Posts Tagged ‘Hen Harrier’

Iolo Inspires in the Idle Valley?

December 12, 2016

State of Nature 2013 delivered a very strong message, Iolo Williams was passionate and erudite and it seemed as if he was calling conservationists to arms?  A variation on theme was delivered at the 2015 Bird Fair, it went down a treat with a packed audience. It’s worth listening to the animated champion for Wales and its wonderful wildlife, entertaining definitely and some might say disrespectful in parts?  Much of the Bird Fair version was also used in Friday nights offering, but extended and a entertaining Q&A session.

Friday night he was the Nottinghamshire Wildlife’s Trust guest speaker at the Idle Valley Rural Learning Centre. He treated a packed audience to a whistle stop tour of Wales and it’s amazing biodiversity and stunning landscapes.

Iolo’s wonderful mellifluous Welsh lilt entertained and informed in equal measures.  At times quite critical of the state of nature and the agenda which had caused it. When asked how he saw the future it was through education, holding the view that if youngsters were introduced to nature at an early age then a love of it would stay with them.  Whilst we can I’m sure subscribe to that view, why does it seem that there are missing conservation champions from one if not two generations?

Pride in his Welsh roots added to the presentation particularly the descriptive local names of birds like the boda tinwyn or Hen Harrier which when translated becomes the apt ‘white bummed buzzard’? Tinwen y garn or Wheatear ‘white ar**d chat’ – you had to be there to appreciate the nuances!

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Iolo Williams : two of his books, then & now

Anyone planning a holiday in Wales would benefit from reading some of the detail offered in his latest book Wild Places: Wales Top 40 Nature Sites.

If I were to be honest I probably preferred his 2005 offering Wild about the Wild.  It takes you through a year (September 2004 – August 2005) with observational gems and a refreshing honesty.

Just one negative, that Seren Books the publisher of Wild Paces have been let down by their proof reader because Page 143 is not an iconic Red Kite the national bird of Wales!  but that should not stop anyone from enjoying the landscape images or benefiting from Iolo’s knowledge of the sites.

If readers ever get chance to hear or meet Iolo then take it up, would that there were more like him in every country and county, championing their local patch!

 

Recent events, forget illegality let’s go for conflict resolution?

September 16, 2016

Day two of the Sheffield ‘Raptor’ Conference.  With apologies for the delay in this posting, in part caused by another exciting invertebrate discovery in the Humberhead Levels, more on that in due course!

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The Workstation and Showroom in Sheffield were the venue for the recent two day Raptor Conference.

It’s human nature perhaps to focus on one or perhaps two aspects of a problem?  As someone who was aware of raptor persecution, upland management issues around damage to peat through burning, increased run off potentially increasing flood risk downstream, increased costs associated with water quality, increased home and business insurance etc. I can appreciate the complexities, I can see a need for calm and considered discussion and solutions through consensus.

Where I struggle is the entrenched views that land ownership and land management for private benefit from the public purse should continue.  Public funds, and we are told every public service is facing continued cuts, then surely there is a need to evaluate returns on expenditure?

There are other websites now who have provided analysis of the presentations at the conference, Raptor Persecution UK have intermittently provided transcripts from some of the presentations.  These provide a useful resource to compare other reports elsewhere, which might be perceived as selective or subjective.  For sure, the conference has been applauded and admonished in equal measure.  What it did do was keep the debate about upland moorland management in the public arena and that can only be good as Government start to consider where ‘subsidies’ will be provided post Brexit and CAP ‘support’?

Speakers included Rhodri Thomas (Peak District National Park), Barry O’Donoghue (Eire National Parks & Wildlife Service), Tim Baynes (Scottish Land & Estates), Sonja Ludwig (Langholm Project) and Alan Fielding (contributor to the Hen Harrier Conservation Framework still to be published by Defra).

In terms of the introduction of Vicarious Liability in Scotland*,it transpires that SLE ‘did a lot of the work to put it in place’ in Scotland.  The first case involved a landowner who was not aware that the law had changed but in fairness the speaker did acknowledge that ‘ignorance is no excuse’.  Might the issue have been one of communication?  Who should have undertaken communication?  The Scottish Government certainly but Estates have a trade body so it would be strange if that trade body did not alert its membership and indeed the wider audience?  The introduction of VL in England is an option, it is unlikely to solve illegal persecution of raptors on sporting estates but it might be a measure which sends a signal that this Government is no longer prepared to tolerate increasing levels of wildlife crime?  *It [VL] is not available in England.

It was fascinating to hear an appeal for anecdotal science to be taken into account, an attempt was made to persuade the audience that land managers views should be regarded as valuable social science.  One couldn’t help but wonder if this was because some of the shooters ‘science’ had been found wanting?

Why are we still waiting for the Hen Harrier Conservation Framework update (previous was published in 2011)?  Fielding suggested that the numbers to be reported would be lower than anticipated.  He further tried to suggest that there was insufficient understanding of Hen Harrier ecology, something challenged by some of the audience.  Whilst all would probably accept the need for ongoing study it is evident that ‘conflict resolution’ has failed because the numbers continue to decline?  Those promoting themselves as being able to ‘fix it’ because they already have landowners ‘signed up’.  If public funds are to be used in any re-introduction in the south, or ‘brood management’ trials (supposedly when ‘a threshold’ of  breeding success has been reached then it seems reasonable to assume that any commission will be awarded through the usual open tender process?  There is also a potential conflict of interest for Natural England to consider as they would be responsible for the issuing of licenses, how would the support for the buzzard cull to protect commercial pheasant shoot be reconciled given the interests of commercial Red Grouse shooting?  Credibility might be an issue where they are pressured to co-operate with developers and land owners yet they are reputedly responsible for safeguarding protected species?

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Pause for thought along the route back to the car park, reason or radical measures?

Who will be the voice of reason and passion when he goes? Without agenda, personal gain, or fame? Just nature.

David Attenborough bringing the wild into heart of Sheffield. I’d love to hear his reasoned voice in grouse debate.

Reasoned voices have witnessed continued decline, conflict resolution has failed so what is the solution?  There is passion, passion and drive has brought debate and a raised profile of the associated issues, well done to all involved in the delivery of the Sheffield Raptors Conference.

If readers haven’t already signed the Ban Driven Grouse Shooting then they might consider doing so?  See also the series of short informative videos on “The Real Price of Grouse”.

Raptors, Uplands & Peatlands – Land Management & Issues

September 9, 2016

Day One of the Sheffield Conference “Raptors, Uplands & Peatlands – Land Management & Issues” yielded an interesting selection of quotes across a range of speakers.

It has to be said that there was certainly selective quotes used by some to try to further their particular case(s), but ever the case when politics enters the arena at the expense of robust facts?  There were plenty of placatory sound bytes but also some excellent talks based on studies, so a collection of thought provoking offerings.  Tomorrow promises more but in the interim dear readers could you match the quotes to the speakers?

Day One speakers are listed at the bottom of this post.  Please note that I have not provided a quote from each, some speakers have more than one quote offered here and not all speakers are quoted.  Answers to execsec@thmcf.org 

“Love these moors with a passion”:  A member of the RSPB and who recognised the work of Moors for the future on the most degraded moorland [locally].  Mentioned the RSPBs withdrawal from the Hen Harrier Action Plan.  That the challenge is clear now and that whilst politicians prefer consensus, grouse shooting is now in the ‘last chance saloon’ and a precursor to any compromise is that the illegal killing has to stop.

Chris Packham was described as “talking out of his a**e” because of his view that it’s about the science.

“A junior keeper acting on his own” [referring to a recent pole trap incident].

“It was an utter disgrace” and “it really is despicable” [reference to illegal activity].

“Everything done to date had not produced anything” [reference to the decades of seeking consensus and compromise].

Referring to the southern re-introduction “sourced birds would not be from northern England but European and the programme would follow IUCN guidelines”.  

“Government has made it clear that it will not ban it [DGS], or licence it, but it will back the  Defra six point plan”.

“It’s a trial, [but only] when the threshold is reached”.

I did ask the Natural England representative (Policy) later what that threshold was, but …. guess what, so watch this space perhaps?

“A lot of moorland land managers are signed up all ready to be receptor moors, many would be honoured to have hen harriers on their land”.

Paid tribute to Mark Avery’s “Juggernaut”.

“Scotland are ahead of England as they have Vicarious Liability”.

“Vicarious Liability has so far not been allowed in England”. 

The fact that the Minister refusing to consider this option was himself a grouse moor owner might have been a factor in this issue?

Day One speakers:

Angela Smith MP, Steve Redpath (Uni. of Aberdeen), Stephen Murphy (NE), Adrian Jowitt (NE), Philip Merricks (H&OT), Pat Thompson (RSPB), Adam Smith (GWCT), Alan Charles (former Derbyshire PCC) and Mark Avery (Inglorious).

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Who should get the right to kill this?  A Hen Harrier to feed its young or shooters for a hobby?  Image (with permission): Tim Melling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will you be going to Henry’s picnic rally?

June 19, 2016

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Readers of this blog will be familiar with the ongoing issue of raptor persecution, particularly that involving  Hen Harriers and the issue of upland management for driven grouse shooting. 

We are informed that there is to be a ‘picnic’ next Saturday, 25th June 2016 in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  It is being billed as a Hen Harrier rally to mark this year’s virtual absence of nesting Hen Harriers from the English uplands.

The details will be released on Wednesday this week, for details visit Standing up for nature via http://markavery.info/blog/  and or Raptor Persecution UK via https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/

Another useful and informative website is Birders Against Wildlife Crime, Charlie Moore’s recent blog post is worth a read via  http://birdersagainst.org/where-do-you-stand/

Have you booked your place on the Raptors, Uplands and Peatlands conference to be held in Sheffield on 9 & 10 September?  For more details visit http://www.ukeconet.org/news/raptors-upland-peatlands-conference-2016

Meet the author of “Inglorious” at the above event.  An authoritative tome which presents a well researched case against the management of the uplands for grouse shooting.

Inglorious front cover

Help get the epetition to Ban driven grouse shooting to the 100k in order that it can be ‘considered’ for discussion in Parliament, via https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125003

 

 

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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The BBC, badgers & tall stories?

March 2, 2016

Well, first of all the NFU so no real surprise there, then Defra whose failure to secure robust science on the issue and similar blinkered approach and stance on the [In]action in the uplands to safeguard raptors and most noticably the Hen Harrier but now it’s the turn of the BBC?

As license fee payers it would seem entirely reasonable to expect a balanced view of any topic aired?  Where there is robust science then it might be expected that this be put forward as part of any discussion?

The Ecologist’s headline Tall stories: BBC’s anti-science support for badger culling asks some awkward questions and these are then picked up by the Badger Trust who encourage members of the public to watch the first programme of the series Land of Hope and GloryLand of Hope and Glory to be broadcast this Friday (4 March) on BBC 2 at 9pm.

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Poor brock: a scapegoat for poor bio-security or a villan?

The Badger Trust  plan to write an open letter to the Director General of the BBC, Lord Hall, on Monday after the programme has been broadcast.  They also invite their members, supporters and the public to join them in highlighting their concerns through social media, so if you  share concerns then use the hashtag #bbcbias to deliver alternatives to the approach taken by the BBC.  They will be sending out a list of tweets that can be used throughout the day.

It is a shame, if the early indications of bias by the BBC are true, because such acts of demonstrable and one sided bias simply serve to indicate that the Corporation are out of touch and knowledgeable viewers then see the ‘brand’ as unreliable?  If it favours a particular group with bovine TB then where else has it failed in its reporting or investigations?  A topical ‘discussion’ at the moment given the recent revelations documented in Dame Janet’s investigation?  Equally of concern is that it does nothing to help the farmers case when people in possession of an understanding of the complexities and the science but who also have a love of badgers and of Somerset Brie?  What wins?

So let’s all of us watch on Friday evening, Land of hope and glory?  We can then decide for ourselves if the BBC offers balance or bias?  We can then consider what next we might each do or not?

Remember that  Hope was a Hen Harrier and ‘Inglorious’ an excellent expose, and a balanced one, of the ‘Conflicts in the uplands’ brought about by the management regimes designed to create habitat for Red Grouse. This management bias is to the detriment of some other wildlife and water management, in terms of quality for drinking and flood alleviation.

 

 

  

‘moor’ about?

February 19, 2016

The sun was shining, the skies were blue and the wilderness beckoned again, so Thursday saw another visit to a very wet landscape.  Dressing like an ‘onion’ with three pairs of socks easily kept the cold at bay.

A pair of delightful dumpy Stonechats were the first good birds of the day, colourful gems on a winter’s day.160218 Stonechat hrk 309

Feeding at the edge of the track and returning to a perch before repeating the exercise again an indication perhaps that there was plenty of suitable food for these seasonal specials.  Their ‘tchack’ call, reminiscent of stones being hit together, was heard frequently as the two birds worked their patch for food.  Stonechats are omnivorous and will search out seed and invertebrates both of which appear plentiful at the moment and is no doubt contributing much needed fuel for these delightful chats, with up to eight birds being logged on Thorne Moors recently.

The Marsh Harriers, two males quartered the moor flushing wildfowl and pheasant in their quest for smaller quarry.  A stunning Short-eared Owl appearing as the light waned, working the western periphery for small mammals able to escape the wet and relocate on the drier balks.

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Big skies, space to breath but just about every point of the compass is seeing the ring of steel tighten and destroy the atmospheric vista?  Conversely these metal monsters were ‘sold’ as a tourist attraction to which people would flock to see such iconic structures …. not forgetting the marketing spin of wind energy being free ?

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There is much discussion about an early season with the Blackthorn in flower already.  The first adders have been seen on both Hatfield and Thorne Moors, 10 February so ten days earlier than last year!  How long before we hear the first Chiffchaff and see the first Sand Martin, two of the early migrants?

Will the ‘silver ghosts’ who have graced our local lowland moors this winter return to their upland breeding moors and be able to successfully fledge young birds into the declining English population?  Whilst the politicians postulate the pros and cons of the UK remaining in the European Union, will 2016 see an outcome to the RSPBs complaint to the European Commission about the damage on Walshaw Moor?  The case is not just about Hen Harriers, but about management of upland moors and we might also remember that they are now extremely topical for their role in flood alleviation?

In the interim, let’s carry on enjoying the magic that the Hen Harrier brings on a cold winters day when, if we put in the hours scanning the far horizon and the extensive reed beds we can be rewarded with a glimpse of a charismatic bird who can for the winter months at least enjoy a safe haven here with us.  Get out there, experience the magic before the species is just a memory and another obituary in a natural history paper.  It was as recent as 2013 that the headlines reported imminent extinction as an English breeding bird, its status is still extremely tenuous.

The defra sponsored Joint action plan to increase the English hen harrier population received mixed reviews and it was Mark Avery who summed it up as the ‘[In]action plan’.

 

 

 

Enjoy it while it lasts?

February 10, 2016

The natural environment it would seem is under siege?  Management of upland moors at the moment is very topical not least for the potential flooding implications if not undertaken appropriately and in the public interest?  What is appropriate and who gets to define ‘public interest’?

Government Ministers have written to the chancellor to persuade him not to let nature laws impact on development.  One of those is the Minister for the Environment!

Let’s set aside for this post at least, political hot potatoes and spend a day on our local moors whilst we are still able to enjoy what were once vast wildernesses.  Now they are in the centre of what is rapidly becoming industrialised farmland, with approaching around 100 massive turbines visible from various points of the compass.

They are publically owned, that’s by US, you and me?  They are managed by Natural England, the government advisers on nature conservation.  They also advise developers via their Discretionary Advice Service (revenue generation business).  There are others involved in their management and there is a lot of activity on site now.

February ‘fill dyke’?  There has been a fair amount of precipitation but there have been bouts of fine weather in which to get out there and enjoy the ‘last days of wilderness’.

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It was the bright white ‘targets’ which attracted my attention.  The buck’s antlers resplendent in heir velvet.  A second very inquisitive buck located later in the day and in another area kept checking my progress along the track before nonchalantly trotting off again.  At the risk of being accused of anthropomorphism, did he satisfy himself that I posed no threat to his territory?

The rut for Roe deer starts in July but the does will not give birth until May and June after a nine month gestation of which four involve delayed implantation.  Bucks will aggressively defend territories from the start of Spring in February/March until August.  The Roe is one of our native deer, the other is Red, with records dating back before the Mesolithic (6,000 -10,000 years BC).

There is certainly a wealth of wildlife out there at the moment for visitors prepared to look for it.  Birds of prey are showing well with good numbers of Marsh Harriers and a smaller contingent of Hen Harriers.  The magnificent male, that ‘silver ghost’ with its white rump and ink-dipped wing tips guaranteed to lift a winter’s day.  Peregrines, Short-eared Owls, Merlins, Buzzards, Kestrels and Sparrowhawks as supporting cast reward effort.  Wildfowl too with up to 10 male Goosanders being logged, the occasional Pintail and Goldeneye, rafts of others including Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Tufted and Pochard.  Plenty of passerines amongst the sheltered spots.  The unexpected bonus yesterday was a Little Egret flying in and along the northern boundary!

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Just be careful where you walk and watch out for contractors vehicles whizzing along.

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Big skies and space, or a cluttered horizon?  Get out there and experience the exhilarating, discover the nature of the place and its wildlife before its become a chapter in a historic review ….

In the interim visit Hatfield Moors Birding Blog and Thorne Moors Birding Blog and check out what has been seen and what with effort you might hope to see.

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?

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)

National Bird Campaign: online voting begins tomorrow.

March 15, 2015

The Final Stage of Voting has Begun!

Monday 16th March marks the start of the online voting

Last year, 70,000 of you voted in the first round of the Vote National Bird Campaign.  A list of 60 iconic British species was whittled down to a shortlist of the 10 most popular birds. The time has now come to vote for the bird that will become the nation’s avian symbol.

With this year signifying the Queen’s entry into the record books as the Empire’s longest reigning monarch, it would be fitting to mark the occasion with the announcement of Britain’s first official national bird.

Voting opens on March 16th 2015 and will close at midnight May 7th 2015 – the day of the General Election. You can either place your votes online or on paper ballot forms at selected nature reserves around the country.

 

Urban Birder mailing address is: PO box 3957, Marlborough, Wilts SN8 9ED
The Urban Birder would love to see you vote again and asks that we get our friends to vote too, so …. readers please spread the word.  Dare one suggest that tweeting might for once also seem appropriate?

To vote please visit www.votenationalbird.com

Most of the birds in the top 10 were expected candidates. However suggests Lindo, perhaps the most surprising inclusion is the Hen Harrier, one of England’s rarest breeding birds. Down to just one breeding pair a couple of years ago, it may already be extinct.

Could the majestic Hen Harrier knock the hot favourite Robin off its perch?  The 10 birds awaiting your vote:

Hen Harrier, Red Kite, Blackbird, Robin, Blue Tit, Wren, Mute Swan, Barn Owl, Puffin & Kingfisher.
Chris Packham@ChrisGPackham · Mar 14

Wrens and Robins are great but the Hen Harrier as our National Bird would really make a difference !

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

How many have we seen in the Humberhead Levels this winter?  Image: Tim Melling

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Another species impacted upon by change of agricultural practices & habitat loss?

‘Moor’ moffs ‘n bog mosses …. results of Winter ramblings.

January 30, 2015

We try to take a break from ‘conservation politics’ today and reflect on a few recent natural history observations.  There’s snow on the ground, it’s winter, but there are still moths active.  Despite a cold breeze, a ‘mild’ temperature of 7 degC was enough to tempt two intrepid ‘moth-ers’ into the field last weekend.

Acleris hastiana whilst not considered a rare species and one recorded from Thorne Moors in 1983 (Skidmore 2006 lists a confirmed record by Harry Beaumont gen. det.).  More recent Thorne Moors records made in 2013 (Moat et. al.).  Nevertheless this was a first for a local turbary site so provides for a more complete species distribution account across ‘our’ patch.

This species with a local name of ‘Sallow Button’ is considered to be the most variable of the British Tortrix moth species.  Adults generally hibernate in August so this specimen was perhaps tempted out by the light?  Interestringly, previous Thorne Moors records are Spring records whilst more recent are also from Winter months. Larvae feed on salix sp.

150125 Acleris hastiana  PLAcleris hastiana Image: Phil Lee

The other two species present were Chestnut and Pale Brindled Beauty.  Both these species are considered ‘winter’ species with the Chestnut appearing from September through to May, the larvae feeding on birch and oak.  The PBB males fly between January and March in search of wingless females who have climbed up onto tree trunks.

The moral of the story being that effort usually brings rewards a total of eight moths of three species might to some seem scant return for a couple of hours effort but every record builds a ‘moor’ complete picture for a site.  Who knows when that data might be needed to compile a dossier to present a case for protection or a retention of protective status?  In simplest form, it’s a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours and add to the data.

This time of year can also be good for bryophytes.  Mosses are notoriously difficult to identify from photographs but this image of Plagiothecium undulatum from Louise Eaton presented Colin Wall with no difficulty determining it.

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This species occurs across Thorne Moors and is described by Wall (2014) as occasional in birch woodland, occuring in 10 1Km squares.  P. undulatum was first located on Hatfield Moors in 2004 where it has been recorded in 6 1Km squares (Wall 2011).

For more information on the bryophytes and their status on Thorne and Hatfield Moors see Wall, C. The mosses and liverworts of Hatfield Moors in Thorne & Hatfield Moors Papers Volume 8 (2011) and Wall, C. Bryophytes in Thorne Moors A Botanical Survey 2014. 

Otherwise a Great Grey Shrike seen regularly on Thorne Moors and intermittent sightings of Hen Harrier and the traditional swan herds on fields peripheral to Hatfield Moors around Alderfen and along the roadside fields heading to Candy Corner out towards Wroot.

 

‘Moor’ missing Hen Harriers?

January 2, 2015

A glorious day out on the moors, my first of 2015 …. bitter winds blowing from the west but that just adds to the experience and if common sense prevails it makes little difference if you’ve dressed as they say in Yorkshire, ‘like an onion’ (that is to say, with lots of layers).

Sphagnum sp. poss. fimbriatum

Sphagnum sp. poss. fimbriatum

There is still that wonderful feeling of space and of open skies, although in my opinion the views from the platform are no longer as pleasantly panoramic as they used to be.  Despite Thorne Moors being around 4700 acres, or 1900 hectares in today’s currency there is now a clear boundary which previously was not so drastically demarcated but rather a steady realisation.

Disappointingly no magnificent male Hen Harrier, so I made do happily enough with a distant Marsh Harrier seen from the viewing platform as it quartered the reedbeds to the south of Will Pitts.  The other species which is indicative of winter is Whooper Swan and a family party were seen from Bank Top ‘festive feasting’ on farmland just off the reserve.

Piptoporus betulinus , Birch Polypore or 'Razorstrop Fungus'.

Piptoporus betulinus , Birch Polypore or ‘Razorstrop Fungus’.

The ‘moor’ interesting observations were made out of the wind, good numbers of Carabus granulatus overwintering under salix bark along with similarly good numbers of the snail eating Silpha atrata.  But what was fascinating to find were two smooth newt efts.  The smallest you have to wonder about the chances of it surviving through the winter, particularly if it is a long cold season.  The larger of the two shown below is about the same size as one found on 20 October last year under an abandoned plastic piling remnant.

Lissotriton vulgaris

Lissotriton vulgaris

Are there fewer Hen Harriers about in their traditional lowland wintering areas?  What impact the 2013 failure to breed and just three pairs in 2014 bred in England?  Please pass details of any sightings to us via execsec@thmcf.org so the data can be used to monitor change.

For regular updates on what’s about on the Moors visit Thorne Moors Birding Blog 2015, and Hatfield Moors Birding Blog.

In case our recent recruits are not aware of the issues around the decline of the Hen Harrier, then a good source of information can be found via Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Standing up for Nature, Mark Avery’s excellent ‘campaigning’ blog.  Avery also created an online petition “Ban driven grouse shooting” any reader not having signed it already might consider doing so?

Politics, fracking & a Rally for Nature?

December 4, 2014

Those of you not travelling to London next Tuesday, 9 December to take part in the Rally for Nature are offered an alternative option for an evening out ….

Haxey Fracking Poster

 

With around 150 days or so left until the 2015 General Election there is still time to contact MPs and indeed Ministers and their Shadows to establish where they stand on various environmental issues?  Not sure who your MP is, then it’s time to find out via They Work For You? The website programme uses the Royal Mail postcode software, so unfortunately it is not always accurate.  Certainly not in rural communities, on a par with the quality of rural broadband provision perhaps?

One might wonder if any party is interested in the shopping list of starters for 10 below?   Which party, if any, have any similar variations in their draft Manifestos?  They seem reasonable, but perhaps some might be deemed controversial in upland areas of the country?

Ensure the protection given to  our wildlife through the EU Birds and Habitats Directives is strengthened not watered down or lost. 

Make wildlife crime a reportable offence and introduce vicarious liability for wildlife crime, to ensure that protected species like the Hen Harrier are not driven to extinction as a breeding species in this country.

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

Ban lead ammunition further to Quito agreement (supported by UK as part of EU delegation).

Ban driven grouse shooting, there is now evidence that water bills are increased as a result of heather burning as well as other damage consequential of intensive moorland management for red grouse.  

140818 Middlemoor butt hrk 430

Commit to addressing the issue of bovine TB in cattle through a vaccination programme of cattle and badger and the introduction of measures to ensure improved biosecurity.

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Reform of the planning system to ensure that safeguards are in place to protect SSSIs and other environmentally sensitive areas.

Ensure that agri-environment schemes deliver public benefit and provide value for money, seek reform of the CAP to ensure that the environment is not damaged for short term economic gain.  Ensure public funds do not subsidise environmentally damaging programmes, schemes and projects.

140823 Round bales & turbines hrk 475 

 

Review the role of the various Defra agencies and Departments as it would appear that there may be some with conflicting interests even within organisations themselves?

Review the Marine Act with a view of extending protection of important areas.

Then there’s the issue of energy efficiency, energy conservation, waste reduction and recycling, politicians, bankers, big business, the NHS, ‘old fashioned’ values such as honesty, integrity and principles above political agendas (we can dream) ….

A recent description of life in Westminster village …. The weird and wonderful traditions that make it a cross between Hogwarts and a Gilbert and Sullivan Comic Opera?  The barracking and routine dishonesty?  The way the lobbyists for the energy companies and arms companies swan around, knowing they’ve practically bought the place?  Another view by a parliamentarian expressed was the desire (or was it intention) to get rid of “green crap”.

Greenblobpride

Perhaps we should try to see which party is nearest to the issues above, Voteforpolicies might provide a bit of insight until the various political party Manifestoes are made available for public scrutiny?  How do we make them accountable for breach of promise, otherwise it is all rhetoric?  The public we are told have lost faith and few trust politicians, but with the party system we suffer there is little wonder?

 

‘Moor’ politics & petty politics, so let’s keep on ‘badgering’?

October 27, 2014

It’s interesting to observe the tactics of the various ‘political parties’ ….

There appears to be a new breed of political animals assembling with agendas which seem to assist the traditional two party system masquerading as democracy?  Government are manouvering to prevent lobbying by charities.  It appears to be accepted practice that corporations can, but that charity activity in such matters should be curttailed?  There seems to be a view offered that ‘green blobs’ should stick to planting a hundred saplings in an ancient tree’s stead ….

Sadly, the majority of the population have little say in how their taxes are spent but we can, if we so wish, donate to charities or organisations who might champion or defend the countryside we love and cherish against rampant capitalism?

Martyn Howat, former Director of Natural England, said: “While parts of the RSPB do much good, overall it has become the great vampire squid of the charity world, hoovering up conservation funds on the premise that it’s going into creating homes for birds. It’s creating homes for office workers instead.”

That is an absolutely astonishing claim from a natural bureaucrat who we met but never received any useful response to our enquiries and concerns about the effectiveness of his team of staff (office workers and the majority nowhere to be found on Friday’s).  Howat visited Hatfield Moors when NE held another party to celebrate the extension of the National Nature Reserve in 2005.  Since retiring on a comfortable civil service pension it appears his true colours and sympathies are emerging?

 

Elliot Morley MP, Sir Martin Dougherty (Chair of NE) and Martyn Howat with Dr Henry Chapman at the site of the Neolithic Trackway on Hatfield Moors, October 2005.

Elliot Morley MP, Sir Martin Dougherty (Chair of NE) and Martyn Howat with Dr Henry Chapman at the site of the Neolithic Trackway on Hatfield Moors, October 2005.

 

A new website has been set up “You Forgot the Birds” which challenges the RSPBs spending priorities.  There are reports that there are groups who are turning their attention to the Wildlife Trusts too.  Whilst all charities are accountable, quite rightly for transparency in their conduct, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could also easily access Government Department spending priorities, detailed actual spend and source and governance structure of the think tanks who make claims of public benefit?

We had considered posting a link to the yftb website but for some reason the group (?) wishes to hide behind a website where the only option to contact them is via a pseudonym email address.  Vote for Bambi (the alternative vote for Bob) has thus far received a massive 41 votes, good on ‘beefy’ et.al.?  Most legitimate organisations offer various contact options, but then c’est la politics?

The Field magazine asks its readers …. If you would like to join this germinating group of conservation charity monitors then drop them (yftb) an email.  It might be that such embryonic groups are as a consequence of recent media coverage around bager culls, illegal persecution of Hen Harriers and other raptors on upland grouse moors subsidised from the public purse  through agri-welfare payments to wealthy industrialists?  To us that is a sign of  ‘green blob’ success?

To our mind’s Howat’s comments might well act as a good recruitment mechanism for the RSPB?  There are also signs of a more recent emergence and assembling of people disillusioned with mainstream capitalist politics, people want more and given they fund the extravagances of the Westminster village and invited clique then there could well be a day of reckoning ‘germinating’?

Miles King’s excellent blog on the emergence of yftb is worth a read, he illustrates the gullability (?) of Sir Ian Botham but I remember him when he presented our school colours …. Miles has done some background research on this germ(inating) group.   King may not be as well read or have as many followers as Mark Avery but in my opinion he is every bit as astute in his observations and comments.

Of Dr Avery’s popular blog, his most recent Guest blog is well worth a read and has received a record number of ‘likes’, it’s a good green read and offers food for thought and may germinate on fallow fields?  A reminder, just in case …. have readers considered signing Avery’s epetition “Ban driven grouse shooting”? 

 

Greenblobpride

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?


The signs are ‘Add'(er)ing up to Spring’s arrival?

March 7, 2014

It’s beginning to feel that winter flew with that magical ‘Skydancer’ on 15 February, I do so hope that he finds a mate and is successful in his endeavours to breed.  Last year, 2013 saw only two pairs of Hen Harriers attempt to breed in England but sadly both failed, and we reckon to be a nation who loves and values its wildlife?

So, spring is here?  It must be, the adders are out of hibernation and being seen in moderate numbers.  The first males were seen on Hatfield Moors on 18 February and on Thorne Moors the following day where up to 15 males have been recorded basking.

140225 Thorne  SH 0053

The image above, taken by Steve Hiner on 25 February this year shows four basking together.

130506 Adder DW

Female (above), in breeding condition (2013).

Adders (Vipera berus) are the UKs only venomous species of snake and they are also viviperous (give birth to live young).  Treated with respect and caution they are not dangerous.  Typically, in the breeding season the males have black markings against an off-white background with a steel grey underside.  The females have dark brown markings against a light brown or straw coloured background with a dull underside .  Having said that, both sexes are very variable and melanistic specimens are known from Thorne and Hatfield Moors.

130502 male Adder DW

Male in breeding ‘colours’ (2013).

The image shows the flattening of the body which creates a greater surface area to receive the warmth of the sun.  One magical piece of behaviour to witness is the ‘Dance of the Adders’, this ritualised combat is designed to impress and attract a female.

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A young adder sloughing its skin as it continues to grow (2013).  

Image: Steve Hiner.

Please do pass all reptile and amphibian sightings with details to us, the data all helps us to understand the habitat preference and utilisation patterns through the season across both sites.  For more information on local groups who actively promote the study and conservation of these special creatures, see ARG UK.

Hen Harriers & campaigning?

February 15, 2014

My birding year has not really had many highlights in terms of sightings of note, but today’s garden tick was a very welcome one.  A stunning male Hen Harrier was observed quartering the northern fields on the periphery of Hatfield Moors SSSI, and all easily witnessed from my garden!  What ‘moor’ could you ask on a cold February day?  There is just something magical in their flight, in the majesty of their graceful movement.  BUT …. I wondered will the superb male I was priviledged to see in winter manage to survive and sucessfully breed in the coming season?   The Hen Harrier failed to breed sucessfully in England last year.  The BBC announced that the Hen Harrier is on the brink of extinction, Mark Avery’s blog frequently posts updates on the topic of Hen Harrier persecution, the most recent data available from JNCC is unfortunately out of date, but nevertheless catalogues a worrying trend.  Mark Avery’s blog is also a good source of background information about the now ‘infamous’  Walshaw Moor case which was initially taken up by Natural England.  Fast forward, it is now with the RSPB who took up the case after NE decided to drop the case.

Can I encourage readers of the blog who have not already done so to consider signing John Armitage’s epetition Licencing of upland grouse moors and gamekeepers at the time of writing it has reached 9,302 and needs to achieve 10,000 signatures for the issue to be debated in Parliament.  OK we know what happens to topics that those in power do not like, but if nothing else let’s add it to the catalogue of Government failures to protect our environment.

Of community campaigning, congratulations to the consortium of collaborators who mounted a campaign to persuade Derby Council to safeguard one of their Local Nature Reserves ‘The Sanctuary’.  Unfortunately the Councillors approved the application, however the campaigners believe that they have grounds to challenge the decision and are considering a Judicial Review.  For more background see Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s post here.  It is worth viewing the drone’s eye view of the site, I wonder what brownfield invertebrates lurk amidst the wonderfully neglected grassland and scrub?  As an LNR it even qualifies to feature on Natural England’s website, see here.  Unsurprisingly, given the dangerous precedent in terms of planning law Mark Avery has taken an interest and I suspect that in no small part that assisted in the number of objections submitted to Derby Council.  So, in addition to a potential legal challenge the consortium have also created an online petition which is aimed at the Lottery, see hereSimon Barne’s writes in today’s Times.

A plea also to anyone able to post on facebook or twitter, that the Forum’s petition about Open Access on NNRs could do with a push here.

We need to take back common ground and ensure those in power listen to the community, common sense should prevail but sadly that is swamped by developers greed and a planning system which appears no longer fit for purpose.  If you need a half reasonable justification for that accusation then look no further at a Government which encourages developers to build 20% of new houses in flood plains without ensuring that they are appropriately designed and built IF they are actually really needed in such low lying areas.

In the meanwhile I shall go and dream of another ‘skydancer’ on my horizon tomorrow …. magic moments like that remind me why we must keep on campaigning.

Doom & gloom or a call to arms?

August 31, 2013

It seems that it’s all doom and gloom at the moment, The State of Nature illustrates well the collective failure to redress the damage and the decline in habitats and species.  We read that Hen Harriers are predicted to become extinct in our lifetime and now the badger cull has started.

Mark Avery’s blog discusses the merits of on line petitions and the one most often cited is that calling for the licencing of upland grouse moors in an attempt to protect Hen Harriers, just in case you’ve not signed it then see here.  Currently there are 6,334 signatories, so what happened to those million voices for nature, similarly the 800,000, accepting of course that it’s highly likely there will be many who are members of both?

In terms of the badger cull which, as many of us will be aware of has already started, so again in case you’ve not signed the ‘directgov’ epetition then click on this link.  In terms of the ‘debate’ there is an amazing volume of blame laid at the door of the badger, yet there seems to be deafening silence from defra or the farming lobby about finding real solutions to the problem, that is to say other than culling badgers.  There are some excellent points made by readers of Mark Avery’s ‘Standing up for Nature’ blog, well made and anyone needing persuasion should read here.   Avery’s recent post ‘Bovine TB’ has attracted 54 comments, that’s quite some response which seems to infer that there’s been too much war mongering and too little science, some basic questions about the ‘intensification’ of beef and dairy farming have also come to the fore again.  The cartoon, in my humble opinion, sums up the state of the nation’s democracy – in general and not just the badger debate, politicians as a species – one wonders if their decline be missed, do we really need 650 as well as another 800 unelected?

These badger cull ‘trials’ are being conducted in Gloucestershire, so do we write to MPs, Ministers, the NFU, CLBA and the tourist boards indicating that we will no longer visit, purchase British beef, British milk and oh dear, that lovely Shropshire brie has to go as well – but let’s think positive: less calories so a healthier diet!  It’s somewhat extreme, rather too radical …. but, what else are we left with when approaching 300,000 voices are ignored?  Money talks and if the farm gate receipts fall then farmers might be persuaded to reconsider, or will they expect to be bailed out by the ‘welfare state’ (aka tax-payers)?  Should we suspend the Single Farm Payments used to support farmers in that area, after all how can they argue the case that they are the custodians of wildlife and the countryside?  I don’t know the answer, does anyone?  The arguments are emotive, highly charged and will still not be resolved by the shedding of badger blood.

We have to ask is the dire straights which the countryside finds itself in, the ongoing decline of once familiar species, a sorry barometer for the state of mankind in general?  Should we go along with the apathy or should we act to ensure that there is accountability and that history attributes accurately the facts of the matter?

Which if we may be forgiven for bringing another petition to readers attention, they say things come in threes?  So can we appeal to readers who haven’t yet signed the Forum’s petition STOP & RETHINK National Nature Reserves as Open Access Areas to consider doing so here. 

 

DSC_1916_lowres

 

Once ravaged for its peat, saved or so we thought …. is it destined to become a theme park now, no longer the idyllic tranquility local people treasure?

To those who have, a massive thank you and to those who have twittered or tweeted it or posted it on facebook ‘moor’ thanks.  We wondered what the response would be to our challenging the proposal of Open Access, it seemed contra to the conservation campaigning of the past.  We have been heartened by the many supportive comments posted on the 38 degree’s campaign petition.  This approach, by Natural England, is demonstrative of a failure to listen, to conduct business behind closed doors as well as compliance in terms of the Habitats Directive.  Senior Directors have failed to provide assurances that sufficient funds have been secured in perpetuity to monitor and manage for Likely Significant Effect.  Instead, it appears that it will come from core funds.  Does that mean that less will be spent on ensuring that National Nature Reserves, not just here at Thorne and Hatfield Moors, will slip into decline in terms of favourable condition status for their special interest features because funds are diverted for fences, gates, stiles, interpretation boards, picnic tables rather than management which will benefit habitat and species of nature conservation interest?

 I leave you all with a thought, borrowed from a report produced and downloadable at Common Cause

“What is wild cannot be bought or sold, borrowed or copied. It is. Unmistakable, unforgettable, unshakable, elemental as earth and ice, water, fire and air, a quintessence, pure spirit, resolving into no constituents.”  Jay Griffiths.

 

 


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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.

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