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.
Author: Izzy Knights
My family owns a 500 hectare arable farm near Bury St Edmunds and I feel lucky to come from an agricultural background. When I was young I spent my days exploring the farm, searching for wildlife and often trying to save any injured animals I came across. I think this played a large role in my decision to study Zoology at University. I'm fascinated by the idea of my two biggest interests, farming and wildlife, coming together in the form of nature-friendly farming - the vastly important practice of providing food and homes for the wildlife, such as wild birds and insects, on farmland. Farmers can do this in lots of ways, including planting seeds that grow into food and shelter for wildlife, or looking after safe places where birds can nest such as fallow patches or hedges.
I view our farm as nature friendly, although we are not part of any funded schemes. I believe the success of the way we farm is reflected in the variety of wildlife I encounter here. Some years we plant wild flower patches which attract huge numbers of bees and butterflies. It is amazing to witness a sea of flowers alive with insects! I'm proud that our farm is also home to some of the most threatened farmland birds in the UK such as grey partridges, yellow wagtails and skylarks.
Of course, farming is a business. It’s the only source of income for some families, and we are all growing food for the rest of the country, so it is important for us to produce high yields. On our farm, we do that in harmony with giving farmland nature a home – now that’s what I call a win win situation!
I love coming from a farming background because I get to spend the day surrounded by nature. Although I am working, I never need to go far to spot wildlife, which is a real treat. I believe that nature-friendly farming is an opportunity not only to help out our wildlife but also for farmers to give back to the environment in which we enjoy spending our days.
To find out more about wildlife friendly farming in partnership with the RSPB, visit: www.rspb.org.uk/farming
Author: Lyndsey Record, RSPB Warden
I am fortunate enough to look after the wildlife on Suffolk’s only island, found in the beautiful River Ore. Havergate Island is a peaceful haven made up of saltmarsh, shingle and saline lagoons which support a wealth of wildlife. For those of us that think variety is the spice of life, the wonderful thing about Havergate is that it changes throughout the seasons, offering a different wildlife spectacle as spring warms into summer and autumn’s golden colours give way to a more sedate winter palette.
At this time of year, brown hares can be seen lazing in the sun amongst the gorse and short eared owls can often be seen gliding over the island hunting for food. Summer and autumn offer fantastic views of waders such as avocet, redshank and godwit and it still thrills me to spot our rare spoonbills, which can frequently be seen loafing in the lagoons.
The lagoons offer a wonderful wildlife spectacle, but it really does benefit to explore the whole of the island. Wildlife wonders can be found in every corner of Havergate. As I move around the reserve at the moment, specialist spiders and beetles scurry across the shingle; I spot ground lackey moth caterpillars making their way across the sea lavender and thrift; and butterflies feeding on plants in the more sheltered spots. If I get really lucky I have the joy of experiencing a vole run across my path.
This is the perfect time of year to explore our wild isle, and our special Havergate Adventure, taking place this weekend, will help you get the most out of a visit, whatever your age or interests. Whether you want to learn more about the island’s wildlife, or just enjoy the charm and serenity of this special place, the knowledgeable RSPB Woodbridge Local Group members will treat you to a two hour guided tour that fits the bill.
Access to the island is, unsurprisingly, by boat only, so a trip to the island helps you really feel you're getting away from it all. Boats for the Havergate Adventure leave Orford Quay every hour from 9.30 am to 1.30 pm between Saturday 13 – Monday 15 August. Homemade refreshments will be available to purchase and binoculars available to borrow so you don’t miss out on anything!
Tickets can be booked in advance from RSPB Minsmere nature reserve by calling 01728 648281.
For more information on our full events programme at Havergate Island, visit www.rspb.org.uk/havergateisland.
Author: Shona Howes
The surrounding birdsong floats to the forefront in joyous harmony with the happy chirps of children exploring bird houses, bug hotels, hogilos and frogilos at our bustling Nature Café at Wroxham Barns. At this time of year, swallows are the star act, with their mesmeric and energetic song; they are most definitely the guest of honour at the café.
Thankfully swallows are not a threatened species, their numbers in the UK are doing well and conservationists currently don’t have reason to be too concerned. But as for any creature, there is no guarantee that things will stay this way.
During those quiet moments at Wroxham Barns, I watch these bubbly little birds with a mixture of joy, that they are here once again for their breeding season, and fear for what may come. The Norfolk Broads is such a special and unique place; providing a home year after year to thousands of different plants and animals, and sustaining all those who, like me, live in Broads communities. Unlike the swallows, there are many creatures relying on the Broads that aren’t so lucky. Swallowtail butterflies, bitterns, fen raft spiders and common frogs are just a few of the creatures that were once abundant in the UK, but are now classed as endangered species. Even with the jolly soundtrack of swallow song as a backdrop, I can’t shake the knowledge that nature is in need of our help.
Nature doesn’t just need conservationists; the great news is that everyday people like you and me can play our part. In recognition of this, last year the RSPB launched its new Community Networks for Nature project in the Norfolk Broads. Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Broadland District Council and Richardson’s Boating Holidays, we are encouraging people to join together with their neighbours and communities to play their part in saving nature in the Broads.
Through places like our Nature Café at Wroxham Barns and by delivering wild activities in parks and schools throughout the Broads, we are inspiring a new breed of budding nature enthusiasts. That means loads more people out there getting to know nature better, creating new homes for wildlife and holding nature events that encourage whole communities to come together to give our wildlife a helping hand.
If you’d like to help support the amazing wildlife found in the Broads, we’re currently looking for a merry band of volunteers to help us share their love of nature with families at our Nature Café at Wroxham Barns. By running fun nature activities for children and sharing the secrets of RSPB Strumpshaw Fen’s special wildlife, just a few hours every couple of weeks will make a real difference for nature.
Full training is provided so all you need is enthusiasm, an ability to communicate with the public and a love of wildlife!
For more information, contact RSPB Volunteer and Community Development Officer, Shona Howes: email@example.com, 01603 715191.
Upcoming Community Networks for Nature Events
Wroxham Barns – Nature Café – every Thursday 10am-2pm throughout the summer holidays. A selection on inspirational activities for you and your family to do at home, plus free children’s activities on site. (Free)
Strumpshaw Fen – Wild Fridays – every Friday 10am-2pm throughout the summer holidays. Fun packed nature days with activities such as bug hunting, shelter building, wild art and games. (RSPB members free. Adults £3.50, concessions £2.50, children (5-17years) £1.50. One child per family goes free.
NEW – Strumpshaw Fen – Bike hire – available every weekend from July 23rd through the summer holidays. Half day adults £12 (£10 RSPB member) Children £6 (£5 member) Full day adult £16 (£13 RSPB member) Children £8 (£6.50 member).