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.
Print this voucher and take it along to one of the seven RSPB nature reserves listed below to redeem the offer.
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I walked into work this morning fresh with thoughts about a new year, a new calendar and new adventures. It’s amazing how therapeutic a clean slate is. It’s the 2 January and heading back to work feels the same, but different! It’s funny how we take to a new year, with renewed enthusiasm, the promise of making a change for the better. The irony being that every year, we say the same things!
I arrived at my desk after having ten indulgent days off to find my phone flashing violently, full to the brim with frantic messages about a rather peculiar incident. Over the last few weeks, much of our countryside has suffered from heavy rainfall. Fields were turned into swimming pools, cars were abandoned along flooded country lanes and park benches merely peeked from the crest of swollen river banks. Anyway, i digress. The situation we were faced with was this. A seal had managed to swim from the sea, near Kings Lynn, for 50 miles to a flooded field via the mouth of the flooded Great Ouse in the Wash. The seal then heaved itself up onto the flood defences that surround the lakes at RSPB’s Fen Drayton Nature Reserve, and proceeded to swim in the water on the nature reserve. He was captured on camera by a local visitor and the footage was promptly posted on the internet. A few clicks later and the entire national media centre wanted to see our new found seal friend. What a morning! Working for the RSPB is never dull. And a seal having a great escape to one of our nature reserves shouldn’t have surprised me. We’ve fondly called him Seal McQueen!
Year after year, we may resolve to do the same things; change our habits, encourage positive attitudes and healthy living, but isn’t it refreshing when things turn unexpectedly? It forces you to go with the flow and simply enjoy what life throws at you. And you truly never know what might turn up on your doorstep. I will be taking part in the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch later in the month and although i remain realistic that the usual suspects will appear, i have a quiet confidence that beyond my kitchen window, in the depths of my garden, something extraordinary will turn up and take me by surprise. You may not have a seal turn up in your back garden, but who knows what might stop by. The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch takes place 26 and 27 January. For more information, go to www.rspb.org.uk/ Birdwatch or come to see us at the Forum in Norwich on 26 and 27 January between 10pm and 4pm.
As featured in the EDP, Saturday 5 January
Today I’d like to tell you a couple of stories about crowds.
To set the scene for the first story, imagine you’re in the Castle Mall in Norwich on a busy Saturday before Christmas.You’re wandering through and you pass a shop, empty of merchandise but there are people inside; two artists painting gorillas. You do a double-take then stop and read the sign, which tells you about the Go Go Gorillas! trail in aid of the Break and Born Free Foundation charities.
GoGoGorillas Norwich 2013 - thanks to Lee Blanchflower, COGmedia, Mik Richardson.
Before you walked past no one was paying any attention. Now, because you’re interested, other people are looking too. You wander in to have closer look and other people start to read the sign. Within a couple of minutes there are half a dozen of you, walking round the artist, taking pictures and chatting.
The other story takes place in my garden.
I’ve recently moved to a new house in the Golden Triangle in Norwich and there’s a small garden behind the house. I like to feed the birds anyway and with the Big Garden Birdwatch coming up on the 26 and 27 of January I wanted to attract some birds to the garden with some tasty treats. So last weekend I bought a new bird feeder and some high-energy bird food and on Sunday morning I put them out by the kitchen window. I’d had blackbirds in the garden before but I hadn’t seen anything else so I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I thought ‘if I get a robin in the garden by the end of the week I’ll be happy’. As last nights’ washing up needed doing, I spent half an hour gazing out of the window with soapy hands and... best half hour of the weekend! First the blackbirds turned up, then a little wren in search of insects, and then the floodgates opened! A dunnock, starlings, great tits, house sparrows and a robin, right outside the window!
What do these stories have in common? Well, crowd behaviour. The similarity between us and the wildlife in our gardens often surprises me. Whether it’s the way we gravitate toward things others are interested in or the way we’ll defend the things we care about (a blackbird defending their spot on the bird table vs. a pub local and their spot at the bar), we have more in common than we’re usually aware of.
I love the characters of the blackbirds in my garden and I’m looking forward to getting to know the new personalities as new visitors arrive. If you’d like to see why I’m such a garden bird fan, why not get involved in the Big Garden Birdwatch? Register now at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch