One for the #sodden570

Derwent Dam Overflows

The Derwent Dam overflows as Storm Doris smashes into the Derbyshire Peak District.Derbyshire Times Derby Telegraph Peak District National Park Visit Peak District Severn Trent

Posted by Midlands News & Stunning Views on Thursday, February 23, 2017


Wow! Though this looks wetter really!

Photo: Guy Shorrock

Photo: Jim Nettle

Photo: Nick Brown

And this looks drier!


Socio-economics of grouse shooting

A masters student at Harper Adams is investigating the socio-economics of grouse shooting with an online survey that appears to be open to anyone but seems to be mostly circulated among gamekeepers on Facebook!

Call me cynical if you like, but I just wonder whether this might emerge at some future date as ‘a detailed authoritative study by Harpers Adams college’ in the same way that apparently the BTO surveyed grouse moor and found them stuffed full of waders (they didn’t! See here and here).

I’m sure your views would be welcome. It’s a pity that there isn’t anywhere to comment on the wider economic costs of grouse shooting such as increased water treatment costs, carbon emissions etc which dwarf the spend in local communities but you will find a place to say whether you believe that grouse moor management increases flood risk.

Patchwork of upland heather moorland on grouse shooting estate, northern Scotland, northern Scotland



Caring Tories

The Countryside Alliance seems to think that it owns the Conservative Party – I’ve sometimes wondered the same.

The Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation has issued a manifesto for the future which calls for ‘an inquiry into commercial driven shoots’ and calls for ‘a review of the industry of shooting live birds for sport shooting’.  I wonder whether those phrases would have been used if it weren’t for the petition to ban driven grouse shooting which received 123,077 signatures last year (other, failed, petitions have been available see here, here, here).  Things don’t move backwards very easily – we moved things forward on the issue of unsustainable intensive grouse shooting.

I think I might draw the attention of my Conservative MP to this group and see whether he might want to look into getting involved in it – you might want to do the same. And if your MP happened to be Roger Gale (Thanet North; 194 signatures to ban driven grouse shooting, just 10 signatures to protect it), Henry Smith (Crawley: 147 signatures to ban driven grouse shooting, just 6 to protect it) or David Amess (Southend West: 152 signatures to ban driven grouse shooting, just 9 to protect it) then you might want to thank them for already being involved.

Liam Stokes (Jokesy Stokesy to his friends) called for a purge of caring Tories from the Conservative Party, or words to that effect!



Heroes and villains

By I, Paleixmart, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The RSPB is celebrating the success of its long term Stone Curlew recovery project at the moment. And so it should, as the Stone Curlew was heading for extinction in the UK before the RSPB got involved. The recovery of this bird, which will always remain localised in its distribution because it is quite fussy about life, is a great example of the RSPB’s almost unique approach to nature conservation involving excellent research, practical work on the ground through nature reserves and working with a wide range of other landowners, and policy work which makes it easier for wildlife-friendly actions to be taken by others whose primary aim in not nature conservation.

Yesterday the RSPB gave a Guest Blog to Gerald Gray, the head gamekeeper of a large estate in the Breckland area.  This estate has worked with the RSPB for a good many years, I’ve been there many times myself, and has played a full part in Stone Curlew recovery.

But the world is a funny place isn’t it? This week the RSPB praises a gamekeeper employed by the van Cutsem family in Norfolk whereas nine months ago the RSPB and police were investigating the setting of poletraps by a gamekeeper employed by the van Cutsem family in Yorkshire. That investigation led to the gamekeeper being cautioned by police (a bungled handling of the case), masses of publicity, the termination of the gamekeeper’s employment as a gamekeeper (I wonder what he is doing now?) and the resignation of van Cutsem from the Moorland Association.

Is the RSPB cleverly demonstrating that you can’t tar all gamekeepers with the same brush (as you surely can’t) or demonstrating that the RSPB’s ability to forgive an influential landowner knows no bounds? Is the RSPB’s choice of Gerald Gray as a hero merited because of many, many years of effective collaboration on an important conservation issue or should a letter have been sent to Gray’s employer saying ‘if only there hadn’t been that ‘unfortunate incident’ last year…’?  I’ve heard all of those views expressed and I find it difficult to know on which side I would come down myself today, or would have come down many years ago when I might have had a say in it.  What do you think?

I’ve also heard people suggesting that the RSPB’s left hand didn’t know what its right hand was doing (I think that unlikely), that the RSPB should go back to the wisdom of Shania Twain (always a good place to go, see here and here) and that RSPB has been taking PR lessons from Scottish Mountaineering (the two cases are quite different). What do you think?



Champions of the Flyway

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