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Emily visits East Anglia’s birding heartland! Next: RSPB Leighton Moss & South Stacks, 8 & 14 Sept

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

The four maquettes travelled last week to the bird-rich coastline of Suffolk and Norfolk, a favourite destination for both twitchers and holidaymakers . RSPB Minsmere is legendary among bird reserves. The avocet thrives here – reintroduced to Britain by the RSPB after a 100-year absence – along with bitterns, marsh harriers and the greatest range of breeding birds in the country. Visitors on 24 August were surprised to also spot four bronze statuettes of the RSPB’s founder, Emily Williamson, on the sunny café terrace.

The renowned feminist and activist Natasha Walter, on holiday with her family (pictured above), saluted Emily’s remarkable campaigning achievements in an era when women had little voice. Eight-year-old Jack Ormanby (above), meanwhile, was particularly taken with sculptor Billie Bond's rendition of ‘murderous millinery’ – a bird of paradise hat of the era. The dynamic Minsmere team led by Ian and Lou (below) adopted the four Emily maquette poses. Which one to vote for?

Two days later, the Emily road show travelled to North Norfolk and RSPB Titchwell Marsh with its reedbeds, saltmarsh and freshwater lagoons harbouring avocets, marsh harriers and the elusive bearded tit (pictured below). They say you can spot 100 species in a single day at Titchwell – but it’s also unique among RSPB reserves for being run by women.

‘Where’s the warden?’ male twitchers often ask. ‘Here’ replies Lizzie Bruce, a high-flyer in the bird conservation world (pictured below, in hat). Emily Williamson’s story of pioneering nature activism is a constant inspiration to managers Lucy, Lizzie and Sally and their staff, such as reserve assistant Emily (pictured below).

‘Minsmere and Titchwell are both a credit to the RSPB and its inspirational founders,’ said campaign chair Andrew Simcock, the mastermind behind Emily's grand tour. ‘The enthusiasm of the teams at both reserves is also a great testament to the RSPB today.' The Emily Statue tour has now visited six of the ten locations on the UK tour. Over 600 people have viewed the designs and almost 6000 have voted. Have you?

Pictured below: Visitors Donna Davison and Mark Wallace from Hertfordshire admire Clare Abbatt's and Laury Dizengremel's maquettes; ten-year-old Arthur Mogg from Derby picks out the wording in Billie’s Bond's 'murderous millinery' hat; assistant warden Ryan spots the different birds in Eve Shepherd’s design.

COMING UP: The four Emilys are now travelling North and West. Catch up with Andrew and the maquettes at RSPB Leighton Moss in Silverdale, Lake District on WEDNESDAY 8 SEPTEMBER, and RSPB South Stacks, Anglesey, Wales on TUESDAY 14 SEPTEMBER.

Author Tessa Boase will also be at Leighton Moss, in the Lake District on Weds 8 Sept, signing copies of ‘Etta Lemon’ – her best-selling book about the RSPB’s inspirational female founders.

Emily tour pictures by Andrew Simcock.

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