Get an exclusive insight into our work in the south east region and meet some of the people who make it possible.
OK so we’re not quite at the end of the year but as we head towards the Christmas period I found myself looking back over the last 11 months with a sense of wonder and pride.
What a lot of changes have taken place as we challenged ourselves to be more relevant, inspiring, sociable and to deliver more to reach our goal of Saving Nature.
And what a fantastic response from the public and all of you – our supporters!
This was the year the RSPB unveiled our new brand and with it a fresh new look and feel. We also launched the Giving Nature a Home campaign – hopefully you saw the TV advert (if not you can watch it on our website) which reached an incredible 85% of UK adults who saw the advert an average of six times.
This has led to an extra surge of support for our conservation work with lots of you registering on the website and requesting our guide to tips and activities.
And you’ve been sharing what you’re up to and talking to us on Facebook about how you’re helping to give nature a home. We’ve loved hearing about what you’re doing and seeing your pictures.
Then in the summer came our innovative new event, the Big Wild Sleepout, encouraging you all to camp out in your gardens or on one of our nature reserves.
In the south east we had events at Pulborough Brooks, Rainham Marshes, Northward Hill and Farnham Heath. All of these saw adults and children alike enjoying getting outdoors and closer to nature in spectacular surroundings. And we’re already making plans to make this even bigger and better next year.
Which leads us nicely into 2014 and what next?
Well first up is the Big Garden Birdwatch which takes place the last weekend in January. This year we want to hear from you not just about the birds you count in one hour but also what other wildlife visits your garden throughout the year.
So wrap up warm over the winter and enjoy watching all the wonderful wildlife that makes its home here in the south east!
Many of us will be singing harmoniously, or not in my case, about two turtle doves this Christmas – here are some ways you can contribute to saving them and get a few more names crossed off of this years shopping list!
The turtle dove has faced such steep declines in the UK, 85% between 1995 and 2011, that if action isn’t taken now, finding two turtle doves may become impossible within the next ten years.
By purchasing any of the products below the donations made to Operation Turtle Dove will be used to fund our habitat advisory work on the ground with farmers as well as vital research into UK breeding grounds and factors affecting migration and wintering areas.
For any wildlife art lovers Matt Sewell has stepped up for turtle doves by creating an enchanting and distinctive, pop-art turtle dove watercolour, prints of which are available from his online shop. Matt is kindly donating £30 to Operation Turtle Dove from the sale of each print which is a bargain at £45.
The chocolate fiends in your life will welcome a gift from artisan chocolatier, Callie Higginbottom who has created a wonderful range of turtle dove themed treats with a proportion of each sale donated to the project.
For those people in your life who just seem to have everything then a Good Natured Gift provides an unusual alternative. For £25 you can help us to track turtle doves using satellite tracking devices, providing vital information about their migration routes and wintering grounds.
If you have been super organised and finished the Christmas shopping already, well done you, you’re way ahead of me, but you can still support Operation Turtle Dove and wildlife friendly farming in general by looking for the Conservation Grade bumblebee logo (see pic below) whilst doing the weekly shop. This logo means that the product uses ingredients from farms where at least 10 per cent of the land is dedicated to wildlife habitat provision such as pollen and nectar or wild bird seed mixtures.
A growing number of well known brands have received the accreditation; including Allinson flours and bread which you could use for baking those festive goodies or for the inevitable leftover turkey sandwiches on Boxing Day! Or why not try some Jordan’s porridge oats for a warming breakfast on those frosty winter mornings. The full list of products can be found on the Conservation Grade website.
So please help to save this Christmas icon by supporting Operation Turtle Dove over the festive season in whatever way that you can.
Thank you and happy shopping!
Image: A snippet of Matt Sewell’s turtle dove watercolour and the Conservation Grade logo.
Operation Turtle Dove is a three-year collaborative project between the RSPB, Conservation Grade and Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, supported by Natural England. You can find out more about the project and what you can do to help on the website: www.operationturtledove.org
Here at The Caravan Club we’ve been partners with the RSPB for seven years. As sponsor of the skylark, a species that has seen rapid decline in recent decades, we are pleased to be supporting the RSPB in its agricultural work.
We also support the RSPB’s Giving Nature a Home campaign and many of our members love taking part in the annual Big Garden Birdwatch.
Caravanning, motorhoming and trailer tenting is synonymous with the great outdoors and allows people the opportunity to get close to nature whilst having the freedom to enjoy and appreciate wildlife across the whole of the UK.
We rely on our members to help us keep track of wildlife whilst out and about in their ‘vans.
The Club’s Boosting Biodiversity programme was launched in 2006 to help both members and site staff get the most out of the wildlife and nature that surrounds Caravan Club Sites.
Our Boosting Biodiversity Sites have areas that are left to nature in order to encourage insects, wild flowers and grasses to flourish. There are nature trail checklists so members can tick off the wildlife they have spotted which helps us to maintain the environment for our native species, as well as plenty of visiting wildlife too. Currently we have 43 Club Sites that are part of the Boosting Biodiversity Programme and many other Sites that also report back to The Club on the local wildlife that has been spotted.
In the southern region the New Forest Caravan Club Centenary Site has an area designated as a wildlife sanctuary which is at present grazed by wild New Forest ponies. Site staff recently reported that the large number of oak trees encourage roosting bats. Nightjars nest in the conifer hedges and both fallow deer and buzzards are regularly spotted on site.
And just across the border in Wiltshire the Longleat Caravan Club Site is set amongst the landscaped parkland and woodland of the Longleat Estate, with the northern part of the site opening into an area of mature semi-natural woodland. Site staff have reported sightings of owls, fallow deer, squirrels, woodpeckers, linnets, wrens and blue tits. Bluebells, Ramson (wild garlic), aconites and violets grow. The stream running through the lower end of the wood has fresh water mussels.
Many of The Caravan Club Sites are situated within 10 miles of an RSPB reserve. You can view Club sites here
Also we’d love you to come and discuss wildlife and nature on Club Together, The Caravan Club’s online community. We’re currently talking about the wildlife we have encountered whilst out and about in the UK.
We ask member’s to send us their photography from caravanning and motorhoming trips. We have received some wonderful images of wildlife and nature at its best.
Image Amongst the bluebells at Kendal Caravan Club Site - photograph by member Harold Masterson