Blogger: Aggie Rothon, Communications Officer
It was my birthday in the week and I had an unexpectedly marvellous day. I was taking the dog for a walk around the footpaths of Worstead. As we neared the end of our route we ambled past a girl pruning the hedge of a neat cottage. It was raining but still a goat gambled happily in the garden. Fantastically the girl turned out to be a friend that I had regrettably lost touch with five years earlier. We spent the rest of the morning drinking tea and catching up.
With animals a big part of her world, it was great to meet her menagerie of goats, cats, fish and geckos. Most intriguing however was the sea anemone I caught sight of floating happily near the back of the fish tank.
A glossy black ball about the size of a child’s clenched fist sends out malleable chewing-gum tentacles that drift on the small tide of the tank. From its centre juts a neon orange stalk (my friend says she is unsure whether it is an eye or an alimentary protuberance.) From time to time the anemone spurts out great showers of gravel, the remnants of its feasting on invisible watery organisms.
It is a bizarre creature and left me amazed at the sheer variety and eccentricity of the natural world. That our coast is full of creatures similar to these fills me with delight. That’s what I find so fascinating about the seas. They are great billowing, wild unknowns full to the brim of things that we don’t even know are there. 230,000 sea creatures are known to science but there are three times as many that we don’t know about. In fact, the grand total could surpass over one million species. We can only begin to imagine what it must be like to drift endlessly on salty sea winds as our seabirds do, or creep in the dark depths of metres of water. Even the strange and onomatopoeic words ‘mollusc’ and ‘crustacean’ are enough to send the imaginative mind into spirals.
So isn’t it grim, that without even knowing what wonderful, life enriching living things are out there right now, scurrying and slithering and creeping and eking an existence in and beyond our shorelines, that we are gradually destroying our seas. Over fishing, offshore developments and pollution have all helped to start destroying what the natural world has given us. With less than 0.001% of the UK’s seas fully protected from these damaging activities it doesn’t look like the situation will improve.
This is where we can all step in and step up for nature. Support our campaign to ensure that more sea life is fully protected. Go to http://bit.ly/l7x2v1 and sign our pledge.
Photo Credit: Carolyn Merrett (rspb-images.com)
Article in Eastern Daily Press on Saturday 23 July 2011.
Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer
I am often nostalgic. The other day we went to the seaside at Cromer. We had fish and chips, took in the sea breeze, gobbled up a rum and raisin ice cream or two, enjoyed the pier and eyed up the helter-skelter. This is how I remember the seaside being as a kid, I like it that way and want it to be like that when my little man is a dad. A quintessential part of a coastal day out for me is all the wildlife you can find along the way, from the soaring gulls to the underwater inhabitants of the rock pools. They are the key ingredients to my family day out – to be without them would be like going on a day out to London without Big Ben protruding the skyline, like a trip to Blackpool without the kiss-me-quick hats, fun in the Peak District without supping a beer in a pub after a long walk.
The sea birds that are the mobile voyeurs of our days out at the beach are those key individuals that show us how life out at sea is really panning out. Unless you are one of our fearless fishermen we rarely get a chance to see what is going on out there in the big blue yonder. Unfortunately, for some birds life is not so great at the moment and hasn’t been for a while. “Around most of the UK, the sand eels that kittiwakes and other seabirds eat are just not there anymore and chicks are starving to death. So much of our marine life, above and below the waves, is disappearing because it's under increasing pressure from human activities. But it doesn't have to be like this.”
Safeguard our seabirds by visiting our website and making your voice heard. Are you going to the coast this weekend? If you are, think about the seaside without the wildlife – now that would be a sad sad day out.
Proud of coming from and living in the East? We need you. We are calling on members of the public to decide if Robert Law, a farmer in Eastern England, is the UK’s most wildlife friendly farmer.
After months sifting through hundreds of entries from farmers doing wonderful things for nature on their land, the judges for this year’s RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award have made the tough decision and whittled it down to four regional finalists, one of which is from Hertfordshire.
Now it’s over to you to decide their fate as voting opens today (Friday 22 July).
The RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award aims to celebrate farmers who do wonderful things for wildlife and single out the one who has done the most on their land to help special countryside wildlife. Robert Law from Royston in Hertfordshire has a 1,500ha conservation grade farm and is a shining example of the integration of wildlife friendly farming into a successful commercial business. His land includes, chalk grassland, woodlands and 1,200ha of arable production. Key species like, corn bunting, grey partridge, lapwing and skylark abound, and careful sheep grazing allows rare chalkhill blue butterflies and pasque flowers to flourish on the heath.
With a recent survey finding 93% of people value the countryside for relaxation, fresh air and peace, and 94% think it’s as important as ever to protect it, the RSPB is more determined than ever to reward farmers who work in an environmentally-friendly way.
Simon Tonkin, Senior Farmland Conservation Officer for the RSPB said: “Robert Law is an exceptional farmer. He combines farming practices with specific management for farm wildlife with real passion. He has thought carefully about how to locate important wildlife measures on the farm for specific species, whilst maximising the advantages to the farm business. For most this would be enough, but Robert also understands the wider environmental issues, such as carbon output, and is planning measures to combat this. It is clear that Robert is an enthusiastic advocate for farming and for protecting the wildlife on his land, which means that others can benefit from his knowledge and enthusiasm. Robert is a true guardian of the countryside, not just for the wildlife that shares his land, but also for the people that enjoy it.”
From building beetle banks and planting hedgerows to restoring wild flower meadows, managing woodland and adding skylark plots – many farmers like Robert across the UK are putting passion and dedication into protecting the habitats of all kinds of native wildlife – and not at the expense of food production and commercial success. You are invited to decide the UK winner by casting their votes by phone, post, online, via The Telegraph, or at various country shows until the end of August. Information on how to vote can be found at www.rspb.org.uk/farmvote and everyone who votes in this year's competition will be entered into a prize draw to win a two night break for two people at a luxury hotel.
Votes can be cast until 31st August 2011 and the winner will be announced in September.
Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Manager
Last night was my second appearance onto BBC Radio Norfolk to fill in for our local celebrity farmer Chris Skinner! I love doing these slots, they really are a lot of fun and although the sick feeling in my tummy builds up from about 3 hours before, it soon disappears and the time in the studio flies by! Matthew Gudgin is an excellent presenter and always gives us a great opportunity to tell lots of wonderful wildlife stories.
Last night we talked about a whole host of things, from powder down marks left by owls on patio doors, crows attacking people, the beautiful terns of the Norfolk coast to cryptic rural riddles and kestrels with UV vision!
I always try to prepare as much as I can for these slots, but something always comes up that pleasantly surprises me! Last night, one of the callers described how every year she has a young greater-spotted woodpecker that flies straight into her patio windows! Apparently she’s tried everything to put it off, but it keeps happening. One man called in to say that he puts an evil looking teddy bear in his window to deter suicidal birds from flying into the windows! It is certainly an interesting solution!
No matter what the topic or who the caller is, the show is always a great success and it would seem that people really do love to talk about wildlife in their local area. Norfolk certainly is a hotspot for RSPB and i’ve always been really proud to say I live here, amongst the swallowtail butterflies, the bitterns, the broads and the city centre, but appearing on BBC Radio Norfolk really is a fantastic experience. Up there with Alan Partridge, it’s great to have such a strong relationship with the folk of Norfolk.
Till next time ....
Being in charge of our wedding i-Tunes playlist was a joy but a big responsibility. You always remember wedding with dodgy music. I like a bit of cheese but not a fan of the chicken dance or pushing pineapples or shaking trees. As our wedding was next to the beach we had a lot of great oldies that were marine related. My lovely lady joined me with Beyond the Sea by Bobby Darin, we had The Sea by Morcheeba, Underwater Love by Smoke City and even Octopus’s Garden.
This got me thinking if I was to make a RSPB playlist what little gems could I have on there? So here is an eclectic mix for starters:
I would even have KISS in there not because of any bird or wildlife related pun but because there are many candidates out there in the bird world that could even be considered for the masked rocking crew.
If you want something a little more sedate and relaxing than KISS then check out Kate Doubleday’s Hide Tour across our sites in the East. Tickets are selling fast so get in there quick this week for the following gigs: 20 July at Frampton Marsh, 21 July at Titchwell Marsh and 22 July at Minsmere.
Photo Credit: RSPB images