I’m sure your dining table will be groaning under the weight of festive fare this December. But don’t forget to keep piling goodies on the bird table too.
As a reminder of this to the good folk of Bridlington, we’re making all the decorations on our entry in the town’s Christmas Tree Festival edible and especially yummy for birds and wildlife.
This is the first festival of its kind in the seaside resort and it’s being organised by the town’s Rotary Club. Almost 60 trees will be on display, each one put up and decorated by a local business or charity.
The RSPB’s tree will be decked with garlands made from soft raisins, others made from hi-energy black sunflower seeds and one or two made from bite-size biscuits.
There’ll also be baubles made from apple slices, apricots and prunes.
The whole event promises to be lots of fun. It's also a great chance to get our Giving Nature a Home message out to lots of people who live right on our doorstep and remind them that winter is time to make sure it's not just your friends and relatives that you should ply with food and drink.
There’s nothing we like better than making a new discovery on the reserve. In this case, our new discovery dated from 1949 – a ten page booklet titled ‘The Palatability of the Eggs of Birds’, signed by the author Hugh B Cott.
Hugh was a Cambridge oologist (another discovery…it means someone who studies bird eggs and he carried out an investigation into the differing tastes of the eggs of 123 species. Each had their eggs scrambled, eaten and rated on a scale of 2 (inedible) to 10 (ideal).
Volunteer Allan Dawson was given the pamphlet by 97 year old Eileen Petty, the widow of climmer, Jack Petty. Unusually, Jack wasn’t a local lad, he lived in Hull and worked as an architect for the council. He was also a talented musician playing violin in the Hull Philharmonic.
So how did someone from the city end up climbing the cliffs for seabird eggs? Jack came from a relatively wealthy family and his parents were fond of taking cruises. When they went off to sunnier climes, Jack stayed with his grand-parents in Bempton and became fascinated by the climmers, one of whom took him under his wing and, literally, taught him the ropes.
Collecting seabird eggs became illegal in the 1950’s but there are still folk in the village who were brought up on them and remember their unique flavour.
And if you’re dying to know which eggs came out best in the taste tests well, kittiwakes scored highly with an 8.2. Barn Owl and Little Bittern eggs also did well and were described as ‘as sweet and mild as cream’. Just don’t tell Heston Blumenthal.
Time travel isn't just the perogative of Doctor Who. On Sunday, we turned the clock back over one hundred years for the village's annual Victorian Market. And there wasn't a Tardis or a sonic screwdriver in sight.
The RSPB was founded in 1889. But Bempton can lay claim to have been in on act even earlier than that. It was a local vicar, the Reverant Barnes Lawrence, who set up a campaign to stop the wholesale slaughter of sebirds along this stretch of coast that led to the Seabird Protection Act of 1869. This in turn became the catalyst for the foundation of the RSPB that we know today.
We're rightly proud of our place in the RSPB's history and we're just as proud of the heritage surrounding the cliffs - in which 'climmers' played a significant part. These were village folk who abseiled down the 400 feet high cliffs in search of seabird eggs. This precious cargo would then be sold to collectors or, more often, to villagers to feed their growing families. So it was traditional climming gear that the RSPB team chose to wear, alongside other stall holders who decked themselves out in Victorian finery, to add to the atmosphere of the day.
Manning the RSPB stall (and manfully growing whiskers specially for the occasion) were visitor services manager, Scott Smith, and membership development officer, Chris Pye. They joined forces with the exotically dressed team from the Spa, Bridlington and organiser Richard Burton, to give a real Yorkshire welcome to the crowds.
Other highlights included an appearance by the celebrated Bempton Cliffs' Puffknits. A prize draw for three of these Facebook favourites raised £83 - even Santa wanted to meet them.
The ladies from the Village Hall committee raised money for their new building with a prize-packed tombola.
The pipes of The Children of the Mist rang out on Cliff Lane.
Friends, volunteers and folk who bought RSPB gifts entered into the spirit of the day.
And right at the heart of it all, the RSPB stall gave the team the chance to talk to old friends and make new ones. Roll on next year's market.