Blogger: Rachael Murray, Media Assistant
The race is on to get entries in for this year's RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award with applications being accepted until Saturday 30 April.
The award aims to find the UK's most wildlife friendly farmer who has put in the most work on their land to help threatened countryside species. It's run by the RSPB, supported by Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife, and sponsored by The Telegraph.
Entries are already coming in thick and fast. After the closing date, entries will be shortlisted to eight regional winners then a panel of experts will decide which four should go through to the national finals. The UK public will then decide the winner by casting their votes online via The Telegraph or at country shows throughout the summer.
Last year's regional winner was James Bucher at Hall Farm, Knetishall. James won the award in recognition of the measures he puts in place to help wildlife thrive on his land, including the creation of skylark plots in winter cereals, areas of unharvested crops, and nectar rich areas which attract a range of farmland wildlife. Water voles and otters were also helped in the area and margins cultivated around the land for arable plants. James commented; "It is vital that we as farmers implement targeted measures to ensure the resources we rely upon, such as good soil condition, clean water, farmland birds and other wildlife, are protected for the future. It's quite simple: my farmland birds are like a miner's canaries. If they are okay, then I am okay. I can't think of a better legacy to leave my son."
All the details on how to enter can be found on the RSPB website at - www.rspb.org.uk/natureoffarming.
Photo: Stone-curlew plot, within first year arable reversion. Winterbourne Downs RSPB reserve (Manor Farm). Wiltshire, England. September 2008.
Credit: Andy Hay (rspb images)
Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Manager
Having just returned from a once in a lifetime holiday to New Zealand and Borneo, it’s fair to say, i’m a little bit glum. Holiday blues have set in and I wish I was back there, amongst the mountains of New Zealand, the fresh air, the breath-taking scenery and last but not least, the wildlife. My highlight of two weeks in New Zealand was, without hesitation or doubt, the albatross.
They were magnificent. Beautiful. Effortless. Seeing them was a truly incredible experience - goose-bump inducing! It’s amazing to think that such a creature, the bird with the largest wingspan on the planet, can still be so vulnerable. Watching them gather round my boat off the coast of Kaikora on the east side of NZ was so enjoyable, it was easy to forget that they are in trouble. But, the RSPB’s Save the Albatross Campaign is doing remarkable work for the future of these birds. And it’s not just organisations like us who can do something to help protect our birds at sea. You too can do something. Here is where you can find out how you can help protect everything that swims, flies, hovers, glides and lurks around our seas. They can’t do it for themselves so help give nature a voice and Step up for Nature...
Today is also World Water Day, so if that doesn’t prompt you ....
The RSPB today welcomes the decision by the Secretaries of State for Transport and Communities and Local Government to proceed with the dualling of the A11 between the Fiveways roundabout in Suffolk and the southern roundabout of the Thetford bypass in Norfolk.
The decision reflects a positive outcome for the region's internationally important wildlife in the Brecks and the improved road safety and travel links that the development will bring.
John Sharpe, Conservation Manager for the RSPB in Eastern England said: "This is a great opportunity to highlight how much work has gone into the proposal for this development, whilst also demonstrating how major road infrastructure needn't compromise our precious environment."
The RSPB, along with Natural England, worked closely with the Highways Agency to ensure that this much needed road improvement didn't harm any of the important wildlife in the Brecks, such as, stone-curlews, nightjars and woodlarks along the route.
John continued: "The close work between the organisations, enabled us to withdraw our objection before the public inquiry because we were satisfied that the Highways Agency would do works to effectively offset the predicted environmental impacts.
"The inspectors report and the decision made by the Secretaries of State is a milestone that all organisations involved should be proud to have reached."
Blogger: Aggie Rothon, Communications Officer
Give me a nightingale's voice on a balmy, scented evening or the trembling notes of a mistle thrush in full song. Give me the smoky romance of a curlew calling on a mist filled morning or the echoing sob of a buzzard skimming the watery sky above. I would revel in them all, but would miss the call of a robin the most.
To me the robin's is the sweetest of all songs. It is with us on the chill breeze of a March morning and fills the December stillness with a song as delicious as the marzipan and jewel-wrapped sweets the season brings. Listen carefully to the convolutions of a dawn chorus in the blooming of Spring and you will hear the joyful tones of a robin first, using the earliest cracks of dawn-light to encourage the blackbirds and chaffinches to take up their places in the orchestra of morning.
And is there a prettier bird? He sits, full of belly and sleek of tail, bright red against bright yellow moss astride my crumbling garden wall. He sings gustily, opening his throat and trilling, reminding us all; the trees, the rooks, the fox hidden in the hedge line how lucky we are to be out there with the damp air on our skins and the vigour of a new season in the air.
It is these generous qualities that have given rise to so many characters being assigned the name too. There is the insightful Robin Goodfellow, the brave Robin Hood, Robin, faithful partner to Batman and the star-like pink of the beautiful ragged robin in flower. My favourite of all however is my young son, Robin.
Just like his avian counterpart Robin has big, dark eyes. He takes on his tasks, just like the bird sings; intensely and heartily. A robin chick will fly just days after hatching and my son too is an independant little spirit. I watch his games and his amblings and his inner world and see so clearly the blossoming of his new and separate personality.
I will enjoy Robin's company at home for some years yet but when my little boy is no longer a little boy and he is out taking on the world by himself I hope I will still be accompanied by his winged namesake. I look forward to many more years hearing the scattering of a robin's feet as he alights the garden fence to watch me at my work. I want to still hear his song and feel his spirit and gusto. In a world to often leaving the natural world to fend for itself, I'll do all I can to preserve this happening.
The dew on a summer lawn, the blue tip of a jay's feather, the cawing of a rookery at work. What natural phenomenon is special to you? Step up for nature and help us save those moments. Go to www.rspb.org.uk/stepup2020
Photo credit: Ben Hall (rspb-images.com). Article in Eastern Daily Press on 19th March 2011.
Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer
I was always amazed in my last job how the folks in the US are just as patriotic about St Patricks Day as they are about Independance Day or Thanks Giving. I have to admit, being a Murray I can't help but be proud today that my Great great grandaddy came from Ireland - tenuous link number one! So everyone, whether you are off to the pub tonight, having a guiness and steak pie (in my case) or you really are unimpressed by jovial folk dressed up in green hats, keep in mind those famous (and not so famous) emblems of the Green Isle - tenuous link number two. After a brief perusal on the world of Wikipedia I have come up with your Paddy's Day I Spy list for the week:
The great thing is that here in the East you can actually see a whole bunch of these so keep your eyes open and let us know. I will start by saying that I went to Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire, and even from their wildlife viewing points and without binoculars I was able to see up close and personal the funky hair do of the beautiful lapwing. Keep us posted and see if you can get the full house. Happy St Patrick's Day one and all.
Photo credit: Adam Murray (rspb)