Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer
I don't know about you but I have loved having our summer visitors here. As they soar overhead in the evening I wish I knew a little more about which was which – I know it shouldn’t really matter and I should be happy to just enjoy their flirtatious skirting of rooftops. There is something maybe geeky or nerdy about it, identifying something, giving it a name, putting it in its place in the world. Maybe it is just so that you can turn to that bloke at the bus stop or your nearest and dearest and confidently say “Look there, the swifts are flying high this evening” (thinking about it that sounds like some John Le Carre detective password). So after a bit of digging in my trusty bird book (easily purchased online) and with my more birdy colleagues I came up with some simple ways of telling our usual suspects apart.
House Martin – prominent white on the belly, smallest of the three (but that is only helpful if they line up next to each other in a Red Arrows type formation)
Swallow – very defined forked tail and red on the head
Swift – dark all over, wings are long and scythe-like
So I hope that helps and watch this space for more news on these great birds...
SWALLOW. Credit: Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)
HOUSE MARTIN. Credit: Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)
SWIFT. Credit: Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)
For more information about swifts take a look at http://www.rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/surveys/swifts/
Blogger: Rachael Murray, Projects Officer
At the RSPB, we are well known for our royal allegiance to birds. And, whilst we think things with beaks are pretty marvellous, it’s less known that we also spend a great deal of time protecting, campaigning for, and creating space for all manner of other beastie.
And though I know this theoretically, it’s been working on The Lodge wind turbine project that has really driven it home to me; in fact, lately, it’s been driving me a bit batty!
Before we can be confident that The Lodge is a suitable site for a turbine, we’ve had a great deal of survey work to do, and there’s more to come.
After surveying bird populations in the area for years, we are confident that a turbine at The Lodge won’t result in any negative impacts on our sensitive feathered species. But birds are not the only winged creatures that call The Lodge their home. We also have bats hiding away in the nearby woodlands by day and careering around the reserve on the hunt for tasty moths and other insects as night falls. And before we can even think about further planning for a turbine, we need to make sure that they will happily co-exist with our proposed green energy generator.
We are now entering our third year of bat surveys, and things are suddenly getting more interesting, thanks to our new meteorological mast, constructed in Sandy Ridge this Tuesday. As well as measuring wind speeds, this 70 m tall steel structure will, for the first time, allow us to monitor bat activity at the height of the proposed turbine blades.
This will help us understand if a turbine is likely to impact upon some of our resident species, including common pipistrelle (drawing below), soprano pipistrelle and noctule.
Drawing by Chris Shields (rspb-images.com)
And since the mast will be simultaneously measuring wind speeds and bat activity, it will allow us to do something a bit clever. By looking at both sets of data together, we will get an understanding of our furry friend’s behaviour at different times of year, in different wind speeds.
This means that even if we do see our batty visitors regularly calling by the turbine site in search of an insect snack, at a particular time of the night, year, or in a specific wind speed, we may be able to turn the turbine off whilst they are in harm’s way. Existing research suggests that this can often be in lower wind speeds, which would mean that switching the turbine off in these conditions wouldn’t significantly impact the amount of electricity that our turbine generates.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves....for now, we are just excited to be devoting attention to our resident bats, to ensure that we are as focused on their welfare as that of our feathered friends.
Building a turbine is not a decision we will take lightly. However, if we find our chosen site to be suitable, it is a step that we will be taking with great pride, and optimism for a future with lower carbon emissions and choc full of wildlife species safe from the impacts of climate change. And we hope you agree that there is nothing batty about that.
If you’d like to keep up-to-date with project progress, or want to know more about the project we’ll be keeping everyone posted on at www.rspb.org.uk/lodgewindturbine.
Blogger: Rachael Murray, Media Officer
Suffolk Police, and RSPB in the East are appealing for information after a barn owl was found shot at a nature reserve in Suffolk. Derek Turner, from Saxmundham, found the bird on Tuesday 23rd November whilst walking his dog at nearby RSPB nature reserve, Snape Warren.
The barn owl survived the incident, and is currently in a local bird rehabilitation centre. It is hoped that the bird will be released back onto the nature reserve later this month when it has fully recovered.
Derek explains: “As I approached the owl, I could see that it was badly hurt. It was obvious that it had a damaged wing, but it was only when we got it to the vet that we were given the shocking news that it had been shot. “I accompanied RSPB staff with the owl to the vets and have been to visit it in the rehabilitation centre now too. Thankfully, it is doing really well, and I hope to be able to join the RSPB when they release it back onto the reserve.”
It is believed that the act was a malicious attempt to cause harm to the bird, and both local police and the RSPB are keen to find out more about the incident.
RSPB Investigations Officer Guy Shorrock said: “It’s shocking that anyone would want to shoot such a beautiful and harmless bird as a barn owl. Many people get a huge amount of delight from seeing this ghostly apparition floating over the Suffolk countryside at dusk as it hunts voles and mice in the fields and hedgerows. We appeal to anyone with any information about this wicked act to contact Suffolk Police immediately”
PC Mark Bryant, Wildlife Crime Officer with Suffolk Police, added: "We are investigating this incident and are asking anyone who may have seen someone shooting on this RSPB reserve site to come forward."
All birds of prey and owls are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. A person convicted of killing one of these birds could be fined up to £5000 and /or six months in jail.
If members of the public have information about this crime they can call the RSPB on 0845 466 3636. All information will be handled in strictest confidence.
Photo credit: John Bridges
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Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Officer
The largest conservation organisation in Europe is today launching a plea for keen birdwatchers to take part in a rather unusual project.
For its 2013 calendar, the RSPB is looking for bearded birdwatchers to take part in a photo shoot around the East of England.
But there’s a catch. They are to pose with nothing more than their binoculars, strategically placed, to raise money for the society!
RSPB Director in the East, Paul Forecast said: “This is a great opportunity for us to show off the talented birdwatchers we have in the region. Having a beard is a really important part of the look of a birdwatcher so we will insist that all models have a certain amount of facial hair.
“I would also advise that anyone who is really keen on a career as a naked birdwatcher model considers the option of wearing sandals and socks for a little something extra!”
Birdwatcher Rob Coleman, pictured said: “I am really excited to take part in the calendar for the RSPB. With the great weather at the moment, it’s the perfect excuse to top up your tan and shows that you don’t need to wear camouflage to have a good time!”
[Editor's Note: Jermaine Stewart would agree...see video below]
Anyone who is keen to find out more can email the RSPB on firstname.lastname@example.org