Blogger: Aggie Rothon, Communications Officer
Do you remember the Great Storms of ’87? I don’t. I slept through them, but I do remember sitting astride a huge sweet chestnut tree the following day. It had crashed to the ground overnight, leaving a huge ragged hole where it had once stood, ropes of tender root sprouting from the tree’s base like springs from an old, baggy mattress. The tree was so tall that it kept us in fire wood for months. I remember it’s uppermost branches bent against the fence at the far end of the garden, like an animal far too big for it’s cage.
I sometimes wish we had left it where it had fallen rather than tidying it away. Old wood takes on a second life. I was reminded of that as I walked the woods at RSPB Minsmere the other day. A thin path winds it’s way upwards as you walk out towards the heath and the sharp slope to your left is softened by swathes of fallen leaves. The smooth sculptural forms of tree limbs long fallen lie below you. They’re like roman heroes on their day-beds or the sea-carved remains of ancient ships. They look historical and, in fact, are historical. They leave me wondering what they’re former selves were and what kind of lives they led. And if their branches were filled with tits and finches and the scurrying of treecreepers and nuthatches before, they are laden with life now. Woodpeckers and owls excavate their age softened reaches, spiders and oily-backed beetles and armoured bugs parade their wooden plains and hide in their damp undersides.
Our storm-damaged sweet chestnut left a gap in the sky-line as I remember - it was one of a group of massive, stately trees in the wood behind the house. I used to dream of sitting up high riding the thinnest and whippiest of it’s branches as they sprang and coiled against the wind. I used to wonder what it would be like to live up there and become part of the comings and goings of a treetop existence.
The Canopy Hide at Minsmere is like a treehouse for birdwatchers. I sat up there later, amongst the bright green of the leaves and listened to a cuckoo calling beside me. The air seemed fresher, less earthy and I felt lifted above the hubbub of belonging to the world ‘out there’. In my dreams I live in a treehouse or on a boat hidden amongst a reedbed. With this a distant possibility, it would seem that a trip to RSPB Minsmere is the closest I’ll get to my ideal.
You can find out more about RSPB Minsmere nature reserve at www.rspb.org.uk/reserves. Join us for a Dawn Chorus walk and breakfast between the 7 and 21 May and hear the woodland come alive with birdsong.
Article in the Eastern Daily Press on 15th May 2011
Blogger: Rachael Murray, Media Officer
Sedge Warbler. Photo Credit: Adam Murray
Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer
Now I am not a football fan (hopefully I haven't just lost half of you) I blame it on my folks travelling around a lot when I was a wee one. I never had a team that I could support and be proud of. My soon-to-be-father in law is always a bit disappointed with this as he can not wax lyrical about the highs and lows of Sunderland FC.
I have to admit, I was blown away the other day when I was walking home seeing the waves of yellow and green on the streets as the Norwich City FC fans walked to see their heroes. There is something rather touching about the way a simple game of 22 folk kicking a ball around can bring thousands of people together. There were people of all ages, an elderly lady sporting a fetching green and yellow floral dress and matching hair band, young families with inflatable canaries, people from all walks of life. As I was walking by it struck me that these people probably walk by each other every day of their lives, but put them in matching plumage and they will happily chat and rallying each other along.
This is when it got me thinking about what I do at work and how we are all working towards doing our green bit for conservation. If we could just bottle that passion and pride that Norwich's Yellow Army have and use it for conservation then we could do amazing things. The thing is that I know that you, yes you, already have that passion for making a difference, just look at all the great work our members, volunteers and blog fans do with the RSPB. If we could just crank it up a notch and get the same number of people who wave their yellow and green scarves for the footie to wave a banner for conservation, then we would be well on the way to helping our wildlife here in the East.
SO how do we do it? Do we need that sense of pride, bringing people together, a common goal and even a uniform and mascot? I couldn't help but have a think and see if, other than a 6 foot tall canary, there is a bird out there that could be a mascot for the plucky footballers of our fair city. So take a look at the motley crew below and see what you think - who would you choose to represent?
If you want to step up and do something to help be part of this green movement why not sign up to our Love Nature week where you can give a bit of your time to help raise money for conservation. Also I promise you don't have to dress up in any 6 foot canary (or other animal) outfit (http://www.rspb.org.uk/lovenature/).
Greenfinch. Photo Credit: Ben Hall (rspb images)
Yellowhammer. Photo Credit: Tom Marshall (rspb images)
Yellow wagtail. Photo Credit: Andy Hay (rspb images)
'OWLBERT' IN NORWICH STREETS TO FIND NATURE VOLUNTEERS
A giant owl called 'Owlbert' will be flapping around Norwich with his huge silver and green binoculars tomorrow (Tuesday 10 May). But rather than hunting for voles and mice, he's searching for nature lovers who may want to raise money for local wildlife projects. The RSPB team is aiming to raise £10,000 during its Love Nature Week (28 May to 5 June) and needs around 200 volunteers for 80 street collection sites.
Most collectors will raise around £20 during one hour, which is enough to buy bug hunting or pond dipping kits for Norfolk youngsters visiting nearby RSPB nature reserve Strumpshaw Fen. He usually lives in a large tree by the Thames. But Owlbert's currently flapping around the county on a two-month UK tour, which takes in Scotland and ends during Love Nature Week at the Hay Festival, Herefordshire.
Anyone wanting to volunteer for Love Nature Week should chat to Owlbert in the town and city centres or visit www.rspb.org.uk/lovenatureweek.
Owlbert hooted: "What a hoot, I'm just flying with excitement and can't wait to meet lots of nature lovers keen to step up for nature and sign up for Love Nature Week. Come and give me a hug!"
Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Manager
What is it about seeing a rainbow that makes you feel totally exhilarated? We all know the science behind a rainbow. Even as a youngster, the theory behind the rain and then the sun was a process that we learnt inherently. Of course, the pot of gold and the leprechaun was always the preferred fantasy! But seriously, seeing a rainbow is a magical experience, like you're being let in on a secret. One that instantly brings a smile to your face, connects you with nature in a split second and allows you to appreciate something scientifically marvellous, in such a simple terms.
This isn't a story totally dedicated to rainbows so I hope you're still with me. I'll get to the point - I have someone i'd like to introduce you to. You may have seen them recently being flashed about the news, local and national, in all their glory. No, it's not Will and Kate, I'd like you to meet a star of our skies, the red kite. I'm pretty sure that many of you will have seen or heard of this creature before so it will come to no surprise to you that they are fast becoming the most talked about bird across the country.
And here's the science bit ... at the start of the century, the red kite was extinct, driven to extinction through egg collecting, shooting and poisoning. It sounds so harsh and clinical, but it really was this dramatic. The red kite vanished from our skies in an extreme fashion and for some, was never seen again. In the 1980s, the red kite was one of only three globally threatened species in the UK, and so it was a high priority for conservation efforts. And it was some effort that followed to bring the red kite up to the population it holds today. The RSPB's 2011 Big Garden Birdwatch survey recorded as many as 2,000 breeding pairs of red kite, an increase of over 130% since last year.
Now, for the not-so sciencey bit ... watching a red kite soar over your back garden is a sight that stops you in your tracks. Quite literally! A majestic bird that has the 'rainbow effect' and instantly connects you with the natural world. Whether you're interested in the history; the dark past of the red kite, the science behind it's remarkable comeback or, just simply, the sight of that sleek, fanned-tail against a backdrop of great British countryside, moving elegantly and effortlessly through our skies, I urge you to take a second to indulge in the moment. Our natural world offers us many complex and deeply scientific phenomena, but often the most modest of occurrences; a rainbow over your house or a red kite soaring into your vision, can have the deepest impact and instantly lift your spirits.
Photo Credit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Article in Eastern Daily Press on Sunday 8th May 2011.