Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer
What do you do in the bath? Every evening I have a bath with my 8 month old and we soak the bathroom playing with his plastic animal toys. When I was in the bath the other day I couldn’t help going through each of the different aquatic beasties and telling stories about them and my adventures (it’s a daddy’s prerogative). Pelicans on the California coast, green turtles from Guam, spinner dolphins in New Zealand, night diving with squid in Thailand and crabbing in Walberswick (keeping it nice and local). Then it hit me, wouldn’t it be devastating if within his life time my little chief would not have the same opportunities as me to see these majestic marine marvels.
As well as a passion and drive to make a difference we need the science behind conservation so that we can make informed decisions. Luckily, there are people out there that are doing this work with the RSPB being at the forefront of bird conservation science. Here are a few examples of those people championing the different inhabitants of the seas:
Birds: RSPB, UK (you know what we do right?)
Mammals: Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, UK (experts in policy)
Crustaceans: Chesapeake Bay Program, USA (local industry and conservation partnerships)
Reptiles: WWF, International (flagship species based conservation)
Cephalopods: Cephalopod Behavioural Research, UK (John Messenger is my old lecturer from my Uni days)
As ever though, this science and passion is sometimes not enough. We need people to support us in our fight, helping us to shout louder or donating so that more science can carried out. Do you want to be part of making sure that the memories of these animals are not left to stories around the bath tub? Find out more by signing our petition to safeguard our seas here.
Note: No crabs or dolphins were harmed in the making of this blog post.
In the words of Dodgy (the 90’s indie band) “I'm staying out for the summer, playing games in the rain”. What a great attitude to have – get out there regardless. We tend to fall into two categories with regards to summer. The optimist: “Wahey, here comes summer, it’s going to be great” or the pessimist “Here comes the summer, bet it rains as usual”. Which category do you fall into? The summer is a very evocative time, think about those ever lasting summers when you were a kid, fishing for sticklebacks, making dens and homemade bows and arrows. Even now, remembering that glorious day with friends one summer with a perfect barbeque or sipping gin and tonics in the garden. This is why the good, the bad and the ugly of the music world have carved up some classic tunes that put a smile on your face. Just take a look at some of these tunes and see if they bring back memories of those golden days:
Summertime by Ella Fitzgerald
In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry
Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Summer in the City by the Lovin Spoonful
Summertime Blues by The Lebron Brothers
Staying out for the Summer by Dodgy
When it is good, a British summer can be very very good, when it’s bad it’s rubbish. Or is it? The beauty of getting out there regardless of the weather is that you it is better than being indoors, sitting in front of the TV, computer or games consoles. So if you have nearest and dearest who air on the pessimistic side of summer, get them out there, visit one of our reserves and make those memories. In the heartfelt words of Ella Fitzgerald “Summer time and the living is easy”.
Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Manager
This morning was one of the first morning’s i haven’t heard them in weeks. I live in a city centre, the heart of the action with houses crammed in wall to wall and although it’s a busy place to live, it’s not our neighbours who have been making all of the noise! For the last few weeks, i have been going to bed and waking up to the sound of the screaming swifts playfully darting above our roof tops. They sound like fireworks going off as they all come streaking past my window.
But their absence this morning reminded me that they won’t be in the country for much longer. As we near the end of August and our summer starts the cool journey into autumn where the leaves turn a vibrant shade of red, these hardy little creatures will start their journey down south across the African deserts for the winter. To be honest, i’m a little bit jealous! What is there to dislike about spending spring and summer in England and then cruising over to another continent for the some winter sun?
Having said that, It’s no easy ride taking the flight over there. They have to refuel on the wing, even sleep whilst flying and then who knows what greets them when they arrive. Will their habitat still be there, will there be any water or food? I certainly wouldn’t go on holiday if my hotel had been destroyed and there was nowhere to stay! Migration is an intriguing concept, one of the many wonders of the natural world.
The BTO issued a media release yesterday that highlighted some of the lucky species that seem to be doing rather well despite such a tough commute. Sadly and as is now often the way, there is another side to the coin. Some of our more nostalgic summer visitors are in big trouble. Population declines are happening in devastating numbers and we still don’t really know the whole picture.
For now, I will enjoy and take great pleasure in hearing the swifts soar above my house and i will keep my fingers crossed that they are still abundant next April.
Blogger: Charlotte Pledger, Youth, Education and Families Officer
Charlotte, our expert on all things to do with families and kids, is taking an intrepid wander around the East to see what great things you can do this summer. The Summer of 2011 - let's make it a good one (regardless of the weather).
Tuesday was one of those days when I thought I have the best job in the world. I spent the day down in the RSPB’s Discovery Zone at Wat Tyler investigating the wonderful summer holiday family events on offer. And what a great range of activities there were (and are planned for the rest of the long summer holiday). From T-shirt printing and badge making to bug hunts and nature trails, there was something for everyone. Despite it being a rather cool and overcast day, well over 100 people visited.
One of the most wonderful sights of the day was seeing children, their parents and grandparents skipping about in the long grass with sweep nets, catching an array of weird and wonderful bugs, then gazing in awe at the close up views of the alien-like crickets and grasshoppers, before releasing them into the ‘wild’ again.
These are all run by a fantastically dedicated team of staff and volunteers, all of whom engage with the public in a really positive way, encouraging then to come back for future events and of course, sign up as members! Two of the young volunteers (conservationists of the future I am sure) helping with this event used their initiative and asked to go round the park itself to hand out leaflets to families, several of which then came over to participate in the activities that day. Let’s hope more people are inspired to come along throughout the summer.
So, if you find yourself down in South Essex this summer, then make sure you pop into one of their fabulous events. For more details, click here The RSPB: South Essex Marshes Visitor Centre: Events.
I’m now looking forward to travelling around the superb Eastern region, visiting Titchwell, Minsmere, Fen Drayton, Frampton and The Lodge over the next few weeks, where I am promised pond dipping (my favourite), lots of art and craft activities and of course, getting families involved in the work of the RSPB in the East.
Photo Credit: Speckled Bush-cricket. Jodie Randall (rspb-images.com)
I have always had it drummed into me that when I have my fish and chips at the beach that I should not go for haddock and cod. Someone once told me that they are just as endangered as chimpanzees – and for those that know my affinity for primates this has always disturbed me. However, as I have said it is always good to assume nothing. So I have been having a look around the web and came across our good friends at the Marine Conservation Society. They have a great website that tells you all about the best tasty fish to put on your plate www.goodfishguide.co.uk/ Digging deeper, and trying to look into the ecosystem approach to conservation, it is more and more apparent that the issue doesn’t just stop with fish. Even though birds are mobile, just as mobile as fish I should point out, they still need to be brought into the equation. Luckily, this is being considered as you can see from the following extract from an MCS report: http://www.mcsuk.org/downloads/fisheries/Joint_position_doc_CFP.pdf
The UK based NGOs WWF, Greenpeace, the RSPB, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), ClientEarth, NEF (the new economics foundation) and OCEAN2012 – a broad alliance of organisations, including development and environment organisations, divers, commercial and recreational fisher organisations as well as research institutions and aquariums – seek to promote a reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which is built on the following guiding principles. The reformed CFP must:
Prioritise ecological sustainability:
The CFP must give clear legal primacy to the principle of ecological sustainability, so that Europe can meet both its environmental commitments and its social and economic objectives in the long term.
Be integrated with other European marine and environmental policies, in particular the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), the Habitats and Birds Directives and the Water Framework Directive:
In order to do so the CFP should incorporate clear commitments to meeting MSFD objectives and tools that allow the proper management of fishery resources taking into account the marine, and, where relevant, aquatic or terrestrial ecosystems. These will include the creation of Marine Protected Areas and Marine Reserves which should be incorporated into the fisheries management strategies.
Require the application of the ecosystem approach to fisheries management in all fisheries management scenarios/contexts:
In practical terms, it should require Member States to take into account multi-species interactions and minimise the impacts of fishing on wider ecosystem functions and conditions. This must include any habitat degradation and mortality of non-target species (other fish species, birds, marine turtles, etc.). Management measures should be taken in the context of fisheries level long-term management plans that take account of the MSFD requirements to co-ordinate strategic management of European marine regions.
Next time you are eating your fish and chips by the seaside this summer and are inspired to find out more about this area of conservation take a look here.
Photo Credit: Adam Murray