We're just wrapping up the April issue of the magazine and during the “challenging” last few days of production, which includes everything from ordering in all the images we need to the proofreaders taking a magnifying glass to the text resulting in all sorts of late amendments, it’s been great to get out to see spring getting its first airings. This is where I realise how lucky we are to work at The Lodge and be able to take a walk on the reserve at lunchtimes to clear our heads. There is ALWAYS something of excitement to temporarily take my mind off layouts and grids, corrections and last minute wobbles over "will the readers like this?!"
A trip to the city
My trip to Bristol a couple of weeks ago to meet the guys working on BBC Countryfile magazine and catch up with Ben Hoare from BBC Wildlife where I found myself in a very different working environment. They are based in a tower block above the busy streets of the city. I had to smile to myself, walking back to the train station though as a grey wagtail made an appearance. Remember the “Green on grey” urban feature in the current issue of Birds magazine? The grey wagtail is the “opening act” in that feature by Mike Unwin.
Male siskin by Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)
A furry torpedo
Here at The Lodge, last week bought only my second ever water shrew swimming around the ornamental pond in the garden. What is great to see, when something rare turns up, is the crowds of staff that come out once the e-mail alert goes out. The expected ecologists and scientists (plus big wildlife geeks like me) are usually first on the scene, but it's great to see the 'suits' and staff from all around the organisation and teams such as accounts, joining in the excitement too. The little furry torpedo showed suprbly powering around the pond, with air bubbles puruing out of its fur, and sticking its nout up above the water.
I saw my earliest ever comma butterflies last week on the warmest day of the year, but now that the wind has been a biting “no-eater” for a fourth day, the wintering bramblings, siskins, lesser and mealy redpolls are still showing very well at the feeders by the shop.
Which brings me to nyjer seed. Do you put them out for your garden birds? I’ve resisted as I have a big range of foods on offer, attracting a good range of species at present. While I was at the shop the other day, I bought 88p’s worth of nyjer. If the birds didn’t go for it and I failed to attract goldfinches, siskins and redpolls, no matter. Blow me down, if within five minutes of putting it up, seven siskins appeared and spent the day munching away. They must have been migrants passing through and the timing was perfect. I haven’t seen them since, but that was the best 88p I have spent in a while.
Apologies for the lack of posts recently. It’s been a busy time, including a visit to Bristol to see how the BBC “do it” with their magazines – more about that next week on the blog - and lots of meetings amid getting the April issue finished off!
Anyway, it is nice to get out of the office and one RSPB event that I always look forward to is Members’ Weekend. Hopefully you read about it in your Spring issue of Birds (the booking form is on page 41), or you could sign up here
Up with the lark
I get to organise and lead the early morning bird walk on the Saturday and although it can be a struggle to drag myself out of bed, it is always a treat to see so many members waiting to go on the walk and be shown the birds around York University campus at the rendezvous point as it starts to get light.
See your first willow warbler of the year at RSPB Members' Weekend (John Bridges - rspb-images.com)
There are a lot more birds than you might think in York and April’s a good time for seeing several species displaying and singing, plus the first of the spring migrants such as willow warbler , blackcaps and chiffchaffs and residents like treecreepers, bullfinches and an array of wildfowl on the lakes.
Book your place
I’d love to see you there on 12-14 April, so do have a look on the website and your Spring Birds to find out more about what’s on offer with all sorts of talks and excursions to choose from and the chance to meet all sorts of exciting and interesting RSPB people – and me...