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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reintroductions 2

As an addition to yesterdays blog I notice that Defra have added the Wild Boar to the list of 63 non-native species which should not be introduced into the wild due to the threat they pose to indigenous animals.

Curiuosly campaigners have argued that the boar should live in the wild as it was a native species before becoming extinct about 700 years ago.

Defra has added the animals to the list (under the Wildlife and Countryside Act) and say that the boar had the

ability to cause damage to the environment, economy and public health.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reintroductions and things

I had an interesting discussion on Twitter last night with the RSPB's conservation director Dr Mark Avery last night. The topic wasn't his interesting blog but my growing worry at the direction that organisations like the RSPB and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) are taking.

For example I find myself a little repulsed by the Ruddy Duck cull. I understand why some feel the need to protect the White Headed Duck but I wonder how much of a threat UK Ruddies are compared to hunters in Spain and anyway how much damage does the cull do to other species of duck. If you read Lee Evan's blog on one of the culls you have to question whether this is anyones real interests. It doesn't go well when you see captive Ruddies breeding at Slimbridge and Barnes, security isn't that tight! If you want to have a collection then do it with birds where there is a breeding need. eg. the Nene Goose

To my mind the RSPB "SEEMS" to have become obsessed with high profile birds Sea Eagles, Red Kites and Bitterns - ooh look lets plant another 15 billion acres of reed bed.

Personally I'd rather they concentrated less on reintroductions and spent more on acquiring green spaces in urban areas. I'd imagine more people have been turned on to nature by watching a Blue Tit on a feeder, seeing ducks on the local pond and watching the much maligned Grey Squirrel than will do so by Sea Eagles in Suffolk - hypocrisy alert I'd go to see them!

To be fair Dr Avery responded with a long list of things the RSPB are doing and many of them I heartily applaud.

At least the RSPB are taking positive action at Titchwell and unlike Norfolk Wildlife Trust didn't spend money on a new visitors centre instead of protecting the reserve.

The WWT have spent a fortune at Welney but my visit this summer had me turning to a volunteer asking where all the birds had gone. I didn't see a single Common Tern and all the islands were grassed over and covered in Black Headed Gulls. The volunteer was equally frustrated since we can both remember it in days pre the new visitors centre when there was a diverse range of birds there. I'll pop along in January to see the Swans but I doubt I'll bother for the rest of the year.

Personally I don't really want to see reintroductions, I want to see the right habitat preserved/created and let nature do its thing. I will of course support a reintroduction on a species that is threatened (but I'm tempted to support Chris Packham's view on Giant Panda's) but I don't see the point of doing so when the species is doing well 23 miles across the channel and is "just" threaten in the UK.

Where I really do applaud the RSPB is with regard a species like the Osprey it turned up and the RSPB and its volunteers did a wonderful job giving the bird a fighting chance up at Loch Garten.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Who turned out the lights?

After the beautiful sunny day yesterday today is grey and wet. Cold is ok if it's dry and sunny not when it's grey and damp!!

A brief trip to Amwell. Saw a big flock of Siskins (I couldn't find a Redpoll amongst them) sorry no pics they were at the top of the trees


lots of Great Crested Grebes on the lake.


All the usual ducks about and some Lapwings.

Off to the feeding station and they had JUST filled the feeders and there were no birds about and then suddenly this little beauty appeared.







From the viewing platform I was well chuffed to see a male Smew.

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's icy out there

I've been over to the forest this morning. I know it was cold but the lake was frozen!




Ah the Christmas Robin!








The highlight of my walk was a tit flock with a Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Goldcrest and a pair of Great Spotted Woodies. I also saw a Green Woody. No Fieldfare's or Redwings but I saw a Fieldfare as I came back off the M11.

Down to Fisher's Green feeding station for some birdies



















Sunday, December 27, 2009

And so that was Christmas

So the Turkey has been eaten and I'm back home. My laptop is uhm Knackered - that's the technical term. I've resisted the urge to buy a new one in the sales and I'm using the little netbook!

I've read a few books, watched a bit of telly (it was mostly rubbish)

I did go for a few local walks near dads so have a few pics.

I've kicked a ball on that field a few times!



The last of the ice. like a flipping skating rink!


The brook.




St Mary's Church, Great Parndon


I'm not sure GlaxoSmithkline provides a scenic view!








Another field I've played on! Years ago (during the war) there was a big house at the back where Dad lived when they left London.




Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas Everyone

And it's the annual Quacky Christmas concert.

Let's start with The Sixteen singing Allegri's Misere.



Winchester Cathedral - Gabriel's Message



King's College Choir singing - the chapel is AMAZING by the way

O Come All Ye Faithful



The First Noel



God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen



The Sussex Carol



and one of the great Christmas movies



anyway hope you have a very Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Less is More!?

I recently read an article by a chap whose garden is full of feeders. This same person who has a friend in a London Tower Block ...

...the only greenery is a plane tree on the other side of the road. By regularly putting out food she has managed to support a few birds, including a robin. I may get more birds in 10 minutes than she gets in a day but she might well get more pleasure..


and I think that may be true, you can get a bit blase when you are surrounded by birds and take them a bit for grounded. Perhaps that is why birders are often more excited by a patch tick than something rarer elsewhere.

Anyway

A Cardiff University study has shown that artificial light affects the amount of food consumed by European robins, this was compared with the amount of food consumed by birds in natural light.

The study showed that artificially lit birds have different activity schedules to those in natural conditions and have the ability to regulate their body masses differently.

Alexandra Pollard a researcher at the Cardiff School of Biosciences (who undertook the research) said:

We have found that robins under artificial lighting conditions begin their daily activity far earlier than when under natural unlit conditions.

However, even though they are active for longer and have food available overnight, they lose a similar amount of body mass to unlit robins - something we did not expect to find.

We thought that if food was freely available the robins would consume as much as possible, to maximise their energy reserves, but they gradually consumed their freely available food over their longer activity period than those under natural conditions.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Christmas Tradition

One of the traditions of Christmas is the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from the Chapel of King's College Cambridge, this is broadcast live on Radio 4 at 3pm. Earlier in the month another carol service, Carols from King's, is recorded for television earlier in December and broadcast by BBC2 on Christmas Eve.

Normally overseas readers wouldn't be able to share in this BUT the BBC World Service will be broadcasting the Nine Lessons and Carols at 3pm GMT on December 24th. You should be able to listen to it on the internet (use previous link and click the listen live button) but you can check your cable provider here.

The carols and readings vary from year to year with the exception I'll guarantee this will be the first carol.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oscar the dog comes back from his travels.

I heard about this on Radio 4 yesterday.

Oscar and his owner, Joanne Lefson, have just returned from the World Woof Tour.

The duo left Cape Town 8 months ago and started their journey in Botswana and in total visited 33 countries and covered 79,038km.

The tour was to raise international awareness about the joys of adopting and owning shelter dogs. It also highlighted the importance of animal sterilisation.

The journey was filmed and a documentary is being produced in Los Angeles telling the story from Oscar's perspective. There will also be a book.

To find outmore about Oscar.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Its Snowing AGAIN

I left home this morning wondering what the roads would be like, especially as I was using B roads, but they were nice and clear.

As I left work this evening there was rain in the air but as I moved up the M11 the rain turned to snow which got heavier. The drive was white when I arrived and when I looked out a minute a go the tracks I made had been covered.

Ye gods what would I be like if I lived in Canada!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What i've been reading.

Woke to find it had snowed again overnight. I do feel a bit of a wimp moaning about it when poor OC gets inches and inches of it for months on end!

My trip to London meant that I didn't need to leave so early, as a consequence I saw saw some repeats of a TV series madde in 1987 called The Charmer starring Nigel Havers.

For those of you who don't know the series is set in the 1930's, Havers plays Ralph Gorse a young conman who sets out to seduce widow Joan Plumleigh-Bruce of her money. Gorse enters her bed and takes her money and then runs off. Her would be beau, Donald Stimson, swears revenge and sets out to track Gorse down and see justiced. It's a good watch.

I noticed that the series was based on a book called Mr Stimson and Mr Gorse by Patrick Hamilton. I've never heard of Hamilton (he wrote a play called the Rope on which the Hitchcock film is based) but I noticed that the novel was the middle of a trilogy and I was intrigued as that would indicate the book was very different to the series. As i was ordering some stuff of Amazon and I could get the trilogy for under £7 I ordered it.

The trilogy gets decent reviews on Amazon even if at the time reviews were mixed. The first book The West pier sees Gorse just having left school, he is a nasty amoral piece of work and we see him charming pretty working class Esther and then running off with her life savings.

I hopped straight on to Mr Stimson and Mr Gorse. The TV programme is quite different to the book, the book is set in 1928 for a start and only the first episode or two bear much similarity to the book and even this is strange.

Yes Gorse sets out to "seduce" the older Mrs Plumleigh-Bruce but in the TV programme it is a sexual seduction in the book it is not - perhaps a reflection on the TV seriees being 1980's and the book 1950's? None of the characters are very nice (and I felt no sympathy for Plumleigh-Bruce as she was left short of £500) but Hamilton is a good enough writer that this isn't that important. A good editor would have cut 10-20 pages which is irrelevant but this is still a nice examination of the middle class in the 1920's.

Both these books are short approx 250 pages and I enjoyed both. The third is a novella and supposedly inferior stuff but I'll still read it.

This was a totally different type of book to what I normally read and I'll definitely check out his earlier stuff.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Emperor's new Clothes

I really should be outside taking photos shouldn't I ? But it's icey and flipping freezing cold so I'm going to have a very lazy day instead.

The sixties gets a good press... The Beatles, the mini-skirt, The Rolling Stones, Twiggy oh and we won the World Cup.

Interestingly I was watching a programme on telly yesterday which claims that the sixties was an awful decade.

It claimed a number of modern societies ills could be traced back. The architecture was naff with modernism leading to massive sky scrapers which broke down communities and destroyed spirit. We bought in to the have it now pay for it tomorrow culture. The sixties saw a break down of moral standards, the sixties saw the growth of satire but this was pointed satire but just an attack on anything and this led to todays totally cynical culture.

The sixties are claimed to have helped liberate women. Did they? Did the pill free women sexually? Don't get me wrong i have no objection to the pill and sex outside of marriage but without a moral compass ? Then I wonder.

People say if you remember the sixties you weren't there but I suspect most people never took part. The "sixties" took place to certain people in a few treny locations - at least here in the UK.

Were the sixties great? Probably no better or worse than any other. What makes people think they are great to me is just an over reaction to the austerity of the fifties.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A week early

Well it looks pretty. Can it please all go by Monday though please.