Blogger: Neil Santy, Volunteer (Business Partnerships)
Perhaps you’ve seen the film; the one with Dev Patel, Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson? Well, the hotel really does exist! We went to visit on a recent holiday out in the wilds of Rajasthan, and although it was fascinating, I was drawn to the red-wattled lapwings and laughing doves that abound in that part of the Indian countryside.
An eighteen day whistle-stop tour through Rajasthan, taking in Delhi, Agra, Bharatpur, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Udaipur, then down to Mumbai and Goa, was an opportunity to catch up with some of the wildlife of that vast and diverse sub-continent. Just on the bird front I was amazed to spot 188 different species – many I had never seen before (not having been to India before). That’s only scratching the fauna surface and plenty of excuses to return to an utterly intriguing and beguiling country, full of colour, contrast, and friendly people.
The good news for any birders out there is that water has returned to Bharatpur, a combination of a reasonable monsoon last year and the decision to pump water in from the local river systems. Perhaps it’s not reached the sheer numbers of its heyday and a number of species have, in the intervening years, decided to find pastures new but the birds are returning.
Here is just a taster of some of the stunners that we came across:
A large numbers of waders (mostly black winged stilt and green and common sandpiper, but also marsh and wood sandpiper and greenshank), flocks of lesser whistling duck, numbers of painted stork, bar headed goose, ruddy shelduck, egrets, little cormorant, darters, and purple swamphen. Some of the winter visitors were still in residence and we caught up with Siberian rubythroat and orange headed thrush.
Picture: Crested Serpent Eagle in Ranthambore
Picture: Rufous Treepie in Ranthambore
Some real highlights were the haunting cry of the sarus crane drifted over the lagoons and the explosions of teal, pintail, coot and wigeon every time an Indian spotted eagle passed by, were spectacular. It’s good to know that a passion for birds is growing in India and more people are becoming interested in the environment: with its burgeoning population, the countryside will need all the friends it can get. For example, our guides were hugely knowledgeable and could often pick out the birds without the aid if binoculars….not quite sure how they do it!
If ever you get the chance, go: besides the fauna, you cannot fail to be impressed with the temples, forts, and yes, of course, the Taj Mahal. We hope to return one day…..especially as we missed the kings of the forest – the regal tiger.
Picture: Kingfishers a plenty
Editor's Note: Neil Santy is one of our newest volunteers. As Natura People Business Liaison Officer he is developing links with Suffolk businesses and working to place Minsmere as the top tourist destination for Suffolk. Natura People is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the INTERREG IV A 2 Mers Seas Zeeën Crossborder Programme 2007-2013.
Blogger: Gena Correale-Wardle
A little while ago we asked our Twitter followers for some ideas of things you could do with a bucket. Some very good and strange answers came back – bury it and make it into a stag beetle home; use it as a coal scuttle and even have it as a makeshift toilet! The most sensible of the suggestions was to use your bucket to go collecting funds at your local supermarket, which is what 100s of yellow buckets will be being used for at the end of this month when Love Nature Week hits our streets and shops!
Love Nature Week is the RSPB’s national flag week where hundreds of our fab volunteers get out in the sunshine of their local high streets or the shelter of their local supermarkets to raise funds for nature in their local area. Simple! This year it has a local feel (can you tell?) as we are collecting for local conservation projects, so all proceeds raised in the East will support our farmland bird projects. The week runs from 26 May to the 2 June (with a few renegade days either side) and we more locations than you can shake a bucket at – over 80 at the last count!
In 2011 we raised over £10,000 in this region alone and we really want to beat that figure this year. So the question is, do you fancy doing something fun with a bucket and getting a really rewarding feeling after you’ve done it? And I’m not talking about using it as a makeshift toilet!
We are looking for people to come and give collecting a try – it’s really not as scary as you think and if you bring along a friend you will have double the fun! Some of our collectors even use it as an opportunity to catch up with people in their local community and tell them about the great work of the RSPB in the process. But don’t worry – no knowledge of birds and wildlife is required, just a couple of free hours and a big smile, we’ll provide the rest!
With collections from Morrisons in St Albans to Louth town centre, we’ve got the region covered – please join in and get ‘lucky with a bucky’ to see just how much you can collect. There are plenty of other things to do with a bucket, but I think this one is probably the one that’ll make the biggest difference and put a great big smile on your face.
To sign up go to www.rspb.org.uk/bucketcollections where you can find a google map of all the Love Nature Week sites and dates and find out more about bucket collections with the RSPB.