Today's guest post comes from Stuart Benn who is the Communicating Nature Officer from RSPB Scotland's Inverness Office. He has provided this brilliant write up of one young person's fantastic opportunity to connect to nature and learn from the experts about our conservation work.
Inspiring the Next Generation
I was born on the 4th of July but I didn’t spend my birthday week putting on a song and dance routine like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, Instead, I was fitting satellite tags on golden eagle chicks. And I wasn’t alone – 18 year old Luke Curno came along too.
It’s become fashionable to knock the young – that they’re obsessed with the virtual world and their interest in nature stops with Sonic the Hedgehog. But some people are challenging that view and, just as importantly, doing something about it. And one of those is Lucy McRobert who, with others, set up A Focus on Nature, an organisation run by young people, for young people to get them involved in, enthused and passionate about the natural world.
I like what they do, I like it a lot so I got in touch. One thing led to another, AFON ran a competition on the theme of bird of prey persecution and Luke won with his video about peregrines in south-west England. His prize – a day out helping RSPB North Scotland fit satellite tags to golden eagles!
Luke lives in Devon – not the most convenient for North Scotland but his dad, Greg, stepped in and drove them both up north making a wee holiday of it.
And what a day we had – brown hares, mountain hares, peeping common sandpipers and spotted flycatchers on the drive in, a steep climb in the sun to the eyrie to get the chicks. Lovely, healthy twins – one male and one female which Luke has called Errol and Sorcha (Gaelic for ‘wanderer’ and ‘brightness’). And whilst we got on with the delicate business of tagging, Luke filmed the whole thing – bit of editing still to be done but keep an eye out for ‘Eagle tagging – the movie’ coming out soon!
Job done we had a leisurely walk out and a chance to talk about those eagle chicks and what they’ll do and see. To talk about the different sides of land management in North Scotland – those carrying out fantastic and visionary restoration work whilst others are still stuck in the Victorian era. To take time out to watch frogs and froglets hop off. To appreciate how lucky we are.
Luke is now back down south with a different view of life than when he set off. He’s said he’ll never forget the day and nor will I – it really was extra special and particular thanks are due to Anders Holch Povlsen who owns the ground where we tagged and to Lucy, we couldn’t have done it without them.
We're proud to announce that nine students from Forth Valley College, Falkirk Campus, have achieved the highest level of John Muir Award. The wild place they chose to Discover, Explore, Conserve and Share? Our beautiful, quiet little reserve at RSPB Skinflats! Read more below...
In May 2014, 9 students from the work start programme at The Forth Valley College’s Falkirk campus were awarded their John Muir Conserver Level award. The most advanced of the John Muir awards, the conserver level requires participants to carry out at least 20 days of work over 6 months and only 1% of people who embark on the John Muir award actually achieve it to this level.
The students began their award in September 2013 and worked at the reserve for one day a week over the autumn, winter and spring months. During that time they carried out a wide range of activities including scrub removal (and the obligatory bonfire), a huge litter pick along the foreshore of the reserve, nest box building (not only small nest boxes, a tree sparrow terrace and a barn owl nest box were built, too), some fencing and the creation of a new wildlife garden next to the RSPB Skinflats office.
The wildlife garden was created using logs (removed from another reserve nearby) to make benches, flower beds, a feeder station and a bug hotel. Other additions to the garden are a hedgehog home and a bumblebee nest plus plenty of wild flowers for invertebrates to feed on. The hope is, once it is all well established it will as nice a place for nature as it is for the staff.
Many thanks to these brilliant students, and we are wishing them the best of luck for the future of their studies.
If you are interested in undertaking or hosting the John Muir Award, you can learn more at their website: http://www.jmt.org/jmaward-home.asp
In the run up to the Big Wild Sleepout we are running a simple ‘follow & retweet’ competiton on Twitter. The prize has been kindly donated by our friends at Blacks, the outdoor retailer, to encourage even more people to sleep out and experience the great outdoors.
The prize comprises everything you see in the photo above. Fancy a close up of some of those goodies? I’m sure you do:
Look at that. It’s fair pulsing with loot. But how can you get your mitts on it? It’s simple. All you have to do is keep a look out on our Twitter page, @RSPB_Learning, and we will be regularly posting a message encouraging people to follow our Twitter account, and to retweet the message in question. Do that. Then, on the afternoon of the 2nd of June, one of the people that is following our Twitter account and has retweeted our message will be randomly selected to be the winner of all the swag you can see above. Very easy.
I will then contact the account in question to arrange delivery of the prize, which should hopefully arrive in time for the lucky winner to take part in the Big Wild Sleepout!
Please read the terms and conditions below as well before taking part. Then hopefully we all understand each other clearly. Good luck!
RSPB Terms and conditions for Big Wild Sleepout 2014 kits