April, 2011

Our work

Our work
You might be surprised to read that our work is far broader than nature reserves and Big Garden Birdwatch. Read more about what else we do.

Bugs, Birds and Beasts in the East

All of our up to date fun and frolics in the East from office antics to great conservation stories and those magical connections with nature.
  • Watch out....Giant owl is hunting for you!


    BLOGGER: Rachael Murray

    ‘'Owlbert' in Bedford streets to find nature volunteers!

    A giant owl called ‘Owlbert’ is flapping around Bedford with his huge silver and green binoculars today. But rather than hunting for voles and mice, he’s searching for nature lovers who may want to raise money for local wildlife projects. 

    We're aiming to raise £10,000 during our Love Nature Week (28 May to 5 June) and are looking for around 200 volunteers to get involved at 80 street collection sites across the Eastern Region . 

    Most collectors will raise around £20 during one hour, which is enough to buy bug hunting or pond dipping kits for Bedfordshire youngsters visiting nearby RSPB nature reserve The Lodge. 

    He usually lives in a large tree by the Thames. But Owlbert’s flap around the county is part of a two-month UK tour, which takes in Scotland and ends during Love Nature Week at the Hay Festival, Herefordshire. 

    Anyone wanting to volunteer for Love Nature Week should chat to Owlbert in Bedford today, or visit www.rspb.org.uk/lovenatureweek

    Owlbert hooted: “What a hoot, I’m just flying with excitement and can’t wait to meet lots of nature lovers keen to step up for nature and sign up for Love Nature Week. Come and give me a hug!”

  • Boys and their toys.

    Blogger - Janet Moorse, Communications Volunteer

    We were on holiday in Suffolk last week and I took the family to Minsmere. Obviously the sunshine helped, but what an adventure for my nine and 11 year olds? Pheasants in the car park, sand martins beside the tea rooms, we didn’t need binoculars. The birds threw themselves at us as we headed for the beach.

    After a flock of tripods and excited pointing fingers, we had seen our first nightingale. He even sang for us! Walking through raised walkways beside the reedbeds, catching glimpses of a finch sized bird, a family passing in the opposite direction said: “We’ve been told it’s a willow warbler.”

    Onward to the East hide, my nine-year old stood next to a grey-haired granddad with a big tripod and telescope and boldly starts up a conversation instantly. In minutes he’s pointing out barnacle geese, pintails, shovelers, pochards with great excitement. Is it a passing ruff? No it’s a redshank. It’s a skip and a jump through the dunes to the next viewing point; boys don’t walk anywhere! There’s two avocets swimming around each other, stretching their necks and generally showing off. Beside them is an oystercatcher protesting about how noisy all the gulls are.

    Back on the dunes and we see our first yellow brimstone butterfly of the season. We stop by the sluice, where engineer Dad explains the process and there on a visitor signpost is a swallow; long tail twitching, he practises his display above our heads and then off he goes along the coast.

    As we walk towards the South hide, my nine year old sees a common lizard on a stretch of fencing beside the hide, he shares his find with a passing man, who points it out to his family and suddenly there’s 10 people enjoying a sunbathing lizard. Amidst all of this, a crazy lapwing is attempting to join the red arrows display team as he throws himself noisily across the sky with wild enthusiasm. 

    Heading towards the woods and we can hear a bittern booming, a great noise, so distinctive, soon all 4 of us are soon practising our bittern calls. The leaves are still in bud, so we can see into the canopy where there’s lots of nest building and activity going on. More finger pointing and we’ve seen a spotted woodpecker, lesser or greater, not sure, but pretty great for us. He head butts the tree and gives us the familiar sound we’ve heard from our garden.

    I’ve sat here writing with a bird book open beside me and already I know I’ve forgotten some of the birds we saw last week. But I’ll remember the enthusiasm and the sharing of knowledge by strangers we met on a sunny day in Suffolk and I’ll remember all my family saying: “We must do this again”. We’ll be camping near Cromer in the summer hols, maybe RSPB Titchwell Marsh next!

  • Thinking outside the (egg) box this Easter

    Blogger: Aggie Rothon, Communications Officer

    We got desperate the other night. We were having one of those 'after dinner pudding cravings' which saw us rooting to the back of the cupboard where we had stashed the Easter eggs ready for the weekend. Paul's egg was in fact a giant white chocolate Easter bunny. The bunny now no longer has ears or a face. We felt bad, momentarily, for the demise of poor Peter but, hey, it's Easter time! A time for ribbons, and bright foil-wrapped eggs and sunshine and treats.  

    It's at this time of year that everything turns blue for me. Not because I'm feeling sad - far from it - but because I remember my art teacher once telling me that his favourite colour ever had to be duck egg blue. Since then, Easter has always been a lovely shade of soft turquoise-blue in my minds eye. But it's not often that you'll see signs of a blue egg. The shards of egg shell that we find flung in to the garden as a hungry chick barges its way out of it's casing are usually white or speckled-brown. Or there are the tiny rows of yellow eggs glued to the underside of cabbage leaves deposited by weightless white butterflies and the crisp black packages known as Mermaid's purse that you find washed up at the beach; in fact the egg cases of sharks or skate. Isn't it amazing how nature has found so many different shape and sizes for eggs - something for all occasions and for all beasties.

    Avocet checking on the next generation. Photo Credit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)

    So, this Easter do as Mother Nature does and think outside the (egg) box. Sit up, take a breath and take the next step. Already an RSPB member? Join us as a volunteer! A seasoned Big Garden Bird Watch participant? Have you tried Make Your Nature Count? First time visiting our reserves? Donate and buy one of our lovely pin badges!

    Have a great long weekend and regardless of the weather make the most of this Easter time!

    All the best from your Communications Team in the East - Erica, Aggie, Adam, Rachael & Janet