Wednesday, 2 March 2016


Just a follow-up to the previous post and a response to a couple of comments I've received...

* I've never suggested that the management of Strumpshaw Fen has any say in the policy of the Environment Agency in regard to riverbank works in the mid-Yare valley. However, they do control the level of water in the Fen itself and, hence, the attractiveness of the scrapes to wading birds etc. And, of course, this affects the state of the path from Sandy Wall to Lackford Run which, for much of the winter, is a quagmire only passable in boots. This is inarguable: there are often signs at Reception confirming the fact.

* I am by no means the only visitor who is disappointed by the way the character of the reserve has changed over the years: this is apparently the 40th anniversary of the RSPB's takeover of the Fen and I have been a regular visitor for 30 of them. When I was a teacher at Acle I encouraged strong links between the school's healthy YOC group and Mike Blackburn, the Warden at the time: we raised not inconsiderable sums in support of Strumpshaw with sponsored events. The Fen was a much wilder place then, with good populations of many birds that are no longer present: there were more paths and more hides, including a terrific one overlooking the scrape to the west of Lackford Run.

* I suppose it might seem that I make the occasional criticism of aspects of what is generally a decent local reserve, but, as a member of the RSPB for forty years, aren't I entitled to express an opinion? I would mention that I am not alone in the views I have occasionally posted on this blog about the state of the paths and change in emphasis of the reserve: I'm just one of the few who has a forum to put those views before the public. The RSPB is essentially a  conservation charity: at least that is how it is perceived by many of its members. As such, it is not unreasonable to compare its approach and achievements with similar groups such as the county wildlife trusts. Considering the money available to the RSPB compared to, say, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the facilities, accessibility and conservation successes at reserves such as Cley, Ranworth, Weeting Heath and Upton seem pretty impressive.

This posting is not intended as an attack on what is, after all, my local nature reserve or any of the generally pleasant professionals and volunteers who work there: I have been told on numerous occasions that the positive things I say about Strumpshaw both here and in conversation have encouraged people to visit the reserve. Rather, this is an expression of the frustration felt by many visitors (both regular and casual) that our opinions often seem to be disregarded.

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