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 - Erica Howe
It’s amazing what you can do with a little imagination. We’ve been asking you all to help us give nature a home this summer and you have told us some wonderful stories including this one from my colleague Rich. He is a pretty inspiring chap if i do say so myself. He has the pleasure of working on one of the RSPB newest nature reserves, Sutton Fen. Sutton Fen is buzzing - literally. The meadows are teaming with wildlife from rare plants to elusive moths. Rich’s story begins away from the reserve and, rather unusually with some sand. Whilst digging out a pond at home, Rich decided to leave the piled-up, sandy earth in a south facing heap. Because the soil was sandy and quite acidic, he seeded the earth with a mix of acid loving plants such as sheep’s sorrel, black medick, sheep’s fescue and wild carrot. Soon enough it was covered in burrows of many species of wasps and bees. The bank also attracted birds which came to feed on the wasp eggs and larvae under the soil. Blue tits and green woodpeckers came back time and time again to feast on this fly-through snack stop. Rich left his sandy heap of earth in place and this year the flowers have taken over and it is covered in nectar for a whole range of other insects. A pond is excellent for wildlife, but this added feature will really spice up the wildlife in his garden and make great use of that excess soil.
Back to Rich’s place of work and it’s easy to see where he get’s his inspiration from. At Sutton Fen, there too are some sand banks. Not especially pleasing on the eye, but they are a treasure trove for wildlife. These sandy mounds of earth are home to the rare fen mason wasp. This creature has very unique requirements; It needs bare ground, in which it can burrow to lay it’s eggs. The ground must be strong enough to hold it’s shape when it is dug into, but soft enough to dig through. It must also be sticky to allow the wasp to make it’s characteristic ‘chimney’ burrow. The bank has to be south facing so that the wasps have a nice warm environment and they are usually sheltered by trees to the north providing vital protection during cold winters or hammering rain. It’s not an easy life being a fen mason wasp! Creatures like this are vital to our entire environmental ecosystem and managing this kind of habitat is not an easy job. However, it’s simple to take inspiration from places like Sutton Fen and make your own little patch of wildlife heaven. For more information and some other handy wildlife tips, go to www.rspb.org.uk/homes
As featured in the Eastern Daily Press, Saturday 13 July
Blogger: Gena Correale-Wardle, Senior Community Fundraiser
A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I had a wonderful time camping on the coast. The weather was sunshine and showers with enough wind to make us feel like our little tent might spiral off into the sky and end up in the Land of Oz. It was a weekend with a little bit of magic in the air, a feeling of anything being possible.
This was never so true as our walk on the salt marshes. The knowledge of a ‘secret’ walk with the chance of a fairy tale ending had been imparted to us in hushed tones earlier in the day.
We could barely contain our excitement as we scurried down to the coastal path, rambling past a couple walking their dog and a group of teenagers. We quickly saw the first signpost our guide had given us – the tidal tributary flowing in from the sea and in the distance the five wooden bridges he had told us to cross. Picking our way across the cracked mud of the marsh, avoiding the boggy areas and jumping across the crevices we dared to, we came to the first of the five bridges. I felt elated with trepidation – it was like being in a fairy tale, following these clandestine instructions with the prospect of finding treasure at the end of our adventure.
I trapped across the first wooden bridge, half expecting a troll to appear from underneath it. None arose, but as I looked back on where we’d come from I realised we were far from the main pathway. We sallied forth, coming to gaps too big to jump and having to double back on ourselves, find new ways to reach the next bridge, our pace quickening as we reached the final crossing. As I crossed the bridge I wondered whether we might be transported into another world, the final gateway to an alternative universe perhaps? My mind was running wild with the possibilities, but none were as thrilling as the scene I encountered.
As I alighted I saw them on the sandbank. Seals. About 40 of them lounging on the beach, mounds of grey blubber, easily mistaken for rocks from further away. And there we were, infiltrating their natural space, the only things taller than a foot for a long way around.
The tides and bog too dangerous for most to venture out to this point, we were somewhere completely untouched, where nature existed in the same way it always had for the birds and wildlife that lived here. This was nature in it’s true home. It felt so peaceful and pure and fabulous to be there, but I also knew we had to retreat, leaving nothing but our footprints, so that nature could reclaim this beautiful spot and be at home again once more.
Nature is losing this kind of truly wild home in the UK, but where it does still exist, the RSPB helps to protect it. To find out how you can give nature a home where you live go to www.rspb.org.uk/homes
Photo: Grey seal by Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
Since I was 15 years old I have been a volunteer – you name it, I've done it (almost). From helping toads cross the road, assisting Guide Dog training, to health-checking cattle, I have spent much of the last 4 years helping animals as a volunteer. Although sometimes hard work, dirty and smelly, there is something I love about volunteering.
With the prospect of a very empty looking 4 month summer break, emailing RSPB to ask to help with their day-to-day communications has been one of the best decisions. Currently on my fifth day, I am happy to say I have joined the strong 17,200+ team of RSPB volunteers. Since publishing an article for ‘Animal Aid’, I have developed a keen interest in writing and the media - to be the new communications volunteer for RSPB’s regional office in Norwich is perfect! A local to the area, I am currently in my first year of studying BSc Ecology at UEA – a degree that fits in perfectly with all the conservation work that RSPB do as well as helping develop my writing skills (I’ve just finished nine exams!).
Before starting at the RSPB, I assumed their work was purely based on birds – however, with a sneak-peek of the work that goes on behind-the-scenes I now know this is not the case. Having just published the ‘State of Nature’ report, it is obvious that nature is in trouble – not just our flying friends. With 60% of assessed species experiencing declines over the last 50 years, British wildlife needs our help. For people like you and I to step up together is one vital step to ensure that our much-loved countryside wildlife does not disappear altogether. From helping in office work to getting dirty in the field, RSPB welcomes volunteers of all shapes, sizes and skills. With the ‘State of Nature’ fresh in our minds, now is no better time to step up and volunteer with Europe’s largest wildlife conservation organisation, RSPB.
For up-to-date information, search for ‘RSPB in the East’ on Facebook and Twitter and keep an eye out for my future blog posts!