Welcome to our AFON Advent Calendar! Each day leading up to Christmas you will find a wonderful new post by a different member. This years theme is your favourite nature reserve; where do you go to escape from the world and connect with nature? Enjoy!
The Lodge, Sandy, Beds. is an address that has captured the imagination and attention of thousands of young people over the years. As a Young Ornithologist (the RSPB’s youth section used to be called the Young Ornithologists’ Club) myself I always tried to imagine what the RSPB’s head office must be like. In my mind it was a magical land surrounded by incredible birds and full of talented and knowledgeable birdwatchers: heaven for an aspiring twitcher.
The reality isn’t that far from what I imagined. I’m lucky enough today to work at The Lodge, the RSPB’s head office that’s home to over 500 staff, passionate about giving nature a home.
The RSPB bought The Lodge in 1961, a stately home that was built in 1870, and surrounded by beautiful gardens.
The aim, over time, is to restore the heathland here, making it friendly for birds like nightjars, woodlarks and Dartford warblers.
But in the middle of winter the Mediterranean churring of a nightjar feels a long way off. Instead a walk around the reserve at lunchtime, through the mixed woodland, is accompanied by the chacking of fieldfares and the trill of redwings. Ravens breed here and often fly past my office window, turning lazily on their enormous wings.
The feeders near the gatehouse (visitor centre and shop) are great in Winter and are often visited by redpolls, siskins and occasionally bramblings.
The Lodge is well worth a visit, and any passionate young birder, conservationist or naturalist would enjoy it here. If you want to come, get in touch with me and I can show you what goes on behind the scenes as well.