May, 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.
  • One Little Box - saving UK wildlife one quid at a time

    Blogger: Gena Correale-Wardle, Senior Community Fundraiser

    Have you seen our RSPB pin badge boxes in your local area? The little green boxes perch on counters in garden centres, coffee shops, hotels and pubs, proudly displaying their lovely enamel wares. For the suggested donation of £1 you can be the proud owner of one of over 50 current badge designs from tawny owl to killer whales.

    These fabulous little badges do more for conservation than just letting people show their support for the RSPB by wearing their favourite species. The money generated from these lovely badges in their little boxes is a serious amount. Last year, across the whole of the UK, we raised £694,501 from pin badges. This money covers areas that we can’t traditionally get funding for, whether it’s for creating homes for otters on our reserves, providing bug hotels for children to make at one of our events or paying the running costs of our visitor toilet facilities! RSPB wouldn’t be able to achieve as much as it does without this money coming in.

    In Eastern England we raised over £86,000 from pin badges last year and we are lucky enough to have around 350 long-term volunteers who service our pin badge boxes once a month to top up the boxes, collect the money and bank it for us.

    We are always looking for fresh locations for our pin badge boxes and new volunteers to join our pin badge family, so if you have a bright idea for a site that would be good or would like to have a round of boxes yourself, please get in touch. The money you collect from looking after these boxes makes a real difference and amounts to such a large figure – all those £1s work together to make sure we can continue to give nature a home.

    Get in touch with Matt Howard with your pin badge ideas or to find out more.  Matt.Howard@rspb.org.uk or 01603 697515.


  • In praise of rain

    Blogger: Rachael Murray, Project Officer

    I’m off on holiday to Turkey next week, and ever since I passed that tantalisingly irreversible milestone of booking my flight, I have been pondering what I will wear on my ‘tropical’ adventure. With blue skies and wall to wall sunshine in mind, my list consisted of tiny vest tops, shorts and flip flops...bliss!

    So, imagine my dismay when the day came to check the weather forecast to verify my sun soaked assumptions, and I discovered that there will be rain, more rain, a touch of drizzle, with a bit of lightning thrown in for good measure. 

    Well. Way to (literally) rain on my parade. 

    But before I got too resentful, I encouraged myself to reflect on how grateful I should be.  Both for the luxury of going on holiday, but more importantly, that our lovely planet gets regular rain showers at all. I set myself the task of thinking about some of the brilliant things about rain, and this is what I came up with:

    1. If you’ve ever seen one of those slow motion sequences that show a plant unfurling from bud to full blooming majesty, you’ll recognise what miraculous mother nature can do.  But, without rain, there is no photosynthesis, which provides plants with energy to grow, filling our world with beauty and fragrance.
    2. Is there anything more satisfying than that ‘sploshing!’ sensation as you jump in a puddle?  Whether young or old, a good puddle jumping session is a great way to keep the big kid in us all alive and kicking.
    3. It’s a bit of an irony that swallows, our lovely icons of summer, need a bit of rain to build their nests, which are constructed from pellets of mud.  So don’t forget to leave pools of water around on those dry summer days to help them out! 
    4. Nothing beats the way my heart lifts as I catch an unexpected glimpse of a rainbow.  Those glowing, otherworldly colours arcing across the sky are a phenomenon wholly dependant on a good shower!
    5. Just like us, birds need a good bath now and again.  Clean feathers insulate better, and bathing helps reduce parasites.  So, as rain is collected by bird baths in gardens across Britain, it keeps our birds happy, healthy and well watered.
    6. It’s not just birds, rain is a key source of water to drink and wash in for us humans too, keeping us well hydrated and free of disease.  Imagine our reservoirs acting as giant bird baths, or water butts.  It only takes the threat of an impending drought to remind us why rain is so important to our lives.
    7. There’s no better way to feel cosy than to be safely tucked up indoors with the sound of rain hitting the windows (or on the roof of your tent!), knowing that you are snug, and the world is getting a nice big drink.
    8. Where there is no rain, there is no food!  Every crop or animal that eventually turns into something we eat will have had a good watering from the clouds throughout its lifespan, creating juicy fruit, tasty vegetables, plump cows and healthy and abundant cereals and grains to make soft bouncy bread (amongst other things!) 
    9. Nothing beats the smell of warm summer rain falling on roads, fields and gardens, and that feeling of a world cleansed that follows.
    10. Sharing an umbrella with a loved one – there’s no denying there is something a little bit romantic about a stroll in the rain J

    It strikes me that there’s a theme here – where there is water, there is happy, abundant life.  There’s just no escaping it, rain is flipping marvellous.

    I am going to bear this in mind as we move towards a good old British summer, facing the possibility that it might be as precipitation filled as last year.  And since Turkey hasn’t escaped the same fate it seems, I’m off to dig out my cagoule and a pair of travel friendly wellies!

    Why not let us know what you love about rain by leaving a comment below!

     

     Image by Andy Hay (RSPB images)

  • Seeing the wood for the trees

    Blogger: Phil Pearson, Conservation Officer

    Hintlesham Woods, one of the largest blocks of ancient woodland in Suffolk and part of the RSPB’s Wolves Wood Reserve, has received considerable attention over the past twelve to eighteen months. The reason is this: despite it being a nationally important Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for the trees, plants and birds that it supports, National Grid were exploring options that would see a significant area of the wood removed to allow a new overhead power line to be constructed.

    As a result the RSPB campaigned vigorously to ensure that any new overhead lines avoided this nationally important woodland. Many people supported our efforts and, thanks in no small part to everyone who wrote to National Grid, options were identified that run the power line around the wood rather than through it. On 19 February, National Grid confirmed a route that will not see a new overhead power line constructed through the wood.

    Great. Job done! We’ve protected the woods and the wildlife it supports – or have we? The answer: maybe.

    The National Grid is still to finalise its detailed route which means the woods could still be affected by their plans. The RSPB doesn’t want to see any of the woodland impacted. As a result we are following developments closely over the coming months to ensure that National Grid do not consider options that will see the loss of trees on the edge of the woodland.

    Some may say that losing a few trees will not have any significant impacts, but the RSPB considers that any loss of woodland wouldn’t be acceptable. Why?

    Well firstly, we are dealing with ancient woodland here. As highlighted by the Woodland Trust, this type of habitat is irreplaceable. It is not possible to simply plant trees on a new site and claim that this provides a suitable replacement, as the woodland that develops will depend on the soil, water availability, and other factors that enable plant and tree species that are typical of ancient woodlands to thrive.

    What’s more, Hintlesham Woods is a SSSI. This indicates that the site is nationally important and there must be a presumption that such sites should not be damaged, especially where alternatives exist. Even a small amount of change on the edge of the wood could allow increased noise, light or other factors to penetrate further into the woodland. This can increase disturbance and result in species that have a preference for larger blocks of woodland to be displaced. The RSPB has worked hard to manage the woodland for species such as marsh tit which have declined significantly over the past twenty years. Anything that could jeopardise the effectiveness of our management for such species would not be acceptable. 

    So, whilst the RSPB is supportive of National Grid’s recognition of the importance of Hintlesham Woods in their current plans, we are now looking for a final commitment that there will be no damage at all from their proposed scheme. We continue to discuss the project with National Grid through stakeholder groups, and will be reviewing information later in the year that will be submitted for public consultation. At that time we would be grateful for the support of as many people as possible, hopefully to show appreciation for how National Grid have addressed wildlife impacts around this site rather than defending  the site from damage once more.