Too good to be true?

By nature we're (mostly) a suspicious species or maybe it's learning through experience that when an offer seems too good to true it usually is!
Last week we had a phone call from a slightly worried Dad, his daughter had applied for and been accepted onto an Operation New World course,  they had received the information and Dad just couldn't believe it: training, a week on the Canary Islands, help with finding a job and all free.  Because the advert had been seen on our website he contacted us to find out if it was genuine.  We were delighted to be able to assure him it really was a good as it seems. 

Operation New World is an educational Charity established in 1992 in order to provide self-help programmes for unemployed young people. They aim to increase employability skills so that participants get off 'Benefits' and find worthwhile jobs. The success rate is very high: since 1992, nearly two thousand young have completed the course with 90% finding jobs or re-training shortly afterwards.
Anne Leonard, Chairman of the organisation says: "I wanted to help young people who could not get jobs and were getting depressed on the benefits system."

Find out more about Operation New World on their website: 

Sometimes, if you put your cynicism aside, you find genuinely good people doing fantastic things, like the note from the 'man on train at table with glasses and hat' giving a young mum a psychological boost and £5, because he says "What goes around, comes around." Wouldn't be lovely if this was such a common occurrence it didn't raise such a stir and go viral across the media network?

The countryside sector has a big heart, you only have to visit any one of the hundreds of reserves and parks across the country to see the volunteers in action and enjoy the fruits of their labours. People help out in all sorts of ways from the big jobs like path maintenance or litter picking to the smaller ones such as checking on collecting tins or simply recording sightings of animals or plants.

Where have all the finches gone?
The latest BTO Garden BirdWatch results show that there has been a significant decrease in the number of siskins seen in gardens and on feeders this winter. We can't remember the last time we saw a siskin in the garden, the numbers of goldfinches have dropped too although we have seen many more goldcrests than ever before.  In fact we've actually used far less bird food this year than for several years, and it feels that I have thrown away quite a lot of the seed which went rotten at the bottom of feeders - which makes the cleaning much more difficult, however, the fat always seems to be eaten up before it deteriorates.  Whether the decrease in bird numbers in the garden is down to the weather or that a cat has moved in next door is a debate for another day!  However, this morning I lost several minutes watching a pair (I think) of robins, we are at the cross over of robin territories and it is not unusual to have more than one or two taking careful turns at the feeding station. This morning the pair in question were sitting on opposite sides of a tree almost pointedly ignoring each other, one was definitely a female but the other refused to turn around to let me get a clear look to see if it was a male.
Last weekend's RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch was the biggest, most successful ever with over 115,000 survey submissions and incredible four million birds counted over two days.  The full results won't be known for a while because you have until 16 February to submit your results.   If you took part would like to do it again, more regularly then you could join BTO's Garden BirdWatch.