MERRY CHRISTMAS - see you on your Festive Seasonal Walk out and about at our reserves!
Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer
Ahh the joys of collecting old encyclopaedias and natural world books (I know I am a chic geek) as well as the speed of Wikipedia. I was completely unaware that the Twelve Days of Christmas started on Christmas Day. Not only that but there are variations on the song and lots of debate about the origin and meaning.
In my eyes, it is a celebration of this time of year both of people and wildlife. So watch this space and our RSPB in the East Facebook and Twitter pages for some of my takes on the Twelve Days...
What does it mean to you?
Blogger: Rachael Murray, Media Officer
It’s an age-old tradition – using fresh holly branches to adorn your table and give your home a festive look – but don’t forget to leave enough out there for our wildlife this winter!
Holly is a valuable source of food and shelter for a number of birds, mammals and insects. Thrushes, robins, dunnocks, finches and goldcrests use it for nesting as the prickly leaves provide excellent protection; blackbirds, fieldfares, redwings, mistle and song thrushes, among others, eat the berries; and hedgehogs, toads and slow worms hibernate in the deep leaf litter that builds up beneath the plant.
The bush is slow growing, so while pruning in winter is good because it can create denser growth, it is important that holly is not over-trimmed. The plant only flowers and produces on two-year old wood, so pruning too hard can stop it flowering next spring.
Richard James, from our wildlife enquiries team, explains: “You can’t beat a bit of holly around the house to make you feel all Christmassy, but as well as it being a pretty plant, holly also plays a very important part in the lives of wildlife at this time of year.
“Taking the odd branch here and there will do no harm at all, but don’t take too much. Removing all the berries or cutting the bush back too much will mean birds and other animals that rely on the plant for food and shelter will be left without. And it could also damage the plant in the long-term too, meaning you won’t have any holly to jolly up your home next year.”
As you decorate your home for Christmas this year, remember that some of those decorations are themselves home to a wide range of birds and wildlife!
Let’s not forget our wild friends this festive season....and even better, why not pop a few calorie-rich leftovers out for them over the winter to keep their bellies full?
To find out more about feeding birds in your garden, please find more information on
Photo credit: Andy Hay (rspb images)
For all you budding conservationists out there, the fab news is that we are looking for four people passionate about conservation who can dedicate a year to volunteering on their Eastern England reserves.
The internships begin in early March 2012 and will give volunteers the opportunity to spend two consecutive 6 month periods working at some of our favourite RSPB nature reserves including Old Hall Marshes in Essex, Minsmere on the Suffolk coast and Titchwell Marsh and Strumpshaw in Norfolk.
The residential scheme will offer our enthusiastic interns the chance to work against the stunning backdrop of some of the most nature rich areas in the East. Interns will be provided with accommodation suitable for their placement in addition to training, mentoring, conservation work experience and networking opportunities.
It is a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking to move into a career in conservation. But don’t take our word for it, one of our fantastic interns from last year, Paul Stagg, said: “This internship provides an excellent head start and gave me the opportunity to get involved with all aspects of reserve management – from survey work to land management to people engagement. Along the way I always had a supportive team around me, happy to share their knowledge and teach me what they knew.
“There were countless opportunities to meet people already working in the field, gain the benefit of their experience and learn a wealth of skills. The natural world urgently needs passionate, versatile individuals to take on the challenge of protecting it and this is an excellent opportunity to gain the skills and experience you need to do just that".
And you’ll be in great company - we’ve got over 17,000 people currently volunteering with the RSPB for wildlife and conservation, giving over one million hours of their time each year.
So, why not head the January blues off at the pass by jumping into 2012 with a new purpose and volunteering with the RSPB?
The closing date to apply for the internships is 6th January 2012.
To apply for the internships or enquire about further volunteering opportunities at the RSPB, contact Annie Sadler on 01603 697504 or email@example.com.
We hope to hear from you soon!
Blogger: Lisa Robinson – Visitor Officer Intern, RSPB Minsmere
In light of the new internships that have been developed, I thought I’d tell you about my experience as an intern with the RSPB.
I’ve been an intern at the Minsmere visitor centre since early September. When I tell people where I’m working they tend to assume I’m outdoors all the time, getting hands on with conservation work. Not so! I’m pretty useless at practical work so fortunately for everyone I leave that to the Wardening Team...although I have attempted it a couple of times! More on that later.
My role at Minsmere started with me planning the Red Deer Rut viewpoint event: organising volunteers, sourcing equipment, and researching deer facts among other tasks. The deer rut event ran throughout October, and we had just under 2500 visitors over 5 weekends! After the deer rut, I helped plan the Christmas events at Minsmere, including the Christmas Carol weekend where a local school choir, a brass band, and an adult choir performed in the visitor centre.
As well as events, I work in all areas of the visitor centre: in the shop, at reception, and sometimes in the tearoom. I also help Ian with occasional media releases and do odd jobs for other members of the Minsmere team. Most recently I’ve been assisting with preparations for when we move out of the Visitor Centre and into temporary accommodation whilst improvements are made to the building.
I have had a couple of days helping Assistant Warden Katy and the “Land Girls” as they call themselves, working in the reedbed. Well, I say helping, but I’m almost certain I was a hindrance especially as I spent the majority of the time up to my waist in mud. It’s so sinky! I was warned about the holes, and advised to follow Charlie who is magical and never sinks. Despite this, somehow I managed to outstrip Lizzie as the most frequent faller. Nevertheless in the short periods when I wasn’t in a hole I was busy helping to rake the cut reeds into piles and burning them. This helps the regeneration and encourages wildlife including our precious bitterns to move in. Both days I helped out were really fun, especially the day we saw loads of bearded tits, and we were rewarded for our hard work with cake!
I’ve learned a lot of new skills whilst doing my internship, and I still have a couple of months to go. It’s a really exciting time to be at Minsmere with the Discover Nature project going on, and it’s convinced me that I definitely want to work for a conservation charity in the future.