July, 2012

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.

Natures Home magazine uncovered

Behind the scenes at the RSPB magazine and much much more...
  • Have you seen an osprey?

    I know that ospreys are REALLY popular with RSPB supporters, so hopefully Conor Jameson’s piece in the Autumn 2012 issue of Birds on a lingering bird at RSPB HQ at The Lodge went down well.

    You might have read about my own experiences with that particular bird on this blog during the time it was around. It was certainly a treat to have one at my place of work, although seeing it wasn’t a given as it ranged over a big area. I even managed to show Birds designer, Joel this long-staying bird (read about it here).

    I’ve seen ospreys all around the world from Cuba and the Philippines to Kenya and Canada, but my favourite experiences have been with birds in the beautiful Scottish Highlands - one of my favourite areas in the world. I really must get back up there soon! I remember taking a college study tour to Aviemore and was astounded to see up to 10 ospreys gathering at the fish farm in the evenings. I also remember travelling beside a Scottish Loch as one plunge-dived into the water right alongside the bus, emerging with a shiny trout in its talons. The fabulous photo below was sent to me by Birds reader Julian Heyes. These ospreys were nesting near the Red Sea in Egypt.

    I live next to Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire and although ospreys don’t breed there, two birds were hanging around one evening in early July when I was there – an unusual time of year for ospreys to appear on migration in my part of the word (it’s usually late August and September). Both birds were fishing actively in this big man-made reservoir. I’m hoping that they are immature birds whiling away the summer months and will perhaps return to breed at some point soon.

    Have you seen one?

    So, as osprey migration starts to get underway soon, I hope you get lucky and see one near you.

    I'd love to know about your experiences with ospreys. And if you haven’t seen one in the flesh, don't worry. I know that lots of you follow the Loch Garten ospreys avidly – whether it’s reading the fantastic blog from the team there, watching the live webcam of the nest, or waiting with baited breath for the latest update on the birds’ migrations after they have been satellite tracked to Africa - so please let us know what you love about them so much by posting a comment below!

  • What’s your favourite urban bird?

    The last time we asked you to post comments on our blog after reading David Lindo’s feature in Birds magazine, you blew us away with your response to our request to tell us about your bullfinches.

    I asked David to take a look into the often hidden life of the black redstart in Birds Autumn 2012 – a bird that lives its life in the breeding season high above our towns and cities eking out an existence among the noise and concrete. You can't mistake it because of its red tail that it quivers up and down.

    In the magazine, David draws up his shortlist for the most urban birds and nominates the black redstart as his favourite. As a Londoner, this is a bird that is close to his heart as the Capital holds a large percentage of the UK’s breeding black redstarts.

    I live in a rural area and my village is set in the beautiful countryside of the Ouse Valley in Cambridgeshire, so David is definitely better qualified than me to talk about our town and city birds! With that in mind, I'm probably not qualified to join the debate, but I do enjoy the sight of starlings squabbling in city streets, grappling with chips that have been dropped!

    Tell us about your favourite urban bird

    If you could nominate a bird that epitomises city living, what would it be? Which is the bird that you see in your garden or on your feeders most regularly? Maybe it’s on your commute to work that the 'townies' catch your eye, or at your workplace? Who gets the prize for the best adaptations to living alongside man?

    House sparrow? Starling? Feral pigeon – or what about the peregrine, now back as a breeding bird on many of our cathedrals and tower blocks? Maybe it's something else that you see doing  a great job of living in our towns and cities, such as mallards nesting in balcony hanging baskets (yes, it does happen!)?

    Or if you agree with the man himself, please let us know. We'd love to hear your thoughts, so please post a comment below.

  • What changes have you seen in the UK's wildlife?

    Hopefully, the ’60 years of change’ feature by Stephen Moss on page 40 of Birds Autumn 2012 got you thinking about the changes you’ve seen in your lifetime. What do you see more? What do you see less? What do you miss? What is your most welcome ‘new’ bird, insect or animal?

    To start the ball rolling, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve noticed in the form of my ‘top 10’ for the profit and loss accounts. Some good; some bad; some are simply scary.

    I grew up in the Cambridgeshire Fens and while walking across the fields, the soothing song of the turtle dove was a frequent companion from hedgerows. Last year, I saw one; this year I have seen five. The turtle dove has really hit hard with me and I’m so pleased that RSPB Scientists are studying the birds to try and make sure we don’t lose them as a breeding bird. I’ve been talking with our scientists and we’ll be bringing you a feature next year based on what they have found out through radio tracking these delightful little doves.

    Little egrets, on the other hand, are now a common sight at most of the wetlands I visit in Southern Britain

    Changes I’ve noticed in the 33 years of my lifetime


    1)    Little egrets

    2)    Bitterns on the up – there were eight males left when I saw my first in the early 1990s - now there are more than one hundred

    3)    Red kites, peregrines and buzzards now a regular sight near me

    4)    Long-tailed tits, great spotted woodpeckers and bullfinches on garden birdfeeders

    5)    More people interested in wildlife – great news!

    6)    Otters coming back

    7)    Small red-eyed damselflies now everywhere - none near me 10 years ago

    8)    Wildlife and conservation in the press more often – great news!

    9)    Tree bumblebees – now in a nestbox in my garden – a species that only arrived a few years ago

    10)  More wetlands being created as part of conservation on a landscape scale


    1)    Meadows full of butterflies

    2)    Turtle doves

    3)    Long, hot summers!

    4)    Headlights covered in insects after a journey

    5)    Hedgehogs – I hardly see them at all now

    6)    Places where you can get away from traffic noise

    7)    Kids playing in the countryside

    8)    Places you can walk where grasshoppers jump up at every step

    9)    Fields full of wildflowers, such as poppies

    10)  Spotted flycatchers

    Tell us what you miss - or welcome

    What do you miss, or have seen move in during your lifetime? Please let us know by posting a comment below.