Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer
What makes the perfect partner? Now do not fret I am not going to get all gushy about how great my wife is, my better half, the wind beneath my wings, the Ying to my Yang. This month on our blog we have been looking at partnerships and it got me thinking about this question of the perfect partner.
Some of the answers came to me on a blustery weekend walk with my Little Chief & my wife, Abi. I don’t know about you but our family day revolves around food and what better way to talk about partnerships than food related interludes and what (in the words of my Dad) “eats well together”.
We started off early with a Sausage Bap & Cup of Tea at RSPB Titchwell Marsh. Here we spotted many usual suspects and made our way to the beach where the Little Chief took his first sustained steps and found every razor clam shell and pebble totally fascinating.
After finally toddling our way back via my handy work at the Parrinder hide we drove along the coast to Holkham. Here we began the peaceful forest walk to Wells-Next-the-Sea which we had been meaning to do for ages. This is when the blustery weather turned into soggy drizzle, the sort of rain that doesn’t seem to wet until later you realise you are wet through to your pants. We were lucky enough though to see evidence of one our favourite beasties.
Finally we got to our destination and filled up on the Great British tradition of Fish, Chips & Mushy Peas. With the 3 mile walk back past the old dunes in the rain we knew that we were well deserving of a little bit of sweetness so topped up our reserves with locally produced Mint & Choc Chip Ice-cream.
There is nothing more satisfying than a big stomp in the great outdoors with your loved ones. Even when we were wet through to the bone, a cheeky smile from my little one, an encouraging word in my ear from my wife, and a touch of Dad-humour from me, got us through to the end of the day. Now that in my eyes is a perfect partnership – team work.
Therefore, in answer to my original question, I think the way Kate describes a great partnership here is spot on; “The trick is involving someone who does have the highest level of expertise. Nature is in real trouble and if we are going to save it then we all need to work together. The more we do this, pooling expertise and resources, the more we’ll achieve”.
So whether you are a Great British food combo, a family team or conservation partnership, all are better as a whole rather than as individuals. Here at the RSPB in the East we look forward to working with more partners and seeing what extra things we can “bring to the party”, only this way can we meet our goals of saving nature by 2020.
Photo Credit: Titchwell at Sunset by Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Photo Credit: Thames Estuary Furturescape by Eleanor Bentall (rspb-images.com)
P.S. For those curious about how we finished off our culinary daily delights we ended with that other perfect British partnership of Chicken Tikka Masala & Peshwari Naan
Blogger: Kim Matthews, Campaigns Officer
Hello and welcome to the Hintlesham OakeyDoke Awards after-show party. The bubbly is flowing and the nibbles are being passed around as we celebrate our winners...
You missed the OakeyDoke awards?!
Goodness me, Stephen Fry will be devastated! Oh ok, so he wasn’t actually there, but it was still packed with stars and celebrities...of the woodland kind! Thankfully it’s not too late to get involved, just head on over to our RSPB in the East Facebook page and get voting.
To be honest all the life that exists in this ancient woodland is special and important, and it needs our protection. But I’ll come to that in a moment.
Firstly, what makes a wood ’ancient’? Well, ancient woodlands are classified as having had continuous cover since at least 1600 AD, now that is a mighty long time. No wonder they harbour a wealth of plants and animals!
Allow me to introduce you to some of these amazing inhabitants, many of whom don’t have photos or even common names so you will have to excuse the sprinkling of Latin and marvel at the beauty of the language and the rarity of the creatures instead.
Almost all of the characters we met in our first category are classed as birds of conservation concern. The song thrush and marsh tit are red-listed species, whilst the nightingale and nuthatch are amber-listed. Only the great spotted woodpecker is doing well.
Plants and trees
The early purple orchid, green hellebore, herb-paris, spurge-laurel, hornbeam, wild service trees and small-leaved lime trees are all important woodland denizens. In fact, all but the orchid are classed as very good Ancient Woodland Indicator Species. These are species that seldom occur outside woodland and are generally slow to colonise new areas.
You’ve already met the red-listed pauper pug moth, but what about Acleris literana another moth found in only a handful of sites in Suffolk, including Ramsey Wood (which forms part of the Hintlesham Great Wood). There is also the beautifully named Mesosa nebulosa, a Red Data Book beetle that lives in deadwood in the canopy. I hadn’t even realised you could get deadwood in the canopy!
Finally there is the nationally scarce flat-backed millipede, Propolydesmus testaceous, that we met last week. Hintlesham is the most northerly site in Europe where you can find this millipede, plus it is the only site in the whole of the UK where all five species of Polydesmus millipede occur. Impressive huh!
As well as the marvellous mammals you have already met, there are also bats and possibly even dormice. They have just been found in the nearby Wolves Wood so we are all keeping our fingers crossed!
But the rub is that National Grid may well be about to stick pylons smack bang through these woods, running parallel to an existing line that was in place before the woods received their SSSI status (marking them as hugely important for the species they contain). These new pylons would require, at the very least, a 35m wide swathe to be cut through the heart of the woods, dividing and fragmenting them drastically.
If you would like to help us spare this remarkable woodland that has been around for centuries from unnecessary destruction then please follow the link, read the briefing and write to National Grid to encourage them to choose their alternative route which avoids the woods completely.
If you would like to see the wonders of Hintlesham for yourself, why not join us on our ‘Last chance to see...’ guided walk at Hintlesham woods on Saturday 5th May at 9am. To book a place please contact Mark Nowers on 01206 391153 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Officer
The RSPB encourages people around the world to get creative...
There is less than two weeks left to enter the first ever RSPB poetry competition and the interest so far has come from all around the globe. As Europe’s largest conservation charity we have been encouraging nature lovers and budding poets to wax lyrical about wildlife, enthuse about the environment and gush about green spaces in response to the competition theme, ‘Nature Poetry’.
And the RSPB has been overwhelmed with how far some entries have come in from. So far, poems have been written in South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Spain, France, Italy, Germany and Australia and have all been inspired by nature in some way.
Matthew Howard, our Community Collections Scheme Officer says:
“This competition is a real first for the RSPB. We are running it in partnership with award-winning poetry publisher, The Rialto, which itself is a real privilege. We are also thrilled to have former Poet Laureate, Sir Andrew Motion, and prize-winning nature writer, Mark Cocker as our judges.
“But, we didn’t anticipate such a level of global interest. It’s wonderful to read poems about how much nature has moved people. It certainly goes to show how much our planet is a rich natural well of inspiration.
“There is still time for entries to be submitted though. The closing date is April 30 and there are some great prizes on offer. Whether you are a professional writer, a keen amateur or are new to writing, we’d love to hear from you.
“And as with the old adage ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’, this competition will help us to continue in our battle to save nature by raising funds for crucial conservation work nationally and abroad.”
Entrants have the chance to win cash prizes, publication in The Rialto and a personal tour with Mark Cocker of his most cherished wildlife places in East Anglia.
A small entry fee of £6 for the first poem and £3 for each subsequent poem will be charged. The closing date for entries is 30 April 2012.
For full rules and to enter please visit www.therialto.co.uk or contact Matt Howard on 01603 697515 or email@example.com for an entry form.
Other stuff you may want to know
Blogger: Kate Blincoe, Communications Manager
What would be your Mastermind specialist subject? Like a party trick (I can twist my arm round 360 degrees), everyone should have one. I think my specialist subject would have to be Thomas the Tank Engine. I’ve studied his life, friends and various escapades in detail over the last few years. However, I have to admit, my young son is arguably more knowledgeable than me. If only they did phone a friend!
You may not be surprised to hear that many RSPB employees are bird experts and would probably choose avian topics as their subject. However, a fair few would choose moths, bats, spiders or even social media too. We are increasingly finding that knowing your birds is not enough; nature conservation is about so much more.
Wildlife and habitats are such complex, interconnected ecosystems, that to be a specialist in all fields is pretty challenging. Those that achieve it do so over a life time of passionate interest. For those of us a little younger, many of us go along with Socrates who said, ‘the only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing.’
The trick is involving someone who does have the highest level of expertise. Nature is in real trouble and if we are going to save it then we all need to work together. The more we do this, pooling expertise and resources, the more we’ll achieve.
We’ve recently joined forces with Buglife to enable both organisations to provide more and better advice on wildlife friendly farming in the region. Buglife are the experts on saving Britain's rarest little animals. With their help, we’ll now be able to advise farmers on protecting snails, bees, wasps, ants, spiders, beetles, butterflies and more.
Insects aren’t just something that ruin a picnic. They are vital for so many birds and creatures, so if we can look after them, then we are well on the way to a thriving ecosystem. Not to mention a healthy economy; recent figures indicate that the loss of bees would cost the UK £1.8 billion as we would have to hand pollinate all our crops.
We need the expertise of farmers too. They are the custodians of our land and know their patch like the back of their hand. Farmers have seen the changes over time and they are brilliantly placed to step up and save many special and vital species. Farmers, Buglife and the RSPB, all working together, starts to make the massive challenges ahead seem possible.
Sadly, I’m far from an insect expert. It would sound so much more impressive to have ‘entomology’ as my specialist subject. However, it is reassuring that the RSPB has got Buglife on our ‘phone a friend’ list.
Photo credit: Eleanor Bentall (rspb-images.com).jpg
Blogger: Jane Warren, RSPB in the East Green Team Member
Editor's Note: Your next monthly posting from our fab Green Team - who keep us on our green toes (or should that be green fingers?)
I came back to Norfolk four years ago after a 15-year stint in Australia, which is often described as the driest inhabited continent on earth. Living with drought conditions was a normal part of everyday life where I lived in Melbourne. By April 2007, dams were at only 25% capacity and serious water restrictions were put in place. And there were reports of ‘bucket back’ as people lugged heavy buckets and basins of grey water from showering or washing up to water their parched gardens...
Probably the last thing I was expecting on my return to this green and pleasant land was to find myself caught up in drought conditions again. But as we know, one of the worst droughts in living memory is currently gripping southern and eastern areas of the UK. As I’m writing this, the rain is actually pouring down in Norwich, but there are no plans to lift the hosepipe ban that has been in place since early April. We need weeks and weeks of rain in order to beat the drought.
The prolonged period of drought has already had a big impact on RSPB wetland nature reserves across the drought-hit area, and is threatening to adversely affect this spring's breeding season at many sites. If we can reduce the demand we put on water catchments and reservoirs, this will help keep more water in the environment, keeping rivers flowing for longer and protecting their precious wildlife.
There are simple things that we can all do to reduce the water we use in our homes and gardens, helping to protect rivers and wetlands:
If we all take small steps now and act together, we can make a big difference for wildlife.
And just in case you’re interested, by the end of 2011, Melbourne’s water fortunes had completely changed thanks to that weather phenomenon La Niña, which delivered rain by the bucket loads.
Internet article: http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/310966-down-hoses-for-wildlife-conservationists-urge
Photo: curlew by Tom Marshall (rspb-images.com)