousands of geese feed and roost on farmers’ fields and coastal estuaries in Norfolk. The most commonly sighted species across the county include the pink-footed goose, white fronted goose and the brent goose. In Norfolk, the appearance of pink-footed geese from around 09 September has traditionally heralded the start of Autumn in the wildlife world. The first birds make the thousand-mile flight from Iceland in early September, but the bulk of them do not arrive in Norfolk until October , when groups of a staggering 40k – 50k can be seen together in North Norfolk locations including RSPB Snettisham nature reserve. Brent Geese travel from Siberia, appearing a little later in the year, with first sightings in Norfolk usually from the end of September.
Reports of sightings in Scotland, the first of the RSPB regions to use Twitter in this way, are already coming in thick and fast through the social networking site. Reports of a large geese flock over the RSPB’s Loch of Strathbeg nature reserve on Friday morning kick-started the tweets. Last year, the reserve recorded one of the biggest flocks in the UK with up to 70,000 geese using the reserve as a night –time roost.
The arrival of the geese is very much a highlight of Norfolk’s wildlife calendar, and the first are due any day now. By using twitter to report sightings we can track their progress online and get an idea of where the large flocks are stopping across the country. So the more people who are watching the skies the better!
Our dear friend from head office, Emily Sanders, our Social Media Manager, says: “Twitter isn’t all about tracking your friends and celebrities, using it in this way will provide the RSPB with important information about the movements of our geese. And it’s testament to how much people love wildlife that they are squeezing in some tweets about this in amongst their updates on their daily lives. Our supporters are always telling us about the weird and wonderful sightings they are seeing in their gardens and further afield. It brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘tweet’ – although in this case it is more like a loud ‘honk!’”
Wintering geese traditionally start to arrive in mid September, with numbers reaching their peak in early Winter. We are inviting anyone with a Twitter account to share their goose sightings or pictures by using the #goosewatch hashtag. Those without a Twitter account can email sightings through email@example.com.
Photo credit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Staff and residents of Bupa care homes across Hertfordshire will be keeping an eye out for creatures that croak, flap, cheep and snuffle for Bupa’s Wildlife Week (26 September – 2 October), a new initiative which aims to encourage more wildlife into care home grounds and gardens.
As part of a UK wide initiative, 14 care homes in Hertfordshire are taking the lead by organising a week of activities, including building hedgehog havens, bug hotels and painting special bird boxes, following advice from our nice people at RSPB Head Office.
Many of the homes are also inviting schools and members of the local community to lend a hand in transforming their grounds and help spot any new wildlife visiting the homes during the week. Mandy Jackson, Bupa regional manager for Hertfordshire, said: “This initiative gives all of our residents the chance to get involved, from helping staff build new homes for wildlife to simply watching out for their favourite birds or butterflies. It’s also the perfect project to suit all of our care homes, whether they have big lawns or smaller patios and private gardens for the residents to enjoy.”
RSPB research has shown that access to nature and green spaces is important for older people and those recovering from illness, with the benefits of wildlife gardening including increased physical and mental activity as well as developing a sense of purpose. Richard Bashford, another RSPB fellow, told us: “Teaming up with over 300 Bupa care homes throughout the UK will make a huge difference to many of the common species in decline and we want as many people as possible to get involved – whether that’s volunteering at a local home or making their own gardens more appealing to wildlife. We hope both people and wildlife will reap the rewards of this partnership.”
Anyone wanting to find out more about Bupa’s Wildlife Week can call into a local Bupa care home to receive a free RSPB ‘Homes for Wildlife’ pack full of simple advice and recommendations for all types and sizes of garden. To find the nearest Bupa care home or local event, call 0845 600 4622 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Further details about the RSPB’s project, Bupa’s Wildlife Week and advice on how to make your home appealing to wildlife can be found at www.bupa.co.uk/wildlife
Photo credit: Adam Murray. Companion planting at Flatford Wildlife Garden, Suffolk
Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Manager
When I graduated from university, some 6 years ago, I didn’t have a clue what to do with my life really. I went to university in London, but staying there for the long haul was never really an option for me. I love Norfolk too much and simply couldn’t afford to live in the big smoke fulfilling student ambitions!
Like most post-grads, I very quickly took a job, needing to earn some pennies. I have certainly had some interesting experiences over the last six years, but working for the RSPB kind of happened to me by accident. I certainly didn’t have any burning dreams to work in conservation and although I love the outdoors, I had never really thought of a career in the environmental world. Now, my job isn’t exactly ‘outdoorsy’, but working for the RSPB is pretty unique and incredibly fulfilling. If six years ago, someone had offered me the chance to try this job out for a year, gain a host of experience and a flavour for working in conservation, i’d have jumped at the chance. The world is such today that you really can ‘try before you buy’.
In true RSPB style, today offered me another intriguing day at work, when I was introduced to a lovely man called Jacob. He’s a focused chap, driven by his passion for a career in conservation and making a difference to our environment. I always envy people who have this determination and self-belief. And the difference with Jacob is that he’s landed himself an even more enviable volunteer position with the RSPB that will almost certainly boost his employability! He is working full time as an intern at the RSPB’s first ever wildlife garden, learning about native plants, composting, how to encourage wildlife into your garden and how to inspire people to do the same in their own gardens. Sounds pretty idyllic to me! He also managed to hold his own on Gardeners Question Time recently so it’s safe to say, we’re throwing him in at the deep end! Flatford Wildlife Garden is a beautiful place to visit, be inspired and to learn about making your garden as wildlife friendly as possible and of course, to have a chat with Jacob.
The world today is as tough for graduates as it is for our wildlife. Organisations can be hard to get into with no experience, which presents a rather catch-22 situation. If you’ve ever had a dream career or thought of trying volunteering, then there is plenty of opportunity at the RSPB and the experience really is invaluable. And you will be safe in the knowledge that you’ll be helping the fortunes of all kinds of birds, bugs and plantlife in the process. For more information about Flatford Wildlife Garden or volunteering, go to www.rspb.org.uk
Photo Credit: Adam Murray
Article in the Eastern Daily Press on 17 Sept 2011