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We still need volunteers at Rushmere Common in Ipswich – bird surveys, moths and butterflies

Updated: Oct 12

Chris Keeling SBG Projects Officer

The Greenlights Trust is an established and successful environmental education charity which uses the Power of Nature to transform lives. Since its formation in 1989 the trust has helped thousands of people, both children and adults from diverse and challenged backgrounds by using nature to build health and hope with conservation projects at locations around East Anglia. The call for volunteers first went out in 2020 but as we all know continuing COVID restrictions made getting out and about and joining projects a real challenge for many of us.

We are still looking for volunteers but please note the contact details for the Greenlights Trust have changed so if you have tried to contact the Trust and haven’t heard back please try again and e-mail Jack Green at and do please copy me in. Please note that the contact details in the autumn edition of the Harrier are incorrect (Craig Spence has recently moved to a new post) but will be updated.

Jack Green and his volunteers are keen to know how best to approach scrub management and maintain a balance between scrub and open areas as a mosaic of heather and acid grassland. Steve and I emphasised the importance of surveys to identify species presence and distribution across the site and to provide a baseline to monitor change as management progresses. There has been a great deal of enthusiasm among the Rushmere Heath volunteers since our meeting and the binoculars and bird books have been very much in evidence.

If you would like to help with bird surveys it’s entirely up you which standard survey methodology you adopt, whether you choose to carry out breeding bird transects point count’s or simply recording casual observations is entirely up to you. We need to know what species make use of the heath in summer and winter so there is plenty of opportunity to get involved and at a time that suits you. But most importantly, if you are happy to share your knowledge and field skills with the Green Light Trust volunteers please do give some thought to coordinating your visit to days when the volunteers are working on the heath.

And it’s not just bird surveyors that we need, but also anyone who can give their time to carrying out butterfly transects and perhaps introduce the Rushmere volunteers to moths with moth trapping evenings. If there any SBG members (particularly those who live in or near Ipswich) who would be willing to give some of their time to help with bird surveys, butterfly transects, and perhaps moth trapping evenings please contact Jack Green at and please copy me in at

As SBG projects officer I have agreed to act as liaison between the SBG and the Rushmere Heath Project. Please can I ask that you copy me in when contacting Jack so that we can coordinate surveys and survey data to ensure that management including scrub clearance is targeted appropriately and SBRC records are updated.

Jack has also asked if there are members of SBG who would be interested in helping with surveys at Castan woods which is their main Ipswich site behind Martlesham park and ride. Castan Woods has mostly secondary mixed deciduous and coniferous woodland, predominantly birch, sweet chestnut, sycamore and oak with some pines. Each year the Greenlights Trust volunteers complete some coppicing while in other areas they have also carried out some re-planting. There are groups of volunteers there every week day, and lots of opportunity to undertake surveys that will inform appropriate and beneficial management.

The COVID pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of all of us to mental health issues and the importance of nature in healing and restoring our sense of wellbeing. This is an opportunity for SBG members to help people of all ages and backgrounds to engage with nature while helping to restore and enhance wildlife habitats around Ipswich. We really hope you can spare the time to help the Green Light Trust to restore the link between people and nature, while helping to restore a link in our fracture heathland habitats. We look forward to hearing from you.

Chris Keeling

Project Officer

Suffolk Bird Group

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