News archive

December 2019

Monday, 23 December 2019

Photo of the month

Photo of the month

Sporting a fine moustache rather an a beard, bearded tit is rather a misnomer for this dumpy brown bird. The male has a lavender-grey head and black moustache year round, while the female is less conspicuous in a duller brown.

You'd be lucky to spot a bearded tit. Found in small colonies along the south coast of England, in East Anglia, Lancashire, and Yorkshire, and also in eastern Scotland, there are only 630 breeding pairs of bearded tits in the UK.

They are found almost exclusively in and around reedbeds, clambering up the stems or flying low just over the tips of the reeds. Listen out for their metallic "ping, ping" call to catch a glimpse.

Steve Cullum took this photo on a recent trip to RSPB Rainham Marshes. "I have been trying to take a good shot of a beardie for ages, and I was fortunate to see these two land in some reeds about 20 feet away from me," says Steve. "As per normal, they stayed for about 10 seconds before they then flew away."

Situated on the Thames Estuary, RSPB Rainham Marshes is an area of low-lying grazing marsh, including grassland, scrapes and reedbeds, making it a great site for birds. In autumn the reserve is a bustle of migration, and come winter a wealth of species can be seen, from golden plovers, water and rock pipits, curlews, little egrets and snipe to peregrines, kingfishers and short-eared owls. In spring, breeding waders will take over these rich feeding grounds, while in summer the reserve becomes home to an array of invertebrates, such as wasp spiders.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Hobby chasing dragonflies

Help defend our birds of prey

Recently, a marsh harrier was found near Scarborough with a broken wing, caused by shooting. The shotgun pellet was removed and the wing patched up, and the bird was released back into the wild. But many birds aren't so lucky. Scientific studies show that raptor persecution is not going away, and there are far fewer birds of prey in places like District than there should be. The figures in Birdcrime represent the tip of a far larger iceberg, and many birds will be killed and their bodies never found.
The ongoing illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning of birds of prey is naturally an emotive issue, which causes great outrage among those of us who enjoy wildlife and want to see our birds of prey flying free from the threat of persecution. In response, this August the RSPB launched a Bird of Prey Defenders appeal for anyone who wants to donate money to the charity's Investigations Team, which fights to protect birds of prey and expose crimes against them.
Mark Thomas heads up the small team, which is based in Sandy and Edinburgh. He said, "People are naturally shocked by the stories and pictures they see. They're also increasingly angry that nothing is changing. There's a huge body of people out there asking us, 'What can we do?'. We hope that
this appeal will give people a tangible means of taking action. Individuals' donations will go directly to the RSPB Investigations Team. It'll help us get boots on the ground so that we can monitor at-risk areas and ultimately catch the people killing these incredible birds."
To find out more about how you can help, visit:

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Puffin with sandeels in beak

How you can help save our puffins

Sadly, if current declines continue, the UK could lose up to eight million puffins over the next 50 years. Think how tragic it would be for future generations to miss out on this marvellous bird!

Populations are plummeting as rats have overrun some of the most important islands where puffins breed. Not being native to seabird islands, rats are a nightmare for puffins. Tragically, they eat thousands of chicks and eggs each year. And it's far from smooth sailing out at sea, too. Puffin chicks are starving in the far north of Scotland as sandeels - a vital food for parent puffins and their young - become more scarce, and harder to find, due to climate change.

We need to act now to stop the puffin's slide towards extinction.

Adopting a puffin is a wonderful thing to do. To say a huge thank you, we'll send you: a cuddly puffin toy to welcome into your home, an adoption certificate - so you can name your puffin, a fun-packed fact file full of puffin information and activities, four puffin postcards and, later this year, an exclusive copy of the 'Puffin.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Be a friend of the albatross

Be a friend of the albatross

Every year thousands of albatrosses are drowned by longline fishing hooks or killed by heavy collisions with cables dragging behind fishing boats. A tasty meal on a baited hook, or from discarded fish, is irresistible to a hungry bird - but can be fatal.

Every life lost is a tragedy, cutting short a potential 60-year lifespan, and can leave hungry chicks to starve. Albatrosses cannot breed fast enough to replace the numbers killed. Sadly, 15 out of 22 species are now threatened with extinction.

Fishing crews don't want to kill seabirds, so our Albatross Task Force is helping them save lives. Their work has already cut albatross deaths off South Africa by 99%, saving around 7,000 birds a year. Now we need your help to do the same around the world. Become a Friend of the Albatross today.