Have been to Rye Meads a couple of times recently. Great lot of work has been done in clearing etc, we and the wildlife will reap the benefits in Spring. Well done to staff and volunteers! Of course, I had a look at the Kingfisher pond. The adult female was showing well but not that often. Come end of February into March, she will be pairing up/nest preparation. I did notice that the perches have not been changed, I know there was some talk of this being done. The fence posts are not very natural and the willow branches put in last Winter of course have rooted and grow! The positioning was not too good. Proper dead branches, well sited would enhance the Kingfisher experience on both sides - human and bird. A bit of tree trimming would be ideal too. Maybe a question of resources but... I'm sure some of us would be willing to help. I am a Rspb volunteer myself but not at Rye Meads. Dare I also raise the question of the other nest bank, which was never finished and is falling into disrepair. The new hide is still packed up. Once again, is it resources? I know there have been discussions on a new hide/revamped old one at the Kingfisher pond. We will be getting to the point where nothing can be done, because the Kingfishers will be nesting etc. Just raising a few questions out of concern for the Kingfishers and the public viewing of what is probably perceived as the star attraction of Rye Meads. (I know there are other great wildlife too!) Hope they have another great year and maybe another nest site.
  • Hi Simon,

    Your post is 100% spot on, the RSPB don't want to listen to the visitor anymore, See Facebook with regard to the Rye Meads page.

    They have No interest in what we the visitors say or want, it is easy enough to cut the "fence posts"  off under water and plant new natural perches.

    They have put in 2/3 willow/hazel branches in front of the hide, these have taken root, what will happen, the will grow and flower, so the visitors, be they birder or photographer with have a poor view, the trouble is with the management, they DON`T want to listen to the visitor, it's about time people started voting with their feet where it comes to the renewal of subs.

  • In reply to rayk:

    Maybe it's just me but I'd much rather the wildlife take priority on these matters. If the conservation experts at RSPB deem these measures are in the best interest of the wildlife then I'm all for it. So I only get a fleeting glance at kingfishers from now on? I can live with that if it helps the species flourish.

    Did we whine and complain when the other hide was shut to allow the BN grebes to breed? No. We respected the decision because the conservation experts deemed it was in the wildlife's best interests. Yes, it was frustrating but I took a lot more pride from respecting their decision than I would've got from the perfect snap.

    If you want to get perfect snaps of kingfishers then go out and work for it. Learn your fieldcraft and have a bit of patience. Don't demand that our wonderful RSPB volunteers set up a shooting gallery for you.

    My Flickr
  • In reply to Dave M:

    Hi Dave M,

    You are entitled to your opinion, the point that is trying to be got across here, with a little work and though, the Kingfisher experience at Rye Meads could be made so much better, improvements have been put forward so many times, even a number of us visitors have offered to carry out the work, for reasons best known to the staff/management at Rye Meads, they don't take on board what is being said, don't get me wrong they do a first class job and work very hard, but whilst they are providing for the wildlife, they have to provide for the visitor also, think this through, visitor cannot see wildlife at reserve for whatever reason, visitors don't return to reserve, reserve closes, people out of work, wildlife gets no support in that area, .

    These days the visitor DOES need to be listen too, the RSPB is getting the same as many other "fat cat" companies, paying the upper management vast salaries, instead of taking note of what we, the people who pay what.

    Rant over...............

  • Hi Simon and all.

    Thanks for your comments.

    We've still got a bit of time before the kingfishers begin breeding again (hopefully!) so management work is not necessarily finished, it is just that we had machinery hired out in the last weeks which meant that specific work had to be completed as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is not to say there is not a bit more tweaking that will be done, and if there are some ideas (such as these) that the visitors would like to see, we can take them into account. Obviously our number one concern is for the welfare of the kingfishers and the other wildlife on the reserve, so they will always be our priority and focus. It is then a delicate balancing act trying to keep all parties happy here, from photographers to families, and young to old. It is something we are discussing all the time.

    However, shortcomings are not a lack of willing or a lack of volunteers, they are a lack of finances. We are all in agreement over the need to reassess the kingfisher viewing area, but these kinds of developments take vast sums. Again, we have been working lately to find a way we can develop this. There's nothing we'd all like more than a brand new kingfisher hide!

    With regards to the new bank, as of yet the Kingfishers have shown very little interest, and certainly have not chosen to settle here. It may be that it is within the confines of the territory already marked, so another pair would not be able to breed here, and the original pair are happy where they are! Until kingfishers use it, there is little point in constructing an expensive hide looking at it!

    But in general the whole area is subject to a long term development plan, and as promised before, we will always keep you all up to date on developments. Here's looking forward to another great year of wildlife watching!

    Best regards,

    Debs, on behalf of the whole team at Rye Meads.

  • In reply to Debs Allbrook:

    Hi Debs & team,

    I think it goes without saying, all of us regulars at Rye Meads know how hard you all work.

    I think the main point is a number of us are getting frustrated because we feel that we are not being listened to...

    With very little work, the outlook from the Kingfisher hide could be improved 110%, get rid of the broomstick post directly outside the nest bank, it look so false, you don't have to remove it, cut it off under water and replace it with a "real" looking branch a little way out from the nest bank.

    Get rid of the two branches that have been placed in front of the hide, these have taken root, the bird does not use them, if they are not removed now, they will grow up and without doubt obstruct viewing access this summer, god knows there are more than enough natural looking branches lying around the reserve that can be used, it goes without saying this subject has been raised more than once.

    With regard to the lack of money, this subject has raised its head more than once, the RSPB CEO is on £110k per year + for what, its the guys like your team at grassroots level who do all the work.

    Your CEO does not even have the manners to take phone calls from members or answer emails, we all know you guys can't say this, but we the membership can, it's long past the time when the people who sit in the nice warm offices at Sandy need to come out into the real world, get, cold, dirty and see what life is like at grassroots level, but their again, its a good chance that the network admin will delete this post because it's tells the truth, but heyho.

  • In reply to rayk:

    For an organisation the size of the RSPB having a CEO earning £110k is a steal. You have to realise that somebody with the qualifications/experience required to be a CEO of such a huge concern could earn a metric shedload elsewhere.

    And to expect them to take calls from any tom, dick or harry is laughable. Maybe you need to take your a**e out of the grass and experience life in the boardroom, it ain't all sunshine and rainbows i can tell you.

    Having said that, if they aren't delegating correctly then that needs to be addressed. Have you tried getting in touch with supporter services? I'm sure they'll be able to direct you up the chain of command if necessary.

    My Flickr
  • In reply to Dave M:

    Dave M,

    In reply to your message, firstly, there is no need to be rude saying "you need to take your a**e out of the grass" I do have experience with regard to boardrooms etc, as it happens, my daughter is the CEO of a charity, and she earns NOWHERE near that sum of money, the point that is being made, sometimes the salary is to high, if you care to take a look here some of the figures make interesting read, why are they giving money - "membership money" - away to projects abroad?, and then you wonder why we cant spend a little money on Rye Meads?

    With regard to the people in high management, sometimes they lose direct of what is happening, a few years ago, Sainsbury I think conducted an experiment, where their upper management spent a week each working in a store, it resulted in a numbers of changes being made. I and others have tried to speak to "support services" before with no results.

  • In reply to rayk:

    Oh Dear, all I was doing was asking a few valid questions.

    I take great exception to being attacked by Dave M in a personal way. It seems he does not like Rspb members and visitors. I suspect I know who he is, which would  explain the very personal attack on Ray and I. I'll say no more on that, it's not worth it. I have too much respect for the rest of the Staff.

    The wildlife has always come first with me (and my friend Ray - who can be more forthright in the way he puts things across, but heartfelt and correct). Any thoughts and discussions I have written and spoken have that as the basis - those that know me, appreciate that. I have had many discussions with the public, staff and visiting Rspb higher echelons. The visitor experience has been high on the agenda, rooted in the wildlife benefits. The point I was making that in spite of all these discussions over the last few years - nothing has progressed and no information has come out.

    I must say thank you to Debs for her considered and prompt reply. It was a good response from the Rspb view. It may not be what I want to hear in terms of definite action but it least it promotes understanding between all parties.

    I feel like walking away but I'll be back to visit the wildlife at Rye Meads.

  • In reply to Simon Hurwitz:

    I find David M's comments offensive with the " Maybe you need to take your a**e out of the grass" comment. Maybe we not have the same experience as David M in rubbing shoulders with the ones in power.

    Whilst we acknowledge that what the RSPB is doing can be seen as being in the best interest of the wildlife, but sometimes feedback from the membership can help RSPB look at ways of better serving both the public and the wildlife. Nobody has said anything about puting the wildlife in danger.

    Yes it is important to put wildlife first. What the RSPB is offering in protecting the wildlife worldwide is invaluable. However, not everyone is as capable as the likes of David M in doing "Fieldcraft" and see what the RSPB is offering the members of the public as a great opportunity to see wildlife whilst ensuring that the wildlife they are visiting are not being endangered.

    Maybe David M can offer some lessons on "FieldCraft" for all to learn from him?

    What Simon and Ray have raised is valid.

  • In reply to prash:

    Hi Simon and Prash,

    Your comments in the replies above are correct 100%, I would only like to add a couple of points, first, like Simon, I am quite sure who "DAVE M" is which does explain a lot, but as Simon says lets leave it be, because I also have to much respect for other staff members who work extremely hard, and secondly, if DAVE M knows anything about anything, he would know, to photograph certain species of birds at the nest you need a schedule 1 licence so people do things within the law!!!!!!!

    Let this be an end to it........