April, 2013

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.
  • Out of sight, out of mind

    Yesterday evening I suddenly became irritated. Lying on the sofa surfing through TV channels finding nothing I wanted to watch, I suddenly became aware of the mess. The children’s toys scattered across the floor, the geranium leaves and crumbs of compost on the floor, the cobwebs in the corners of the room. Previously unaware of the growing chaos around me, I decided at that moment to spring clean.

    I can proudly declare the house to be far cleaner and tidier now. The armies of toys are still there but where they were once spread around haphazardly they are now jammed behind the straining doors of a cupboard. And I’m no longer irritated; out of sight, out of mind.

    Human being’s, as a rule, are very good at pretending things not to be the case; denial I guess it’s called. With things like tidying toys I don’t think it matters too much but it does matter when we start denying other stuff; the terrible state of our ecosystem and environment for example.

    Chatting to a marine biologist from the RSPB’s HQ the other day he said, ‘if we stripped our coast and sea’s of their water, people would be devastated by the destruction we have caused.’ But those crashing waves, just like my cupboard doors, hide the mess that lies beneath.

    Yet we’re not oblivious to the marine environments plight either. We know that in 1925 the average size of a cod was more than 1m in length; giant fish cruising deep through the Atlantic. Today however the average size of a cod is just 40 cm, less than half the size they once were. This is the result of years of unsustainable fishery practices, consisting of catching as much large size cod as possible. As only small cods were left in the oceans, the next generations became smaller and smaller in size and in population. Moreover, the current EU legislation allows fishermen to fish 35cm large cods in EU waters, below the average size at which the species reproduce. The Marine Conservation Society explains that the size at which 50% of females first spawn is approximately 60 to 70 cm.

    88% of fish stocks are harvested beyond their ecological capacity, like the cod, whereas less fishing pressure today would allow stocks to recover, delivering greater sizes in the future. However, it is likely that the European Parliament and Council are going to delete measures ensuring sustainability in fisheries from the Commission’s proposal. On the contrary, both institutions declare intentions of increasing fishing capacity. The risk is a deep decrease in fish stocks resulting in the collapse of the fisheries sector and a high level of unemployment for fishermen.

    I could be irritated by the government allowing the devastation of our sea life just like I was about the mess at home. But I’m not irritated, I am utterly astounded. The good news is however that the RSPB are, as ever, fighting the battle to get our seas the protection that they desperately need. You can go here for more information and to find out how you can help www.rspb.org.uk/supporting/campaigns/. If we all open our eyes to how threatened our marine environment is perhaps we can take action and try to clear up the mess we are making.

  • The migrant birds illegally shot in Malta

    Blog by Tara Proud, RSPB Species Recovery Officer

    Each spring thousands of migrant birds cross Malta on their way to breeding grounds in Europe, and some of them even choose the UK as their summer home. In Malta, hunting birds is a cultural tradition, and although there are laws in place to govern when shooting can be carried out, a huge amount of protected birds are illegally killed.

    Our partners at BirdLife Malta are campaigning and working on the ground to stop illegal hunters who flout the rules and continue to kill protected birds.

    One of the most common birds targeted by hunters is the turtle dove, a species on the verge of extinction in the UK and with a group of conservation bodies, including the RSPB, pulling out all the stops to save it.  Find out more about
    Operation Turtle Dove here.

    For more on this story, have a look at
    this article on BBC Nature to see some images from Malta, but be warned, some of them are quite graphic and pretty heartbreaking too.

     Sadly, Malta is just one of many countries across the Europe where species such as turtle doves are sought after quarry species for hunters, other include Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, and Portugal.

  • Thank goodness for peregrines

    Blogger: Kerry Davis, Lincoln Peregrines Project Manager

    I am not a natural birder.  My favourite cry is “what’s that?” – I have progressed from sparrow, blackbird to smew and little egret  in the 9 months since I joined the RSPB.   

    With this in mind, I owe a thank you to the Lincoln local group since they have answered my naive questions on the mating rituals, gestation and fledging of peregrines in terms I can understand.  Even my “can’t you make them behave!” when they nested on a site away from our camera was greeted with a patience response of “peregrines will do what peregrines will do...”

    I owe an even bigger  thank you to Lincoln Camera Exchange for saving me from a grey moment when we discovered that our television had been damaged over the winter and they stepped in with the loan of a television for the length of the project so that you can now view a live feed of the peregrines in the tower.

    The project starts today, Saturday 20 April, the peregrines are nested on the south west corner of the tower, we have scopes and binoculars poised, a television to view them on, lets hope for sunshine and peregrine chicks soon.

    Photo by Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)