Over the past year our offices have mostly been closed. That’s meant many of the wonderful letters RSPB members send to us have taken longer than usual to reach the Nature’s Home magazine team. I recently collected a large postbag from RSPB HQ and sat down to read through our mail. It was quite an emotional experience. Members talked about how they’d been supporting us for 50, 60, 70 years. They described how watching local wildlife was lifting their spirits while they were housebound, or through lockdown. There were stories about nature experiences they treasured, and the steps they’d taken to help birds and other animals.
There was plenty of humour too, for example in the short letter from Martin Parsons who was amused by a line from the magazine that read ‘I step outside and hear Dartford warblers and hear tawny owls cycling home’. Mr Parsons wondered where the birds acquired the cycles and could we publish a photograph of this extraordinary feat in the next issue.
Tawny owl – Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)
We do read every letter you send in, but of course we can’t fit them all in the letters pages. So, I thought I’d share some on our blog, and here’s one of my favourites:
Dear Nature’s Home
My father, Owen Scott, died 18 months ago age 97. Age 15, he was apprenticed in the Merchant Navy and travelled the world with many extraordinary adventures, before deciding that life was not for him.
Dad was always interested in birds and fostered that enthusiasm in all of his four children, which I in particular picked upon at university researching and writing my thesis on ‘The dove and pigeon in art and architecture’ - I still add to it and as an amateur potter in later life use my love of birds as inspiration for my work.
Dad was a Lancaster pilot in WW2. An observant man with a gift for stories and fantastic recall even at 97. As he grew older however, he often suffered from violent dreams based on his RAF experiences. He flew 32 missions over enemy territory and was awarded the PFC (Private First Class).
Worrying about this repeated stress, one day I tried to address the problem by asking him to recall some powerful and positive experience, in order to block out the bad ones. What would he choose from a long and rich life?
He quickly explained, he knew exactly what to think about... an albatross!
Black-browed albatrosses through ship window - Dimas Gianuca (rspb-images.com)
During his time at sea, these majestic birds would occasionally circle the ship, Dad was fascinated by their large watchful eyes. Many, many years later Dad’s memories of the albatross gave him much comfort on ‘a stormy night’.
Mrs. Toni Hazle
Albatrosses are truly magnificent birds, thank you for sharing your father’s story, Toni. The RSPB is dedicated to trying to save these seabirds as so many of their species are in decline. Find out about the work of the Albatross Task Force. Also, learn about the recent successes and next steps on Gough Island, part of the Tristan da Cunha island group and home to one of the world’s most endangered albatross.
Grey-headed albatross and chick, South Georgia – Stephanie Prince (rspb-images.com)
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Surely Owen Scott was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) first class. The pfc award is not one used by the British armed forces.
Those tawny owls cycling home - it's an amazing sight. You'd never have thought their legs were long enough. Where do they store the cycles though, once they get home to their tree?
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