Our Local Groups quickly adapted to life in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. By using email and social media and getting creative in trying out new ways of connecting with members remotely, many have managed to keep their meetings and talks going, and support their members during this complicated time.
Many groups have started regular lockdown email bulletins and blogs to keep members updated on local wildlife, supporting isolated members by giving them fun things to do including word searches, quizzes and photo competitions. Bath and District group and many others have been producing a fortnightly mini newsletters with wildlife news and nature themed brainteasers.
Some groups are even running their usual evening wildlife talks online over platforms like Zoom! Richmond and Twickenham group held a series of summer talks online which proved very popular with their members, and now many other groups, including Dundee and East Berkshire, are planning online autumn talks too. The Medway and Maidstone groups are co-hosting monthly online talks to share costs and skills and Woodbridge group have been helping other groups to start using Zoom. Many groups have been turning technical difficulties into opportunities for new collaboration!
Many groups have used social media to great effect, running ongoing ‘lockdown garden birdwatch’ events, holding painting competitions, and sharing photos and local wildlife content between members. Social media followings have dramatically increased as a result – Bexley Local Group have had over 500 new followers in the last few months!
Groups including the Central London group have been helping isolated members to connect with local nature by posting videos of ‘virtual walks’ around local spots on their Facebook and YouTube page, with much positive feedback!
Some local groups have even gone global! Solihull group member Ashley Grove arranged a ‘Worldwide Garden Birdwatch’ event. Around 300 people took part, representing 150 gardens across the world (23 countries represented), and it sounds like everyone who took part thoroughly enjoyed the experience! The event also raised over £1,700.
On Dawn Chorus Day in May there would normally be organised walks all over the country. Nottingham group didn't want their members to miss out so they encouraged everyone to do their own dawn chorus walk and then share what they'd seen afterwards. Realising their members were missing the birding trips that would normally take place, Winchester group updated their detailed guide of top local birdwatching spots on their website.
A member of the North Cumbria group kept himself occupied by making an incredible 27 bug hotels using materials found on his daily exercise walk. He kindly delivered these to other group members.
And Sheffield group leader Helen Ensor gave a 'virtual' talk on garden birds for B:Friend, a charity which helps support isolated elderly residents in Doncaster by linking them up with volunteers and providing online content.
Though not all groups are conducting online activities, many are planning to resume their events in the new year. If you'd like to become a member of your nearest group: find an RSPB local group near you.
Hopefully my local RSPB Group will restart there activities in 2021 with the regular monthly coach trips. Last night our first monthly talk of the month was via Zoom as will happen until December 2020 on the first Tuesday of every month. Hopefully we will all be able to attend the monthly talks again in person from 2021.
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