May, 2012

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.
  • 101 things to do with a bucket

    Blogger: Gena Correale-Wardle      

     A little while ago we asked our Twitter followers for some ideas of things you could do with a bucket. Some very good and strange answers came back – bury it and make it into a stag beetle home; use it as a coal scuttle and even have it as a makeshift toilet! The most sensible of the suggestions was to use your bucket to go collecting funds at your local supermarket, which is what 100s of yellow buckets will be being used for at the end of this month when Love Nature Week hits our streets and shops!

    Love Nature Week is the RSPB’s national flag week where hundreds of our fab volunteers get out in the sunshine of their local high streets or the shelter of their local supermarkets to raise funds for nature in their local area. Simple! This year it has a local feel (can you tell?) as we are collecting for local conservation projects, so all proceeds raised in the East will support our farmland bird projects. The week runs from 26 May to the 2 June (with a few renegade days either side) and we more locations than you can shake a bucket at – over 80 at the last count!

    In 2011 we raised over £10,000 in this region alone and we really want to beat that figure this year. So the question is, do you fancy doing something fun with a bucket and getting a really rewarding feeling after you’ve done it? And I’m not talking about using it as a makeshift toilet!

    We are looking for people to come and give collecting a try – it’s really not as scary as you think and if you bring along a friend you will have double the fun! Some of our collectors even use it as an opportunity to catch up with people in their local community and tell them about the great work of the RSPB in the process. But don’t worry – no knowledge of birds and wildlife is required, just a couple of free hours and a big smile, we’ll provide the rest!

     With collections from Morrisons in St Albans to Louth town centre, we’ve got the region covered – please join in and get ‘lucky with a bucky’ to see just how much you can collect. There are plenty of other things to do with a bucket, but I think this one is probably the one that’ll make the biggest difference and put a great big smile on your face.

    To sign up go to www.rspb.org.uk/bucketcollections where you can find a google map of all the Love Nature Week sites and dates and find out more about bucket collections with the RSPB.

  • The best exotic marigold bird watch

    Blogger: Neil Santy, Volunteer (Business Partnerships)

    Perhaps you’ve seen the film; the one with Dev Patel, Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson? Well, the hotel really does exist! We went to visit on a recent holiday out in the wilds of Rajasthan, and although it was fascinating, I was drawn to the red-wattled lapwings and laughing doves that abound in that part of the Indian countryside.

    An eighteen day whistle-stop tour through Rajasthan, taking in Delhi, Agra, Bharatpur, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Udaipur, then down to Mumbai and Goa, was an opportunity to catch up with some of the wildlife of that vast and diverse sub-continent. Just on the bird front I was amazed to spot 188 different species – many I had never seen before (not having been to India before). That’s only scratching the fauna surface and plenty of excuses to return to an utterly intriguing and beguiling country, full of colour, contrast, and friendly people.

    The good news for any birders out there is that water has returned to Bharatpur, a combination of a reasonable monsoon last year and the decision to pump water in from the local river systems. Perhaps it’s not reached the sheer numbers of its heyday and a number of species have, in the intervening years, decided to find pastures new but the birds are returning.

    Here is just a taster of some of the stunners that we came across:

    A large numbers of waders (mostly black winged stilt and green and common sandpiper, but also marsh and wood sandpiper and greenshank), flocks of lesser whistling duck, numbers of painted stork, bar headed goose, ruddy shelduck, egrets, little cormorant, darters, and purple swamphen. Some of the winter visitors were still in residence and we caught up with Siberian rubythroat and orange headed thrush.

     Picture: Crested Serpent Eagle in Ranthambore

     Picture: Rufous Treepie in Ranthambore

    Some real highlights were the haunting cry of the sarus crane drifted over the lagoons and the explosions of teal, pintail, coot and wigeon every time an Indian spotted eagle passed by, were spectacular. It’s good to know that a passion for birds is growing in India and more people are becoming interested in the environment: with its burgeoning population, the countryside will need all the friends it can get. For example, our guides were hugely knowledgeable and could often pick out the birds without the aid if binoculars….not quite sure how they do it! 

    If ever you get the chance, go: besides the fauna, you cannot fail to be impressed with the temples, forts, and yes, of course, the Taj Mahal. We hope to return one day…..especially as we missed the kings of the forest – the regal tiger.    

      Picture: Kingfishers a plenty

    Editor's Note: Neil Santy is one of our newest volunteers.  As Natura People Business Liaison Officer he is developing links with Suffolk businesses and working to place Minsmere as the top tourist destination for Suffolk.  Natura People is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the INTERREG IV A 2 Mers Seas Zeeën Crossborder Programme 2007-2013.

  • I like big (water) butts and I cannot lie

    Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Officer.

    As I stood in the queue to make my emergency purchase last week, the shop assistant declared, “This is the most umbrellas we’ve sold in months.”  With soggy feet, wrinkly toes, and less-than-glamorous, damp hair, I was beginning to seriously dislike the rain!

    But as we know, one of the worst droughts in living memory is currently gripping us. As I’m writing this, the age old cliché of ‘April showers’ is putting in a bold appearance.  However, we would need weeks and weeks of rain in order to beat this drought.

    Knowing how serious the situation is has made me much more conscientious at home with my water use. I take shorter showers, use a water-butt to store water for gardening and wash clothes only when I have a full load.  It’s like anything really. So often, we only realize how precious a resource is when there is a chance it could be taken away.

    It is comforting to know too that RSPB reserve staff are doing their bit. Managing a nature reserve is no easy task, especially when there are so many factors at play. Demanding birds and wildlife, constantly changing weather conditions and a variety of habitats keep even the sprightliest of reserve wardens on their toes!  At RSPB Titchwell Marsh on the Norfolk coast, the staff use a natural spring to feed a series of ditches around the reserve. This then acts as a super-sized bath tub.  When parts of the reserve need more water, the plug can be pulled and the water will drain into them, meaning the wildlife will continue to thrive.

    Of course it’s not quite as simple as this.  Maintaining water levels on a site like Titchwell requires a complex range of control devices; if too much water goes into the fresh water habitats then the avocets will not settle. If too little water, the area will dry up and there will be no food for the birds and their chicks. It is certainly a fine balance and the dry winter conditions have certainly had an effect.

    With the drought situation being what it is, the outlook for summer at Titchwell is uncertain. Habitats will naturally dry up when the weather gets warmer and this means the precious water supplies will need to stretch even further.  But, planning for this will make all the difference. You may not have a nature reserve in your back garden, but taking steps now to ensure that you have a healthy, well-watered garden in the summer will pay dividends, and your garden wildlife will certainly thank you for it.

    Featured in the EDP, Saturday 29 April