December, 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.
  • Hen harriers dropping like flies

    Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Manager

    We reported on some rather shocking news this week. The hen harrier is the bird most likely to become extinct in England because of human pressure. I’ve only ever seen a hen harrier once; on a visit to RSPB Titchwell Marsh last Christmas. As I stood on the path i was freezing with the bitter wind blowing through my rather unsuitable, not-very-winterproof-coat! My eyes were watery with the cold and i was trying desperately to ignore the darkness that was starting to fall upon me. I spent ages scouring over the reedbeds for barn owls, stubbornly trying to catch a glimpse of my favourite bird.  From the distance a pale, slow figure appeared from behind the silhouted trees. As it glided over the reedbeds trying to get some much-needed food before settling for the night, I realised that this was no barn owl. For no more than five minutes, I was privaledged enough to stand and watch a hen harrier. For those five minutes, the cold evaporated and the wind held its breath. It was a priceless experience.

    Now, when i think back to that day at Titchwell, it puts my experience into a whole new light. The chances are, I won’t see another hen harrier in England. Certainly not in such unexpected circumstances.   When i think about the significance of that cold afternoon it makes me so very sad. Wildlife numbers will fluctuate; we live in a fast-changing world and ups and downs will be a way of life. But, to drive a species to extinction is unforgivable.  

    Bird crime is mindless criminality, plain and simple. However, It will be a very real contribution to the demise of such a stunning creature. The hen harrier is just one species struggling for survival in a time when we are supposed to be putting our faith in the ‘greenest government ever’. Quite frankly, they are failing miserably.  If the hen harrier disappears from England, we will witness the government breaking its recent commitment to avoid any human-induced extinctions before 2020.

    Well George Osbourne should certainly be pleased with himself. In a season of goodwill and peace on earth, he has left a huge black cloud over the future of our environment. His recent attack on the habitat regulations was disappointing to say the least. It certainly won’t do birds like the hen harrier any favours.

    I never thought that our environment and the wildlife that lives in it could change so dramatically in my lifetime. There will be birds that my grandchildren may never get to see. There will be habitats that are forever lost to development that my grandchildren may never get to walk amongst. Yes, it makes me very sad, but it also fills me with confidence to think that there is still something we can do about it. Visit to find out how.

    Article in EDP on Saturday 17 December.

    Photo by Andy Hay (rspb images)

  • From Everyone at RSPB in the East

    MERRY CHRISTMAS - see you on your Festive Seasonal Walk out and about at our reserves!


  • The "Land Girls" of Suffolk

    Blogger: Lisa Robinson – Visitor Officer Intern, RSPB Minsmere

    In light of the new internships that have been developed, I thought I’d tell you about my experience as an intern with the RSPB.

    I’ve been an intern at the Minsmere visitor centre since early September. When I tell people where I’m working they tend to assume I’m outdoors all the time, getting hands on with conservation work. Not so! I’m pretty useless at practical work so fortunately for everyone I leave that to the Wardening Team...although I have attempted it a couple of times! More on that later.

    My role at Minsmere started with me planning the Red Deer Rut viewpoint event: organising volunteers, sourcing equipment, and researching deer facts among other tasks. The deer rut event ran throughout October, and we had just under 2500 visitors over 5 weekends! After the deer rut, I helped plan the Christmas events at Minsmere, including the Christmas Carol weekend where a local school choir, a brass band, and an adult choir performed in the visitor centre.

    As well as events, I work in all areas of the visitor centre: in the shop, at reception, and sometimes in the tearoom. I also help Ian with occasional media releases and do odd jobs for other members of the Minsmere team. Most recently I’ve been assisting with preparations for when we move out of the Visitor Centre and into temporary accommodation whilst improvements are made to the building.

    I have had a couple of days helping Assistant Warden Katy and the “Land Girls” as they call themselves, working in the reedbed. Well, I say helping, but I’m almost certain I was a hindrance especially as I spent the majority of the time up to my waist in mud. It’s so sinky! I was warned about the holes, and advised to follow Charlie who is magical and never sinks. Despite this, somehow I managed to outstrip Lizzie as the most frequent faller. Nevertheless in the short periods when I wasn’t in a hole I was busy helping to rake the cut reeds into piles and burning them. This helps the regeneration and encourages wildlife including our precious bitterns to move in. Both days I helped out were really fun, especially the day we saw loads of bearded tits, and we were rewarded for our hard work with cake!

    I’ve learned a lot of new skills whilst doing my internship, and I still have a couple of months to go. It’s a really exciting time to be at Minsmere with the Discover Nature project going on, and it’s convinced me that I definitely want to work for a conservation charity in the future.