Discover and learn
RSPB Phoenix is for teenage members of the RSPB. If you are already an RSPB Wildlife Explorer you will automatically become an RSPB Phoenix member from your 13th birthday.
As an RSPB Phoenix member you will receive BirdLife magazine every two months, and also get Wingbeat – the only environmental magazine written by teenagers for teenagers - four times a year.
As well as articles about wildlife, the environment and conservation, Wingbeat runs many special offers and competitions.
You also have free entry to RSPB nature reserves and the sure knowledge that your membership is helping to conserve wildlife in the UK and abroad.
Each year, a conference is held for Phoenix members. It's been held in London where we had the chance to visit Westminster, Leighton Moss in Lancashire one of our most important nature reserves and Minsmere reserve on the Suffolk coast to name but a few locations.
This year we are offering the chance for even more teenagers to get involved with the conference, thanks to funding by the National Lottery through Awards for All.
Written by Phoenix members. Our blog has interesting stuff about the natural world and the latest news on what we've been up to.
The climate talks in Paris between 30 November and 11 December will be the most important in several years, attended by world leaders from 130 countries. They will (hopefully) result in the finalisation of a new global deal designed to combat climate change after 2020. Countries contributing to 90% of global emissions have been asked to submit a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and most have done so, reducing the amount of negotiating that will actually have to be done in Paris. For example, the EU has stated that it will reduce emissions by 40% before 2030, compared to 1990.
For information on the pledges of each country, visit www.carbonbrief.org/paris-2015-tracking-country-climate-pledges. However, many people feel that these pledges will not be enough to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, the level at which experts say climate change becomes irreversible.
Last year's climate march in London by Sebastian Ilari Flickr CC
With this in mind, climate groups are organising a series of marches in cities across the world on the 29 November, including one in London, which aims to begin at Park Lane near Hyde Park and finish at Millbank near Lambeth Bridge. More information about the march can be found on the Campaign Against Climate Change website, www.campaigncc.org/climatemarchlondon.
If you can get involved, do, as it’s great to get out there and support by adding your voice. Particularly for young people, climate change is going to affect us more than any other age group and it’s really important that we do all we can to help. Many people are more concerned with human and economic issues than environmental ones, but everything politicians talk about such as unemployment, spending cuts and tax credits is completely related to the natural environment that we live in. The good news is, that the current debates and conferences on climate change give us yet another opportunity to add our voice and bring these issues to the forefront of our government’s consciousness.
To get involved with climate change on a wider scale, and for tips if you’ve never been to a climate march before, visit the websites of The Climate Coalition ( www.theclimatecoalition.org ) and UK Youth Climate Coalition (ukycc.org )
If you are going to attend the climate march in London, my general advice would be to take an adult with you if you are under 18 and to let someone know where you are going. Get your friends to come along too, even if they claim not to be interested in the environment, you might just change their minds, plus it’ll be a lot less nerve-wracking!
Posted by Phoenix Forum
This summer I took a week out from my holiday to take a residential placement at South Stack in Anglesey. This is my second residential volunteering and after I enjoyed my time in Blacktoft Sands last year immensely, there was no questioning that I’d go somewhere this year.
So at South Stack my role was visitor centre based and as it was in the summer holiday, work was plentiful. I spent my days talking to visitors, helping them discover nature and point out what the stunning reserve has to offer. The amazing location brought out the holiday makers and at the end of the day you truly feel you’ve made someone’s day memorable (even if it’s just the good cake). When the sun's shining, the Choughs are calling and the porpoise are in viewing distance for the public, it’s happy days!
Working at South Stack was something well worth waking up for, but the evenings were just as fun. When you’ve got a house of volunteers, a similar interest and a car, the adventures are waiting to be taken. If you ever get the chance to go to Anglesey the beaches there are definitely worth a visit. Spending the evening lying on warm sand with not a cloud in the sky was heaven when you’ve been on your feet all day. My favourite night time moment though was definitely watching the meteor shower outside the house. My fellow colleague wasn’t used to having no street lamps and there isn’t any light pollution at South Stack. Honestly the stars were a spectacular sight that night. Seeing my first Chough was exciting enough, but when we saw an adder one morning, that topped the day off, the week perhaps. Or when a porpoise mother and calf swam so close to the cliff binoculars weren’t needed, it’s extremely difficult to leave when it’s over.
For me the list of skills I’ve learnt are endless from an experience like this. Not least those which will equip me when I go to university next year. But these residentials are perfect for any age. I only did a week but some run for a lot longer. I guarantee the friendships and sense of achievement will be something you’ll never forget.
I hope I’ve sufficiently wetted your taste buds and persuaded you to get out there and find your next adventure. Look here for the brochure of all the places you can contribute to: http://www.rspb.org.uk/joinandhelp/volunteering/residential.aspx
The RSPB is made of an amazing volunteer force, go and join it!
My local patch - The Forest of Marston Vale
Not being particularly close to an RSPB reserve, my favourite place to enjoy nature is the Forest of Marston Vale, located between Bedford and Milton Keynes. My interest in nature and conservation largely stems from childhood experiences of planting trees to develop the Millennium Country park - long days spent interacting directly with the natural world.
Dappled sunlight in the Forest of Marston Vale by Fabio Veronesi Flickr CC
Since then, I’ve enjoyed a lot more of what the Forest of Marston Vale has to offer. My birding skills have charitably been described as ‘basic’, so I particularly appreciate the frequent wildlife walks on offer - experts are on hand to offer identification advice and share their scopes. On the most recent evening walk, I saw sand martins enjoying their purpose-built ‘hotel’ (replete with 88 pipes), a green woodpecker, field mice, shrews and bats. Sadly, we didn’t see any bitterns, but they are definitely about; mum returned ecstatic from one of the dawn chorus walks - she’d spotted one. Living up to teenage stereotypes, I had slept in instead of joining her, something I’ll eternally regret!
It’s also a great place to visit with unconverted friends - after a quick geocaching session or bikeride, the forest centre provides a haven from the rain where friends can admit they ‘can kind of see why you’re into that eco-stuff’ over tea and (most importantly!) cake.
The Forest of Marston Vale, and surrounding woodlands, stand testament to the importance of conservation and environmental legislation. Throughout most of the 19th and 20th century, this area of Bedfordshire was scarred with large pits - the result of clay extraction. In more recent years, many of these pits have been filled with either landfill or water - to create lakes with a variety of new functions, such as wildlife habitats, and rowing. Under the 1991 Forestry act, in an attempt to improve the area, the Forest of Marston Vale was designated one of twelve new community forests in England. Without this legislation, and the conservation work completed by hundreds of volunteers in the intervening years, the Forest would not be such a sanctuary for wildlife (including the endangered bittern) and wildlife-lovers alike. On a personal level, without the connections made with nature in the Forest, I would have missed out on some of the best experiences of my life, and would not have been inspired to fight for environmental protection.
If you’re ever in Bedfordshire, I urge you to visit the Forest (you can find out more here) - hopefully we’ll bump into each other!
Grey seal photo by Nathaniel Dargue.
The sea. The ocean. The deep. Whatever you want to call it, the oceans of the world are vast, mind-bogglingly beautiful and undeniably important. Perhaps one of the most fascinating things about it is that we know so much, and yet know NOTHING in the grand scale of things. And this fact demonstrates that perfectly: we have documented 226,408 (2014) marine species, but there may be as many as a million marine species worldwide.
So what does the sea mean to me? Well. It means many things to me. It means blustery days in British summertime paddling at the shore, it means fish and chips and the tangy smell of saltwater, it means the wild cries of seabirds and towering cliffs. It means finding shore crabs under rocks and avoiding their pinsers as I proudly show my mum what I caught. But it also means something else, something darker: danger. I am not a strong swimmer. In fact, I have only just learnt this summer due to a number of reasons. And still now, try as I might, I have a very natural respect for the power of the seas and how in an instance you could be swept away. But this is something that just seems to make the ocean more special to me: it is a true form of wildness. No matter how many carrier bags float in it, we cannot control it.
Some of my most eventful nature-watching experiences were out on the seas. The first boat I ever went on was to get to the Farne Islands, and I remember it as if it was yesterday: clear blue sky, blistering June heat, puffins bobbing on the glittering water. Then there was the sea-watching cruise I went on at Bridlington: a day of many mishaps but many smiles. (The sea was very choppy, I was smacked in the face by a buoy and soaked, but I saw my first sooty and manx shearwaters).
Sooty shearwater oil drawing by Amy Smith.
But of course, the most important thing to me is the beautiful array of species that live in and around the seas worldwide. From tiny fish to sharks, from plankton to whales, from corals to seahorses, the sea has something to catch anyone’s eye. And as sad as it is to hear, our seas are in trouble. They are in trouble for so many reasons, but here are just a few: the acceleration of climate change caused by humans, which affects natural sea temperature and sea levels, pollution such as fishing nets, causing animals such as dolphins to become entangled and die, and disasters such as oil spills, which kill huge numbers of seabirds (around 82,000 birds died in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill alone).
The oceans and the life within them need conserving , and many organisations, including the RSPB, who are launching their marine appeal, are working hard to do so. Above all else, the oceans of the world mean life, wonder, and a connection with the natural world like nothing else.