Blogger: Jon Reeves, Ouse Washes Site Manager
Due to the unique dry conditions on the Ouse Washes at this time of year. Roosting whooper swans are concentrated on pools of water in front of various hides. Currently the best viewing areas are Grose and Stocktdale’s hides, only 10 minutes walk from the car park. Of the 5000 whooper swans present on the Ouse Washes 700 are roosting in front of these hides as seen in photo below. If you arrive at the hides at about 7.00am you can watch the dawn rise and the awakening of the swans, who’s trumpeting and animated body language gets more intense until the time is right for departure to their daily feeding areas in the surrounding arable fields. Alternatively you could await their return in the evening by being in place in the hides at about 4.00pm.
Photo by Jon Reeves
Blogger: Gena Correale Wardle, Community Fundraising Officer
Being a Community Fundraiser is a varied life. When I tell people I am a ‘fundraiser’ they either think I do door-to-door fundraising with a clip board and a puppy-dog look in my eye, or that I sit behind a desk writing grant applications to raise funds for specific projects. My role sits somewhere in between, having some of both deskwork and face-to-face fundraising sprinkled in for good measure!
Take the end of my last week at work; on Thursday I was meeting Jayne Raffles, owner of Raffles Restaurants and in particular, Pulse cafe in Norwich - a fab, independent vegetarian and vegan eatery. Pulse will be working with the RSPB in January to promote Big Garden Birdwatch and raise funds for us by providing specific dishes where a proportion of the price will go directly to conservation. What a fab way to make sure the birds are fed whilst feeding yourself!
Straight after that I was off to have a meeting at a local gym, who are hopefully going to be holding a fundraising exercise event in the summer for us, where people will literally be ‘stepping up’, getting fit and raising money for us at the same time! If you are interested in being a part of this literal mass-movement, keep your eyes peeled to the blog in the new year when we will have more info about the event.
On Friday I was back at my desk, catching up with emails from our Local Group volunteers (conduits for the RSPB in their local communities) and pin badge box volunteers. I was also making phone calls and signing people up to collect at our forthcoming ‘Save Nature’ collections, happening around the time of Big Garden Birdwatch around the region.
Then, about 3pm the call came in – more ‘reindeer food’ was needed and fast! This is a little initiative we are doing in the region – rolled oats and bird seed mixed with edible glitter makes the perfect treat for Rudolph and his friends on Christmas eve. The sparkles in it attract the reindeer and ensure Father Christmas will find your house – the food the reindeer don’t eat will be a lovely snack for garden birds. At £1 a bag it was selling out at Bury Christmas Market and more was needed, so I spent the next two hours covered in glitter, making up the little packets! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you fancy getting your hands on some.
Finally, I was working on Saturday at Ipswich Town Football Club, dressed as a robin and collecting donations from the generous fans. We raised £221 in less than two hours, which we were thrilled with, and it was really nice to hear people’s stories about their encounters with nature and wildlife – from watching the birds in their garden to whale watching in the Carribean!
My job is very varied and it’s easier to say ‘I’m in fundraising’ than tell people the full extent of what I do, but actually, I should be proud and tell them all the exciting things I’ve got going on and the diversity of work in my field. I’m saving nature every day, one little pound at a time!
Blogger - Communications Manager, Erica Howe
I had to scrape ice off my car windscreen the other morning! Ok, so that’s hardly news I know, but I can’t believe we nearly made it to the end of November without having so much as a light frost. I live in the city so perhaps this isn’t unusual, but it fills me with comfort to think that winter is finally here. I’m a big fan of the warmer seasons don’t get me wrong, but I take a lot of comfort in the seasonal turning of the weather. The arrival of winter is certainly something to celebrate; I love it when my boyfriend comes home from work with chilly red cheeks, when my beloved pink gloves become a staple wardrobe item and when I do get out to watch the winter wildlife spectacles, a hot chocolate afterwards is considered ‘medicinal’.
The wildlife that we get to see during the winter months can be truly exceptional. And enduring the cold bite nipping at your ears makes it even more special. Families of pink-footed geese, hunting barn owls, roosting rooks or majestic swans would certainly brighten up a grey winter’s day for me. And what a delight it is to have such creatures sharing the cold months with us. Birds like waxwings gather around berry-licious trees, while pied wagtails gaggle together sharing the sights and sounds of the action around them.
Another thing that December harnesses is our festive spirit. Friends socialise and families congregate like starlings coming into roost, chirping away in the safety of the reeds for the night (the birds that is, not my relatives!). What is always a season of plenty for us, sees birds and wildlife hurriedly stocking up on food to survive the often brutal weather. Having to eat for survival really puts our indulgences into perspective. Continuing with your good work from Feed The Birds Day and putting some food out for the birds in your garden will be greatly appreciated and quickly gobbled up.
Thankfully, I only have a few presents to buy for a family and friends this year, but thinking of presents that won’t break the bank is never easy. Last year, I bought my family an RSPB gift membership for Christmas. All year they have been out enjoying the colourful wildlife our region has to offer - it certainly beat a pair of socks and a jumper! The money received from an RSPB gift membership goes directly towards conservation work, ensuring that all generations will be able to enjoy a world rich in wildlife.
December is certainly a special time of year, and being able to appreciate the wildlife around you makes it even more so. For more information about RSPB Christmas gift ideas, go to www.rspb.org.uk or visit your local RSPB shop.
As featured in the EDP Saturday 3 December
Blogger: Kim Matthews, Campaign Intern
This particular marine behemoth was not of the fishy variety; instead it consisted of an amazing conglomeration of sponge, strawberries and silver-coated chocolate on a board smothered in blue goo. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
My close encounter of the cake kind began earlier on this overcast Tuesday. Emerging from the Westminster tube into a crisp winter’s day is quite a feast for the eyes, with the majestic Thames flowing sluggishly past under the bridge, the London Eye looming large on the southern bank and Big Ben booming out the hour behind me.
It felt surprisingly chilly despite all the hot air I sometimes feel comes out of the Houses of Parliament. Like many of you I’m sure, I am frequently guilty of blaming politicians for everything, especially for the heinous crime of appearing to do nothing. It is certainly all too easy to get frustrated with government, especially in these austere times with environmental concerns slipping slowly but surely down the political agenda.
Today, however, was intended to be a celebration. It was two years ago that the Marine Act came into being. A chance, at last, to protect our precious marine wildlife and habitats in the same way that we protect threatened species and vital habitats on land. With less than 0.1% of our marine environment under protection it is clearly not only necessary, but also long overdue.
An intimate gathering had been planned with Richard Benyon MP (Fisheries Minister) and Martin Harper (RSPB’s Conservation Director) in a Question Time style. On went the live webcast and we were off. With questions from the audience and online realms the Minister was thoroughly quizzed on his aspirations for Marine Protected Areas, fisheries, and protection for much-loved wildlife including seabirds, basking sharks, seals and dolphins. It has to be said, despite my general scepticism on political will, he came across incredibly well. Passionate, committed and determined, words often used to describe RSPB staff and supporters!
Having survived the questioning the Minister was presented with one of our RSPB Stepping Up For Nature specials, a picture of a common tern made up of the 50,000 signatures that have been collected in our marine petition so far. Having promised to hang it above his desk he was then whisked away to cut the impressive aforementioned basking shark cake, managing to avoid a media scandal by steering clear of the fins!
Not having a political career to protect (and knowing how much my office love cake!) I felt no such qualms and managed to make off with a huge slice of the body and the dorsal fin! Travelling back to Norfolk with my contraband, hearing news of the Chancellor’s blatantly anti-environment Autumn Statement, all the remained was for me to ponder on whether Mr Benyon would be able to persuade our self-proclaimed ‘greenest government ever’ to truly commit to ensuring a sustainable future, both for our marine environment and for the people and industries that depend on it.
December is here! The first door on the advent calendar has been opened.
And so here are our Steps for December, modelled by our regional volunteer team, Annie, Zahra and Jane.
Please see below for more detail on December’s Steps.
Do: With winter arriving we are preparing for Big Garden Birdwatch already! Make sure to feed your garden birds with as wide a variety as possible to get the biggest batch of birds for your bucks, flock of finches for your fiver, tribe of tits on your table...... www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch
Give: Christmas is coming, the geese are....enjoying our wader scrapes. And it’s time to start buying your Christmas presents. Head to your local RSPB shop or peruse the RSPB catalogue to find all the gifts you could ever need. www.shopping.rspb.org.uk/
Volunteer: Gena (our Community Fundraising Officer) is making glittery oats for Christmas! We need to sell as many packets of reindeer/bird food as possible to raise valuable funds for our conservation work. If you know anywhere that you could sell even a few packets, please contact Gena who will gladly provide you with what you need. They’ll be a real hit with the kids/nephews and nieces/grand kids. Contact Gena at email@example.com or 01603 697521.
Campaign: With several of our campaigns taking a last minute re routing recently, our next steps are still being drawn up. Why not get up to date with our campaigning pages on the website www.rspb.org.uk/stepup2020 so you’re ready to take action as soon as plans are finalised.
Happy December everyone!