Bugs, Birds and Beasts in the East

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Bugs, Birds and Beasts in the East

All of our up to date fun and frolics in the East from office antics to great conservation stories and those magical connections with nature.
  • Inspiring our future conservationists

    Blogger: Agnes Rothon

    Can you remember what it was that inspired you to do the job that you do today or the job that you did throughout your working life? I can remember mine and I revisited it quite by accident the other day.

    I was clearing out the spare room – the drawers at the bottom of the book case were beginning to sag under the weight of the cargo that they carried. It was time to get down to the serious business of ‘having a clear-out.’ Amongst the piles of old photos, balls of knitting wool and childhood trinkets I came across the story tapes that I would listen to at bedtime when I was younger. There were some great titles in there – The Twits by Roald Dahl, Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee and then, my absolute favourite, My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. I could immediately remember receiving the double-cassette one Christmas – I must have been about eight or nine. It was the most long-lasting and value for money present my mother has probably ever given me and I fell asleep to the story many, many times over the years.

    Having found the cassette I wanted to listen again and found myself able, even now, to repeat many sections of the book word-for-word. Durrell evokes landscape and the animals that inhabit it in glorious and intimate detail. From scorpions found hiding behind crumbling brick in the garden wall to the antics of Durrell’s pet magpie the sheer wonder of a childhood spent outdoors is retold in ‘My Family’ effortlessly and beautifully.

    I wonder now whether it was my experience of this book and my kinship with it that allowed me to develop my own love of wildlife and my desire to describe this passion for the outdoors through words. I know for certain that I will pass on the chance to enjoy Durrell’s writing to my own son at the earliest possible opportunity.

    I do so hope that amongst the children of today there are the conservationists and naturalists of the future. The future of our wildlife and green landscapes depends on it. That’s why the RSPB tries to provide as many opportunities as it can to give as many children as possible the chance to experience nature for themselves. This summer holiday why not take a family trip to your local nature reserve and see what you can find? You never know – you might just be inspiring your child to become the next Gerald Durrell. 

    As featured in the Eastern Daily Press on Saturday 17 August

  • Swifts, Swallows & House Martins - I am a bit clueless

    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/

     

  • Volunteering has got me closer to nature

    Studying BSc Ecology at UEA and volunteering in the RSPB’s communications team are completely different, yet so similar – the bottom line being conservation, conservation, conservation. The past year, I have not only had the closest nature experiences of my life, but have learnt why conserving our wildlife really is so important.

    Training to be an ecologist requires a large amount of field work – something that the 15 other ecology students and I love on our course. One of the highlights this year (besides getting stuck in a marsh with leaking wellies!) was bird ringing. A bird novice, it was amazing to get so close to these creatures that we normally only see flying way above our heads or fluttering away as you walk past. Its tiny beak cheeping and chirping, it was amazing to learn how little the great tit weighed and how delicate and fragile it seemed in our lecturer’s hands. It’s easy to understand why so many people have such a great love for birds; our flying friends.

    The other side of ecology is habitats and plants – something I hear less about at RSPB, but is still a focus in their mission to create and maintain homes for nature. This summer, between volunteering for RPSB and enjoying my ridiculously long summer break, I have been completing a piece of university coursework – a wild flower taxonomic collection. Keyed-up on my ragworts, cats-ears and hawkbits, my eyes have been well and truly opened to the sheer breadth of flowers that flood our roadsides, embankments and grasslands. On one afternoon ramble to find flowers, gorgeous arrays of butterflies fluttered all around me, emerging from the surrounding foliage and stunning me with their colours and vibrancy. And there is the link – without plants and habitats, British wildlife can no longer survive. Without a ‘home’, there will be no more great tits to bird ring; there will no more butterflies on countryside walks.

    This is where conservation, conservation, conservation comes into action. Whilst the RSPB’s 200 reserves provide vital homes for nature, our own gardens are now being put under the spotlight. With gardens equalling the equivalent of 380,000 football pitches, RSPB’s new ‘Giving Nature a Home’ campaign is all about taking our local patches and turning them into wildlife-friendly, havens for nature.  With 60% of UK species in decline, now is no better time to use our spare time and space to help RSPB build a million new homes for nature.

    Please visit www.rspb.org.uk/ homes for lots of information on simple things that you can do to help make your patch a haven for wildlife. Find us on Facebook, or tweet us at @RSPBInTheEast to let us know what amazing things you do for nature where you live!

    As featured in the Eastern Daily Press, Saturday 10 August