“Fortunately the day was clear and not too cold for our Big Churchyard Birdwatch at Hemblington,” says Susan Rowe, Secretary of The Friends of All Saints Church.
The church is situated in a remote rural area, surrounded by fields and enclosed by hybrid poplar trees and mixed hedgerow. For many years the church team has worked with local conservation organisations – Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Blofield & District Conservation Group and the Bure Valley Conservation Group – to manage the churchyard for the benefit of wildlife. Because of the large variety of wild flowers providing food and cover, it felt appropriate to organise RSPB January birdwatches, which then led to monthly wildlife surveys.
“This year the Friends group organised a two-hour survey, to supply information to the RSPB and to encourage local people to visit the church, enjoy the camaraderie of birding, and warm up with the refreshments offered by our ever helpful band of volunteers,” explains Susan.
“Between 11 am – 12 noon 20 varieties of birds were spotted in, over and around the churchyard; between 12 noon and 1 pm 18 varieties were recorded. As important were the 21 visitors supporting the birdwatching and enjoying the refreshments offered by our seven volunteers.
“Visitors appreciated the welcoming atmosphere, commenting on the lovely situation of the church, agreeing the birdwatch was a good community initiative and certainly enjoying the excellent soups, scones and cakes too!
“This is one of the projects that encouraged the team to register recently to become an Eco Church, and we are very pleased that we have already achieved the Bronze Award. The birdwatch provided a good outcome for citizen science and community engagement category.”
In 2018 the Friends Group was given the Churchyards and Cemeteries Award, from Norfolk Community Biodiversity Awards, for the innovative way they had approached conservation of the churchyards, taking professional advice and working with others. Find out more about their award-wining conversation managed churchyard here.
Clicker here to find out more about becoming an Eco Church.