Adrian Thomas did us proud with his feature on RSPB nature reserves in the Spring 2012 issue of Birds. I hope you will be inspired to make a trip to a reserve you haven’t explored yet, or to revisit an old favourite or two over the next few weeks.
We want you to don your outdoor gear, put on your boots, hats and gloves and get out there in the next few weeks as winter turns to spring. Based on the number of letters and e-mails I receive about readers’ visits to reserves, I know that you love them as much as I do.
It has been one of the strangest winters I can remember - where is the wintry weather down here in the south? It actually feels as if winter hasn’t happened. If it wasn’t for all the great winter wildlife I have seen, winter could have been a non-event for me.
Over Christmas, I managed a trip to one of my favourite RSPB reserves: Titchwell - a reserve I first visited back in August 1993 when my parents took me there in the school holidays. Spoonbills, avocets, curlew sandpipers, little stints, whimbrels and little terns were among the line up of birds I saw for the first time ever and I made careful sketches of them all in my diary when I got home for posterity.
Titchwell is one of the RSPB’s best known reserves and is a simply superb place for wildlife watching. What I particularly enjoy seeing in action at Titchwell is the way that RSPB reserves offer experiences for everyone.
On my latest visit, I’d joined the crowd craning our necks looking up into the alder trees by the footpath leading from the car park to the reserve, to watch the redpolls and goldfinches picking seeds from the cones. We were hoping to see the Arctic redpoll that was accompanying its commoner lesser and mealy redpoll cousins and I soon had the little frosty ‘snowball’ standing out from the rest by its much paler plumage and shaggy trousers.
In the centre, people were enjoying snacks in the restaurant and the visitor centre was doing a roaring trade. It was great to see several families out and about too. I took a walk down to the beautiful sandy beach with views out to Thornham Point to the west and the golf course at Brancaster to the east.
I could have walked for a good few miles, but sadly time was limited - note to self, allow more time on next visit...
So, the big questions are:
What’s your favourite RSPB reserve?
What’s the best experience you’ve had at an RSPB reserve?
Please let us know by leaving a comment below if you have registered on the RSPB Community, or by emailing email@example.com
Win a copy of our new Big Garden Birdwatch book!
To be in with a chance of winning one of 10 copies of our fab new book, The Big RSPB Birdwatch (reviewed in Birds Spring 2012), simply send an e-mail, correctly naming the bird shown in silhouette below to firstname.lastname@example.org
Make sure your email has the subject line ‘BGBW book competition’ and that your e-mail gets to us by 6 February 2012.
1 Entries must be received by 6 February 2012, irrespective of the date of sending. Proof of sending will not be deemed to be proof of delivery.
2 Any entry which is incomplete, illegible or late will be deemed invalid in the sole discretion of the RSPB.
3 This competition is open to UK residents only over the age of 18.
4 There is no cash alternative to the competition prize.
5 Prize winners will be drawn at random on 8 February 2012.
6 Winners will be notified within two weeks of the draw by e-mail.
7 Prizes will be delivered within 28 days of the closing date.
8 The winners' names will be published on the Birds magazine blog.
9 The editor’s decision on all matters affecting this draw is final and legally binding. No correspondence regarding the results of the draw will be entered into.
10 Any RSPB employee or anyone directly connected with the organisation or their immediate family will be ineligible to enter.
11 Any winner who has not responded to notification by e-mail within 21 days will forfeit their prize; a replacement winner will be selected from other entrants.
I hope you enjoyed reading ‘Urban Birder’ David Lindo’s latest piece for Birds magazine on his encounters with bullfinches. If you haven’t read it yet, do turn to page 77 of the Spring 2012 issue.
We asked you to let us know about your own experiences with these chunky finches in the magazine, so I thought I’d share one of my experiences with bullfinches to help get things rolling.
It’s always nerve racking meeting your partner’s parents for the first time, but even more so when you make that first trip to go and stay at their house. Amidst desperately trying to avoid all those social faux pas and remembering my manners on that first weekend in Yorkshire, my eyes were drawn to the bird feeders hanging outside.
Remembering that it is probably quite rude to stare out of the window when I should be making that all important first impression, all hope went out the window (literally) when a rose-breasted vision of beauty dressed in a silver jacket dropped down onto one of the seed feeders: a bullfinch!
From that first encounter forth, it has always been a pleasure to go and visit my girlfriend’s parents, Sue and Graham, because up to two pairs of bullfinches are a near constant presence in both front and back gardens. I should also state that it is also a pleasure to visit Sue and Graham because they are sparkling company and excellent hosts. The finches are merely a bonus! Waking up to the finches’ soft ‘peeuh’ calls outside the window is a very pleasant experience indeed. They are often the first birds I see each day.
As David says in his feature, bullfinches are sadly so much rarer now making sightings like these even more precious.
What do your bullfinches do?
I’m not lucky enough to have bullfinches coming to my feeders in my garden, but it would be great to hear from anyone who does. Please let us know by posting a comment below (you’ll need to register on the RSPB Community first) or emailing email@example.com and I'll add your stories to the blog.
Don't want to spoil the surprise too much, but here's a little montage of some of the things you can see in the latest issue of Birds magazine. There's much more though!
Your next issue of Birds will be arriving with you in the next few days. We received the first copies here in the office today and the mailing operation will swing into action from tomorrow.
It looks like it is going to be a very early spring this year and on many days here 'down south' it has felt like it has already arrived. I've had singing song thrushes, robins prospecting nest sites, trees and shrubs coming into bud and bulbs coming up in force in my garden over Christmas, so you can certainly start looking for signs of spring already. There's still lots of advice on winter wildlife watching advice in this issue though, not least Big Garden Birdwatch which is firmly in the spotlight. Please put the dates in your diary - 28 and 29 January - and put aside an hour to take part in the world's biggest birdwatch.
Look out for references to this blog throughout the magazine - we'll be posting extra information and photos to accompany some of the features you'll be reading in the Spring issue, so do keep checking back in.
Enjoy your magazine and please leave a comment if there's anything you've particularly enjoyed!