Posts Tagged ‘chris packham’

State of Nature,who cares? Calling conservation campaigners?

September 29, 2016

The natural environment and wildlife seems to have had its profile raised recently if the upsurge in epetitions is anything to go by?

We had the “Ban Driven Grouse Shooting” one which is now scheduled for oral evidence session in Westminster on 18 October (deadline for submitting written evidence 5 October).

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Henry needs our help still – have you written to your MP yet?  See here for useful tips.

Then Simon King launched “End the badger cull instead of expanding to new areas”, this petition is currently around 48,500 and has until 25 February 2017 to run, so it looks set to be another Westminster discussion.

Philippa Storey initiated “Suspend Natural England license to kill buzzards” currently around 13,350 with a deadline of 3 February 2017.

A lesser well known epetition was that launched by Zach Haynes “Protect UK Environment & Wildlife – adopt European environmental legislation” this will run until 6 January 2017.  Whatever our views of Brexit, I would like to think that readers of this blog are keen to see the natural environment and wildlife safeguarded, this petition recognises that “The vote to leave the EU could leave our wildlife at risk. The EU has developed a strong set of laws that protect the environment and our wildlife. As these laws will not apply when the UK leaves the EU we need new laws for the UK that give our precious wildlife and environment the same protection”.  Currently standing at around 5,750 signatures.

Wildlife champion and campaigner Chris Packham seeks to “Introduce a moratorium on the hunting of critically declining wading birds”this petition is scheduled to run until 23 March 2017 and currently has some 12,690 signatures.

“Woodcock, Snipe and Golden Plover are shot in the UK despite serious, ongoing population declines. A moratorium should be imposed to allow the impact of shooting to be established by independent scientific investigation and any necessary regulations introduced to ensure that shooting is sustainable.”

The State of Nature 2016 reports continuing decline in habitats and species in its usual almost apologetic way.  But just thinking over one’s own lifetime, the losses we mourn or at least those of us who can remember hedgerows, dew ponds, lapwing nests a plenty and flushing nightjars and woodcock from underfoot?  Where are the conservation champions?  Where are the challengers to the convention of constant compromise?  Should we just accept that development and private or corporate profits are more important than the natural environment?  If you subscribe to the notion that we all need clean air, clean water etc. then is it not incumbent upon us all to act responsibly, act with principles?  To engage, educate and empower others to help safeguard an environment which will still be there for future generations?  See also twitter.

Perhaps we might all consider signing the various ‘conservation’ petitions and then try to encourage others to do the same?  So, please share this blog blast amongst your network, family and friends.  Wildlife needs us today, tomorrow is too late and yesterday is like the Passenger Pigeon – gone!

Greenblobpride

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Hare loss, more dead badgers & missing science?

September 2, 2016

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The latest in the series of videos which explain and expose the practices used in upland moor land management associated with driven grouse shooting has been released, watch by clicking “Grouse medication and hare loss”

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Hopefully readers will have already signed the petition “Ban Driven Grouse Shooting” and perhaps also written to their MPs about the issues?  If not yet, then Mark Avery has provided an excellent series of “Firm Briefings” which provide guidance around contacting your representative in parliament.

A reminder also that an excellent group of speakers (including Mark Avery) are lined up for the forthcoming conference in Sheffield on 9 & 10 September 2016.  But be quick as Sunday is the last day to book for

“Raptors, Uplands & Peatlands: Conservation, Land Management & Issues”

 

Another uTube video well worth watching (less than 20 minutes) is the talk given by Dominic Dyer at the Birfair, to promote his recent book “Badgered to Death”.

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The clip is great and the book is well worth the read as it provides an excellent synopsis of the sorry saga.

Dyer and Dilger in their discussion were, I believe right about people attending the Birdfair, that they do enjoy contentious issues such as the badger cull, raptor persecution etc. being brought to the public’s attention.  May the trend of the last couple of years continue.

So, another petition to sign dear readers is that created by Simon King

“End the badger cull instead of expanding to new areas”.

It has already reached the 10,000 signatures required to receive a response from Defra, that response is already three days overdue.  It is pleasing that it continues to head to the next milestone of 100k when parliament may consider it for discussion.  Two wildlife issues pushed onto the political agenda by grassroots activism, long may it continue ….

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Image, with permission, courtesy of Tim Melling.

Whatever happened to the promise of evidence based policies? 

What happened to the robust science?

 

Missing again?

August 19, 2016

Just a quick post, to recognise today’s Birdfair contribution to the debate about the future of the British Countryside, and for facilitating a debate on the topical issue to “Ban driven grouse shooting”.

Conspicuous by their absence were the Moorland Association, the GWCT and the Countryside Alliance.  No sign either of YFTB spin bowler Botham either, perhaps still licking his metaphoric wounds from recent radio debates?

Simon Lester (retired Langholm Project gamekeeper) did his best to defend the indefensible?  He received a welcome and due acknowledgement for his attendance, and it was refreshing to hear him acknowledge publicly that grouse shooting walked up / over dogs is not economically viable.

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It was great that the leader of a political party also attended and did an excellent job in advocating for the wider public interest in the issue of upland land management, Natalie Bennett was very well received by an appreciative audience who realised that she had a good grasp of the topic, the Green Party is the only political party to have made a Manifesto commitment to Ban driven grouse shooting.  She certainly held her own when it was inferred that because she’d not worked on grouse moors, she couldn’t understand or appreciate the complexities of the issues.

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Panel left to right: Mark Avery, Natalie Bennett, Chairman, Simon Lester & Stuart Housden.

It was an inspiring day with some excellent speakers and if the Ban driven grouse shooting debate attendees all 500 each went away and did write to their MPs, did talk about the issues around upland moorland management with family, friends and colleagues then the panel did a great service and are thanked for their motivational offerings.

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Chris Packham and Tim Appleton enjoy a lighter moment. 

It was suggested and clearly supported by the 500+ audience that the Birdfair organisers having, in the words of Mark Avery ‘dared and won’ should make this kind of event / debate a regular feature – I agree, to have this debate and to hear Simon King‘s talk “Enough” is good; people were engaged, they were educated and they were empowered so well done Birdfair!

Charlie Moores and the BAWC team, Dominic Dyer (Badger Trust), Simon King and Chris Packham and not least Mark Avery – thank you.  As was recognised, the hard work is just beginning.

The first casualty is truth?

August 17, 2016

So says George Monbiot in yesterday’s Guardian and who describes the grouse shooters campaign against the RSPB as a shameful example of ‘astroturfing’. Adding that the public should beware.

It is certainly a hard hitting piece and well worth reading, one might wonder if it will now see Monbiot as a ‘target’ alongside Packham, Avery and other high profile campaigners?

Readers are asked to consider writing to their MPs ahead of the forthcoming debate in Parliament to “Ban driven grouse shooting”, Mark Avery provides a template via his recent blog post ‘Writing to your MP’.

Interestingly the Doncaster constituencies have increased steadily but haven’t yet achieved the campaign target for each of the parliamentary constituencies.  The only HHL constituency nearing the 154 target is Brigg & Goole with 140 as I write.

Don Valley, Caroline Flint MP : 124

Doncaster North, Ed Miliband MP : 95

Doncaster Central, Rosie Winteron MP : 125

To find how your area is doing click on the petition map link herePlease help push the word out so the numbers increase to the extent that when MPs are contacted by their constituents they can see how many have already signed it, there is still just a little over four weeks left to run, the closing date is 20 September.  It’s not just about the Hen Harrier but the land management practices associated with driven grouse shooting which have consequences and impacts on all of us through the public purse and increased costs to resolve some of the problems arising from ‘sporting practices’ not least illegal persecution of raptors.

For anyone considering a trip to the annual Birdfair at Rutland Water this coming weekend, there is to be a debate on the issue of driven grouse shooting on Friday at 16:45 until 17:30 in the main events marquee.  There is seating capacity for 500!

For some interesting videos outlining the issues surrounding driven grouse shooting see Chris Packham’s website here.  Judge for yourself who bowled the best over, Packham or Botham?  See also the BTO statement around the report cited by ‘Sir’, what an own goal?

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A glorious ‘inglorious 12th’?

August 12, 2016

As I compose this brief update on the Ban driven grouse shooting petition, I recommend readers visit “Our St Crispen’s Day” post by Mark AveryWhat a day, in excess of 10,000 signatures added to the petition! 

Add to that the fact that the advocates for driven grouse shooting look like they have metaphorically shot themselves in the foot (maybe even feet) by the exposure of erroneous argument to further their cause?  It seems highly probable that the interview on Radio 4’s Today programme involving Sir Ian Botham has helped the ‘ban’ case, Packham was far more erudite and knowledge but I suppose that view is no surprise to readers?

Why is it that the BBC appears to be allowing selective reporting, why are their interviewers failing to ensure points raised are addressed, why do they duck the illegal persecution and the damage to peat which can exacerbate flooding in places like Hebden Bridge?  It is fair to say that they have been signposted to reports such as the Leeds University study EMBER, but they fail to refer to it, why?  Congratulations to ‘Ban the Burn’ for their contribution to BBC Look North earlier this evening.  A shame that the interviewer allowed the Moorland Association spin bowler to get away without explanation why they promote the burning peat and by virtue the damage and associated costs it causes to the public purse?

Will they, that is to say the BBC now that the Botham’s erroneous statement has been found lacking (to say the least) provide a statement explaining why they allowed reference to it?  Will they apologise?

Marks & Spencers too have capitulated to public pressure and have issued a press release stating that they will not sell red grouse in their food stores.  We are still waiting to receive a response about the levels of toxic lead residue in the grouse meat that they consider safe for human consumption, and a copy of their much mentioned Code of Practice developed with the grouse industry.

As I sign off the petition which is rapidly approaching 98,000 – it is still possible that it might reach that magic figure by midnight but if not then it will be early tomorrow morning – somewhere in the hundreds of comments, someone has written that the ‘phlebs’ have taken back the ‘glorious inglorious twelfth’, it most certainly feels that way?  Here’s to the next chapter of the challenge ….

Thank you to all who have promoted the petition, Henry too I’m sure feels supported.

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First there was Brexit, now it’s Clexit?

August 10, 2016

Political agendas with a little p seem to be gathering traction since the UK voted to leave ‘Europe’?

Principally promoted by business who sought to divest regulation and constraints for an open market where trade deals would be easy and of course the UK tax payer would still be expected to subsidise private businesses (agri-industry, banking, pharmaceutical research etc.)?

There is now a group Clexit recently established – well, perhaps they’ve existed previously, but have now gone ‘public’?

According to Michael Gove MP (lead Brexit campaigner) and repeated by Dana Nuccitella, people in this country have had enough of experts.  Interestingly there are no statistics offered to support this, nor a study or report cited, so is this Ministerial spin?  Do politicians really believe what their script writers say?

Clexit calls for withdrawal from climate treaties, rejects the conclusions of 97% of climate science experts and 95% of economics experts.

So much for government saying policies would be evidence based?

People new to conservation campaigning ably capture the mood and the momentum which is gaining pace as we head towards the “notsoglorious 12th”.  Entry Level Naturalist, met Iolo Williams at her first ever HHD and little wonder she’s now engaged?

The 38 degree petition “BBC – Don’t sack Chris Packham” steadily gains support as the word spreads that the popular conservationist appears to be in the Countryside Alliance and shooter’s sights?  As this post goes to press the petition has in excess of 19,000 signatures in just three days.

Readers might recall that in June this year the National Trust served notice that the current shooting leases at Hope Woodlands and Park Hall in Derbyshire will end in April 2018.  This is a brave step and one which we must congratulate the NT under Dame Helen Ghosh‘s leadership.

That is an excellent start and we noticed recently that a local group, Friends of Derbyshire Moorlands have now acted in the interests of two other areas which are managed for grouse shooting benefit, perhaps you might take the time to read and consider their case, “No moor management for grouse-shooting on two National Trust estates in Derbyshire“?

Other petitions of potential interest:

Suspend Natural England licence to kill buzzards.  7,437 – approaching the level which requires a response from the relevant government department, yes….  Defra again!  Curiously it is Therese Coffey MP whose constituency which leads the petition in terms of contributing signatories, close behind is the ex-Defra Minister Rory Stewart’s constituency with Ian Liddell-Grainger MP a close third.  Can we help to boost the Humberhead Levels support?

Ban driven grouse shooting.  82,296 as we approach the “notsoglorious 12th” wouldn’t it be ironic if it were to reach the magic 100k on that date?  Realistically the following week – and just imagine the cheer going up from Rutland Water (Birdfair) if that were announced over the PA system?

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Please, readers let us know if there are any online petitions you think are worth while supporting and promoting through this blog?  Please bear in mind the aims and objectives of the Forum and relevant subject matter.

 

BBC to investigate Packham ….

August 9, 2016

It is not that long since there was a call for Packham to be sacked by the BBC and an online petition set up seeking support for this proposal, it reached 5,031 signatures  (see https://www.change.org/p/bbc-chris-pacham-is-on-nearly-every-bbc-wildlife-program-he-s-anti-shooting-and-not-impartial).   Interestingly this epetition is still open and has added 26 signatures since I last checked it.  Conversely  another online petition (which is now closed) was set up asking the BBC to retain Packham’s services and this one passed 80,000 (see https://www.change.org/p/bbc-don-t-sack-chris-packham)  doesn’t that tell you something?

In excess of 80,000 people expressed support for Packham’s campaigning stance, after all argued many, he wasn’t actually employed by the BBC rather he was occasionally contracted to deliver popular television viewing.

So what’s this latest episode about?

BBC News offers an insight with selective quotes,  John Vidal‘s piece “Countryside Alliance urges BBC to sack Chris Packham in conservation row” written in September 2015 offers background to the latest attempt to gag passionate conservationists. Listen to Tim Bonner (erroneously describing Packham as an employee) call for his sacking subsequent to his  article in September 2015 edition of BBC Wildlife Magazine.  Bonner (CEO Countryside Alliance) says Packham was pursuing “obsessive crusades” and that the BBC was printing “blatant political propaganda”.  Read for yourself, extremist?

The recent on line petition, Don’t sack Chris Packham, set up two days ago  has already passed 14,500 signatories.  Do the BBC Trust really want another public backlash?  The licence fee payers clearly see Packham as value for their fees?  The BBC Trust is a public body and subject to scrutiny, one assumes it operates a transparent modus operandi?

It is also interesting perhaps to consider other recent words used, recall …. The Rt Honourable Sir Nicholas Soames MP retweeted that Packham was a ‘nut job’ after his autobiography Fingers in the Sparkle Jar revealed he had Asperger’s Syndrome.  The then Prime Minister Cameron informed us that “Mr Soames is a backbench Member of Parliament and all backbench MPs are free to express views that do not necessarily reflect official position of their party or of the Government”.  Interpret those words as you wish?

Are these two instances examples of a disconnect with the public?  Perhaps we’re biased but robust science should prevail and I’m oft reminded of a piece of advice I was given by “The guardian of the Yorkshire Landscape” the late Stephen Warburton many years ago …. “always be courteous to your enemies, it infuriates them”.  What is gained from ‘tasteless and offensive’ dialogue, media will love the sound-bites but how will history report it?

We ask you readers to consider signing the second edition of “Don’t sack Chris Packham” petition via the 38 degrees website here.

Ban driven grouse shooting as supported by Chris Packham, Bill Oddie, Mark Avery and others is delightfully picking up pace, currently 80,654 …. will it reach the magic figure by Friday: the Inglorious 12th?  Will it get there by the following weekend, the Birdfair at Rutland Water?  What we must do is make sure it reaches 100,000 by 20 September so then according to the petition website, “this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament” ….

It’s not just about shooting, but land management which has been shown to exacerbate flooding, cause issue with water quality, muir burning damages sensitive areas for the benefit of a single species which is required to be available in high densities …. you’ve heard it all before, and from a variety of sources.  An excellently researched critique Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands is available now as an updated paperback edition.  If the facts were not true then I suspect we’d be reporting a pending court case.

To hear a reasoned case, watch a video which offers bite sized chunks of information about land management practices which are required to support driven grouse shooting.

Inglorious front cover

Wildlife and the natural environment is under threat, it needs those of us who care about it to speak out.  It needs robust science and evidence to underpin our case and remember those other wise words “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then … you win” [attributed to Ghandi but not verified].  If we are to hand it in a better state to future generations then we need collaborative critical mass to challenge the attrition which is destroying so much.

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RSPB withdraws support for the Hen Harrier Action Plan!

July 25, 2016

There are various opinions as to why the RSPB supported the Defra Hen Harrier Action Plan in the first place and now there are a number of assessments as to the very public withdrawl from it.

Irrespective of the reasoning for either scenario, they may well have, at a very fortuitous point in the calendar dealt a considerable blow to the new politicians at Defra?  Erudite as ever, Avery ponders Ms Coffey’s capability to pick up the pieces left by her departing colleagues.  He reminds us that as Ms Truss departed Defra she rejected the findings of the Lead Ammunition Group and it is certainly worth readers recapping on that ‘saga’ and easy enough to by using the links provided in Avery’s blog posts on the various ‘chapters’ which can be found via the menu on the right hand side of his blog under the heading ‘Lead’.  He also asks us to remember the speech by Theresa May about being on the side of the many rather than the powerful few? Here’s your chance to live up to those fine words. [May et. al.]

Martin Harper suggests that by their withdrawing support licensing is the only viable option.  Many conservationists never believed the [In]Action Plan had any chance of success, despite as Harper writes the RSPB played a full part in the production of Defra’s Hen Harrier Action Plan and despite disagreeing with certain points (notably brood management), welcomed its publication earlier this year.  The RSPB appears to be supporting licensing despite many believing and providing some case studies as to why it is unlikely to work.  Are they following the previous model …. “I’m generally very patient.  My natural preference is to build partnerships and work to make positive change from the inside with those who want to abide by the law and deliver progress.”  Laudable but the decline continues apace for the magnificent Hen Harrier and other raptors.

But, let’s celebrate this announcement and let’s keep the momentum up that this carnage in the uplands must stop.

Please spread the word, persuade friends, family , work colleagues and anyone who loves wild places and wild things to join Avery, Packham, Oddie et. al. to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting.

See other assessments of today’s announcement

RSPB humming Shania Twain

RSPB walks away from Hen Harrier Action Plan

And from the metaphoric horse’s mouth, via Martin Harper’s blog:

Why the RSPB is withdrawing support for the Hen Harrier Action Plan

Another useful site to offer friends in order that they can understand some of the background which has brought us to the current situation is Raptors Alive UK

For more information on events and gatherings this year across the country see details via HHD

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not so glorious?

July 24, 2016

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Regular readers will be at least aware, if not familiar with the issues of raptor persecution in the uplands where driven grouse shooting occurs, and where equally worrying is the management regime practiced by those managing these uplands for the ‘sport’.

A series of short, very informative videos have been produced which are being released in the run up to the “Not so glorious” 12th August.  For anyone familiar with the ‘quaint, archaic and outdated practice’ that is the day on which thousands of Red Grouse are shot for sport, it is the first day in a season which extends to 10 December in England and Scotland, 30 November in Northern Ireland.

These excellent videos are worth a couple of minutes of anyone’s time, and for more information on the topic see Raptor Persecution UK where one of today’s post reports on an incident in North Yorkshire!  See also Standing up for Nature and for events relating to see also Hen Harrier Day – help make 2016 “the biggest yet”.

The first in the series “The Real Price of Grouse”

Released today, the second  “The Real Price of Grouse: Greenhouse Gases” outlines issues relating to the management practice of burning peat and the unseen cost to us all.

These videos presented by Chris Packham, provide a bite size chunk in each as to why ordinary members of the public, taxpayers, should seriously consider signing the epetition “Ban Driven Grouse Shooting” via the parliamentary web site  here

The epetition is approaching 64,000 signatures but we need more …. “At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament” the response made by Defra upon reaching 10,000 signatures might have been considered by some as patronising and selective in the statistics it offered, indeed there have been some suggesting that it might even have been written by advocates for the ‘sport’,

Remember also that there is an excellent opportunity on 9 & 10 September (in Sheffield) to hear a range of speakers at “Raptors, Uplands & Peatlands : Conservation, Land Management & Issues”.  For more information and a booking form see UKEconet.

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Breaking News ….hope for Hen Harriers?

June 10, 2016
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Image: Tim Melling

We are delighted to report that the National Trust have evoked a break clause in a tenancy agreement and have given notice on a lease for driven grouse shooting in the Peak District National Park.

So, to borrow Raptor Persecution UKs words, the NT have gone from “zero to hero”.

The lease will terminate in 2018, some 22 months hence.  But, let Raptor Persecution UK, BAWC, Mark Avery, Chris Packaham and so many others who resolutely refuse to be intimidated enjoy the well deserved victory.  It is worth reading the comments on the post via the link below.

For more details on the story see Raptor Persecution UK post https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/national-trust-pulls-grouse-shooting-lease-in-peak-district-national-park/#comments

See also Raptor Politics

http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2016/06/10/national-trust-give-notice-to-rescind-grouse-shooting-lease-after-gamekeeper-deployed-decoy-hen-harrier-in-peak-district/

Other comments will be available on other websites such as that of the Moorland Association.

This story is sure to run, will the notice be challenged?  Will the BBC and other media cover the story? Watch this space as well the key campaigners websites.

Avery’s Ban Driven Grouse Shooting epetition is now at 41,216 – let’s keep pushing it to that all important 100,000 that will see Politicians ‘consider’ discussing it in Parliament.  Defra did eventually issue a response to the petition quite some time after it passed the 10,000 mark.  See the link below for that statement, the constituency map and to sign the petition

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125003

Apologies that we’ve had to include lengthy links but for some inexplicable reason the usual link option is not available …. now if one were minded towards conspiracy theories ….

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Nut job?

May 13, 2016

Yesterday we reported on habitat loss and failure to address by a number of public bodies.  Today we raise the issue of the behaviour of an MP, an elected public servant ….

Some readers may be aware that Chris Packham has written “Fingers in the Sparkle Jar”.  It is reviewed in the May issue of BBC Wildlife and  also features as BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week.

Packham’s stance on the Hen Harrier issue is well known, it has gained him supporters and conversely it has attracted  abuse from some quarters.  Whilst campaigners might expect to attract criticism and to some extend verbal abuse, is it acceptable that a Member of Parliament ‘tweets’ in support?  To make matters worse, the MP in question is a Right Honourable  …. For more detailed background on the sorry story see Springwatch host Chris Packham branded “nut job” by hunting firm after Asperger admission.

Miles King and Mark Avery have both featured analysis of the slur on their respective blogs.  They are worth a read thus far and in all probability as they update the saga.

Bad enough that a business elects to use offensive terminology towards someone with opposing views to theirs, notably someone who is vehemently against illegal activities involving protected birds of prey.  But that an MP then supports their stance is quite out of order, MPs are reputedly public servants and it seems wholly reasonable that they behave in a courteous and polite manner?

An honourable gesture in light of the slur, which has the potential to offer more than Packham would be for ‘The Rt Hon’ Nicholas Soames to apologise?

Packham has responded and said: “It’s very disappointing to see such comments retweeted by an MP.  “People with Aspergers are not ‘nut jobs’ they are simply different.   Hunting Solutions and their supporter ‘The Rt Hon’ Sir Nicholas Soames MP clearly has a different opinion, and we are all entitled to opinions but the issue being is it right he uses such terminology given his public office?

We understand that attempts to contact him through social media were blocked, perhaps a polite note via email might persuade him to reconsider labeling people with Aspergers as nut jobs, and to apologise to Packham for inappropriate and offensive language?

End illegal persecution of protected species and manage the upland moors for public benefit?  Then ….

Ban driven grouse shooting

 

 

 

Cuckoos, missing Hen Harriers & moorland (mis)management?

May 2, 2016

Often called the ‘Cuckoo Flower’ Cardamine pratensis or ‘Lady’s Smock’can be found in wet meadows and pond margins.  The plant can still be found in such places in the Humberhead Levels but sadly like so many meadow flowers it is not as common as it once was even, in my memory.  The decline is due to loss of habitat, areas previously hosting this delicate plant have been been drained to facilitate increased agricultural intensification.  There may be remnant meadows, hidden gems secreted away where this and other meadow species can still be found.  Pastoral areas of the Doncaster borough still have some fields which retain hedges for stock and are cut for hay in summer months.

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The Cuckoo Flower, so called as it is often in flower as the cuckoo arrives with us is the county flower of Breckonshire and Cheshire where it was called ‘Milkmaid’.  The origins of the vernacular ‘Lady’s Smock’ is not as innocent as it might first appear?

Cuckoos have arrived with one logged on Hatfield Moors on 23 and on Thorne 28 April.  Wheatears, hirundines and swifts too are here for the breeding season, all we await now is our nightjars and given that it appears to be an early season they probably won’t be too much longer.  Recent early dates include 19 May 2013 on Crowle Moors.

Missing Hen Harriers & moorland (mis)management?

We seem to have lost the Hen Harriers for the summer season, with the last being seen on on Thorne Moors 19 April and 25 April on Hatfield Moors.  As our wintering birds leave us for the uplands, let’s hope they avoid persecution which appears to remain rife in areas with managed grouse moors.  Two items which may be of interest to readers relate to raptor persecution and the issue of moorland management and the EU!  One is a quite astonishing piece of footage and equally astonishing is the various exchanges of correspondence it has generated not least on Avery’s blog and Raptor Persecution UK (formerly RP Scotland).

Will we ever get the 300+ pairs of Hen Harriers in the north of England that the habitat could host?  Help get the deficit discussed in Westminster, if you’ve not already signed the Ban Driven Grouse Shooting epetition created by Mark Avery.  It’s doing well nearing 34,000 but we need it to reach 100,000 soplease spread the word.  Listen to the passion behind the message on the first HH Day in 2014 by Chris Packham, Mark Avery and Charlie Moores.

Realists will acknowledge that the epetion is unlikely to see a ban introduced, but if we can achieve the required 100k signatures then it might be discussed in Parliament.  It is just one of the tools in the big box.  Many of us know the sincerity of Ministers words from the variety of correspondence received, but for the Government to ignore its own words ….

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Help Henry – sign up to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting.

Do Hen Harriers deserve a future in the uplands?

March 20, 2016

Readers of this blog (others are available) will recall that there has been much discussion over the plight of raptors, particularly the Hen Harrier.  There is just something absolutely magical at the end of a day spent on Thorne Moors when a ‘silver ghost’ drifts in to view, glorious ….

But that stunning bird which we see here in winter is under serious threat, despite legal protection on its upland breeding moors.  Where land management practices on some large estates continues to see decline or absence.

Anyone who has listened to a talk by Chris Packham,  Mark Avery or Iolo Williams amongst others will be familiar with the issues surrounding the ‘debate’?  Anyone who has read Inglorious: Conflict in the uplands has a wealth of research available to them to consider the evidence as presented for a change.

It will therefore come as no surprise to learn that Avery has just launched his third epetition on the issue, titled unsurprisingly Ban driven grouse shooting.  Readers are encouraged to consider signing it, they are encouraged to read the various blog posts which offer evidence and insight into the issue, read Inglorious, read the EMBER Report and then offer justification against a change in upland management practice?

If one sets aside the legal status, i.e. the bird is protected in law full stop, is one permitted to enquire, should landowners receive public funds without delivering public benefit?  With rights go responsibilities?  We hear constantly that such estates are beneficial for wildlife, yet these same estates appear devoid of raptors so where is the balanced ecosystem?

If you’ve not heard Avery speak on the subject then remember that we provided advance notification of a two day conference in Sheffield Raptors, Uplands and Peatlands : 9 & 10 September 2016.  See also UKEconet and download the booking forms.

Ban driven grouse shooting

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Ban driven grouse shooting?

January 13, 2016
Red Grouse TM

Image: Tim Melling

Ban driven grouse shooting?

Readers may recall intermittent updates on the situation around illegal persecution of raptors in the uplands where driven grouse shooting occurred?

Readers may also recall that Dr Mark Avery set up an epetition Ban driven grouse shooting on the Parliamentary epetition website?  100,000 signatures are needed to secure a discussion in Parliament.  The deadline for these is Thursday 21 January 2016.

Anyone who has read Avery’s book Inglorious Conflict in the Uplands can be left in no doubt as to the issues involved and the impact they have on water quality, the impact on the peat as a consequence of the management practice of burning as well as a whole host of other issues.  The EMBER Report by Leeds University  presents a robust evidence based case for change.  See also the issue of lead shot in game.  Ban toxic lead ammunition is another ‘related’ epetition and there is discussion around this issue via Standing up for nature and other websites.

Whilst the Humberhead Levels may not have breeding Hen Harriers we do get them as winter visitors and they are a part of our avifauna that we should value and be able to enjoy?  Yet, if you look on the map facility on the epetition you can see constituency statistics.  Come on, if you’ve not already signed then please do think seriously about doing so.  If you have, then persuade your friends and network?  Spread the word via social media.  This is one situation where ‘tweeting’ on ‘twiter’ really will help the birds.

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Image: Tim Melling

Interestingly Avery’s blog Standing up for nature was voted Blog of the Year by Birdwatch magazine, Chris Packham Conservation Hero of the Year and the Guano Award for Environmental Harm went to the Rt Hon. Liz Truss!

Ban driven grouse shooting?

New Year’s Resolutions: Avery offers suggestions ….

December 13, 2015

It was a packed Idle Valley Rural Learning Centre on Friday evening, Dr Mark Avery’s message to people – don’t just leave it to others, but act as individuals and then the critical mass has the potential to cause change (that assumes that there is sufficient collaborative conservation) ….

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Avery, author of a number of ‘campaigning’ tomes which if you’ve not already read might feature on your Christmas wish list?  Fighting for Birds written post RSPB employment, A Message from Martha and significantly Inglorious A Conflict in the Uplands provides background information and peer reviewed science on the ‘sport’ of driven grouse shooting.  Updates and supplementary information is available via Standing up for Nature.

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Avery asked the audience various questions about their love and actions for the natural environment, with much as expected results.  The acid test as they say would be in twelve months if that same audience returned their with lists of actions and outcomes?

Consider cutting back on meat consumption, Avery now enjoys a four days a week meat free and insists that it’s not difficult.  I’d agree and readers can see why by clicking on the link above.  One person was rather too pleased with themself for being a vegetarian, whilst that is laudable it wouldn’t actually make any impact post talk.  It might be that Avery was trying to encourage meat eaters to think a bit more about the impact of their choice, to inform themselves more about the issues involved with eating meat and thus by cutting back there was recognition but also a compromise which didn’t stop enjoyment of the great bacon butty or succulent steak from locally reared rare breed cattle (not agri-industrialised ‘processed’ meat for supermarket chains with far too many food miles and astronomical carbon footprint).  The talk, was I think designed to make people look at their lifestyles without trying to make them feel guilty, it was about making informed choices and coming to acceptable compromises.

Get out there more and connect with nature, and encourage others to.  By enjoying a space made available for nature to heal, through planning mitigation or industry transfer for an NGO to ‘garden’ then the wilder and less accessible places come into focus and remind people who pay taxes and support ‘agri-welfare’ schemes that they are valuable and not just playgrounds for elite sport or tax deductable forestry developments for pension funds but areas of land which can positively benefit the whole population through carbon sequestration or flood allieviation etc.

Choose a couple or so of ‘causes’ to get involved with, research them well and write, attend rallies etc. to further them.  Neonictinoids and bees, badgers and bTB and climate change were some offered as suggestions.

Write to MPs.  Mark suggested a letter a month as being an easy target.  We’d agree but you must recognise that MPs don’t always respond, a recent letter about hen harriers and driven grouse shooting was sent to one of our local MPs who then sent this on to the Minister and the most patronising ill informed response was sent back via the MP.  Indignant that the respondent had clearly failed to read the letter let alone the eight questions asked which have still not been answered a follow up letter was written, sadly to date no response from either the MP or the Minister.  Other correspondence awaiting replies include such topics as bTB and NeonictinoidsThey work for you?  I must look up what it is that they do such that if they were all (including the other 850 in the Westminster Palace) kidnapped by aliens what in our daily lives would cease to happen ….

Review your membership of the NGOs you support, setting aside reasons like the cost do they still reflect your interests, do they take action on issues you consider important, are they able to evidence claims of outcomes they publicise?  One member of the audience cited a charity seeking additional funds for target species and Avery rightly offered advice on testing the marketing material used, it is certainly something to consider before responding to direct marketing?

Support and get involved with an NGO.

Write to the NGOs of which you are members and praise positives and present a case for action on particular issues that people felt strongly about in the hope that they might become involved.

Sign ‘Ban driven grouse shooting’ and encourage others to.

Iceland RG 0146Game meat offered for sale locally, toxic lead content of the brace illustrated???   Click on the image to see more detail and price. 

You’d need to do some backround research as to the case for banning lead ammunition but the epetition to “Ban toxic lead ammunition” is something that is worth considering if you are not already a signatory to it?  Avery’s forensic attention to detail makes a compelling case, a case already supported through the banning of lead shot in wildfowling, supported by the likes of Lord Krebs so one could be forgiven when one reads the pontificating badly briefed MPs in shooting constituencies worried about the cost of converting their pairs of Purdy’s when the topic was discussed recently in the Westminster village?  I suppose if a dozen shooters wrote to them they can claim to be representing views of constituents, but I would still be interested in why they see no issue with no regulation on toxic metals in the human food chain for game when it exists for farmed meat, common sense, consistency?

I’d probably add a couple of other suggestions, if not a daily dose of Avery via Standing up for Nature then at least a weekly look at his blog posts?  He offers thought provoking and often topical items, he prompts action even if it is only a nudge to respond to a goverment consultation, he offers you a ‘right of reply’ through a comment facility.  There are other blogs available, “a new nature blog” is one such offering let us know who you follow and why?  There are of course the ‘corporate’ blogs offered by the NGOs but the two offerded here are independent and not marketing linked to membership organisations.

If you read one book this ‘consumerfest’ then I recommend and challenge any agnostic to not be persuaded after a Yuletide dose of ‘non-medicated nor toxic’ Inglorious A Conflict in the UplandsI suppose if one were to reflect on the description of Inglorious being non-toxic, then it is all relative and those who participate in the activity which appears to endorse illegal acts then it is a spotlight on practices some would prefer kept below the public radar?

As for undertaking the above suggestions, will you if you’ve not already done so?

With apologies to Mark for not providing his full list, NYR – really must do better? 

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Henry the campaign’s mascot (above) – I dipped out on meeting him at the Birdfair, but here’s to 2016 and a good year for Hen Harriers.  To Birders Against Wildlife Crime, long may their endeavours see wildlife crime remain a high profile campaign.  To Chris Packham and the other wildlife ‘celebrities’ who have rallied and risked being threatened by the ‘sack’ a massive thank you.

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Politics & Packham: Poisoned, shot, trapped Hen Harrier RIP?

September 16, 2015

Environmental conservation has a bit of competition at the moment in terms of newsworthiness, but then that’s probably always been the case to some degree?

Politics has suddenly become lively and isn’t it interesting to see the antics of the Parliamentary playground?  The humanitarian crisis continues to unfold and that of course suffers from media hype, political commentory, filibustering rather than a collective address across the piece be it at local, national or worldwide level?

Nature, quietly going about its business, so essential to all humanity is in the back seat again?  Possibly even demoted to the trailer behind?

There have been a few entertaining bits on the worldwideweb recently?  Andy Richardson / the Countryside Alliance petition calling upon the BBC to “Sack Chris Packham” is limping along with 2,629 supporters.    Packham’s team have thus far fielded a spectacular 76,130 on the “BBC Don’t Sack Chris Packham” counter petition.   Packham’s video thanking people for their support also encourages people to join the various charities he called upon / criticised for being too meek, it also importantly asks that they consider signing the Ban driven grouse shooting epetition, it may be coincidental but the numbers have risen at the rate of around 1,500 a day and it currently stands at around 18,823.  The petition has until 21 January 2016 to run, if it reaches the ‘magic’ figure of 100,000 signatories then it “will be considered for debate in Parliament”. 

In an article in yesterday’s Independent, the BBC make it clear that Packham would not face dismissal for expressing his views.  Excellent news, freedom of speech survives a little longer?  a new nature blog provides interesting background information on the Countryside Alliance and its associates.  It also analyses recent activity by government amidst the excitement and confusion of current affairs.

See also the Hen Harrier Day 2015 video, Packham at his best and promoting peaceful, proactive and democratic campaigns.  He even welcomes those who would attack him at all levels whilst failing to provide any credible science to underpin the view of ‘tradition & country lore’.  There is just one blip, ok possibly two needed for sensitive ears but they received hearty rounds of applause.

Packham’s committment to the campaign is assisted by his generous provision of an assortment of T-Shirt designs which he allows supporters to use, his website explains ….

You can download th[e] design for free for your own personal use. Please be aware that it is the copyright of Chris Packham and strictly not for resale. Action will be taken against any infringement of copyright.

Poisoned, shot, trapped – Hen Harrier RIP

This Hen Harrier t-shirt design has been created by Chris Packham and is free to download so that you can take it to your chosen printers and have made up in the colour and size of your choice.

Packham, sporting the above design (along with Avery) reminded the Goyt Valley audience in the open air arena that the management of the uplands were not best served by driven grouse shooting interests.  Cleaning water for human consumption is more expensive because of heather burning, there is also a risk of increased flooding, see the EMBER Report to better understand the effects of prescribed vegetation burning on blanket peatland hydrology, chemistry and physical properties, and on the hydrology, water quality and biota of rivers in upland peat-dominated catchments. It is the first time that a systematic and comprehensive assessment of burned and unburned catchments has been carried out.

Inglorious is the ideal Ban driven grouse shooting handbook, in its pages are all the details of everything you need to know when contacting your MP, defra, food chain suppliers and restaurants etc. to make a case for it to be outlawed.  It offers excellent references as well as further reading matter.  As Packham said recently “I’m a fully paid up member of this newfangled thing we’ve got.  It’s called science and it’s about truth”.

Should the BBC sack Chris Packham?

September 10, 2015

There has been a call by the Countryside Alliance for the BBC to sack Chris Packham.  The epetition set up by Andy Richardson three days ago is currently running at 2,449 signatures.  The BBC are petitioned “BBC please sack Chris Packham he’s anti shooting and not an impartial presenter thus misinforming viewers”.

We didn’t realise that he was a BBC employee, rather he was ocassionally contracted to appear as a presenter in various series, Springwatch for example?  Even the Guardian describes Packham as a ‘treasure’.  The Telegraph on the other hand offer up the views of Tim Bonner, the CEO of the CA but only a very short paragraph (two sentences) from the BBC Wildlife magazine defending their editorial policy as well as Packham, balanced journalism?

There are other far better opinions expressed about the CA and their attack on one of the country’s most popular naturalists/conservationists/presenters.  Standing up for nature, a new nature blog are a couple of examples.

In the interim, perhaps readers might like to consider signing the epetition NOT to sack Chris Packham.  At the time of posting this epetition set up two days ago is running at 54,471 signatures & multiplying by the second ….

If this epetition had been set up on the government epetition website & reached a 100,000 signatures in six months then the issue would be discussed in parliament!

Perhaps Change.org author should circulate details of the Ban driven grouse shooting epetition (currently running at 16,043 signatories) along with an explanation to the ‘keep Packham’ signatories and then the impact of ‘sport’ on upland peat moors would reach potential sympathisers and signatories for Ban driven grouse shooting?

 

In the meantime the ‘Indian Summer’ continues to provide interesting observations as the wildlife enjoys the warmth of the late sun.

Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas Blackwater Dyke 10092015

Small Copper are still active on Thorne Moors along with adders still to be found taking advantage of the warm weather.  Images: Martin Warne.

Adder Vipera berus Paraffin Tram 10092015

 

Swathes of Field Scabious amidst ridge and furrow of an old haymeadow, look beyond the Small Tortoiseshell for the miriad of bee species.  Image: Helen Kirk.

150906 Sm Tortoisehell nectaring on FS hrk 808

 

 

 

Reflections, accountability & action?

September 5, 2015

Wednesday’s Guardian sees Chris Packham slaming “shameful silence of Britains conservation charities” and particularly asking serious questions about the disappointing performance of the large and affluent NGOs on the issue of illegal persecution of raptors, most especially Hen Harriers.  There is also much discussion about this ‘deafening silence’ in terms of organisational support on the popular blog site Standing up for Nature.

The Hawk and Owl Trust are insistent that to Ban driven grouse shooting would be counter productive, but fail to mention the amount of public money large shooting estates receive and how heather burning or predator management provides (or not) public benefit.  Inglorious on the other hand provides an excellent resume of the issue.

The September issue of BBC Wildlife magazine also sees Packham saying that “It’s shameful that some conservation charities won’t stand up for foxes, badgers and hen harriers”. 

PENTAX Image

Perhaps their senior staff and maybe trustees will be wincing at his words?  Hopefully some of their members will, prompted by Packham ask questions about the failure of the affluent almost quasi quangoes to challenge and to champion the cause for wildlife conservation?  The National Trust too does not escape comment, partricularly in respect of the upland moors it owns and manages.  Peak Malpractice was an expose of raptor persecution back in 2007 but what is perhaps more astonishing is the fact that the situation has worsened, hence the Ban driven grouse shooting epetion as well as a range of other actions designed to raise the profile of illegal persecution and wildlife crime.  Readers will recall that Birders Against Wildlife Crime (BAWC) was a ‘community’ reaction to failure by various organisations who conservationists might reasonably have expected to champion such cause.

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One might comment that it is hardly surprising therefore that despite austere times, new conservation charities are still being created?  Simon King, the President of the Wildlife Trusts, has set up one such venture with education at its heart, the Simon King Wildlife Project.  One might wonder why after all, with a link to a network of 47 charities across the country he has done this?  It seems reasonable to assume that the county trusts ought to be able to engage, educate, enthuse and empower local actions?  The RSPB too has local member groups but their primary purpose appears to be fund raising with ocassional coach trips, nothing wrong with such aims but where do people turn when they want to protect their local woodland or heathland from threat of development?  The march of metal monsters creating rings of steel and the recent government push for fracking are other issues which have mobilised local action.

There are perhaps good reasons for the affluent NGOs to sit on the fence, but after a while the splinters must start to sting from uncomfortable squirming?  Accountability to members or to tax payers in the case of Public Bodies appears not to be a popular element of the government promoted ‘open and transparent’ or conduct in public life agenda?

How does the community, collectively challenge actions it might perceive to be at variance with the public interest?  How many of the large membership organisations offer infrastructure support for grassroots conservation?  FOE and CPRE are a couple which spring to mind, TCV offers help for groups involved in practical conservation but there appears a gap in the market?  Voluntary Action and CVS groups can help small local groups but they are more geared up to working with health or social care groups, luncheon clubs and the likes.  If local action groups as described above were ‘fundable’ then the chances are that it would be offered, but would government want to empower local action?  Local action opposing fracking has exposed the reality of the promise of local decisions on local issues when central government has over-ruled local planning authorities to approve developments and promote fracking, how do local communities challenge multi-million corporations when they have such support?

There are tools to help, there is an amazing choice of epetition options that community campaigners can use.  The government website option petition.parliament.uk is certainly worth considering, if it achieves 10,000 signatures then the department or government agency it involves is required to provide a response.  If it reaches 100,000 signatures then the issue it raises is discussed in Parliament.  2015 saw the time that epetitions are allowed to run on the site reduced from 12 to six months.  Mark Avery elected to use this option to Ban driven grouse shooting.  There are 38 degrees, Avaaz , SumofUs , Change.org and many other web options available.  They are easy to use, the effectiveness in combination with social media has been demonstrably efficient and such examples would be the government u-turn when the ConDems tried to sell off the public forest estate.  Elsewhere on this blog and on others there has been examples offered where the disposal of public forest has been achieved through other options, but that is another issue and should not distract from the value of collective and collaborative critical mass challenging for the public interest?

GOV.UK also provides information on how to make a Freedom of Information request, but another excellent tool available is the Freedom of Information website “whatdotheyknow“.  Public Bodies are required to provide responses to requests as outlined in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.  The Information Commissioners Office is also an option where requests have been declined for what might be perceived as no valid or justified reason.  FoI or EIR requests can be addressed directly to the Public Body, agency or authority through a dedicated office(r) or via “whatdotheyknow“.  This option is one by which other campaigners can benefit through open access.  It is a useful resource as researchers can gain connsiderable intelligence on topics or on particular organisations in receipt of public funds.

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Inglorious & keep on the campaigning ….

August 25, 2015

Fresh from the Birdfair I’ve been wading (no pun intended) through “Inglorious” and whilst previously considerably annoyed from the accounts and information provided via such sites as Standing up for nature that has now morphed into ‘considered’ anger.

It was cheating I suppose, but curiosity as to what Avery would advocate we all do is summed up in eight short paragraphs in the book and a resume here (for those of you yet to read Inglorious):

  • Attend a Hen Harrier Day event
  • Write to your MP
  • Write to supermarkets and restuarants
  • Write to your water company
  • Write to newspapers
  • Use social media
  • Support BAWC, the RSPB and other wildlife NGOs
  • Finally he encourages readers to keep an eye on his blog and Twitter account @markavery  He also recommends people read his book.

We’d certainly encourage readers to do all the above and another easy one to consider would be writing to Ministers as well as MPs, if there is a critical mass of community campaigning then Westminster is more likely to take note and listen?

Another …. if readers have not already done so is to sign Avery’s epetition Ban driven grouse shooting.

It’s no longer simply an issue of challenging a minority sport, but the impact that that sport has on many other things including the quality and cost of our drinking water.  See post of 1 July 2015 in which a number of reports are referenced, including that of Leeds University’s EMBER findings.

Ban driven grouse shooting

Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which damages protected wildlife sites, increases water pollution, increases flood risk, increases greenhouse gas emissions and too often leads to the illegal killing of protected wildlife such as Hen Harriers.

RSPB , 7 March 2014 ‘…burning drainage and other forms of intensive land management in England’s iconic peat-covered hills are threatening to create a series of environmental catastrophes’

Inglorious – conflict in the uplands (a book on why we should ban driven grouse shooting)

Dr Dick Potts, scientist, 1998 ‘…a full recovery of Hen Harrier breeding numbers is prevented by illegal culling by some gamekeepers’

Chris Packham addressing Hen Harrier Day rally, August 2014 ‘We will win!’

Of the epetition, which now stands at over 14,000 signatures, is that whilst it is increasing at a reasonable rate that it is not to the magic 100,000 (the number needed to ensure a ‘discussion’ is held in Parliament) and government in their wisdom have reduced the time permitted to secure the number of ‘required’ signatories to six months (previously 12 months).  So please, working on the assumption that many of you have already signed it, please promote it ‘moor’ so that we might all write to Defra and their Ministers welcoming the forthcoming debate ….

Avery very generously suggests support of the larger NGOs such as the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts, but where are the 1 million members?  Just 10% of the RSPB membership would be enough, the WTs claim a combined membership of around 800,000 and ok there will be overlap but come on NGO hierarchy never mind the whispered personal views get the corporate message behind conservation of the uplands, please?

 

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See more images of Henry as he searches for a ‘mate’.

Campaign updates ….

August 14, 2015

 

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Un bee-lievable?

Damian Carrington of the Guardian recently reported that pesticide companies took part in a key meeting about the banning of chemicals which have been linked to bee deaths.  Documents previously suppressed have shown that the chemical companies and the NFU have sought to have the EU ban on the use of Neonics in the UK lifted.  FOE have written a judicial review pre-action letter to the environment secretary Liz Truss who is the prospective defendant.  What is even more astonishing, or maybe not is the fact that these companies Bayer, BASF and Syngenta are suing the European Commission to overturn a ban on the pesticides that are killing millions of bees around the world.

If readers have concerned about bees and other pollinators being harmed and the actions of the big pesticide companies then they might consider the epetition calling upon the industry giants to drop their lawsuit?

When the UK government suppress documents then is there any wonder people ask the question “is this an example of open and transparent government that we were promised”?  Is this cause to trust government when multi-national companies are deemed to have a right at the table?

Fracking update

Another worrying example of reneged promises is that of allowing local councils to make local decisions, Lancashire Council who rejected a fracking application appears to have been overuled by government, is that another example of the local democracy we were promised?  Fracking continues to remain a contentious issue, readers may recall the chart we used to show corporate and government links to the industry?  If any reader can provide any updates to these details from November 2014 then please contact execsec@thmcf.org

Forthcoming events

Treat yourself to a day out at a fantastic open air venue and hear some inspirational speakers guaranteed to motivate and inspire.  Mixing with like minded is a good antedote for momentary lapse in focus or determination to champion the case for environmental conservation and protection for the species and habitats we share the planet with.  A week today the 27th Birdfair at Rutland Water opens.  It runs from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 August and the programme is to say the least pretty impressive.   Mark Avery, Nick Baker, Simon King, Bill Oddie, Chris Packham, Iolo Williams are just a few of the ‘names’ attending.  For more details visit the Birdfair website.

and finally for now …. help Henry and his kind and promote the signing of the epetition

Ban driven grouse shooting

Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which damages protected wildlife sites, increases water pollution, increases flood risk, increases greenhouse gas emissions and too often leads to the illegal killing of protected wildlife such as Hen Harriers.

RSPB , 7 March 2014 ‘…burning drainage and other forms of intensive land management in England’s iconic peat-covered hills are threatening to create a series of environmental catastrophes’

Inglorious – conflict in the uplands (a book on why we should ban driven grouse shooting)

Dr Dick Potts, scientist, 1998 ‘…a full recovery of Hen Harrier breeding numbers is prevented by illegal culling by some gamekeepers’

Chris Packham addressing Hen Harrier Day rally, August 2014 ‘We will win!’

 

Today it stands @ 13,404 and gaining momentum by the day

2015 HH Day logo

 

 

 

 

Inglorious 12th

August 12, 2015

Hen Harrier Day in the Goyt Valley, the Buxton weekend as well as the series of HHD gatherings are best read via Mark Avery’s Standing up for nature blog.

2015 HH Day logo

Today marks the beginning of the grouse season, once upon a time billed as the ‘glorious 12th’ but the ‘moor’ one delves into the practices associated with the ‘sport’ the ‘moor’ one sees it as a historical land use and no longer fit for public purpose.  Today also sees Avery’s epetition racing towards 13,000 signatures and in all likelihood passing the milestone by midnight.  If you’ve not already signed it, then read his book Inglorious – Conflict in the Uplands to see a reasoned case for banning driven grouse shooting, and in so doing better protecting the peat to act as a carbon sink, water purification service amongst a whole series of extremely important ecosystem services.  Even the Independent appear to question the economic argument to provide sport for around two thirds of an ‘Old Trafford crowd’.  If you’ve already signed it then present the case to your friends, family and network?

Chris Packham in the latest edition of BBC Wildlife, rightly offers comment on the poor performance of politicians in terms of the environment and conservation.  Since 1970 he reports the loss of some 44 million birds from our countryside (The State of the UK’s Birds 2012), then he reflects on the ‘mysterious disappearance’ this spring of five of the last breeding hen harriers in England. The piece is Packham at his best, passionate and erudite and he asks “What tragedy will wake us all from lethargy and shake us into action?” 

Over the next few years we may well see the continued ‘disposal’ of public assets to private profiteers, it wasn’t that long ago that the sell off of the forest estate was abandoned but if you follow that topic then one might be forgiven for wondering if it were not being undertaken via other avenues?  Natural England were looking at disposal of the series of National Nature Reserves (NNRs).  Will we see continued erosion of protection as planning becomes less regulated?  Building in floodplains?  With the abandoning of the requirement to register contaminated land might there be an increase in building on post industrial brownfield sites?

We were reminded recently, of our failure to take better account of the sheer power of nature in the form of increased flood events when Jeremy Purseglove, Dr Paul Buckland and Prof. Ian Rotherham graphically illustrated catastrophic failure to heed history and prepare for increased incidences consequential of changes in land management and other practices.

Published in 2008 & since when increased incidences have occured, some in our region catastrophic.

Published in 2008 & since when increased incidences have occured, some in our region catastrophic.

Perhaps when the misery is wrought people will realise the politicians, civil servants and Public Bodies have agendas other than the public benefit?

What can be done about the disregard of the natural environment, fundamental to all life?  What are the statutory agencies and authorities doing to ensure that the law is adhered to?  What are the large membership organisations doing?  What can we do as individuals do?

With champions leading the way then the critical mass of collaborative endeavour can effect change, if we can continue to build a momentum because tomorrow is too late to hope that we can catch a shuttle to another habitable planet ….

‘Moor’ meetings & other conservation campaign updates

July 22, 2015

A reminder that the Hen Harrier Day 2015 is Sunday 9 August

2015 HH Day logo

the various venues are detailed here but the ‘local’ event is to be held in the PEAK DISTRICT with the location confirmed as Goytsclough Quarry

The Goyt Valley, Derbyshire OS Grid Reference SK 011 733

There’s also an event the evening before HHD in Buxton at the Palace Hotel, more information and how to book can be found via Standing up for nature website.

 IT’S BACK …. the long awaited return of the Government epetition website, so those readers who are supportive of the stance taken by proactive conservation campaigners in ‘challenging’ the established incalcitrant stance exhibited by Government are invited to consider adding their names to it again. 3,272 already, read some of the history behind ‘Ban driven grouse shooting’ creation and the renewed epetition campaign progress here.

[Ban Driven] Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which damages protected wildlife sites, increases water pollution, increases flood risk, increases greenhouse gas emissions and too often leads to the illegal killing of protected wildlife such as Hen Harriers.

RSPB , 7 March 2014 ‘…burning drainage and other forms of intensive land management in England’s iconic peat-covered hills are threatening to create a series of environmental catastrophes’

Inglorious conflict in the uplands (a book on why we should ban driven grouse shooting)  See also Standing up for nature where the reasoned rationale is presented.

Dr Dick Potts, scientist, 1998 ‘…a full recovery of Hen Harrier breeding numbers is prevented by illegal culling by some gamekeepers’

Chris Packham addressing Hen Harrier Day rally, August 2014 ‘We will win!’

It has a deadline of 21 January 2016, so clearly the new offer is a reduced one in line with the proposed 40% cuts across Government Departments.

It’s already raced to the first 1000, can collective connservationists and campaigners get it to that ‘target’ 100k by the reduced deadline?

At 10,000 signatures, government will respond to this petition (what are the odds on a recycle of their previous reply)

At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in ParliamentThe Government website ‘boasts’ …. Parliament hasn’t debated any petitions yet but we note that another epetion has been started which calls for a Parliamentary recall if 100k signatures are reached it’s what we pay for …. now there’s a challenge?  Which other sector gets a 10% payrise and an immediate recess?
It’s interesting that the Government still use the same old software which fails to identify accurately people’s MPs. But hey, do Government or civil servants do accuracy?  Perhaps I should start writing to their offering maybe then the error will be addressed, then again …. there’s bigger fish to fry or harrier haters to harry?

Remember also that we have “The Flood Untamed” with Jeremy Purseglove, Dr Paul Buckland and Prof. Ian D Rotherham at Crowle Community Hall (DN17 4LL) on Friday 31 July. 

2015 TtF front cover

To book a place please contact execsec@thmcf.org

#HaveYouSeenHenry …. Wildlife Crime continues …. keep on badgering away?

March 29, 2015

Who was it said that a nation should be judged by the way in which it treated its animals*?  The same wisdom which provided us with the view that:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win*.

Recently, I had cause to report an incident of badger digging where the sett had been dug out.  This is the second such visit already this year I’ve made to assess damage and potential wildlife crime.  What is it which motivates people to destroy or bait such mammals and inflict unimaginable cruelty?  This sett was nowhere near livestock, the animals were no threat to anyone or anything.  Neither was the earlier incident.  Both incidents were at rural locations one on agricultural land the second on public land.

There is a reported culture that sees baiting badgers as a right of passage in some parts of our region, apparently it is seen a ‘manly’ thing to do with ‘well bred’ dogs?  Recent reports seem to indicate that there has been an increase in incidences involving badgers and there is a view that this is consequential of the governments authorisation of a badger cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset.  Badgers are being promoted as ‘vermin’ by some elements of the agricultural industry so it appears acceptable in some quarters that they can be used and abused in other regions for ‘sport’.

First capture your badger(s) by digging out, collect in a sack and transport to a remote area where it / they can be pitted against dogs bred for the pupose, not forgetting to pull a few of its teeth first – after all a badger against dogs needs to have the odds ‘balanced’ in favour of predicable outcome?  Is it the associated gambling which fuels the commercial practice of digging?

PENTAX Image

This badger, caught in a snare would have suffered a painful and lingering death.  This type of incident needs to be reported as well as dead raptors and dug setts etc.

What deterrent is there to any wildlife crime?  What are the chances of being caught?

It was Chris Packham who recently summed up well the issue at the excellent BAWC Eyes in the Field Conference in Buxton.  Whilst we (society) continue to allow the species which are protected in law to be killed, whilst the purpetrators continue to either evade the law or receive lenient sentences then the view that wildlife crime is not a ‘real crime’ will persist.

Whilst this attitude prevails, and laws offering protection are seen by some as “green c**p” then the loss of biodiversity will not be stemmed as reported by Lord de Mauley, who assured an audience that Natural England’s Chief Executive was confident that the ‘no loss of biodiversity’ 2020 target would be met.  Whatever happened to the much heralded “Making Space for Nature”?  It seems to be gathering dust in the Defra archive …. Whilst The State of Nature is probably a little more up to date but still in need of serious delivery not to mention a government prepared to sign up to its recommendations.  If the rate of decline is to be believed and this is mirrored across the planet, then we seriously need Noah in forty days time?

In the interim, readers are asked to be vigilant when out and about in the countryside.  Excellent advice is to be found on the Birders Against Wildlife Crime website, where they advocate the 3 Rs.  Recognise, Record and Report! 

If you witness a wildlife crime taking place then ring 999 immediately, if you recognise signs of an incident having taken place then the number to phone is 101.  In either situation it is important to record as much detailed information as you can and to then report this to the Police.  Statistics are important if we are to improve wildlife protection.

#HaveYouSeenHenry

Greenblobpride

* Mahatma Ghandi.

Eyes in the field …. BAWC @ Buxton

March 21, 2015

Informative and ‘moor’ importantly it was an inspiring day.   Birders Against Wildlife Crime are to be congratulated on a fantastic Eyes in the Field Wildlife Crime Conference.  Even the tempremental technology failed to dampen the enthusiasm generated by the gathering.  A packed room saw some 120 delegates meeting in Buxton in the Peak District to hear empowering talks, to discuss strategies and to meet Henry ….

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Conference speakers take a break to enjoy the Derbyshire air.

Charlie Moores opened the conference and Chris Packham (in his Massacre on Malta t-shirt) and Dominic Dyer set the scene with their infectious passion for championing change for wildlife benefit.  Both spoke with informed and reasoned rationale, both offered options for solutions.  Both recognised the ‘political’ aspects and complexities.  Both had tried to take the measured route but accepted that there comes a point when compromise has failed and a change of tack and focus is needed.  Packham encouraged a stance I have long found to be an energising option, the “use anger as a force for change”.  It was particularly interesting to hear Packham’s view on his role on Springwatch, in so far as the main audience were “not a wholly committed audience”, he sought to encourage people that “caring is not enough” and urged people “to actually do something”.  He explained why he had chosen to play the “long game” and it seemed as a consequence he had taken some criticism for that stance.  That is sad, but human nature is fickle and oft only sees the surface?  Packham explained that the biggest issue in his view is that ‘wildlife crime’ is not a crime, and it is not seen as a real crime.  This despite the various pieces of legislation which are infringed, broken or ignored.  Dyer highlighted issues with Natural England and whilst acknowledging that there were good individuals in the Defra agency, he considered they were no longer “fit for purpose”, his solution would be to see them replaced by an independent wildlife protection agency.

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Chris with his new ‘friend’ Henry, who we understand that he may be ‘appearing’ somewhere near you this coming year.

Bob Elliot and Paul Tillsley provided examples of case studies they had been involved in.  Ruth Tingay introduced the audience to “Natural Injustice: the failure of wildlife crime enforcement in Scotland”.  “Natural Injustice: Eliminating Wildlife Crime in Scotland” offers some 20 recommendations, none of which appear particularly onerous, but then conservation is not everyone’s passion?

Alan Charles (Derbyshire Police & Crime Commissioner) and Chris Williamson (MP Derbyshire North) spoke of practical and political perspectives.  It was as they say ‘a refreshing change’ to hear a politician being honest about his past as well as his passion for addressing wildlife crime.

Other presentations were made by the Derbyshire Bat Conservation Group and Craig Fellowes, a retired police officer who now organises training for wildlife crime recognition and reporting.

Mark Avery as anticipated both entertained and offered thought provoking suggestions.  There are ten days left till his epetition is closed, so if you’ve not already signed it you might like to consider ‘Ban driven grouse shooting’?    Currently it stands at 21,971 so let’s see if we can have a last push and get it past 22,000?  A prolific writer his next potentially controversial offering is perhaps appropriately entitled “Inglorious“?

The other ask from Avery was that the audience consider voting for the nations favourite bird, an online (& at selected nature reserves) poll.  One cannot fault Avery’s logic about the benefit of the accolade to any of the usual suspects likely to receive the ‘crown’ (robin, wren, blackbird, kingfisher etc.) but if the Hen Harrier were to get into the top three for example then it would see a relatively unknown candidate see immense benefit from having a raised species profile.  Apparently there was surprise expressed by the Urban Birder when the Hen Harrier made it into the top ten.  So, Vote for Britain’s National Bird and send politicians and others a clear message?  

There was a Q&A session where the issue of brood management received a resounding thumbs down, so where does that leave the Hawk & Owl Trust?   150321 Q&A panel hrk 882

The Q&A session rounded off an excellent day’s conference …. here’s to next years and to Hen Harrier Day 2015 (9 August) and to the publication of ‘Inglorious’ just ahead of the ‘infamous’ 12th!   In the interim we all have plenty to do in terms of conservation campaigning ahead and beyond the forthcoming General Election in 46 days time?

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Watch this space for details of 2015 Hen Harrier Day.

Recognise: Record: Report

First they ignore you,

then they laugh at you,

then they fight you,

then you win. 

(Mahatma Gandhi)

Partially eclipsed …. eyes to the sky and in the field?

March 20, 2015

A very bright morning early on but as the hour approached it became decidely dull and overcast with grey clouds.  These drifted across the sky allowing intermittent glimpses of the much heralded solar eclipse as the moon came between us and the distant sun.

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The image above, something akin to a black hole or tunnel just manages to capture the lead up to the eclipse and light burst.  If your imagination were to be allowed free reign, then perhaps it might resemble an eye?  It’s one of those events that perhaps reminds us of our place and insignificance in the grand scheme of things?  Of eyes ….

Tomorrow is the Eyes in the Field Wildlife Crime Conference in Buxton, speakers include Chris Packham, Mark Avery and Dominic Dyer amongst others.  Tickets sold out very quickly but that’s no surprise is it?  Birders Against Wildlife Crime are to be congratulated in organising this conference and keeping the fate of ‘skydancer’ in the public’s eye and maintaining it as a high profile campaign.

Greenblobpride

The natural environment, wildlife and nature conservation sadly appear to be very low on the political agenda at the moment.   One might suspect it will feature highly throughout tomorrows event and that is to be applauded.

Draining, badgering & harrier (ing) …. ‘moor’ calls for action?

November 24, 2014

DRAINING ….

Readers may recall that the Forum have an interest in the workings and particularly the open and transparent conduct of business by Internal Drainage Boards, public bodies who receive substantive funding through Special Levy collected by the Local Authorities.  Regular readers will also be aware that the Forum’s area of geographic interest is in the main, the peatlands of the Humberhead Levels, principally Thorne & Hatfield Moors SSSI.

Danvm Drainage Commissioners have recently been subject of a Governance Audit, the published report is hard to locate but to the determined it can be found on the Shire Group of IDBs website through the Danvm Drainage Commissioners page.

Linked to this Audit, an investigation into the modus operandi of the DDC, the Forum have also submitted a follow up Freedom of Information request to DMBC / DDC via the WhatDoTheyKnow website.  A response is advised as 4 December.  On the previous occasion we submitted a request, the refusal to release was five days overtime and further to the response we requested an Internal Review – we have heard nothing since!

The Shire Group of IDBs also provide management services to a number of other ‘Humberhead’ IDBs, including Doncaster East IDB and Black Drain Drainage Board.  Both Danvm DC and Doncaster East IDB were formed through amalgamation of a number of smaller boards in 2012, Black Drain DC is one of the last remaining smaller boards operating in the Humberhead Levels principally funded through the public purse.

The DDC Audit was not as damming perhaps as that which saw the demise of the Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Drainage Board, but it was a revelation of current practice of a recently formed amalgamation of smaller Boards.

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A Hatfield Chase drainage channel …. debris first noted 28 September, still there despite more recently mown drain sides.  This despite an understanding that there are inspections carried out ahead of regular maintenance works.

Late maintenance can cause slumping.

Late maintenance can cause slumping.

Land worked right up to drain sides, another example of Hatfield Chase ditches.

Land worked right up to drain sides, another example of Hatfield Chase ditches.

BADGERING AWAY STILL ….   

The Badger Trust is still very active, quite rightly in our opinion, with events and activities which are keeping the issue in the public domain.  If you have an interest in the issue and the views of those listed then click on their names and assuming that the technology co-operates you will be taken to a UTube video with some excellent statistics offered in relation to the failure by Defra to undertake science and monitoring to validate the Badger Cull policy.

Chris Packham       Dominic Dyer       Pete Martin     Adrian Coward

The crucial message is that as well as caring people should also DO.  So, as winter draws in and the General Election looms get the pens out or better still a series of emails or start or join a social media campaign and play a part in raising the profile of unecessary and expensive cruel acts devoid of any credible scientific foundation.    The Badger Trust and Birders Against Wildlife Crime  websites are excellent source of ideas.

 

Tim M Badger 7465227996_e7b29e0ea9_h

The recent badger cull has reputedly cost in the region of £5,200 per badger, they must be moving the goalposts again?  Weren’t we told it would only be a few hundred pounds per animal when OPatz initiated the trial? 

 

Birders Against Wildlife Crime: Recognise, Record, Report‘Eyes in the Field’ Wildlife Crime Conference, Buxton, Derbyshire Saturday 21st March 2015 has an excellent line up of speakers – limited places so get on and book yours.

The call for making wildlife crime a performance measure for the Police will bring resources to the issue.  With the illegal persecution of birds of prey particularly Hen Harriers, it is difficult to gather evidence to secure a prosection so Dr Mark Avery has set up an epetition calling for the Banning of driven grouse shooting which he suggests would be more effective.  It has certainly been a blue touch paper in terms of igniting a concerted effort to raise the profile of nature conservation, long may the debate continue ….

How many will we see in the Humberhead Levels this winter? Image: Tim Melling

How many will we see in the Humberhead Levels this winter?
Image: Tim Melling

Raptor politics, another campaigning website is also a valuable source of information.

In the words of Ghandi:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win!

Greenblobpride

 

 

Appeal for volunteers to ‘badger’ & other campaign updates ….

September 10, 2014

The Badger Trust have circulated this appeal, whilst we recognise that we are not on their doorstep there may be those amongst you who have a wider network and are prepared to circulate this appeal.

Badger Patrollers need additional volunteers

We [the Badger Trust] are sending this message on behalf of those campaigning peacefully in the West Somerset and West Gloucestershire cull areas – now that the shooting of badgers has started for the second year, they desperately need additional volunteers to supplement their existing resources. Whatever time you can give will be appreciated and your presence may help to prevent the death of a completely healthy badger. Even one evening can make a difference so please contact them.

The key message from the Somerset and Gloucestershire Badger Patrols is:

We are a peaceful presence in the countryside. Law abiding and non-confrontational, we:

• Walk along roads and public footpaths within the cull area
• Never intimidate land owners
• Inform the police of our intentions and whereabouts
• Respect the countryside code
• Make new friends with likeminded people

Get in touch:

E: somersetbadgerpatrol@talktalk.net
M: 0789 960 4217
F: Facebook.com/Somerset-Badger-Patrol

E: info@Glosagainstbadgershooting.org
Website: http://www.glosagainstbadgershooting.org

Thank you for reading this and please help if you possibly can.

Kind regards,
Pat Hayden,Vice Chairman.

Tim M Badger 7465227996_e7b29e0ea9_h

 

OTHER UPDATES …. You just really couldn’t make this one up?

Regular readers may also recall the Malta Massacre on Migration campaign headed by Chris Packham?  Well Mark Avery has posted an update on the situation and it is just astonishing …. the new EU Environment Commissioner is from Malta …. Karmenu Vellu.  An interesting point mentioned in his Wikipedia entry is that Between 1998 and 2000 he studied at Sheffield Hallam University where he was awarded a Master of Science degree in Tourism.

Malta

& please …. KEEP BADGERING AWAY

There is also a new epetition readers might like to consider signing on the Direct Gov. website Hold an independent enquiry into allegations of serious safety issues and illegal use of firearms in the badger cull in 2013.

“I think the most interesting observation was made to me by a senior politician, who said, ‘Fine, John, we accept your science, but we have to offer farmers a carrot.  And the only carrot we can possibly give them is culling badgers”.  A statement reported in the Veterinary record made by Professor John Bourne (Chairman of the Independent Scientific Group) in 2008 to the annual conference of the Association for Veterinary Teaching and Research Work aptly summarises the situation.   So …. “Can the Carrot”?

Hen Harrier Day aftermath & badger marches

August 11, 2014

Well, it looked wet up at the Derwent Dam in the Peak District but apparently all attending appeared to consider it well worth the effort. Well done to all the 570 who turned out to evidence public fury over the continuing illegal persecution of raptors.

Hen Harrier Day 2014 has certainly provoked a media campaign by the likes of the Moorland Association, whose claims were quite astonishing and it was a great shame that the BBC reporter hadn’t the committment to test Ms Anderson’s assertions that driven grouse moors are great for HHs. Having said that they would be perhaps, except for the issue of criminals at work or play on those same driven grouse moorlands?  Therein lay the failure of Faith Wilkinson, or that of her script writer?  Chris Packham did the campaign proud, no lies no selective reporting …. judge for yourself here.  An excellent analogy was made by the Shadow Minister Barry Gardiner who described the area as a Bermuda Triangle for Hen Harriers.  Charlie Moores BAWC called for it to stop now, not eventually if the draft Hen Harrier Recovery Plan ever materialises …. seven years in the gestation, the egg is addled from so much rhetoric and hot air?

Mark Avery in his Standing up for nature blog, comments on Jim Dixon the Chief Executive of the Peak District National Park’s writing in Saturday morning’s Times newspaper that “…a bird that has a proven disruptive influence on wild grouse exists uneasily with raising large bags of grouse for sport. The naturalists will be angry tomorrow, but it’s hard to see anger doing any practical good for hen harriers. Enlightened moorland owners and a new generation of keepers who show respect for nature hold the future of this special bird in their hands‘” as being presumptious and suggestive of an “unnecessarily understanding of the criminal activities that have reduced hen harriers to such low numbers in the English uplands, and unnecessarily dismissive of the views of the people whose taxes pay for the National Park activities.”  As Avery further mentions, Dixon’s comment must surely be in a personal capacity?  One thing is for sure …. the epetition signatures slowly creep towards the target 100,000 today there are 13,487 a significant increase on the last day or so.

 

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BADGERING MATTERS?

Sadly to stay on the topic of animal persecution …. Paterson departed calling environmentalists “Green blobs” but it seems that his successor Liz Truss MP is carrying on the ConDem persecution of badgers regardless.  The Badger Trust are appealing to people to support and join us for the Colchester March Against The Badger Cull this Saturday, 16th August 2014.

This march is the last to be held before Badger Trust takes DEFRA to judicial review on 21st August and could also be the last before killing resumes in Somerset and Gloucestershire this year. As always, your attendance is extremely appreciated and important in making these events a success. Please bring family, friends, buggies, dogs, all welcome.

The organisers ask that everyone assemble at 1pm at Colchester Castle, Castle Park, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1TJ. Guest speakers include Dominic Dyer CEO of Badger Trust& Policy Advisor for Care For The Wild, Adrian Coward of Somerset Badger Group and Sarah Geller, Wildlife Campaigner.

colchester2

 

It’s not exactly on our doorstep, but it is a peaceful protest in support of protecting an iconic species of the quintissential English countryside.  If readers are unable to get then perhaps they could be persuaded to circulate the appeal and notification to their friends, family and network contacts.  Poor brock deserves fair hearing of robust science but there are those in power who seem to disguard what doesn’t suit their case?

Readers might be minded also to consider writing to their MPs, to the new Minister Liz Truss MP to ask for a rethink?

Hen Harriers and badgers, to see either or both are truly memorable and magical moments, they deserve a future.  Help us make sure that future generations too can experience those same magical moments.

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HEN HARRIER DAY

August 10, 2014

 

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For any reader unaware that today is Hen Harrier Day, then where have you been?

Despite the weather, a peaceful protest was scheduled to take place today in the Peak District, Lancashire and Northumberland.  It seems that many others took place in other parts of the country, so well done to all organisers and to those who showed their support by attending.

The Fairholmes Visitor Centre near the Derwent Dam was the meeting place for the Peak District photo call which took place at 10am this morning when around 250 people had signed up to take part.  See the image via Facebook and courtesy of Rare Bird Alert here.  This peaceful protest, against a sombre backdrop is intended to highlight to the press and to the moorland managers who might still persist in the illegal practice of raptor persecution.  Some great comments from the participants who braved the weather, well done to them all!

There are literally hundreds of comments to be read on Dr Mark Avery’s blog and many are testament to the pain of the industry targetted by the conservation consortium promoting awareness and pressure, but principly protection of raptors.  The term ‘grouse’ really does seem applicable, they have had years to get their house in order and still plead for time whilst taking the public funding for habitat management and failing to safeguard protected species.

The critical mass of NGOs are waking up and supporting the inspirational leadership demonstrated by Dr Mark Avery and Chris Packham, the number of signatures on Avery’s epetition is clearly growing and long may it do so with this last day or so seeing an increase of over 500.  In case any reader remains undecided then read the plethora of claim and counter claim, the media frenzy pushing out pleas by those whose failure to address the issue in any meaningful way is now being seen for what it is?  Then read the reasoned science and facts, then analse and then sign here?  Currently standing at 12,896 & increasing daily – next target 100,000 at which point it has to be discussed in the ‘House’, that is to say the one in the Westminster village.  Ban driven grouse shooting might receive a boost following the Thunderclap earlier and the press coverage of the HHD 2014, so here’s to the momentum continuing apace.

There may be inclement weather out there but clearly there is a climate change in terms of tolerance of illegal persecution, this is heartening and here’s hoping that politicians wake up to the issue of environmental issues ahead of the forthcoming 2015 General Election.  Even a Thunderclap has passed, social media at its best?  In terms of magnitude on the Richter scale of social media I wonder how it fared?

Birders Against Wildlife Crime is a new organisation which has been formed to raise the profile and highlight issues which need address. Their website is worth a look, so too the new one Raptors Alive accessed via Chris Packham has done much to raise the profile of wildlife crime, he raised the profile of the Malta Massacre on Migration issue, and an issue we featured on this blog a number of times.

Malta

From Moth-athons to ‘Frack-athons’ & the Peak District Hen Harrier Day ….

July 28, 2014

The Thorne Moors ‘Moth-athon’ species list referred to in last nights blog post is slowly creeping nearer the target of 200, currently it stands at 177 species with two ‘stations’ still to have their data incorporated.

Clouded Border, one of the 177 species recorded so far on the 'moth-athon'.  Image: Steve Hiner.

Clouded Border, one of the 177 species recorded so far on the ‘moth-athon’. Image: Steve Hiner.

 

The state of English HEN HARRIERS

Another piece of good news is that Mark Avery’s epetition Ban driven grouse shooting is nearing his interim target of 10,000 as the ‘inglorious 12th’ approaches. It currently stands at 9,451 – can readers help him get it to that 10,000 target by the Hen Harrier Day scheduled for 10 August in the Peak District?  Chris Packham is attending the Peak District event, let’s hope for plenty of coverage in the press.  We hope the media do a decent job of reporting the rationale behind the event instead of playing politics with serious conservation issues which have been neglected for far too long.  If the industry can’t sort it’s own act out then it’s time that the people had a say and the politicians listened?

We will not repeat the various ‘arguments’ that Mark Avery and Chris Packham have used to justify the call for a ban, the series are better read via Standing up for nature, they make interesting reading as do some of the comments anonymous correspondents have submitted.  I understand that there is to be a ‘Thunderclap’ and the target, which is already exceeded, is to be a million signatures, but you can still join in see here for more about ‘Thunderclaps’.

So, if you’ve not altready signed the epetition Ban driven grouse shooting then please consider doing so here.  Send an email to your address book network and draw the issue to their attention if you’ve not already done so, the more who join in the stormy issue and ‘Thunderclap’ ….

As if no breeding Hen Harriers in England isn’t depressing enough we have another threat facing our natural resources, and no surprise it’s those owned by you and I i.e. the public!

HYDRAULIC FRACKING: A contentious business?

I’m sure I’m not the only person reading this blog post who will have received an email alert/appeal very similar to that below:

Today, David Cameron opened up huge new areas of the country to fracking. More than half of Britain is now up for grabs in the prime minister’s latest frack-a-thon, including areas in 10 national parks. 

But already, almost 250,000 people have signed our petition calling for David Cameron to keep the UK frack free. Can you help us hit 300,000 and show prime minister the strength of opposition he and his government are up against?  Readers can access and sign the petition here.

Despite the government claims that national parks will only be targeted for drilling in “exceptional circumstances”, today’s announcement is littered with loopholes – meaning the tranquillity of the Peak District, the Lake District and Brecon Beacons could still be shattered as fracking companies move in to drill.

Not only has the fracking industry still to prove it can operate safely, the oil and gas produced by fracking would increase our carbon emissions at a time when we need to be massively reducing them.

But there’s still time to stop the industry before it begins.  Last week, Cameron’s fracking juggernaut was forced off the road in West Sussex when the county council unanimously turned down an application to drill in the ancient village of Wisborough Green, just outside the South Downs National Park.

Nearly 2,500 people voiced their concerns about huge lorries thundering through country lanes. And on the day the application to drill was heard by council leaders, an expert geologist described the fracking company’s plan as “incompetent and disingenuous.”

The brakes might have been put on fracking in Wisborough Green for the time being, but the prime minister’s obsession with fracking has blinded him to the scale of opposition up and down the country. Remind him what he’s up against – sign the petition now to urge David Cameron to ditch fracking.

The email appeal uses emotive terminology and we would seek to understand both sides of the argument, so naturally we would expect that case to be accurate evidence based science.  The Guardian calls for the protection of National Parks but also our houses.  They also reported that Fracking push gets the go ahead, but there appears an expectation that we will trust politicians to safeguard National Parks, sounds like the time that the public let *politicians sort out their expenses scandal or when they bailed out the banks at the public expense or sold off public assets at less than market value?  However, ever an agnostic ….

In a tightening of the guidance, the government will ask energy firms to submit an environmental statement that is “particularly comprehensive and detailed” if they want to frack on or near protected countryside, forcing them to demonstrate their understanding of local sensitivities. It will make clear that the applications “should be refused in these areas other than in exceptional circumstances and in the public interest”.

In addition, Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, is likely to make a final decision on more appeals related to protected areas over the next 12 months, instead of leaving it to the planning watchdog.  [Read the full Guardian article here.]  Another excellent piece was that written by John Vidal when he called for Frack free zones to protect water and wildlife, see here.

Government will ‘ask’, …. firms will produce an environmental statement to demonstrate – that’s really reassuring isn’t it?   We all appreciate that we need an energy mix, that we need to conserve energy (perhaps someone should remind Government of ‘conservation’) but I suppose that doesn’t make the energy companies money does it if we reduce our consumption?  We need safe and reliable energy, we need energy companies to be accountable …. (see above*).

A useful start in terms of understanding the issue of Hydraulic fracturing can be found here.

If you are minded to consider signing the Greenpeace petition then it can be found here.

‘Moor’ conservation campaigns, contentious bloggers & National Pollinators Strategy updates ….

June 28, 2014

A number of recent occurences appear to re-enforce the accepted view that the environment is low (if at all) on the everage voters agenda.

BLOGGERS RAISING POTENTIALLY CONTENTIOUS ISSUES:

Miles King reported in his excellent blog “a new nature blog” further explained as the “Musings, ramblings and probably a few rants on politics, nature + the environment” reported recently about the Kennel Club challenging the Borough of London’s safeguarding of the Burnham Beeches, this was followed up today with one about the Angling Trust calling for Beavers to be shot and Defra evicting Beaver from the Otter!  I could perhaps understand anglers having issues with otters (after all they eat fish) but with a vegetarian species, the beaver?  Part of their lobbying activity is clearly to influence Natural England.  I do like the aspiration to commission independent research, when has vested interest ever made available funds for independent let alone robust science?  It is time perhaps that when this kind of proposal is made that the funds are passed to and managed by a third party and the science undertaken through a tender process or a selection criteria in which the commissioners take no part.  The science is delivered to the terms of reference or specifications.  Open, transparent and honesty would help provide credibility to any case presented to vested interests and that would also include ‘developers’ (housing, industrial etc. which are required to comply with the planning system recently streamlined to make it easier to ‘develop’ sites with commercial value at the expense of quality natural environment, landscape or conservation significance.

We would not propose to repeat the the stories behind these headlines, but to suggest that you read the articles for yourselves (by visiting the site through the links above). They are well balanced (in my opinion) and they understand the issues as well as the current situation descibed. What King points out very well is the fact that nature is losing out to recreational interest with political clout.

This is evident through the two aforementioned cases, in addition Mark Avery’s taking up the issue of the plight of the Hen Harrier in England, Chris Packham heading up the exposure of the Malta Massacre on Migration, and there are others but people risk their livelihoods if they take a stance.  I have to confess that I am neither an avid reader of the Times or someone especially interested in sport, but Simon Barnes has, apparently left the Times recently.  There have been suggestions that this may have been because of some sympathies with conservationists and has written articles which could be described as questioning?  Now, perhaps it’s a pure co-incidence but when I tried to open the link through to the Times article by Barnes Some of our grouses are beginning to be heard, it has a subscription offer ‘on top / blocking’ it.  Is it worth subscribing and then not continuing the payment explaining that as they sacked him, there’s no point continuing a subscription?  The Times became part of the News International [Corp] empire in 1981.

 

Setting aside politics and the media and returning to the NATURE NOTES notion and occasional purpose of this blog ….

The bird feeders are well and truly being used by the array of visiting families.  The male Great Spotted Woodpecker has started to appear again along with one of his offspring.  Blue, great and coal tits all voraciously attack the home made fat blocks, they seem to prefer these to bought ones which is hardly surprising as they have meal worms and all sorts of ‘luxury’ ingredients in as oppossed to commercial varieties.  Dunnocks skulk and collect the debris from the floor.  Tree and just one pair of house sparrows visit regularly.   Blackirds, robins, greenfinches, chaffinches and goldfinches too are plentiful.  One interesting observation lately has been the begging behaviour of the various finch species.  The chaffinch young move their head and shoulders from side to side in the hope that their parents will feed them, the goldfinch young by comparison stand still and flutter their wings, held at 90 degrees fast to beg their food!

A totally unexpected visitor and I think it’s a first for the ‘garden list’ was a Stock Dove a couple of days ago!  We get far too many woodpigeons, collared doves are plentiful but turtle or stock doves are rarities.  The corvids are well enough represented as well with jackdaws breeding in an owl box!  Magpies too have developed the art of raiding the fat blocks.  Our third black and white species the Pied Wagtail is a fairly regular visitor at the moment so perhaps they have bred nearby as well.

 

320px-Columba_oenas1

Stock Dove

Image: Chris Cant.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

 

POLLINATORS STRATEGY UPDATE

Defra’s National Pollinator Strategy is progressing through the system, the parliamentary website reports:

The Committee intends to examine Defra’s ‘National Pollinator Strategy’ in the light of the Committee’s April 2013 report on Pollinators and Pesticides.

The Committee will look at the proposed relative roles of particular actors (Government, gardeners, industry, farmers, etc); whether the anticipated research is in the right areas, timely and sufficiently independent; the adequacy of the ‘priority actions’ identified; and the effectiveness of the envisaged Integrated Pest Management model.

So, how long will the industrial lobbyists be allowed to cause delays and put at jepordy the future of bumblebees, and other invertebrates essential to pollination because various industries are reliant upon commercial bumblebee breeding programmes?

The Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius

Red-tailed bumblebee.  Image: Keith Heywood.

But, the WI and others including FOE and Buglife are on the case and advocating for a precautionary approach that the EU pesticide ban remain until robust scientific research is able to provide suffient evidence upon which to review the situation.   The Bumblebee Conservation Trust was the tangible outcome of Dave Goulson after he moved to Stirling in 2006, the story behind the creation of the BBCT can be found in “A Sting in the Tale” (2013) and reviewed in a guest blog by Keith Heywood.  Its evolution reminded me a little of how the Eden Project developed.  From small acorns and conscientous critical mass ….

 

RECALL [MPs] DRAFT BILL

You might recall that the politicians engaged in a little bit of ‘kidology’ recently when the Queen’s speech announced that MPs could be recalled and that a draft bill was being prepared?  Then we all read the small print and it began to resemble the expense saga and how they were left to sort that out for themselves!  So, any other sceptics or should I say realists amongst readers might be interested in passing across your thoughts about the matter to 38 degrees?  On a positive note, might it be an indication that MPS might have been listening a little to voters and realised that they ought to make a start?

‘Moor’ campaigns …. Privatisation of the Land Registry?

June 10, 2014

The attempted sell off of the Nation’s Forestry Estate, the abandoned giving away of public owned NNRs, selling off the Royal  Mail …. now it’s the turn of the Land Registry.

According to the 38 degree petition website:

Privatisation of the Land Registry will create a private sector monopoly of a function essential to the property market. It will remove competition and devalue the Land Registry.

The Land Registry is a very efficient public organisation that is self funding and is not a drain on public finance. It has a 98% satisfaction rating with its users.

The public consultation on government proposals to privatise the Land Registry closed on Thursday 20th March. There has been no publicity or attempt to inform the public of this radical change to an organisation that is vital to the UK property market.

Another consultation on giving the Land Registry wider powers in the control of data essential to the sale and purchase of property closed earlier with the majority of the public not being aware if it’s existence.

The Land Registry is well run, efficient and professional. If the government is to sell off one of our best performing public services, the wider public needs to be able to have its say.

The public consultation is at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/land-registry-new-service-delivery-company

But, the consultation deadline is past.  Did anyone see any publicity about it, where was it advertised?  Why were the press quiet?

More information on the campaign to Save the Land Registry can be found on their website here.  At the moment there are some 71,458 signatures on the 38 degree epetition here.  That’s pretty good going for just two months.

If readers are minded to consider signing then the petition then from what we can establish there appear to be two, both of equal merit: one on the 38 degree epetition website here but also one on the GOV.UK website No sale or privatisation of the Land Registry.  Currently it has received around 7,000 signatures.

We’ve all witnessed the power of epetitions, the forest sell off abandoned (unless you know differently).  Chris Packham managed to get the Maltese Massacre of Migration discussed in Parliament.  Mark Avery is doing well with his ‘Ban driven grouse shooting’, again he chose the GOV.UK website simply to raise the profile of the issue in Westminster.  His target ahead of the ‘inglorious’ 12th is to achieve 5,000 signatures.  Thus far there are approaching 3,700.  Avery admits that it is unlikely that he will succeed but he has raised the issue that the Intensive management of upland areas for the ‘sport’ of grouse shooting has led to the near-extinction of the protected Hen Harrier in England, as well as increased risk of flooding, discolouration of drinking water, degradation of peatbogs and impacts on other wildlife.

I can only imagine what ‘WB’ would have to say about the Land Registry privatisation proposal.  He was a master of research and scoured such institutions in search of antiquated documents, historic manuscripts and the like as evidence for his causes, if the Land Registry is privatised then what chance the ‘commoner’?

The law locks up the man or woman

Who steals the goose from off the common

But leaves the greater villain loose

Who steals the common from off the goose.

The law demands that we atone

When we take things we do not own

But leaves the lords and ladies fine

Who take things that are yours and mine.

The poor and wretched don’t escape

If they conspire the law to break;

This must be so but they endure

Those who conspire to make the law.

The law locks up the man or woman

Who steals the goose from off the common

And geese will still a common lack

Till they go and steal it back.

Should driven grouse shoots be banned?

May 29, 2014

Dr Mark Avery has just launched an e-petition on the No 10 website calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting in England.  Anyone who follows his blog “Standing up for Nature” will realise that he must have agonised about this action for some considerable time.  He admits that he is not really very keen on banning things so it has clearly taken a lot of soul searching to launch this petition.  However, he reasons that despite the species ‘enjoying’ 60 years of complete legal protection, the Hen Harrier is now rarer than it was (in England at least) when it got that protection!   And after at least a couple of decades of talking about solutions with the moorland community, in which he played a part for a while, the Hen Harrier is almost extinct in England.  As most readers would recognise there are generally times when one can reach an understanding with ‘the other side’ but he argues persuasively that this doesn’t appear to be one suchtime.  Avery considers that the systematic, illegal, wholesale removal of a protected bird from our countryside is a disgrace.

He admits and we’d be inclined to agree that we would all be rather surprised if this e-petition led to the banning of driven grouse shooting but it is hoped that it will highlight the issues around this land use (which are far wider than a protected bird of prey) and make it easier for some sort of sensible solution to emerge.  But if grouse shooting were banned, would we really miss it, he asks?

We would echo his sentiments about signing petitions, all of us I am sure are inundated with requests to add support to a campaign petition, but he is right when he only seeks support from those sympathising with the situation.

So, do readers sympathise with the fact that there are less Hen Harriers breeding now than when they first received protection, should grouse moors in receipt of public funds be accountable?  Is there sufficient support out there to get the issue debated in Parliament?  For more detail see “Ban driven grouse shooting” , so far there are 1,110 signatures …. can Avery do for Hen Harriers and upland moorland what Chris Packham has done to raise the profile of Malta Massacre on Migration?

The previous post to this raised the politics of the European elections, as I understand the situation the case involving the Walshaw Estate and breach of legislation is still ongoing …. without the Habitats and Birds Directives much UK wildlife would be less protected?

Or maybe, just maybe the various political parties are all going to review and revise their respective environmental policies?  Or will they simply dust down those which used to lurk somewhere in a cupboard …. ever an agnostic …. and in the meanwhile Hen Harriers need our help, so – can the critical mass of the conservation community achieve a debate in the Westminster village, aka Parliament?


Migration Massacre on Malta …. an update

May 4, 2014

Well, let’s hope that it’s been a busy time I guess for the MEPs who had conservation minded constituents contact them after they’d been suitably motivated by Chris Packham’s video diaries posted via his website.  He also asks that we Tweet our MPs and ask them to attend the debate in Parliament this Wednesday 7 May ….

The House of Commons will debate “UK policy on protection of migratory birds in Malta” on Wednesday 7 May in Westminster Hall, 4.30 – 5.00pm.

Malta

OK, so we don’t all Tweet  – in which case then email them or phone their constuituency offices.  If they ask what this has to do with us then think of that Nightjar being released, will it make it back to the UK and possibly Thorne or Hatfield Moors?

Mark Avery too has joined Packham and is also encouraging his readers to take up the issue, he also (quite rightly in my opinion) reminds readers on a regular basis about the fact that Hen Harriers, Red Kites and other birds of prey are being shot and poisoned in this country still.  2013 was the first year since 1960 that Hen Harrier had failed to rear a chick in this country!  Astonishing given the amount of funds spent on HLS on privately owned upland grouse moors?

MEP update

I wrote to the six Yorkshire and Humber MEPs via ‘write to them’ website on 25 April.  So far I have received email replies from Rebecca Taylor, Timothy Kirkhope and Edward McMillan-Scott and a letter from Linda McAvan.  Nothing, as yet, from Andrew Brons or Godfrey Bloom.  All are fairly similar but I suppose to some extent that is inevitable and they seem to mirror those received by other MEPs across the country as reported by readers on Mark Avery’s website.  What I do find somewhat disappointing is that when they were replied to, with specific questions, typical of many a politician, the reply evaded the actual point I raised or directly asked!

If you are interested in reading the series so far received then we have set up a new page on the website blog “CAMPAIGN: Malta Massacre on Migration” and they can be found there.  Any new correspondence received relating to the Malta saga will also be placed there.

If you’ve been motivated to contact MEPs then feed back the responses to Packham, Avery or through us at athe Forum.  Critical mass as elections loom for MEPs in May and a for those 650 still in the Westminster village.  Let’s send them all a message that the natural environment and conservation really do matter.

In the interim, please TWEET (!) your MPs if you are able to ….

 

Bits ‘n pieces & some early moths

April 25, 2014

A few bits ‘n pieces, updates on recent issues and a sprinkling of natural observations:

Malta Massacre on Migration: I’ve written to all six of the Yorkshire and Humber MEPs, have you?  Next on the list is a variation edition to the Maltese High Commission and the Maltese Tourism Authority.  Sadly readers of Mark Avery’s blog do not report a good nor honest position if the conservationists (Chris Packham, Bird Life Malta et. al.) are to be believed by the responses received from these authorities and agencies.

Chris Rose is appealing to the BBC to re-instate the annual broadcast of nightingale, if you’ve not already signed the petition on 38 degrees then if you’re a fan of nightingales then you can find it here.  Sadly it seems that the BBC OB has been disbanded, but there’s online potential.  Not too sure that the older generation, those who recall the iconic species in their youth in every scrubby copse would agree, but a new generation might be encouraged to search them out in the flesh?

We’ve noticed that B&Q are plugging (no pun intended) their coir tea-bag environmentally friendly green packaging bedding plants on the television at the moment, yet …. we have learnt that there are some local stores whose staff are unaware of the initiative.  Sadly, it seems that by far the vast majority of bedding plants are still in peat and still in polystyrene …. unless you know differently?

I had been hoping to get out again with fellow ‘moffin’ enthusiasts for a session but the weather has put paid to that for this weekend if the weather forecasters have got it right.  So, a few recent finds to whet appetites for goodies ahead this coming season ….

 

2063 Muslin Moth Diaphora mendica or 72.022 (per Agassiz et.al.)

2063 Muslin Moth Diaphora mendica or 72.022 (per Agassiz et.al.)

The Muslin Moth is a species which shows sexual dimorphism , the example above (local Humberhead Levels garden) shows the dark form.

2092 Shuttle-shaped Dart Agrotis puta  aka 73.325 (per Agassiz et.al.)

2092 Shuttle-shaped Dart Agrotis puta or 73.325 (per Agassiz et.al.)

The Shuttle-shaped Dart is another sexually dimorphic species, the males having brownish variegated forewings and white hindwings, the females fairly plain dark brown forewings and buffish hindwings.  The above specimen is from a local Humberhead Levels garden.

2015 Lunar Marbled Brown Drymonia ruficornis or 71.011 (per Agassiz et.al.)

2015 Lunar Marbled Brown Drymonia ruficornis or 71.011 (per Agassiz et.al.)

 This stunning image of a Lunar Marbled Brown illustrates well the ‘comma’ or ‘crescent’ in the species forewing pale band.  LMB is generally earlier in the season than Marbled Brown.

Thanks to Ted Sabin and Phil Lee for sharing their images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malta Massacre on Migration …. an appeal by Chris Packham.

April 21, 2014

So what has Malta to do with the Moors?  Quite possibly we have less birds visiting us because some are lost on migration to mindless murderers in Malta?

Yet, why is it that the UK media are not interested in covering the ongoing battle of migration massacres in Malta?  What happened to their campaigning stance?  So frustrated by their apathy Chris Packham and a small team are now in Malta and will broadcast a series of Video Diaries at 9pm every evening from 21 to 26 April.  Watch them …. if you dare?

Of the Maltese atrocities Chris says:

“I have equally tried to stimulate television programme makers to cover the issue – both without success – a sad reflection of our complacent and risk adverse times.

Well, I’ve finally run out of patience and together with three colleagues and the support of Birdlife Malta this spring I will be making a nightly video diary of the days events on the island which will be posted on . . . Video Diaries

Then please pleads Chris, do something …. write to your MEP for starters perhaps, some useful information and guidance is available via Chris’s website. 

Maltese massacres on migration,  Hen Harrier persecution here in the UK, badger culls just where will it all end – mindless murder by minorities?

‘Moor’ about badgers ….

September 1, 2013

Sorry to keep ‘badgering’ you about negative issues, let’s face it we hear so many positive ones that I really should learn to set aside (ooops, no pun intended) a few bits of bad news?  Can you forgive another batch of BADGER related ramblings?

Here’s the delightful face of those wonderful black and white beasts, the quintessential mammal of the English countryside :

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Here’s the other side of the coin, the cruelty illegally inflicted by those who see badgers as vermin and a threat to their business:

Hours of suffering as a result of an illegal snare badly set.

Hours of suffering as a result of an illegal snare badly set.

 

Bad enough the image above but, there’s now ‘legalised’ murder going on as I write this post, the cull sanctioned by Government is underway and being conducted in Wales.

Badgergate is well worth a read, there are some interesting facts to consider as well as suggestions as to how you can help, who and where to write to and possible pointers as to what you might include.  I appreciate that there are some who hold views that ‘mass protest’ outwith an imminent election is not effective, but to claim that this is a trial and there is no intention to test the shot badgers for bTB!  How do they claim any credibility for that lack of science?  Badgergate is to be applauded, their strapline of “Bovine TB: facts, fantasy & politics” sums up quite eruditely the situation in my view.

Whilst you’d like to be able to trust Government, I struggle to understand what they have based this decision on.  The Krebs report analyses data from the UK 1973 – 2007, so why do they look abroad for support?  Why have successive governments failed to implement a vaccination programme in areas of high risk?  Why have the NFU and their counterparts not supported this, why have they not funded independent science?

If any of you watched the recent BBC2 series “The Burrowers: Animals Underground” you would have gained a fascinating insight into the research by Chris Cheesman, someone who had over 35 years studied badgers and still as a result of this programme learnt new facts about the species.  His view is well worth the few minutes you need to read it here.  In fact I’d say if you’re only able to read one of the links here in today’s post then this one by Dr Cheesman has to be it!

Another well made selection of points can be found on Steve Backshall’s Facebook page, whilst I don’t do ‘social media’ I do recognise that it can be effective communication.  In case you are not familiar with the gentleman he’s the television presenter well known for programmes such as ‘Live and Deadly’.

A totally random thought but I just wonder how the 635 MPs would react if all their constuituents regularly twittered, tweeted or facebooked them about the badger cull?  Even if just say 10% did then surely it would create a reaction?  In fact, I reckon if just 1% did then that would have them a tad worried I suspect …. Likewise the various PR companies employed by government departments, or the NGO hierarchies?  Reality kicks back in ….  and along with it I am reminded of the apathy and lethargy demonstrated by the public over hen harriers etc.  However, Brian May’s petition creeps up and it is after all on a Government epetition website!  Just in case you need a reminder it can be accessed here.    291,126 as I ramble – come on let’s help it to 300,000!  Voices for nature where are you all?

What do other people think about this mass murder I wonder, Iolo Williams surely he has something to say about the subject?  Excellent, he has and so do quite a few other ‘celebs’ Chris Packham, Simon King, David Attenborough et. al.  Chris Packham also warns of potential consequences of direct action (his skit, see earlier link, at the Welsh tourism board or variant was noted though on the savethebadger.com website).

Is there a solution that all parties can sign up to?  Sadly, I doubt it.  There are vociferous advocates on both sides of the argument, that’s democracy but I do so love ‘Ralph’s’ definition on Mark Avery’s blog, it just sums up the politics to a tee!  Logic requires that science must surely have a key role in any analysis and eventual decision?  That science must similarly be conducted and evaluated independently?  Then if there is dissent and the public purse is to fund any action, then reasoned logic and dare I offer democracy requires that the public have a say?

Oh dear, if that were the case then STOP & RETHINK  Open Access on National Nature Reserves too might be a ‘moor’ open and transparent discussion?

Images courtesy of the South Yorkshire Badger Group.   

 

The State of Nature

May 27, 2013

With the window of opportunity that a Bank Holiday Monday provided how many of you were out there benefiting from the experience of interacting with our declining wildlife?  How many of you later in the evening tuned into Springwatch to learn what many of us have been recording?  At least Chris Packham recommended viewers download and read The State of Nature Report and for that he is to be applauded.  I’d be curious to learn how many ‘hits’ the RSPB website got subsequent to his ‘plug’.

It makes pretty depressing reading, one of the report’s headlines reads …. We have quantitative assessments of the population or distribution trends of 3,148 species.  Of these, 60% of species have declined over the last 50 years and 31% have declined strongly.

One might wonder what the Government response to this will be, denial or a public relations exercise rolling out case studies of funded ‘biodiversity building’?

What the report and programmes like Springwatch should encourage us all to do is to get out there and record the biodiversity then the evidence is there for those who write such ‘natural history obituaries’.  It might also encourage those who pproclaim themselves as guardians or champions to try a bit harder and actually safeguard and protect declining habitats and species.

There is certainly some stunning invertebrates about at the moment for those with patience to capture on camera.

The hoverfly Dasysyrphus albostriatus (another stunning shot captured here at Crowle by Phil Lee) is a woodland edge species and widespread throughout much of the UK.  With around 276 species known to Britain, they make a good group to study.  There is a Hoverfly Recording Scheme and more details can be found here.

Dasysyrphus albostriatus 2 Crowle Moor 12.5.13

This superb image of the wasp beetle Clytra arietius was taken by Steve Hiner on Thorne Moors recently.   A long-horn beetle whose larvae feed on the wood of deciduous trees which have an association with fungi.  The adults feed on pollen and females supplement their protein intake by taking smaller insects as well.

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One of the earliest butterflies to emerge in spring is the stunning sulphur Brimstone, another of Steve Hiner’s Thorne images.  I suppose the four peacock butterflies sunning themselves on 4 January don’t really count as they would have been tempted out of hibernation.

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So, get out there before it’s too late.  Get out there and make a difference.  Despite the depressing reading to be had, the interaction with the natural world always re-invigorates determination to challenge and change when opportunities present themselves.


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Hatfield Moors Birding Blog

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Mark Avery

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

a new nature blog

I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.

UK and Ireland Natural History Bloggers

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?