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.
This blog post originally appeared as an article in Cambridge News.
By Rebecca Green, RSPB Community Engagement Officer
Pollinators and their many forms
If you’ve been out exploring the local countryside this summer, you’ll have noticed that it is is abuzz with pollinating insects. While some of us have been lucky enough to relax on our holidays, these hard working invertebrates haven’t stopped!
Cuckoo bumblebee at work at Flatford Wildlife Gardens. Credit: Grahame Madge (RSPB)
Many plants cannot seed and reproduce without insects. It’s a happy relationship: the insect gets nectar in return for transporting pollen from flower to flower. Picture it in your head and you might imagine a bumblebee buzzing around your garden. But bees are not the only pollinators: even flies carry pollen, as do hoverflies. Hoverflies are often overlooked as they are either quite small or mimic bees. The butterflies on your buddleia are doing their bit too, and if you look at the same plant at night, you might see moths. Look even closer at these insects and you will be able to see their long tongue (proboscis) dipping into the flower.
Butterflies are important pollinators too! Credit: Andy Hay (RSPB)
An important job for nature
It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the service that pollinators perform for us. They are not just in our gardens helping our flowers reproduce. They are also helping provide us with enough food to eat, and worryingly, their numbers are declining. Without pollinators there would be no strawberries, apples, cherries, peas, tomatoes, pumpkins – or chocolate!
Even the humble hoverfly does its bit for nature. Credit: Andy Hay (RSPB)
Do your bit for pollinators!
Farmers all around the country can help pollinators by providing them with nectar rich flower plots during the spring and summer, and many are, growing beautiful species such as red clover, birds foot trefoil, phacelia and sainfoin.
We can all help too in our own gardens, by planting more flowers, choosing perennials over annuals, letting our grass grow a bit longer and avoiding using pesticides. For more ideas about how to give nature a home in your garden, visit www.rspb.org.uk/homes
Peacock butterflies are particularly appreciative of the buddleia in your garden. Credit: Grahame Madge (RSPB)
Thanks to the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership and Heritage Lottery Fund - the RSPB has been able to take local families out to explore the countryside and farmland to discover the wonderful world of pollinators for themselves. If you’re interested in coming along on one of our bug safaris or similar events, find out more here.
Find out more
Find out more about the RSPB in the east.
Find information and advice on ways to give nature a home in your back gardens and communities.
Bishop's House Garden throwing open gates to welcome wildlife and people
On Sunday 13th September, Norwich’s ‘Bishop’s House Garden’ will be throwing open its gates to the public for a fun packed fundraising ‘garden party’ in aid of wildlife at the RSPB’s Strumpshaw Fen, who are the organizers. Children, families and people of all ages are given a rare opportunity to explore and enjoy this secret garden in the heart of the city, the wildlife that lives there, and more!
Bishop's House Garden sits close to the cathedral, in the center of Norwich. Credit: Caitriana Nicholson (flickr.com)
A rare opportunity
The RSPB have been preparing for the generous invitation of hosting an event in the gardens by placing bird feeders in an old apple tree at the heart of the garden, creating a ‘Bird's Diner’. The feeders, along with bird boxes, a bat box and a ‘bug hotel’ are being donated by the RSPB to help even more wildlife make a home in the gardens.
“With the garden a haven for robins, blackbirds, thrushes and tits, we expect the feeders to be busy with peckish birds by Sunday 13th." Lee Cozens, RSPB Visitor Experience Manager at Strumpshaw Fen, is hopeful there will be plenty to see on the day.
An array of birds, including Great tits and blue tits, are expected to be making an appearance. Credit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Buzzing with activity
In summer, the Bishop's House Garden is alive with bees and butterflies, and throughout the year it is home to birds and other wildlife. The event will also be bringing and sharing even more ideas about how we can all give nature home, you can even learn how to build nest boxes and bird feeders. Afternoon tea, garden games, plant sale and live music will also be on hand to add to the fun.
A butterfly perching on a flower. Credit: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Looking forward to hands-on wildlife activities
Lee Cozens has been busy planning for the event: “We’re really excited about the chance to show people what wonderful places gardens can be for wildlife in such a special setting as the Bishop’s Gardens. And we’ve got so much planned for the afternoon, from hands-on wildlife activities and trails, to garden games and afternoon tea and cakes- we’ll even have some live music, but nothing too loud, as we don’t want to disturb the wildlife, or the Bishop!”.
Bishop's House Gardens is the perfect place to catch some pollinators at work. Credit: Nikki Gammons (rspb-images.com)
To the future
“Nature is under threat, and we know that much of our most familiar wildlife is in serious trouble, but we are not powerless to do anything about it. If we can all help to give nature a home in our gardens, we can create much needed space for wildlife, even in the heart of the city.” said Lee.
Help build a nest box at Bishops House Garden. Credit: Eleanor Bentall (rspb-images.com)
“We work hard to maintain rare and vulnerable habitats for the special wildlife that lives on the nature reserve. What we do here in our 'back garden' is a scaled up version of what everyone can do, even in the smallest green space, at home."
Funds for Strumpshaw Fen
RSPB Strumpshaw Fen nature reserve, just outside Brundall, provides an invaluable haven for precious wetland species such as bitterns, marsh harriers, water voles, swallowtail butterflies and Norfolk hawker dragonflies. Lee explains “The funds raised through this event at the Bishop’s Garden will help us to do even more for wildlife, amongst which: creating more wet reed beds for wetland wildlife, managing our fen meadows for orchids, and managing our woodlands for a host of rare butterflies.”
Strumpshaw Fen is an important reserve for wetland species. Credit: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
All the details of what's happening on the 13th of September:
Bishop's Gardens open: 1-5pm for the Strumpshaw Fen fundraising afternoon.
Adults £3 Children free.
How to get there
The Bishop's Garden is in the heart of the city and is accessed from opposite the Law Courts. There is no parking on site- nearest parking at the Adam and Eve car park.
There’s no need to book in advance, just come along on the afternoon, but you can find more about the RSPB Strumpshaw Fen and see details of this and other events on and off the reserve at www.rspb.org.uk/strumpshawfen.
Follow us on Twitter: @RSPBFens and @RSPBintheEast
Giving Nature a Home poll
Over 1,800 people answered our recent Giving Nature a Home poll, including questions about theirs and their neighbours garden. A brilliant 75% of participants agreed it is important to encourage wildlife into their gardens, but a surprising 73% hadn't spoken to their neighours in the past six months about how they can help wildlife in their garden!
Grey squirrels are commonplace in East Anglian gardens. Credit: Nigel Blake
The Big Garden Birdwatch survey back in January highlighted just how important our gardens are to threatened wildlife across the region, with many East Anglia residents sighting grey squirrels, hedgehogs, badgers and even roe deer in their very own back yards. With other species reliant on our gardens include starlings, house sparrows, bumblebees, frogs and many more.
Starlings are one of the most common birds in our gardens. Credit: Eleanor Bentall
Spread the word to save wildlife
It's in our hands to help struggling wildlife on our doorsteps. Spread the word by telling friends, family members or neighbours how giving nature a home in our gardens can benefit UK wildlife. You can reassure them you don't even need green fingers to make a difference, as there's a whole host of ways to help wildlife in your garden.
Encourage your neighbours to come together in helping wildlife. Credit: Eleanor Bentall
By joining forces with your neighbours you can secure the future of garden wildlife. It's worth it when you capture a glimpse of something special in your garden when enjoying your morning tea!
What you can do
Even those with little garden space can join forces with their local community to help. For instance, now is the perfect time to get together and plant a wild flower meadow, beneficial to pollinators and birds.
Planting wildflowers is hugely beneficial to pollinators, especially in urban areas. Credit: Andy Hay
Or how about agreeing with your neighbours to create highways and byways between your gardens so wildlife can freely move around?
Gaps in fences ensure wildlife can get about. Credit: Eleanor Bentall
The coming Autumn is also a great time to leave areas of long grass, start composting or creating a wood stack 'bug hotel' to provide shelter for a whole host of animals. So, the next time you spot your neighbour over the garden fence give them a wave and spread the word about how giving nature a home can protect wildlife.
A bug hotel can be easily created used scrap materials. Credit: Eleanor Bentall
Keep an eye out for the latest RSPB Giving Nature a Home TV advert which shows no matter how big or small your outdoor space is, there is something we can all do to help wildlife.
Visit our website for even more ideas on how to give nature a home.
Get inspired by visiting RSPB Flatford Wildlife Gardens which has a fantastic Giving Nature a Home exhibition and is a great example of a garden for wildlife.