Saturday, 28 March 2009

East Anglian bird life

Wild birds at the WI
One or two of the Old Buckenham WI members had heard their March speaker, Steve Lovell, at an Auditions Day and so he came highly recommended. They were not disappointed. Steve spoke about the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and, in particular, the birds of East Anglia. His slides were very good and slickly presented, and his talk ranged through the East Anglian habitats of some of the most attractive and least common British birds. He also covered the winter visitors to this part of England.
The RSPB aims for biodiversity – caring for birds, some insects and animals, their habitats and the management of these areas. East Anglia has a huge diversity of different habitats – sand dunes, heathland, wetlands and arable land - which all help to encourage wild life. The Wash is particularly spectacular in the winter months, attracting some 33,000 waders and wildfowl.
Farmers and landowners are encouraged to manage their land sympathetically to encourage the right breeding and rearing conditions for birds. Of particular interest to East Anglia are the stone curlews, bitterns, little terns, corncrakes, bearded tits, marsh harriers and the well-known success story of the flocks of avocets which feature as the RSPB’s emblem. Members also discovered what a wide remit the RSPB has, not merely caring for birds but also the swallowtail butterfly and the Norfolk Hawker dragonfly in East Anglia. The Society also has connections with Birdlife International and the Indonesian government in helping to save a part of the rain forest where the rare Sumatran tiger lives.
Old Buckenham WI were lucky to hear Steve speak as he told them that this was his final speaking engagement for the RSPB. He had finished work for them that day and was about to start his own garden design business in Lincolnshire. He was thanked for his talk by Margaret Pearce, a keen bird-watcher who has braved the freezing early mornings at Snettisham and the Wash and who can thoroughly recommend the thrilling experience of seeing thousands of geese flying in to the mudflats to feed.
After a refreshment break, Susan Hunter gave a full and interesting account of the Federation Annual Meeting in Norwich. Four members had attended and heard witty, interesting and thought-provoking speeches by Baroness Shephard and Ann Widdecombe. A party of members had also been to see ‘Calendar Girls’ at the Theatre Royal in Norwich and thoroughly enjoyed the outing. Members were also encouraged to go to the Norfolk Showground to support Old Buckenham’s entry in the competition for the Cator Cup.

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