Yesterday was fun but a bit exhausting.
Being picked up at 0515 by the BBC to do a live TV slot at 0640 or so is fun, but by midday you feel as though it's already been a long day.
But in the afternoon we were thanking a room full of our active supporters for their help in Letter to the Future. Lots of people signed up, and the campaign is still active, particularly in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for a few months yet, but the emphasis in England now shifts to Stepping up for Nature.
Do have a look at the Stepping up for Nature video - it has some fantastic images of beautiful creatures. My favourite is the one of the blue tit being a cold heartless predator. Which is your favourite? When I was shown this video I wanted to watch it over and over again - it's only 4 minutes, but it's 4 minutes when nature can come into your life. I can imagine having a sneaky look at it during my lunch breaks for weeks to come - why don't you too?
A room full of keen RSPB members is an inspiring place to be - and a somewhat humbling one if you work for the organisation. Our members are great! We had a question and answer session and the questions covered subjects as wide as EU policy, bird-killing in the Mediterranean, sea level rise and climate change, our rainforest work, using social media such as Twitter and Facebook, working with others and a host of other things. What a great bunch.
And four of our active volunteers spoke at this event too - and they were just wonderful. Dominik, aged 10, had handed in the Letter to the Future signatures to 10 Downing St that morning. He is a really bright young man and I told him to come back to us in a while if he is looking for a job. It was great to meet Gary who had cycled around all the RSPB's nature reserves last year - that is some feat (and some feet, too). He was full of the thrill of nature and I promised him a trip to our Nene Washes nature reserve to hear corncrakes later this year. And Joan and Gill from the North Kent Marshes are long-standing friends of the RSPB because we worked together to stop an airport being built at Cliffe. Wonderful people all of them.
This was an uplifting event, and we had a short break where I grabbed a pizza and drank gallons of a well-known fizzy drink to keep awake, and then we had a more formal launch of Stepping up for Nature with our Chief Executive Mike Clarke setting out the thinking behind the campaign, Caroline Spelman, the Defra Secretary of State saying a few words and then our President, Kate Humble, rounding things off.
We were grateful to Caroline Spelman for her enthusiasm for nature and for the RSPB. I'm sure we'll irritate her now and again in the future, at least I am pretty sure we will if we are doing our job - so, rely on it, but she is a true believer in the importance of nature in our lives, and indeed as the basis for a healthy economy. And Kate Humble, who I found wandering around in the street looking lost outside the venue, gave a very witty and inspiring closing address. And we got to see that evil blue tit again.
The speakers had kept me awake but by now I was flagging a bit and it was a quick pint with colleagues and then to bed with another full and inspiring day at the RSPB coming to an end.
I think the population trends for small farmland birds speak for themselves. Has the work done through stewardship schemes seen any increase in populations of tree sparrow, yellowhammer or corn bunting. Just look at the BTO figures. More is needed than some effective RSPB seed patches or a single project supplementary feeding. Sooty - I don't see why you see this as criticism of farmers - it's criticism of the scheme and what farmers are being asked to do.
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