September, 2017

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.
  • Nature Wow!

    Author: Emily Kench. This piece originally appeared in the Eastern Daily Press on 19 August 2017.

    All nature has a ‘wow factor’. Everything from the emergence of dragonflies from deep within the darkest pond water, to the swifts that eat and sleep in the air, to the intricate underground labyrinths of rabbits, constructed for their huge families – every obscurity and complexity amazes.

    However, it takes a certain something to drop your jaw, leave you with a near speechless ‘O’ and place two magic ‘W’s at each end.

    The sight of 100000 starlings working together like Olympic gymnasts is likely to leave you breathless. Two ruthless stags battling over a harem of dainty does is jaw-clenchingly good. Flurries of pipistrelle bats emerging from forbidden lofts will cause eye-darting.

    The word ‘wow’ is derived from this movement of the eye: it describes the way the pupil moves when a person sees something of extreme interest or surprise. Though I like to think that wow really means ‘Wildlife of Wonder.’

    Wonderment is rare in day-to-day life. My day normally consists of honey flakes, emails, sandwiches, post-slump meetings, jacket potatoes and trash TV. In amongst the mundane, my biggest ‘wonder’ is what filling to put in my jacket.

    Throughout childhood, it felt like everything was a wonder. Now, I realise that I have to make time to see wildlife of wonder… to see a wow.

    Summer is the perfect time to experience a ‘Nature Wow’. Summer holidays, warm nights, and longer days mean that we can all make time to get outside, even at the beginning or end of a working day. All you need is a little planning and a dash of patience, and you’ll be on your way.

    Local wows:

    Dragons of the realm

    You don’t have to go far to see a colourful array of dragons take to the skies, however these dragons don’t breath fire. The noise and sight of a dragonfly is seriously special; hovering like pre-historic helicopters, they control each of their four wings independently flying backwards, forwards, stopping, hovering, cruising up and down before targeting prey and tearing it apart with serrated teeth.

    Where to see: You might see dragonflies scoping out ponds in your garden or local park, but if you want to see plenty in all their glory, visit RSPB Strumpshaw Fen (Norfolk), RSPB Minsmere (Suffolk), RSPB Lakenheath Fen (Suffolk), or The Lodge (Bedfordshire).

    Superb skies – we are blessed with huge skies in the east. A landscape photography rule-of-thumb is to fill the photo with 70% sky, but here the sky does all the thinking for you. After a long day, get outside, sit somewhere that makes you feel Zen and watch the sun set. Make sure it’s a clear sky for the best effects.

    Where to see: You can do this outside near your house, or see a spectacular sunset at your local RSPB reserve.

    Soulful seals

    There’s something particularly special about sea mammals. Whales are majestic, dolphins graceful, and whilst on land they may look like over-fed sausage dogs, seals definitely take the place of the most soulful sea creature. Whether you see one or two bobbing along the waves, take a boat out, or witness grey seals pupping come winter, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe, and maybe even an aww.

    Where to see: You may see one or two swimming off the beach at RSPB Titchwell Marsh (Norfolk) or across the estuary at RSPB Wallasea Island (Essex), however, to see lots of seals take a boat out to see the seals at Wallasea or at Blakeney Point (Norfolk), or to see the seals at Scroby Sands, take a boat from Great Yarmouth. Alternatively visit Horsey beach (Norfolk) in winter to view seals responsibly from the dunes.

    Flittermice

    Bats: the world’s only true flying mammal. These nocturnal oddities are secretive and it is easy to forget that we share homes, offices and outhouses with them.

    Where to see: Found in countryside, towns and cities across the UK, you can usually see them in your garden at sunset or sunrise in warm dry weather. However, we are running guided bat walks at Strumpshaw Fen on 15 September and at The Lodge on 8 September.

    ‘Nature Wow’ is an RSPB Wild Challenge activity, to find out more visit rspb.org.uk/wildchallenge 

  • #SnettsHide update - ever closer to our target

    We had some wonderful news last week, a community trust has pledged another £5,000 to Rebuild Snettisham Hide which takes us ever closer to raising the money we need to rebuild the hides we lost in the 2013 storm surge.

    Since crowdfunding closed we have also received many personal cheques from people who heard about the appeal after the crowdfunding appeal ended. We are so grateful to everybody that has donated, either through crowdfunder or offline.

    Behind the scenes we’ve been busy getting the rewards ready to send out to those of you who selected a reward when making a pledge. We hope you like them! For those of you that pledged for a mug or a t-shirt, these will be arriving with us very soon, and once their with us we'll be sending them straight to you.

    We have also tendered for contractors to work with us to build the hide and we continue to work hard, trying to raise the further funding required. Our fundraising team are looking into further charitable trust and grant applications and we will let you know of any other successes we have.

    Meanwhile, on the reserve, resident and migrant wading birds are beginning to gather in good numbers. Flocks of knot, dunlin and oystercatchers remain favourite sights for visitors and are best seen on a high spring tide when they take to the air in vast flocks, wheeling and soaring across The Wash before settling in the lagoons. By mid-October they will be joined by thousands of pink-footed geese who overwinter at Snettisham to escape the colder climes of Arctic homelands. At first light these birds leave their night time roosts on The Wash and fly inland to feed. The sight and sound of thousands of geese flying low against the pale amber of a Norfolk dawn creates an exhilarating spectacle best witnessed in the company of our friendly and knowledgeable guides. We have pink-footed geese walks available on selected dates in November through to January

    Finally, if you have any contacts you think we should be talking directly to, or would like to make a further donation, do let us know at: snettishamproject@rspb.org.uk.

    Thank you, as always, for your kind support.

    With very best wishes,

    The Snettisham Crowd