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: Aggie Rothon, Communications Officer
A programme to rally the UK to help tackle the crisis facing nature has received overwhelming support, with people taking over one a million steps in just six months. Our Stepping up for Nature movement is one of the most ambitious nature conservation charity efforts in the world, and one step has been taken every 18 seconds since it started in March. We launched Stepping Up for Nature to help tackle the catastrophic declines in bird species and other wildlife, and the damage and destruction of their habitats. We believe small individual steps can make a big difference, and if everyone acts together nature stands a chance.
Steps include any effort to help nature both here in the UK and overseas, and are separated into four categories; giving, doing, volunteering and campaigning.
Included in the million steps that have already been taken are feeding garden birds, putting up nest boxes, volunteering on a reserve, donating money to save rockhopper penguins affected by an oil spill in Tristan da Cunha, and e-mailing government in response to their flawed proposals to change England’s planning system.
With help from those ‘stepping up’ we are able to help turn around the fortunes of wildlife like bitterns, corncrakes, stone curlews and great yellow bumblebees. People taking steps include farmers, landowners, gardeners and shoppers.
It may sound like a daunting task to save nature from the crisis it’s facing but if we all do our bit, small steps can add up to make a big difference. There are so many species teetering on the brink of disappearance and many of them are in our own backyards. For the future of much of our natural world it’s ‘kitchen sink time’ and we need to throw everything at it. Government, organisations like the RSPB, wider society and individuals all need to make a difference. People all over our region are already joining the Stepping Up for Nature movement and doing their bit for nature. Just take a look at farmers like Robert Law from Hertfordshire, a Nature of Farming award regional winner. He’s worked to turn his land in to a haven for wildlife as well as a productive business. Schools across the region have been putting the environment at the top of their agenda taking part in projects such as the Big School’s Birdwatch and Bird Friendly Schools and volunteer groups take steps everyday to care for their local commons and parks. But it doesn’t need to stop there, your first step most definitely shouldn’t be your last.
Steven Roddy, RSPB parliamentary campaigner says: “We knew we need to do something drastic to help the situation facing the natural world and Stepping Up For Nature is a massive effort to rally our supporters and give nature its best chance of survival. We knew we had the potential for huge levels of participation but a million steps in just the first six months of the campaign is a great start and we’d like to say a massive thank you to all those who have got involved so far. Now we just hope that even more people will join in and step up, but importantly, that the government catches up. We can’t do this on our own and the goodwill of our supporters desperately needs matching. In light of the massive amount of support we’ve already received, and look set to continue receiving, we hope the UK Government realises that it too must step up to help save the natural world or risk being left behind.”
One step you can take today is signing the pledge calling on ministers to help safeguard our seabirds at sea now: www.rspb.org.uk/marinepetition.
For more ways to step up for nature visit www.rspb.org.uk/steppingup
Blogger: Rachael Murray, Media Officer
We are urging everyone to remember, remember wildlife on the 5th November. As you gather logs for your bonfire, consider where you pile them so as not to give birds and other wildlife a nasty surprise. Holding firework displays near to trees and bushes is also big a no-no. During the hours of darkness many birds will be roosting in trees and bushes, so we are warning that holding firework displays and building bonfires too close to their shelters could disturb them.Loud bangs and flashing lights close to where birds and other wildlife are sheltering could unsettle them and cause them to move on. Every movement made in the cold weather uses up vital energy supplies, so unnecessary travel to find a quieter home could have a detrimental effect. We are also asking anyone planning a bonfire or fireworks display in their garden to avoid doing it too close to nest boxes. Although the nesting period is over for most species, many birds use nestboxes as a safe place to sleep through the autumn and winter.Any gardeners out there please remember hedgehogs as they make the final touches to their bonfire heap. Log piles and leaves are the perfect spot for hibernating hedgehogs, and they will usually be buried right at the bottom. So why not build your bonfire on the day to ensure no prickly guests have moved in.
RSPB Wildlife Adviser Ian Hayward, says: “It’s still possible to have a fun fireworks display and a brilliant bonfire in your garden without disturbing wildlife. It’s really important to leave existing log piles be as they play host to a variety of wildlife. If you are having a bonfire then build it on the day you’re going to set it alight to avoid disturbing, or even killing, hibernating hedgehogs and other animals. And use wood that you’ve acquired, such as old furniture without a plastic coating, so as not to give off toxic fumes. Take the time to look around and note where any nestboxes, thick trees and bushes that could providing refuge for birds and other wildlife are, and try and pick a spot away from them. "
And it’s easy to continue helping wildlife even once the bonfire celebrations are over. A simple suggestion is leaving any unused logs, twigs or leaves piled up in a corner of the garden to provide shelter for all sorts of wildlife, including hedgehogs, insects, frogs and toads.
Happy Bonfire Night to one and all.
Blogger: Gena Correale-Wardle, Community Fundraising Officer
I am currently reading Watership Down by Richard Adams, a book that was first published nearly 40 years ago and which many of my peers remember as being a cult film when they were growing up. I, however, never saw the film or read the book when I was younger so it’s all new to me (please don’t spoil the ending!).
The book tells of the trials and tribulations of a small colony of wild rabbits on the South Downs and the challenges they face to stay alive.
The most amazing thing I’ve noticed whilst reading the book is just how different the portrayal of birds in the countryside is from when the book was written in 1972, to how it is today.
Take this passage:
“Once Acorn [a rabbit] put up a plover, which flew round them calling shrilly, until at length, they crossed a bank and left it behind. Soon after, somewhere near them, they heard the unceasing bubbling of a nightjar – a peaceful sound without menace, which died gradually away as they pushed on. And once they heard a corncrake calling as it crept among the long grass of a path verge. (It makes the sounds of a human fingernail drawn down the edge of a comb).”
Green plovers (more commonly known as lapwing) - red listed as a bird of conservation concern.
Nightjars – a red listed species due to contraction of breeding range.
Corncrakes – virtually extinct in England, these birds have had a historical population decline and are red listed.
And it’s not just these three birds in this part of the country. Nature is being lost at all levels: global, regional and local. In just 40 years there has been a 40% decline in the average abundance of species. We cannot afford to lose any more.
It’s certainly made me sit up and take notice.
Hazel the rabbit and his friends might have been able to find a new life for themselves on the Downs back in the 70s, but our birds and other wildlife aren’t finding it so easy anymore. We really need to do something before future generations reading this book don’t recognise any of the species in it because they are no longer there for them to enjoy.
If you are interested in helping to keep our countryside alive, please click on the link below and make sure that laws that protect it aren’t threatened in new government action. http://campaigning.rspb.org.uk/ea-campaign/clientcampaign.do?ea.client.id=13&ea.campaign.id=10410
Photo credit: Young rabbit by Ben Hall (rspb-images.com) and artist impression of South Downs by Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)