Right, this week, following a suggestion from our lovely Shirley Anne, I’m stepping away from my Island “chronicles” (LOL) to bring you a little history of the founding of what is now the largest conservation group in Europe, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, RSPB.
The Society came into being, largely in an attempt to counter the barbaric, and widespread trade in plumes to adorn women’s hats, a market in fashion, that was responsible for the wanton destruction of thousands of birds - egrets, birds of paradise, and many other species amongst their number.
Concern had already been raised in the earlier part of the 19th century, as to the destruction of some of our native birds, such as great crested grebe, and kittiwakes, which eventually led to one of the earliest forms of legislation relating to bird protection, the SEA BIRDS PROTECTION ACT, 1869. However, the real catalyst for the founding of the RSPB, was the continued, and increasing, insistence of women on wearing increasingly exotic plumes upon their hats.
The Society was founded as a charity, by EMILY WILLIAMSON, in 1889, from her home in DIDSBURY, Manchester. It started life in the form of a protest group, which was originally known as “THE PLUMAGE LEAGUE”, and in time, amalgamated with the FUR AND FEATHER LEAGUE, in Croydon, and became known as the RSPB. The earliest members were all women who were campaining against this fashion for wearing the feathers of exotic birds in their hats, and clothing, and they followed two very simple rules:
:That members shall discourage the wanton destruction of birds, and interest themselves generally in their protection, and : That Lady members shall refrain from wearing the feathers of any bird not killed for purpose of food, (the ostrich only, excepted)
The Society soon attracted the support of some women of high social standing and influence, from (perhaps surprisingly) the very classes that popularised the trend for feathered hats in the first place, and included the DUCHESS OF PORTLAND, (who became the first President), the RANEE of SARAWAK, and from the ornithologist, Professor ALFRED NEWTON – This noted support led to a rapid increase in popularity of the Society, and began to attract several new members. Such was the level of success, that as early as 1904, just 5 years after it’s inauguration, the Society received a ROYAL CHARTER, from EDWARD VII, which was further instrumental in petitioning Parliament to introduce new laws to ban the use of birds’ plumage in, or on, clothing – the RSPB was well on it’s way!!
These days of course, as most of us will be aware, the RSPB has much wider aims, and is a powerful voice in the promotion of conservation of birds, and other wildlife, and works tirelessly, both through it’s staff and members, and also through the invaluable input of countless volunteers, to conserve, protect, and recreate much of the natural habitat favoured by our wildlife. The Society also works alongside both the civil service, and the Government, advising on conservation, and environmental issues, and is one of many organisations that determine official conservation status for all birds found in the UK.
The RSPB maintains over 200 reserves throughout the UK, covering a wide variety of habitats, from estuaries, mudflats, wetlands, lakes/lochs, through to even urban environments. We’re all of course familiar with many of them, especially those that play host to our favourite birds, Ospreys!! These include of course, one of the more familiar sites, that of LOCH GARTEN, home to the (SECOND) most fabled pair, EJ & ODIN (someone’s bound to accuse me of bias here!! LOL) GLASLYN is another RSPB site, as is home to this year’s SPRINGWATCH, YNYS-HIR.
Most sites provide the use of hides from which to observe birds, and Visitor Centres, manned by friendly and helpful staff & volunteers to further our knowledge, and interest in the respective wildlife found in each location – it was two such staff who charmed me into becoming a member, while I was at Glaslyn, in March!! (ever susceptible to a pretty face and beguiling smile!!! LOL) Thank you KATE & KIRSTY!! And thank you Joyce for remembering me to Kate!! LOL
The Society has been publishing a members only magazine for over 100 years, the first of which was issued in April, 1903, and entitled “BIRD NOTES & NEWS,” with 4 copies a year published on the 1st of each 3rd month (March, June, Sept, Dec), which built into volumes, each covering 2 years, and with the title being shortened to “BIRD NOTES” in 1947. From Jan 1964, publication was increased to 6 issues per year, in the odd-numbered months, Jan, Mar, etc, the last issue of which appeared in late 1965.
BIRD NOTES was succeeded by the current magazine “BIRDS” with the first issue for Jan-Feb, 1966, and reverted back to a quarterly publication, and those of you who are members will, I’m sure, agree that it’s a great magazine, with a great deal of fascinating (certainly for newbies like me, anyway!) information, and some stunning photographs!!
The RSPB has two groups, for children, and teenagers; WILDLIFE EXPLORERS, which is aimed at 8-12 year olds, and has two different magazines, WILD TIMES (under 8′s) and BIRD LIFE (over 8′s), then for the teenagers, there’s RSPB PHOENIX, along with WINGBEAT magazine. The Society is a member of The NATIONAL COUNCIL for VOLUNTARY YOUTH SERVICES.
Funding for the RSPB comes primarily from members, in the form of subscriptions, donations, and legacies, worth £53.669 million (figures from 2006) As a registered charity they are entitled to GIFT AID, with an additional 28p from every pound, donated by UK taxpayers. The vast majority of income goes towards conservation projects, maintenance of it’s reserves, and, importantly, I feel, on educational work. There is huge encouragement for children to become involved in nature and wildlife.
I know it’s easy to say, basking in the relative glow of hindsight, but I’m ever more certain that had I been introduced formally to wildlife in my childhood, then I would now be employed in some capacity directly linked to the natural world, but then I suppose it’s entirely likely that I wouldn’t have met the friends I now boast within this village of ours, and THAT is something I wouldn’t now be without!!!!
There you go, as kindly requested by the lovely Shirley Anne!! Hope that’ll do Shirl!! LOL
So now, ANOTHER week on, and our boy is still “in the house!!” So here are the highlights of today’s loch-side activity!!
09.07 Camera on, and trained on the “new” nest AKA “GARDEN SHED!!”
09.34 Bird just flown into the tree
09.37 Onto the nest, but picture is very dark, so hard to tell!!
09.43 Away again
10.17 Osprey on the nest again!
10.22 And gone again!!
Laird wasn’t spotted coming back to the nest
11.58 Lots of wing flapping visible!
11.59 Away again
12.02 And back
12.03 More wing flapping, Aaaaaaagghh interrupted by the door bell, and missed the exit!!!
12.38 Aircraft fly-past!!
14.45 Head swivelling, as Laird scours the Loch for lunch! Must have missed the last fish!!
14.47 The camera now pans in search of our boy!
15.12 He’s back on his perch below the nest, head in full swivel mode, clearly having missed his target!!
15.30 A female’s “demand” call possibly heard?! Uncertain, as is it’s source!
15.48 Lovely view of Laird in the tree, great close up from the camera person confirms ID!
16.04 Oh, where IS Jan?! A lovely shot of his fluffy bum, as he vacated the nest, with the camera in hot pursuit! Where’s he off to now? Is he headed for his “Lurrrrrrve shack?!!!”
16.24 After scanning around for a sighting, the camera returns to focus on the “garden shed!!”
16.27 No obvious sign of our boy, so the camera has one more pan around the loch, before the staff shut up shop, at 17.00!!
Huge thanks again to Susan, for condensing the nestcap for me!!
So, we can only continue to guess when Laird will make his exit, and begin his long trip south. It has been a pleasant bonus to see some excellent footage of him today, and whilst it’s great to still be able to see him, I do hope he sets off before too long, to get some air miles under his wings in half decent conditions!!
The Dyfi Osprey Project and the Scottish wildlife Trust have kindly given their permission for us to post still and video images from their webcams. To visit their sites please click on the relevant link. Loch of the Lowes. Dyfi Osprey Project.