July, 2017


We're about more than just birds (though obviously we like them a lot).

Notes on nature

We love nature... from every little bug on a blade of grass to birds, butterflies, otters and oaks!
  • Explore our reserves with nature break this summer

    Take a break and discover some of the best summer wildlife.

    August is a great time for nature. And a great time for a break. Long, warm days make it the perfect time to relax, take your time and watch wildlife.

    Lazy, hazy summer days

    Enjoy summer meadows buzzing with butterflies, bees and other insects. Marvel at huge swirls of waterbirds gathering and feeding on coastal estuaries. Look out for lizards basking in heather-topped heathland, or listen out for the summer songs of migrant warblers.

    We’ve got lots of reserves to explore, all with different habitats and wildlife, but here’s a selection of our best picks for this month.

    Coastal charm

    Titchwell Marsh on the North Norfolk coast has long been a favourite – it’s one of our most visited reserves. Enjoying a prime position on the coast, easily accessible paths and close encounters with wildlife, it’s a wonderful place to enjoy nature.

    At this time of year take a look at the wading birds – before they head back to their winter homes. Nature’s Home editor, Mark Ward, has written a blog post about waders to see this month. Have a read to find out about the birds you can spot.

    Large flock of knot (www.rspb-images.com)

    Head to the coast and you may see lots of waders, like these knot.

    And there’s plenty more to explore nearby. With its long coastline of clean sandy beaches, rural countryside, heathland and forests, it’s easy to see why North Norfolk is an ideal holiday destination. Take a look at UK Nature Breaks cottages and Lodges nearby.

    Purple haze

    Alternatively, try Arne in Dorset. This is an unusual and special landscape with a vast expanse of open heathland that’s a lovely deep purple in summer. As well as Dartford warblers and nightjars, Arne is home to all six UK reptiles. Keep your eyes peeled!

    Sunrise over heathland and pine trees at RSPB Arne nature reserve. (www.rspb-images.com)

    The heathland at RSPB Arne is a riot of colour in August.

    Make sure you have time to discover the surrounding countryside. Why not check out some nearby cottages and lodges? This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has a timeless charm, with many pretty villages, country lanes and the fabulous stretch of 200 million year-old coastline known as The Jurassic Coast thanks to the many fossils found there.

    Here be dragons

    Nestled on the banks of the Conwy Estuary, RSPB Conwy is a haven for wildlife at any time of the year. The scenery is stunning and you can get up close with plenty of wildlife, from butterflies and dragonflies to flocks of migrating waders.
    Set in the shadow of Conwy Castle and with Snowdonia nearby, this part of North Wales is perfect for those that love the outdoors, as well as those looking for a seaside holiday that’s fun for all the family.

    Lodge near RSPB Conwy (www.uknaturebreaks.co.uk)

    A lodge is a great place to explore nature, RSPB reserves and the surrounding area from. Find one nearby from UK Nature Breaks, or how about a cottage?

    Firm favourite for ospreys

    Loch Lomond is rightly well-known on the Scottish tourist trail, but did you know the RSPB has a nature reserve there too? It’s on the south-east shore and has a great mix of habitats that attract a wealth of wildlife, including magnificent ospreys that fish in the lochs.
    The Loch Lomond region has been a favourite with holidaymakers for years and with so much beautiful countryside and breathtaking wildlife long will it continue to be so.

    Family exploring lodge near Loch Lomond. Photo by Wyndham Holidays.

    A family exploring Loch Lomond from UK Nature Breaks lodges. Why not find one for yourself? Or perhaps cottages are more your thing?

    Take a break and help the RSPB

    With so much to see, you won’t want to rush a reserve visit, so why not a book a short-stay nearby? www.uknaturebreaks.co.uk has cottages, lodges and even boats close to RSPB nature reserves.

    And the best bit is that with every booking made through the UK Nature Breaks website they will donate 10% to the RSPB. Not only will your break get you closer to nature, but you’ll be helping nature too.

    Summer really can be a time to explore new horizons. We hope we’ve given you some inspiration but for plenty more beautiful places to explore and watch wildlife, take a look at www.uknaturebreaks.co.uk

  • Bill Oddie's take on Birdfair

    Did you know that it’s almost time for Birdfair again?

    Running from 18-20 August at Rutland Water, there are fascinating talks from wildlife experts, a wonderful food area catering for all tastes and children’s activities from stands like the RSPB and the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. You can even take a special wildlife cruise on Rutland Water itself. As well as all this, there are a plethora of wildlife celebrities, doing talks, book signings and more.

    To get you in the mood, we’ve managed to track down Bill Oddie for a special short story:

    It is easy to imagine the residents of Rutland heaving many a sigh on the third weekend of every August.

    “Grrr. It’s the flippin Birdfair again” chunters John - the local solicitor - as he follows the temporary detour to his home.

    “It was originally called The British Birdwatching Fair, you know” says his pedantic wife, Janet.

    People at Birdfair.

    People enjoying Birdfair.

    “What?” said John incredulously “thousands of people all birdwatching together? I bet they don’t see much. How on earth do they drag it out for three days?”

    “I imagine” said Janet “there must be other things as well as birds. There are several massive marquees. Perhaps they have circuses”

    “They’re not allowed to have animals anymore.”

    “Maybe they are bird circuses” suggested Janet.

    “What? said John frivolously “Performing parrots, bouncing budgies, juggling jays. I bet they have a snowy owl like in the Harry Potter films.”

    “It was a barn owl actually” said Janet pedantically.

    “Actually, it was both.” retorted John. “In some shots it was a snowy, then in the next shot it was a barn.” “I must say, I do like owls” said John.

    “I prefer ducks” said Janet.

    “Well, there should be plenty of ducks. It is Rutland Water.”

    “Mmm darling, you know in the evening when we see everyone leaving Birdfair?”


    “Well have you noticed the people always look really really happy? Almost as if they have been to, well….a real fair. Darling, how long has it been running?”

    “It feels like a hundred years.”

    “And we have never ever been to it.”

    “So?” said John nervously.

    “Darling, shall we?” said Janet enticingly.

    ‘What? Now!?”

    “Well, why not? Let’s follow the signs, and go on in.”

    And so, it was that - for the first time in their lives - John and Janet spent a day at Birdfair.

    In fact, they spent three days. The first surprise was that the marquees weren’t all full of birds. Well, not real ones. There were fantastic paintings of birds and delightful sculptures of hedgehogs and badgers amongst the wide range of wildlife art.”

    They spent over an hour in the art tent. Janet was enchanted, and John started looking for something special for her birthday. She absolutely fell in love with an exceptional bronze giraffe. John planned to go back later to order one.

    Each day, they went back for more and enjoyed many great talks from wildlife experts on a wide range of subjects and met people from all over the world. On Sunday, they even brought their grandchildren along and went bug hunting and pond dipping. Just after lunch on Sunday, they realised that the fair would soon be closing. It was then that John began to panic. He hadn’t mentioned it to Janet, but he was beginning to be rather taken by this birdwatching lark. But he didn’t have any of the gear.

    Family pond-dipping at Birdfair.

    Family pond-dipping at Birdfair

    Rushing from tent to tent and stall to stall, he purchased everything he needed, including an amazing pair of binoculars and a wonderful wildlife holiday.

    As they were about to leave Janet asked John “shouldn’t we buy a bird book?”

    “Damn, I knew there was something we had forgotten.”

    “Don’t worry” said Janet “you get the car and I will rush back and get one.”

    A little while later she returned gleefully brandishing a small book with a very colourful cover. John seemed puzzled. “That doesn’t look much like a bird book!”

    “That’s because it isn’t!” teased Janet. “Well, it is a bit, but there’s a lot more to it than birds. Rather like Birdfair eh?”

    John and Janet laughed, and that night – when they were both reading the book in bed - they laughed again. And laughed…and laughed.

    “You know” said John “when I first saw the cover I thought ‘This book looks really daft’ and it is!”

    “Well” said Janet “it is by Bill Oddie.”

    Bill Oddie will be signing copies of his new book, Tales of a Ludicrous Bird Gardener at 2pm on Saturday 19 August at the RSPB stand. Why not pop in and have a chat with him?

    Buy your tickets

    If you fancy giving Birdfair a try this year, you can buy your tickets from the Birdfair website.

  • Why RSPB local groups are great

    Have you wondered what goes on at RSPB local groups?

    What are they, what goes on and how do you join? Dean Ware really wanted to find out more about nature, and after a quick online search he discovered his local RSPB group.

    Now he’s out and about all the time, learning lots and seeing some fantastic sights. Read his story to hear how he got involved... and how you could too!

    Dean’s local group story

    I think the main reason that most people join the RSPB is that they love nature in general, and birds in particular.

    I really wanted to find out more about nature, so I searched the web for the RSPB and came across links to local groups. I live in London so there are several to choose from. I decided that I wanted to do two things - go to the evening talks and go birding – so I made the leap, and joined the Central London Group.

    Dean Ware.

    The talks that they host are fascinating – so interesting. They are held in pleasant surroundings and are really professionally put together, as well as being inexpensive. There are usually refreshments provided as well. It’s an excellent way to spend an evening that otherwise might perhaps have ended up being just another night in front of the TV.

    Another brilliant thing about local groups is the day trips that they organise. My local group lays on a coach trip once a month when we go to a reserve somewhere in England and are guided round looking at birds and wildlife (and the plants!). These outings are generally terrific: they provide a lovely level of activity along with some really wondrous sights.

    Would you see a heron's nest or hear a nightingale sing if you were just sitting at home?

    Overall it’s all so well worth the time it takes to join. Go on, give it a go!

    Find your local group

    If Dean's story has inspired you, why not take a look for your local group?