August, 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.
  • The wrong kind of green

    Blogger: Rachael Murray, Projects Officer

    The colour green has, in recent years, been adopted as the hue of choice for endeavours including environmentally friendliness, recycling and energy efficiency.  It is a tone imbued with an inherent sense of ‘goodness’; to be ‘green’ is to be kind to the world. Isn’t it?

    I’m going to have to make a confession.  Before I worked for the RSPB I was unaware of the huge problems that our environment faced.  In fact, sometimes, as I drove in my car, puffing out carbon dioxide indiscriminately all over our struggling world, I used to see the abundance of green fields that line our country’s roads, and say to myself ‘I don’t know what they’re all worrying about, there’s loads of green everywhere, and green is good!’. 

    At the time, there was a fatal flaw in my assessment of the situation. What I didn’t realise is there is a right kind of green, and a wrong kind of green. 

    The right kind of green is rich and abundant, its diversity providing a home to a wide variety of creatures.  The right kind of green forms an essential part of our planet’s eco systems, for me, bringing to mind ancient woodlands replete with birdsong, lush wildflower meadows abuzz with insects and verdant rainforest, with an unmistakable soundtrack provided by its vibrant inhabitants.  The right kind of green also comes in more modest disguises than the aforementioned natural wonders, but is no less wondrous for that. The key to the right kind of green is variety. 

    The wrong kind of green exhibits a multitude of shades, but that is where the variety ends.  It lacks that rich tapestry, that web of life. The wrong kind of green comes as a result of man’s intervention, including overzealous development in the wrong places. The wrong kind of green is spreading.  Like a growth, it is smothering areas that could sustain an abundance of our best-loved species, and some we’ve never heard of to boot.

    But, like any good story, there is a hero in this one.  Across the UK are a growing group of farmers committed to wildlife friendly farming.  And with farmland covering around 70% of UK land, with the right support, they are in a position to create a whole load of the right kind of green, whilst maintaining healthy businesses.

    Take Nicolas Watts, a farmer in Lincolnshire.  His farm includes insect-rich meadows and nectar flower mixtures, arable plants flourishing in cultivated strips and seed rich habitats from sacrificial cereal crops for birds. He has created a wildflower meadow on an ex-mineral extraction site with some great plants for butterflies and other pollinating insects. Common spotted orchid, viper’s bugloss, yellow rattle, greater burnet, yellow loosestrife and ox-eye daisy are amongst the many plants species found on Nicholas' farm. Now that’s what I call the right kind of green.

    Nicholas is the Eastern Region’s last farmer standing in the annual RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award.  The award celebrates the fantastic work farmers are doing for wildlife, and every vote cast supports wildlife-friendly farming throughout the UK.  So why not show your support for some of our real green heroes by voting here. You have until 31 August, tomorrow, to tell us which farmer you think deserves to win the Nature of Farming Award. We think Nicholas is best but then we are biased.

    In the words of Kermit, it is not easy being green.  But there are loads of fantastic farmers out there, like Nicholas, doing their bit, and inspiring us all to join in.  And that definitely gets my vote.

  • Giving Nature a Home Story: It's been a while

    Blogger: Lex Gardner, RSPB Volunteer

    A few months back, I jumped a bicycle for the first time in a decade. As a kid, riding bikes round my home village of Wicklewood was a favourite pastime but as I grew up, I grew out of my little bike and never bothered to buy a new one. However, I have rediscovered my love of cycling.

    It was a rare, sunny day in April and I decided to be spontaneous and jump on my granddad’s old push-up bike he had stored in our shed. At first I was unsure and lacked confidence in riding the creaky contraption but my worries were quickly washed aside and replaced with excitement. It is safe to say I did not exactly look the part on such a hideous bike, but it felt awesome to speed down hills and country lanes, giving me a sense of nostalgia from my childhood. After this, I ventured out maybe once or twice more before realising how ridiculous I looked and decided to purchase a bike for my own.

    It was around this time that I wanted to start doing more fundraising for Operation Turtle Dove. I had previously organised a little gig event and managed to raise some funds, so I figured why not take the plunge again! It wasn’t long before I knew I wanted to join my passion for cycling and birds together to formulate a charity bike ride in aid of turtle dove.

    Getting back on the bike has so far been a piece of cake, so I am confident I will be able to manage the 35 mile route of Marriott’s Way, a destination I chose to ride around because of its beautiful wildlife and connection to nature. I won’t be alone either – I have enlisted help from my two ‘band-buddies’ Josh Ringer and John Gaughran. Both are great guys who share my love for a ride. On top of this, I am welcoming any fellow nature lover/bike rider to join in on the day! Are you tempted?

    Turtle doves are a bird on the brink. We have witnessed a 93% decline in their population since the 1970’s and as they are one of my favourite birds, I feel strongly about taking action and doing my part in their recovery. I hope to raise a hundred pounds from my efforts and welcome and donations. Please find my just giving page here! You can also find some additional information on turtle dove here.

    See you on the track!

  • Giving Nature a Home Story: Rocking it at the Ten Bells

    Blogger: Lex Gardner, RSPB Volunteer

    My name is Lex and I recently managed to raise just over a hundred pounds for Operation Turtle Dove.

    When I first set out, I wanted to think of a different and possibly challenging way to raise some funds. I had a little experience working in music and gigs so, naturally, I put two and two together. I quickly found I might have bitten off more than I could chew because I was used to the performing side of music, not event coordinating!

    At first I had to find some acts who were willing to play for free. Given the friendly and receptive music scene in Norwich, this actually turned out to be fairly easy. My line-up was altered eventually, but the original bands were Jack Pout, who is the singer, guitarist and main-man of local angry-folk band Jack Pout and The Dirt level. Second was Vikki Osbourne, a small girl with a big voice. Lastly I had Deadbeats, a smart indie act.

    As with all events, something had to go wrong eventually and I found myself faced with several line-up changes and pullouts. Jack stayed, Deadbeats dissolved into Dan, the bassist and singer of the band. Kamilla Lovvett replaced Vikki and we also added a man known simply as Sam to the list, who pulled out a ‘heart-on-your-sleeve’ acoustic-indie set.


    Getting the right venue was my top priority for this event. I considered several places and visited a few but it wasn’t until I got a suggestion from Jack Pout that I chose the Ten Bells. If you haven’t heard or been to this place, and are ever a visitor to Norwich I highly recommend it if you’re also a fan of friendly staff, a comforting atmosphere and refined whiskey. Of course, the Ten Bells allowed us to play for free so... many thanks to them!

    Now we had the music, how do we add the turtle dove to the mix? Well my first idea for promotion was via digital form. We live in the age of technology, so why not? I managed to get most of my people through a Facebook page but I also asked a friend and poster designer, Adam Barnard, to draw up a quick promotional poster. I hung this classy flyer in a local music college called Access to Music. I like to think at least one person came from it!

    So, everything was there; the people, the venue and the music. All I needed was the fundraising. With the help from Gena and Lili from the RSPB, we came up with some great ideas in the form of a ‘lucky dip’ that could be used by anyone after a suggested donation of just one pound. You didn’t win every time, but if you did you could choose anything from a butterfly notebook to a Ten Bells drinks voucher (one prize which disappeared quickly!)

    In the end I had a lot of fun organising this event. We raised a fair amount of cash which went towards saving a very iconic and special British bird. I look forward to fundraising for Operation Turtle Dove again soon and have an idea of a sponsored bike that I will tell you about in my next blog post. I’d highly recommend anyone to get involved themselves and try some fundraising, you never know how much you can help!