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: Kim Matthews, Campaigns Officer
This is an important month in the bird watching world. The first of January is the day the new year-lists start and many birdwatchers undertake the challenge of ‘A Big Year’ with the aim of seeing as many different species of birds as possible in the following 12 months.
January must be such an exciting time for birdwatchers everywhere, whether they are attempting a Big Year, monitoring a local patch or just looking forward to the unknown sightings ahead. A crisp, new notebook in hand, just waiting to be filled with ticks, notes and sketches. The year stretching endlessly ahead and full of excitement and disappointment, debates and discussions, and of course wildlife spectacles and breath-catching moments aplenty. Not to mention the camaraderie of shared sightings with fellow enthusiasts.
Now I am no birdwatcher but I do love seeing wildlife, although I am rather apathetic when it comes to actually getting off my behind and going out explicitly to look for it. Most of my wildlife watching is of an accidental nature, often whilst out walking with the dog.
Yet when I finally do get onto a reserve I wonder why I am not there every day. Surrounded by nature in all its glory, each intake of breath seems to somehow wash the stress of everyday life away. It always feels as if my senses have been parched with thirst and are now eagerly drinking in each new creature or habitat experienced, be it woodland, meadow or reed bed, common bird or rare butterfly.
When I told a work colleague that I wanted to do a ‘Little Year’ in 2013, she asked if that meant I was trying to see as few bird species as possible! Not quite, but I simply don’t have the resources, knowledge or dedication to tackle a Big Year. I don’t even have a telescope! But what I can do is break through that apathy barrier and make the effort to get out and about more often, especially to visit my nearest reserves and hopefully see oodles of fantastic wildlife in the process.
So here I am, armed with aforementioned new notebook, a pair of binoculars, my trusty wildlife hand book and the RSPB bird app on my phone*. All that remains is for me to switch off the computer, get my wellies on and step out that front door.
To find your nearest reserve, head to http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/ or if you want to start a little closer to home you couldn’t get much closer than your own garden or local park! Why not take part in this years’ Big Garden Bird Watch, that should get your own list off to a cracking start!
*Only available on i-phones at the moment
Photo: The Lodge nature reserve & gardens by Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
The RSPB will select each week the winners for our RSPB in the East social media competition on Facebook and Twitter.
For further information please contact our office in Norwich on 01603 660066
All the best from the RSPB in the East gang - and good luck :<>
It was only when his retrieving dog carried it back to him that C.M Inglis realised quite what he had just caught. Mr Inglis was in Darbhangar, India and he had just caught a pink-headed duck. This wasn’t just any old duck however, it was in fact the last known wild specimen of pink-headed duck, now unseen or heard of since 1935. It’s thought that these ducks were probably lost due to the gradual loss of their chosen habitat, the incremental creep of industry and growth versus the delicate greenness of an Indian tall-grass jungle. Which is a great shame, because I would have loved to have seen a pink-headed duck.
It wasn’t because they are extinct that these ducks caught my eye. Sometimes things that have been lost to us seem far more appealing than they otherwise were (think ex-boyfriends, school days, camping). Instead it was through flicking through a friends book that I happened to see a picture of them. Look pink-headed ducks up in a book or Google them because they are incredible looking creatures. Bright salmon-pink heads and burgundy wine-coloured breast and legs. To add to their appeal they also laid extraordinary, creamy near-spherical eggs.
Perhaps it was because I was particularly taken by these ducks but the fact of their extinction suddenly struck me as cause for action. There is so much to see and do and so little time to do it in. You only get one innings - you may as well make that one a worthwhile experience!
Yet I don’t feel the need to jet off to India just yet. I’ve never been that good with flying and there’s this small problem I have with air-miles that might just hinder immediate travel plans; I’m sure my GAP year made full use of my carbon quota.
Instead I plan to fully embrace what we have to see right here, right now – and so could you.
It’s the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch over the weekend of 26-27 January which provides the perfect opportunity to take a real look at what we’ve got. At the azure heads of the blue tits and the ruby-jewelled goldfinches, the snub, baby-faces of the long-tailed tits and blush of a bullfinches breast. Watch the ebony feathered blackbirds tumble amongst the thick leaf mulch under the bushes and the misty ring of grey-blue around the slender dunnocks’ neck.
Blue tit by Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
I hope we’ve realised too much by now – that without halting the loss of biodiversity our world will be a far less enviable place. But just to make absolutely sure that the short time I have in this world is used absolutely to its fullest, I’m going to make sure I don’t miss out on any nature from here on in.
For more information about the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch go to www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch