News archive

November 2018

Friday, 30 November 2018

Lost Species Day

Lost Species Day

Today, 30 November, is the global Remembrance Day for Lost Species. It's not only a chance to mourn the species we've lost but also to celebrate and make sure that we save what remains.

This year the world lost the last male northern white rhino, leaving two females. Other rhino species in Africa and Asia are in big trouble too because of a combination of poaching and habitat loss.

A little later this year, Birdlife International reported that eight bird species, including two species of macaw, are likely to have their extinctions confirmed following a new assessment. This includes Spix's macaw, a stunning bird and the star of the 2011 animated film Rio.

Closer to home, British birds like hen harrier and turtle dove are threatened with extinction. Bromley has had its fair share of extinctions. Nightingale, cuckoo and corn bunting were once common breeding species but they have long since vanished. House sparrow and swift numbers have plummeted.

But there's so much still to celebrate and lots we can all do to help threatened wildlife. Our local group has launched a project to save our borough's swifts - more details of the next steps soon - and the RSPB is launching the #LetNatureSing campaign to remind politicians and the public of the joy and inspiration of birdsong and what we would lose if we don't have strong environmental laws. You can add your voice on the RSPB's website

On Wednesday 10 April 2019 the Sussex Wildlife Trust ecologist and writer Michael Blencowe will be giving us a talk on The Story of Extinct Birds. For more details of the talk and our other events download our 2018/19 programme below:

Monday, 19 November 2018

Terning the tide

Terning the tide

Terns are beautiful, graceful seabirds that migrate to the UK in the spring, leaving again for Africa in the autumn. The coastline of South East England is hugely important for their survival but many tern species are highly threatened. This means that they are one of the RSPB's top priority species in our region.

Here is an update on some fantastic successes from this year's work on RSPB reserves, all made possible by the support of the RSPB's members.

RSPB Dungeness Re-Tern project

The 2018 breeding season has drawn to a close and what a phenomenal season it has been. After the completion of the Re-Tern project last autumn it was a waiting game to see how many terns would turn up to use the array of new islands and rafts on Burrowes Pit, in amongst the anti-predator fences and decoy birds. Five nests were found early in the season and the team were happy that the project appeared to be an immediate success. Little did we know that we would end the season with 72 common tern nests (the highest record since 1999) which fledged a whopping 77 birds - our highest record since 1991!

RSPB Langstone Harbour's common tern colony growing success

After years of failure the last two breeding seasons have seen a complete change of fortune due to our provision of new nesting rafts in the coastal lagoon. Previous years had seen the returning migratory common terns struggling to find space and defend chicks within the booming black-headed gull and Mediterranean gull colonies. By providing bespoke nesting rafts just before common terns begin prospecting breeding sites the result has been two years of rapid growth and fledgling number increase. The colony fledged an average of 1 chick between 2014 and 2016 whilst 2017 saw 48 chicks fledged and 2018 has seen 79 newly minted common terns take to the skies! Plans are now moving forward for 2019 and increased community involvement.

RSPB Pagham terns receive own personal protection

One of the main outcomes of the EU life+ Little Tern Project was to install a fully functional predator proof fence and in April contractors cleared Tern Island of vegetation and erected the fence. A number of squares were cleared in the grassed area and monitored to see if terns would use them. Within four days the first black-headed gull had laid and through the season, despite numerous visits from foxes, hundreds of black headed gull chicks (584 fledged), as well as Sandwich tern (29 pairs), Mediterranean gull (6 pairs) and oystercatcher all successfully reared. The little terns refused the protection and nested outside, rearing 13 young.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Birds in a Cage - talk and book signing

Birds in a Cage - talk and book signing

We're excited that one of Britain's finest wildlife authors, Derek Niemann, is visiting us next week. Join us on Wednesday 14 November for a talk about his acclaimed book Birds in a Cage.

Birds in a Cage is an astonishing true story of four British birdwatchers held captive in a German Prisoner of War Camp. Derek will be bringing copies of the book for sale and he would be delighted to sign copies.

Here's what the reviewers said:

"An inspiring and affectionate tale of British POW ornithologists ... Somehow, a surreal, very British comedy arises when caged men watch birds in the middle of the biggest war in history", Mark Cocker, The Guardian

"Intensely moving...a beautiful and gripping story", BBC Wildlife Magazine

"A wonderfully crafted hymn to the life-giving qualities of birds", Simon Barnes

"This is a treasure, uniting history and the struggle to survive, and how birds augment our time here", John Bird, Big Issue

Derek worked for the RSPB for 25 years. He is now a celebrated author, presenter of BBC Radio 4's Tweet of the Day and columnist for The Guardian newspaper. His books include A Tale of Trees, A Nazi in the Family and Birds in a Cage.

Derek's columns in The Guardian are on the link below: