Oren Environmental and the Big Garden Birdwatch

Between 27-29 January 2023, twitchers everywhere will participate in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch campaign.

The initiative encourages people to spend one hour of their weekend logging the birds they see. This helps the RSPB to monitor the volume and profile of birds across the UK.

Many Severn Trent Services employees will also join in, having used internal social channels to spread the word within the organisation.

Nickii Gilbert is the Head of Business Development at Oren Environmental – a part of Severn Trent Services specialising in reed bed maintenance. She says: “Reed beds are important habitats for birds. And as we help to take care of the largest portfolio of single-owned reed beds in Europe, it’s only right that we encourage people to get involved in campaigns that help to protect birds.”

Birds and reed beds

Nickii and her family will participate in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch from her garden in Darlington, County Durham, northeast England.

But at work, the Oren Environmental team often sees many species of birds in the reed beds they maintain for customers. The Bittern, Harrier, and Bearded Tit are examples of birds they might see.[i] However, the Bittern and Harrier are on the Amber list, meaning their conservation status is a concern.

Nickii adds:

“We play a big part in helping to protect birds and their habitats. This is because well-maintained reed beds encourage bird species to flourish.

“Knowing that we’re doing work that’s positive for bird biodiversity is something I’m very proud of.”

Working around the birds that inhabit customer reed beds

The Oren Environmental team plan and deliver their work around the nesting season.

By law, reed beds cannot be cut between certain months to protect wild birds, nests, and eggs. During those months, the team focuses on other tasks. Nickii says: “We’re often working around our feathered friends.

“In fact, we were cleaning some pipework attached to a customer’s reed bed when a mother duck and her large family of ducklings decided to move in!

“I guess there’s no better endorsement of our work than that! “But in the end, we made sure they could exit safely and put measures in place to stop more wildlife from entering the pipes, just in case they got stuck.”

Birds, water, and sustainability

Robin Philips is Severn Trent Service’s Head of Sustainability and is responsible for ensuring the organisation limits its environmental impact and enables customers to do the same.

He says: “We have a rule that we always leave a place in a better condition than how we found it. A great example of this is our reed bed maintenance work because most reed beds we encounter are built and then forgotten.

“This neglect can be a real problem. Especially when a reed bed is designed to be used in wastewater treatment. If they’re not looked after, they won’t do their job correctly and polluted water can be dangerous for birds.

“As a company with roots in water, we have a big responsibility to ensure birds can thrive in the sites we look after. And that’s why the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch campaign means a lot to many of our people.”

Get involved this weekend!

The RSPB website is encouraging you to:

  • 1. Watch the birds around you for one hour
  • 2. Count how many of each species of bird lands on your patch
  • 3. Go online and report what you see For more information about Oren Environmental, please visit the website or drop Nickii Gilbert a line.

[1] https://www.rspb.org.uk/globalassets/downloads/documents/conservation-projects/bringing-reedbeds-back-to-life/reedbed-poster.pdf