Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Purseglove’

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 ….

Engineered or natural solutions to flood alleviation?

August 9, 2015

We recently organised a well received event to celebrate the revised edition of Jeremy Purseglove’s seminal work “Taming the Flood”.  Other speakers included Dr Paul C Buckland and Prof. Ian D Rotherham.

2015 TtF front cover

There was much discussion around engineering vs sustainable and more environmentally benign and sustainable options which did not rely upon regular and increasingly eye watering amounts of public funding as options and approaches to flood allieviation.

One such example was that of the Environment Agency managed realignment at Alkborough Flats funded through the Water Framework Directive.  This project, which involved some 400ha resulted  in the largest realignment in the UK and the second largest in Europe.

The image below shows part of the Flats today, the lagoon fringed by phragmites hosted good numbers of Avocets, 6 Spoonbills and a Little Egret and not forgetting the delightful but elusive Bearded Tits amongst a more extensive species list mid week.

Looking north across Alkborough Flats showing phragmites reedbeds with Six Penny Wood wind turbines in the distance.

Looking north across Alkborough Flats showing phragmites reedbeds with Six Penny Wood wind turbines in the distance.


Slumbering Spoonbills.  The Little Egret lurked out of lens at the interface of the reeds along with another unidentified 'white job' probably another LE but not confirmed!

Slumbering Spoonbills. The Little Egret lurked out of lens at the interface of the reeds along with another unidentified ‘white job’ probably another LE but not confirmed!

The two images (taken on seperate days) show the extent of the tidal lagoons which along with those across the River Trent at Blacktoft Sands provide a fantastic habitat for a range of breeding species as well as a refuelling station for species on migration.

Squadron of five Spoonbills return.

Squadron of five Spoonbills return.

For other superb images of the Alkborough Spoonbills see Simon & Karen’s blog.

Floods and related matters & ‘moor’ invitations ….

August 2, 2015

A fabulous couple of days, on Friday 31 July the Forum network and visitors gathered in Crowle to hear a series of presentations by three well qualified speakers on wetland related topics offer thought provoking challenges.

“The Flood Untamed” was organised to celebrate Purseglove’s updating of his seminal work “Taming of the Flood” and the event which saw our return to Crowle Community Hall where ten years previously we held the first in the series of the Stephen W Warburton Memorial Lectures and where Jeremy had joined us to reflect on the loss of the ‘guardian of the Yorkshire landscape’ was well received if the feedback has been anything to go by.

We were treated to some thought provoking questions around water management and engineered vs softer more natural options particularly in floodplain areas.  With all three speakers offering well illustrated case studies from across the globe as well as a local perspective which included reports from Sheffield and Hull as well as the Doncaster area.

Dr Paul C Buckland spoke on Floodplains and the fossil record: What should we be aiming for? and Prof Ian D Rotherham provided graphic illustrations to accompany Here comes the flood.  Surprised?  How history should inform future water management.

This aberrant Gatekeeper was located on Thorne Moors whilst a Crowle audience listened to the possibility of increased flood events.  Image: Martin WArne.

This aberrant Gatekeeper was located on Thorne Moors whilst a Crowle audience listened to the possibility of increased flood events. Image: Martin Warne.

The following day – a delicious picnic which included home made shortbread and freshly picked  ‘Napoleon’ cherries – what better way to enjoy Yorkshire Day than in the company of delightful companions on the wonderful wetland wilderness of Thorne Moors which we accessed via Crowle Moors.  Marsh Harriers, Buzzards and the squeal of a hidden Water Rail amidst wetland vegetation along with the expected assemblage of sun loving butterflies in the drier areas along with a number of day flying moths including a Beautiful Hook-tip.  Damsels and Dragons too were numberous with aeshna, sympetrum, coenagrion and enallagma species represented.

Hidden gems amongst the juncus and other wetland vegetation. Image: Patrick Wildgust.

Hidden gems amongst the juncus and other wetland vegetation.
Image: Patrick Wildgust.

If readers are minded to consider experiencing the wetland for the first time or indeed for a ‘moor’ detailed look then why not come along on Monday 10 August and mingle on the mire with knowledable experts?

An Introduction to Wildflowers and Wildlife of a Peat Bog will take place on Thorne Moors.

The event is free but places are limited and pre-booking is essential. Please email or telephone 0114 272 4227 or for more information or to reserve a place.

The event is with the Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum, JBA Consulting Ltd., the British Ecological Society Peatland Group, Sheffield Hallam University, and South Yorkshire Biodiversity Research Group.

This is a unique chance to see the magnificent and expansive Thorne Moors – one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in Britain and one of Europe’s biggest restoration projects for nature conservation. No prior knowledge is required and this event is suitable for beginners wanting to see the Moors and find out about the special flowers, which grow there.We expect to see plenty of other wildlife too.

We will depart from the Delves Café car park at 10.45 am by minibus and return for 3 pm. Bring a packed lunch and drinks, plus suitable outdoor clothing. Use sunbloc if the weather is good and anti-insect ointment or sprays are recommended.

Come on, get out there and experience the magic before it is lost, before it ‘morphs’ as projects seek to ‘develop its potential’ ….


‘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

Taming the Flood?

July 12, 2015

A reminder that readers can hear the author’s presentation of “The Flood Untamed” on 31 July at Crowle Community Hall. 

Tickets a nominal £5 to defray refreshments and light buffet lunch.  Booking essential and is by contacting

2015 TtF front cover

Back in print, the classic tale of man’s attempts to master nature and the consequences.  This new volume brings an update to the 1988 edition and includes the 2014 floods.

There is reference to our beloved moors but sadly the term ‘waste’ is retained, a derogatory term inflicted by the cartographers of yesteryear and in an age where perhaps the word did not have quite the same negative image.   Frustratingly it is repeated on the current OS maps despite reference to the Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve.  Why couldn’t Natural England make representation to the OS to have the derogatory term removed and consigned to the Cassini Historical Series of Maps?  It might have been a persuasive case that statute at long last recognises the value of the peatlands as carbon sinks and wildlife sites?

The line up of speakers also includes Dr Paul Buckland on recent work

Floodplains and the fossil record: What should we be aiming for?

And introducing Prof. Ian D Rotherham of Sheffield Hallam University

Here comes the flood. Surprised?  How history should inform future water management.

In search of Ross’s Gull

June 26, 2015

‘Birding readers’ may be familiar with the book In search of Ross’s Gull by Michael Densley.  Published in 1999 by Peregrine Books it charts the author’s lifetime study of the bird, cumulating in his solo visit to the Russian Arctic in 1990 and subsequent recording of the biology, seasonal distribution and movements of one of the world’s most sought after ‘ticks’.

1999 MD Ross's Gull front cover

The copy offered is signed by the author and is in excellent condition.  Offers are invited and should be submitted to by next Friday, the 4 July 2015. Guide prices can be found via Amazon (signed author copies at £60 & £75) Abe Books (£55 for a signed copy) & not available via Waterstone’s but who do list a s/h copy for £48), other options probably available.  All prices exclude the cost of p&p, which would be at cost.

The reserve price is the original cost price, but the book is offered to raise funds for a ‘conservation project’ which has been the subject of a few posts on this blog.

If any reader is interested then please submit best offers to by next Friday, the 4 July 2015.

Diary dates:

Sunday 5 July 2015: RES Insect Festival 2015 in York.

Friday 31 July 2015: The Flood Untamed, series of presentations to be held at Crowle Community Hall.

The Flood Untamed?

May 24, 2015

We are pleased to provide advance notification of a forthcoming event, a series of presentations by well known speakers.  

Readers old enough may recall the television series and book, written by Jeremy Purseglove some twenty five years ago. This presentation is timely as it co-incides with his revised and updated edition of the book and we hope to have some copies available on the day.

Dr Paul Buckland and Prof. Ian D Rotherham are also two well known and interesting speakers, well qualified to discuss the issue of wetlands and flooding.

The Flood Untamed webposter

Please book early (tickets will be issued) and note that whilst there may be an option to pay (same price) on the door on the day we will not be able to cater for any late comers beyond tea / coffee.  It is advisable and helpful from an administrative perspective if potential attendees would pre-book.

Click on the image to enlarge.


Hoverflies & floods ….

May 17, 2015

Readers may have heard of Pan Species Listing, it’s basically ‘twitching’ across disciplines.  That’s an incredibly simplistic analogy because there is much to recommend it if it is undertaken within the guidelines promoted through the Pan Species Listing website.

We try to encourage readers and the public in general to take a closer look at the wildlife around them and as well as appreciating the amazing diversity available on our own doorsteps to learn to identify it.  Occasionally we offer Wildlife Training Workshops with specialist tutors to introduce people to new disciplines, especially entomology or the more difficult botanical disciplines (grasses, sedges & rushes), bryology, lichens or mycology.

So it is pleasing to periodically report interesting finds.  Phil Lee the voluntary LWT – Isle of Axholme Group Wildlife Records Officer has an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time ….

Sericomyia lappona Crowle Moors pl 8.5.15

Friday 8 May saw him ‘sauntering’ along the boundary lane of Crowle Moor north where he came across a couple of hoverflies new to him.  Reference to Britain’s Hoverflies An introduction to the hoverflies of Britain by Stuart Ball and Roger Morris led Phil to conclude that the species above was Sericomya lappona and this was subsequently confirmed by John Flynn through the lincs_ento_group.  S.lappona has previously been recorded from Crowle Moors in 1988, by Bill Hoff and Roger Key but no other Lincolnshire records apparently.  The other, below, is a Pipiza but can not not be determined to species level even with the excellent image taken by Phil.

Pipiza sp. Crowle Moors pl 8.5.15

The moral of the story as ever, is to be open minded and take an interest in the common and then when something a little different appears it is likely to register as having potential for an interesting record.  There is plenty of help out there avialable from like-minded people and a veritable plethora of societies and organisations focusing on wildlife and natural history.
Those records are needed, they evidence species movement (increase or reduction in range) and the health of sites.  It would seem reasonable to assume that the various statutory agencies and authorities undertake survey and monitoring but increasingly it seems to fall to the amateur naturalists to gather raw data.  The theory then would be that the Public Bodies use the data as evidence in defence of sites under threat of development?  Theories and reality, sadly all too often at the opposite ends of a spectrum?
Another issue which warrants investigation is perhaps the future of Local Records Centres?  That for Doncaster is based within DMBC, yet the vast majority of data held there has been provided by amateur naturalists.  That for northern Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire in general is held and managed by the Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership, so arms -length from statute and retaining a level of independence?  The issue as ever, information is power but information is also valuable creating something of a dilemma when it comes to sustainability?
Also around in moderate numbers are Yellow Wagtails as they seek out food for their brood of youngsters.  This stunning image showing a parent bird with a substantive meal – is it a noctuid larva?  Thanks to Martin Warne for sharing this behavioural image.
Yellow Wagtail Thorne Moor 27042015
For readers seeking their annual fix of our iconic crepuscular gem the Nighjar, they arrived on the same day 13 May on both moors, although perhaps the one logged at 04:15am on Thorne Moors was the first recorded for the year?
Advance notification:

Friday 31 July 2015

‘The Flood Untamed.’

Jeremy Purseglove revisits the story of his classic book which is being re-issued in June.

150324 TtF front cover 2

Anyone interested in attending this presentation (which will also feature two other talks) please contact for more details.

The Birds of Thorne Moors: An Annotated Checklist

May 9, 2015

We are pleased to announce that we have just taken delivery of a batch of reprints of the popular Technical Report No.: 19 The Birds of Thorne Moors: An Annotated Checklist by Bryan Wainwright. 

Scan BoTM front

To obtain a copy, please send a cheque for either £4.70 (first class postage) or £4.50 (second class postage) to T&HMC Forum (Publications), P O Box 879, Thorne, Doncaster, DN8 5WU. 

If you are thinking of attending the talk “Taming of the Flood” by Jeremy Purseglove on Friday 31 July 2015 then why not collect a copy from us there?  For more details of this talk contact

Advance notification: Taming the Flood, three decades & what have we learnt?

March 24, 2015

The Executive are delighted to provide advance notification of

a presentation and talk by Jeremy Purseglove, author of 

150324 TtF front cover 2

Ahead of publication of the revised edition scheduled for June 2015.

We recognise that it is short notice …. but it is planned for mid April, a weekday and at a venue yet to be confirmed but it will be local to the Humberhead Levels.    If any reader is interested then they are invited to contact us via with an expression of interest and when details are finalised they will be advised.

Jeremy last visited us in September 2005 when we held a Stephen Warburton Memorial Lecture in Crowle and this talk, some ten years later is ahead of publication of an updated version of Taming the Flood promises to be everybit as interesting and informative.

The programme will also include other updates on recent work in the Humberhead Levels.

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Mark Avery

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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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