Blogger: Gena Correale Wardle, Community Fundraising Officer
I have just returned from the most amazing three week holiday in North America, exploring the North East of the USA and Canada. We took in several man made marvels over the course of our time away but the most incredible parts of our journey were spent amongst breathtaking scenery and miracles of nature. From seeing my first cardinals in my Aunt’s garden bushes in New York to experiencing the might of Niagara Falls, I was blown away with the beauty of North American nature and wildlife.
I would encourage anyone to go to the Laurentians (a bit like Canada’s version of the Alps) for your chance to see golden eagles gliding on the thermals, great blue herons fishing in the clear blue lakes, hear wolves howling in the distance and have butterflies as big as your fist flit by your ear. The views are stunning, they really make you feel glad to be out in the middle of nowhere where the only way to get to the other side of the lake is to row and moor up on a secluded beach.
Even in the cities wildlife abounds - a hummingbird hovered 10ft away from us as we picnicked in the park in Montreal, having a nectar rich lunch before flitting away in the blink of an eye. If you venture down a quiet path in Mont Royal Parc you will probably catch a chipmunk dropping whatever it’s nibbling on before it scuttles off into the undergrowth. Racoons rustle through trash cans, intimidating in their gangs with their bandit-like face masks.
What amazed me the most was when I got home I researched the Birdlife Partners for the countries I’d visited and was shocked to see how low their membership numbers were. For all of Canada’s stunning wildlife and scenery, less than 50,000 people actively support the two Birdlife Partners - Bird Studies Canada and Nature Canada. Similarly, despite only touching the surface of what the USA has to offer in terms of national parks, marine life and geological phenomena I was surprised to hear that our equivalent, Audubon, only has 400,000 members.
It made me very grateful that people on our little island, with its relatively modest mountains and quiet seas, are so much more active in their support of the RSPB with well over 1 million members. We may not have scenery as dramatic as Niagara Falls, no mammals as large as moose or dangerous as bears, but we do have huge public support and understanding of the problems threatening our fragile environment. Thank you each and every one of you for supporting us – you make me very proud to be British!
Photos by Gena