Jun 182020

As our country continues to slowly come out of the lockdown measures imposed to control the community spread of the COVID-19 disease, the act of social distancing, wearing face masks/coverings in public areas and hand cleansing on entry and exit to buildings is becoming the ‘new normal’, especially as work places and retail areas make adjustments to become ‘COVID secure’.  However, as I write this, restaurants, pubs, theatres and cinemas remain closed  and sporting events, although re-starting, are doing so without spectators in the grandstands.   With this in mind, myself and the committee have decided to cancel the remainder of the 2020 programme of events.   I believe this is the safest course of action for our members, our volunteers, the speakers and our hosts at Northfleet School for Girls and the Masonic Hall.  We are hoping to reschedule each of our cancelled ‘2020’ speakers to a meeting in 2021.

Regrettably,  we are also cancelling our group outdoor walks and coach trips for this year.  Currently not all RSPB reserves are open as the RSPB work to ensure they are safe for visitors, staff and volunteers and the wildlife.  With the relaxation of restrictions with regards to outdoor day trips, you may wish (as individuals) to use our 2020 outdoor programme as a suggestion guide of places to visit and the approximate time of the year to go to them.  (And, as you are not tied to any particular date, this would allow you to pick days with the best weather and /or are less likely to be busy.)  A list of RSPB reserves that are open can be found at this link.  (This page will be updated as additional reserves are re-opened).

I am mindful that people in the clinically extremely vulnerable category are still subject to strict ‘shielding’ measures and are not yet advised to partake in these activities.  Having all been subject to lockdown, we can all appreciate how this feels especially as weeks drag on into months.  Many, including myself, have found great relief in taking notice and enjoying nature in our gardens and on our doorstep, taking the time to slow down and notice the small details, noting the changing of the seasons and relishing in the birds songs around us.  A small community of group members has built up on the Gravesend RSPB Facebook group – currently called the Gravesend RSPB ‘Stay at Home’ group.  We have been posting pictures of nature seen in our garden, and on our daily walks, as well as hosting informal weekly photographic competitions with a different theme each week.  It is never too late to join in if you are able to – here is the link. We will continue to run this interactive group – although I may re-name it at some point – suggestions welcome!

I wish you a safe summer and look forward to meeting up with you all as soon as it is feasible and safe to do so.

Paul Yetman
Gravesend RSPB Local Group Leader
18 June 2020

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