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: Communications Officer Aggie Rothon
I am incredibly lucky to live where I do. If I leave my house in any direction I can always find myself surrounded by the magnificence of nature. So I’m not missing out, now that the nights are drawing in and I have had to reroute my after-work dog walk. These autumnal evenings we walk out through the shelter of the copse behind the house and out on to the open grassland beyond. These past weeks the sun has been a bright orange sphere on the horizon, nestling in to pillows of grey sky as day slides in to night. The grass sticks up in blonde tufts, almost glowing white in the dusky light and gathering teardrops on individual stems as the evening mists lower. The barn owls hunt here, quartering back and forth, and the kestrels sit in the fringe of trees trilling loudly to one another. In the summer, meadow buttercup and ox-eye daisy grow tangled with the grass and red deer lie hidden but for their craggy heads.
I’m lucky that I live right beside grassland like this, but they can be found all over our eastern counties. Sandy soils support acid grassland alongside heather heaths supporting leggy birds-foot trefoil and the delicate purple harebell. Wet grassland is a common site in the Broads, dotted with the pink stars of ragged robin or the fluffy heads of meadowsweet. And how fortunate we are to share open commons in our villages and rural hamlets.
The only trouble is we’re not looking after are grasslands very well these days. In fact we have actually lost 95% of our species rich grassland since the 1940’s. We’ve ploughed it up because we need to grow more crops and we have reseeded grasslands to make them faster growing and more consistent to produce better hay. But the biggest single cause of our loss of wildlife rich grassland is neglect. We’ve stopped cutting small areas of grassland for hay to feed a small number of animals and we’ve stopped keeping small numbers of animals to graze small areas of land. This means our grasslands all too easily revert to scrub and woodland as year upon year we overlook the need to graze or cut them.
Through looking at the bigger picture we often forget to look after what is under our noses, or round the corner from home. We don’t recognise that the small parts of the jigsaw that make up our countryside are what create our greater experience of the world. To maintain the things we take for granted; the barn owls, skylarks, the rainbow colours of our wild flowers we need to look after our local grasslands. If we all look after the jigsaw pieces, together we’ll complete the whole puzzle.
As featured in the EDP, Saturday 26 November
Blogger: Rachael Murray, Media Officer
Now, I have to be honest, I’m not an avid golfer. The idea of trying to bash a tiny, dimpled sphere into a hole that is just a few millimeters wider and located over miles of dunes, lakes and bunkers just doesn’t appeal.
However, on a visit to see my parents in Kent, I do look on in envy as huddles of tank top wearing men and women spend their day slowly perambulating through a beautiful stretch of countryside right next door to my family home.
By another name, golf courses are just lovely green spaces, perfect for enjoying the sunshine, and wildlife, two things that I am very fond of.
So, how pleasing to hear that the New Malton Golf Club, set amongst 230 acres of peaceful and gently undulating Cambridgeshire countryside, has just been awarded a Green Apple award for the work they do to manage their land for wildlife.
Not content with just setting up a thriving golf business, they also set their sights on being the UK’s first chemical free, wildlife friendly golf course in the UK. And with a little bit of help from Nigel Symes, one of our land management advisors, they discovered lots of new ways to manage their land to provide a haven for both golfers and wildlife.
The course is attracting grey partridge, hare, barn owls, green woodpeckers and significant populations of farmland birds including skylarks, bullfinches, yellowhammers and yellow wagtails, all of which have been experiencing worrying drops in population in recent years.
So, when golfers are now heard to shout ‘birdie’ you no longer know if they have scored one, or seen one!
With such an inspiring story and an amazing commitment to wildlife, even I could be persuaded to give golf a chance, but more importantly, it is an inspiring example that helps us all see that conservation doesn’t have to be confined to nature reserves. There is so much we can all do to support nature, whether we own a golf course, or just have a little bit of garden to play with.
If, like New Malton golf course, you’d like to step up for nature, visit www.rspb.org.uk/hfw to sign up for regular, tailored advice and inspiring ideas on how to help wildlife in your garden.
Ok, so you may not get a shiny award, but you will be warmed by the knowledge that you have joined a growing army of people that are taking conservation into their own hands and helping to create a securer future for some of our favourite wildlife.
Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer
Some of my best childhood memories involve trees. From my early days of getting grubby with bugs on trunks, to playing Robin Hood with my brother in the dell, to having two climbing trees in the field opposite - one for me one for my brother (sadly my brother’s one got chopped down but mine still stands to this day).
Unlike some childhood fancies like jelly or skipping, trees have such a powerful impact on us that they still affect me today. I don’t know if you are the same, but if I go for a walk in the woods and come across a beautiful big old tree – an oak, a beech, a silver birch – I can’t help but go up and touch it, feeling it’s bark. Just think of the stories they could tell. Why do we do this – why is the sense of touch and the appreciation for trees so deep rooted (excuse the pun)? If anyone can shed some light on this I would much appreciate it.
So am I a tree hugger? On special occasions, yes!
The nice people at The Tree Council are running National Tree Week – so get out there are soak up the warm and fuzzy feeling that trees give us. You can do this at RSPB Minsmere – visiting their Canopy Hide which I think should really be called a tree house or take a walk through the magical ancient RSPB Wolves Wood.
P.S. Now having urges for jelly and ice cream, is that bad?