The diggers are in and have started stripping away topsoil at the Sanctuary Local Nature Reserve, whose destruction Derby City Council have approved. But the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has launched a legal challenge against this destruction. The Trust has told the Council that their planning decision is illegal and will be challenged under Judicial Review.
Meanwhile the petition against spending Lottery money on destroying a nature reserve has passed 1000 signatures. Sport England says that no Lottery funding goes into the scheme yet this appears to be at variance with what they told local wildlife campaigners in response to an EIR request in September 2013 when they wrote ‘ 1. Sport England is investing £3 million Lottery funds into the Velodrome (Arena) to meet local and regional needs for cycling and other sports. The outdoor circuit on the same site was part of the application we approved. 2. The application Sport England approved included the construction of an outdoor track adjacent to the Velodrome (Arena) 3. The application we approved included the construction of the outdoor track on the site. Ultimately siting of the track is a matter for the Local Authority, as is the planning application for this facility.‘. That seems to show that Lottery money is being spent on this one project which does involve destroying a nature reserve. Sign the petition here to keep up the pressure.
Simon Barnes writes a good piece on this in today’s Times and compares the destruction of nature by the green sport of cycling as like a ‘cyclist running a red light’.
A range of organisations oppose this wildlife destruction, including: Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Derbyshire Ornithological Society, Derbyshire Natural History Society, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Entomological Society, Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group, Derbyshire Bat Group and Derbyshire Mammal Group.
Wasn’t that Yellow-rumped Warbler, during Big Garden Birdwatch, in Durham amazing? It takes me back to Rock Creek Park in Washington where I saw lots of these and other US warblers in spring 2011. But it also reminds me that I haven’t seen a Blackcap in my garden all winter.
To donate to the elephant appeal click on spaceforgiants.org/elephantappeal
To raise a voice for raptor protection then sign this e-petition which yesterday passed 9000 signatures. Might it just get to 10000 signatures – thus triggering a response from Defra – by 10:36 on 27 February? If you haven’t signed, then please do. If you have birding friends who care about birds of prey, then please ask them to sign too. If your bird club is meeting in the next 10 days then please spread the word there too!
No, raptor persecution isn’t as important as climate change, or flooding, or even, to my mind, farmland bird declines – but it is a problem which has been with us too long and which, in a civilised society, we should end as quickly as possible. It’s a bit like burglary – it’s not as important as rape or murder but that doesn’t mean we should let people get away with it.
Here are some reasons why those involved in raptor persecution should be sleeping less easily;
- the media are more sensitive than ever before about illegal persecution of birds of prey - see the Channel 4 News piece linking Royal pleas for elephants not to be killed illegally to Royal silence on the illegal killing of birds of prey. There will be more of this type of thing and it will build public support and outrage on this subject.
- the sentencing of a gamekeeper, Ryan Waite (aged 25 – we are always told that the younger generation of ‘keepers is much more enlightened…), from the Swinton Estate yesterday for setting a pole trap. See here for an RSPB blog and here for the video footage. Every time a criminal gets caught it worries the others. Well done RSPB Investigations Team (and LACS)!
- the Tories came third in the Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election and there is a slim chance that the party most keen on shooting will be returned to power at the next UK general election. Whoever replaces them (even if the rather hopeless LibDems are involved again) is unlikely to be as naturally accommodating to game-shooting interests (which, as we know, are the source of most illegal activity against birds of prey) as the Conservatives. One might even hope that a Labour government might do something about it!
- a new pressure group, Birders Against Wildlife Crime, has been set up. I wish them well. Twitter account @birdersagainst
- a majority of respondents voted for the banning of grouse shooting (in England) on my readers’ poll -indicating to me that moderate and tolerant people, yes, like me, are getting well and truly fed up with the blatant and widespread removal of protected birds of prey (hen harriers, Golden Eagles, Peregrines etc) from our uplands and are becoming more radical as a result.
- a peaceful protest around the 12 August is being planned (although planned might be too strong a word at the moment) by a small, but perfectly formed, group of people. See my April Birdwatch column (out in late March) for some more fragmentary details and how to sign up.
- the RSPB is being a bit more outspoken about this issue – see Martin Harper’s blog here and here – partly, I guess, because they see that there is some frustration directed at them.
- Parliamentarians have raptor persecution in their sights as never before.
- Scotland has already introduced vicarious liability and other places are likely to follow – that is how progress is made.
- I have a few other things up my sleeve – shhhh!
- Natural England will not be able to sit on the final locations of those satellite-tagged hen harriers for much longer – I wonder what the map of ‘last locations’ might look like?
- Scotland voted for the Golden Eagle as its favourite iconic animal – a great show of public support for raptors.
- John Armitage’s e-petition passed 9000 signatures today and just has a chance of getting to the 10,000 mark that will trigger a response from Defra. But even so, it is a fine effort. Please sign here and, if you have a friend, then ask them to sign too.
- It’s Valentine’s day – everyone loves a raptor don’t they?
- And, as pointed out to me by a reader’s comment, there is also the very positive NT Vision for the Peak District which moves away from burning and towards a more natural upland cover.
And it’s not a perfect storm – it’s an imperfect one – but let’s keep it blowing all through the year and for as long as it takes.
You think it should be…
… and even 45% of those who say they would be Tory voters if there were a general election tomorrow agree with a ban.
We must congratulate Princes Charles and William for speaking out against the illegal killing which is driving the African elephant closer to extinction.
Channel 4 (and the RSPB) made the point that there is plenty of illegal destruction of wildlife here at home too. Some of it in the part of Scotland where Prince William does a spot of grouse shooting (see here). Prince William had just returned from Spain, and some wild boar hunting, before speaking passionately about people killing elephants.
It’s always a bit odd when people’s actions and words don’t seem to give completely the same message. The Princes were accused of being hypocritical for speaking out against elephant poaching when they take part in grouse shooting. I think hypocritical is a bit strong – but they do seem a bit muddled on the subject don’t they? This could easily be cleared up if Prince William were, publicly, to condemn the illegal killing of wildlife here at home – perhaps mentioning Hen Harriers and Golden Eagles as examples and at the same time say that he is giving up shooting completely. No, it’s not going to happen, is it?
Why is it so difficult to imagine that the British Royal Family would condemn the illegal killing of protected UK wildlife and announce that they are no longer going to pursue fieldsports? How far away in time is that, do you think?
Our Royal Family is not the only one that has sent mixed messages on wildlife conservation and hunting – King Juan Carlos of Spain was removed as WWF-Spain’s President after an elephant-hunting trip to Africa.
Tomorrow morning I’ll tell you what readers of this blog think of the idea of banning grouse shooting. For all I know, any number of kings and princes may have contributed to the poll.
Four out of five respondents to the readers’ survey said that they would vote Labour rather than Conservative if the general election took place tomorrow. Don’t worry – it isn’t happening tomorrow. [Click here, here and here for other results from this survey]
There were over 600 of you who I will describe as ‘Labour’ from now on (even though you might actually abstain or vote something bizarre such as LibDem in real life) and 150 Tories. Are there any differences between these two groups?
Labour and Tory voters live in the same countries, are about the same age, visit this blog at the same time of day, are equally likely to follow @markavery on Twitter and are just as likely to buy one or more copies of A Message from Martha when it is published.
Two thirds of Labour voters responding to this survey are men, three quarters of Tory voters responding to this survey are men.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, Labour voters’ three favourite newspapers are Guardian, Independent and Times whereas Tory voters’ three favourite newspapers are The Telegraph, Times and Daily Mail. That is reassuringly what one might expect.
The Shooting Times and Field are, not surprisingly (?), more likely to be read by Tories whereas British Wildlife is (rather surprisingly – to me) read by a much higher proportion of Labour respondents to this survey than Tories.
BASC, GWCT the National Trust and Woodland Trust are slightly more favoured by Tory voters than are the other wildlife NGOs that are slightly more favoured by Labour voters.
There are more followers of fieldsports (twitching, shooting, fishing and wildfowling – and birdwatching) amongst Tory voters than Labour.
Tories are slightly more optimistic about the future of wildlife in 20 years time – but that doesn’t mean that they are optimistic.
Labour voters are very unimpressed by the environmental performance of the coalition government – Tories less damning but still surprisingly (?) damning.
Labour and Tory voters both say that the performance of the current government will influence how they would vote in a general election.
Tories are much more likely to think that there are too many wildlife NGOs than are Labour voters.
Tories are just a little less satisfied with the performance of wildlife NGOs.
Tomorrow – what you think about banning grouse shooting.
Readers of this blog are generally satisfied with the performance of wildlife NGOs – I think you are all just a little too generous.
However, although there is a clear majority who disagree with the idea that there are too many NGOs, a large minority – 43% of respondents – believe that we have too many wildlife NGOs.
Tomorrow – how do ‘Tory’ and ‘Labour’ readers of this blog differ in what they think?
It’s not that I don’t believe in gambling, but I take it seriously, which means I would never bet on a game of chance where the expected returns are 50p in the pound. Duhh!
And it’s not that I don’t believe in giving money to charity – it’s just that I would never donate to charity and know that only 28p in the pound of my money was getting to a charity.
But now I have found a third reason – the Lottery is funding Sport England, which is funding British Cycling who wants to wreck the Sanctuary Local Nature Reserve (see previous blogs here, here, here and here).
40% of Lottery funding goes to Health, Environment and Education causes and 20% goes to sports. You would have thought that the Lottery would ensure that one lot of funding didn’t destroy the interests of another of their chosen causes, wouldn’t you? You might think that the Lottery would think again if they heard that sports were destroying designated wildlife sites, wouldn’t you?
Well, that is the point of this petition (which I have signed) and I hope you will sign it too.
And John Armitage’s e-petition on licensing of grouse moors has passed 8800 signatures – sign here.
I’ve made it out a few times recently but I only got a little bit further than this at Stanwick Lakes the other day before the water was too deep for wellies.
It hasn’t felt much like spring to me, but some of the birds seem to believe it is. Great Tits are in full song (but they are nutters!) including one with a strange buzzy song – a single note which ends with a trill.
Reed Buntings and Chaffinches are singing these days – at least sometimes.
There are a lot of singing Song Thrushes – perhaps more than usual?
Cetti’s Warblers are sneezing and exploding in song in the reedbed and surrounding scrub.
One of the Oystercatchers is now shouting its head off even though all of the usual nest sites are a few feet under water.
A couple of Bramblings flew over on one of my recent visits (my first for 2014 and my 3rd-ever record here) and the large flocks of Lapwings and Golden Plovers show that it is still winter.
There are plenty of Goldeneye too, which shows that it is winter, but even on the coldest day the males are now throwing their heads back in display and it is only a couple of months until the females might be exploring nest holes in trees (or nestboxes) in northern Scotland or Scandinavia.
I heard a couple of strange bird calls. The first caught my attention coming from a thick hedgerow. There were Chaffinches, Goldfinches and a Greenfinch when the flock flew off, and the noise might have been made by one of them, but it might also have come from my first Redpoll of the year which I wouldn’t have seen had I not heard something different. It may well have been a strange Chaffinch call, and nothing to do with the Redpoll, but it led to me seeing one of my favourite finches.
The other call was a twittering song which sounded familiar but perplexed me momentarily as it was the first time I had heard it for months and it was in a part of my walk where I wouldn’t have expected it. When I realised what it was, a chill went through me that wasn’t caused by the wind. It was that evil bird, that nasty bird – the Linnet!. This one seemed to want to breed – so there might be even more of the little devils soon. It’s a thought that is scary enough to freeze the soul, even on a warm day (which this wasn’t).
I hope you haven’t had too many scary encounters with Linnets – how is your birding going? Signs of spring?