Various again

I went out for a walk on 1 December – it’s one of the things I can do now I am self-employed.  There were fresh worm casts on the lawn and quite a lot of insects in the air – it hardly felt like December.  At my local patch of Stanwick Lakes there were golden plovers flying overhead – the species that means that the Nene Valley Wetlands are covered by the EU Birds Directive and which mean that my local walk is protected from being concreted over.

I enjoyed being part of Simon Barnes’s blog tour on Thursday – here are links to the other sites where his book was reviewed (here, here, here and here).  And remember that there is a readers’ offer for you to take up.

Another plug – I started reading my daughter’s blog because it was the right thing for a Dad to do, but now I read it because it’s very good.

See my blog tomorrow for a bit more on the Black Chancellor, Mr Osborne, but also on something that I am doing to stand up for nature – and you could perhaps help.

Farmers are a funny lot aren’t they?  I was really touched by the comment left by farmer ‘cowboy’ on Friday’s blog (thank you again) but on Twitter where you can find me as @MarkAvery I was accused of being anti-farmer.  When challenged to point out any anti-farmer remark in this blog the accuser scuttled away in silence.  Another (apparent) farmer on Twitter cleverly combined two wrong thoughts in 140 characters by saying that there were plenty of birds but they were being eaten by kites and buzzards.  And yet another farmer, as well as agriculture journalist Johann Tasker,  suggested we look to Africa for the causes of farmland bird declines before I pointed out that 16 of the 19 Farmland Bird Index species were UK residents.  Don’t expect much real ecological knowledge from the farming community – some know their birds but many do not (just like any other industry really).

Many thanks to Ian Coghill from the GWCT for his guest blog last week – it attracted lots of interesting comments. Anyone out there who would like to offer a guest blog?  I have some future slots in mind.

I notice that there are a few people buying Blogging for Nature as Christmas presents for their nearest and dearest – you cheapskates!  It costs under a tenner plus some P&P.  But I won’t tell them that their fantastic present was so cheap.  Blogging for Nature contains lots of articles written from May 2009 to April 2011 so it is still relevant to current events.  It gives you a unique insight into the conservation work of the RSPB through its Conservation Director (at the time).

Yesterday there was a red kite flying over my street – lovely gorgeous bird.

I signed a book contract this week – I’ll keep you posted but you should be able to purchase at the Bird Fair in August.

If you haven’t, then please do sign up to this epetition on vicarious liability. Will yours be the signature that takes it past 3000 on its way to 100,000? And please spread the word.

This blog had its most popular month yet – we only started in earnest in July – with 3768 unique visitors in November.  The most read blogs were about Robin Page, Peter Kendall and George Osborne – the perfect dinner party guests?


13 Replies to “Various again”

  1. I reckon its all to do with a total lack of connection and understanding of the natural world – strange as some of these people are allegedly farmers, but then if they are in the NFU their leader Peter Kendall worryingly doesn’t seem to have clue what’s on his farm either and doesn’t believe there is a biodiversity crisis on our farmland…well of course there isn’t because when he walks round he doesn’t see any biodiversity except the stuff he doesn’t like, Rabbits, corvids and Woodpigeons…there’s only these commensals left..and raptors of course…and believe it’s all down to education or more precisely the lack of it. Pound to a penny GO, DC, NC, CS, PK nor many, if any, of their colleagues could tell a Yellowhammer from Yellow Loosetrife. How can they make decisions about things they know absolutely nothing about, or at least very little. What’s needed is a return to the nature table in Primary schools backed up by proper natural natural history lessons in the curriculum right through to GCSE, rather than a mini-beast hunt here and there and a ‘habitats’ session covering no more than a couple of day’s work in four or more years schooling and then nothing in the teenage years. Then maybe the planners, developers, council officials, brickies, postmen, hairdressers, TV celebrities might actually have some inkling of what is around them and how it fits together and importantly how they fit into IT.
    Just a thought but no idea how it may come about.

  2. Thanks for your continued support for our e-petition Mark, over 3,000 now but still much to do.
    Robin Page and george Osborne not my chosen dinner guests, don’t think they would make the strater let alone dessert.

  3. It’s a funny thing, Mark, but conservationists aren’t always as keen as they should be on the ‘opposition’ knowing about birds and can get quite ratty when someone who should be listening to them carefully & doing what they say ventures an expert alternative view – its not just me – you’ll remmber very well how many of your conservation colleagues (not you, of course !) were quite put out to be picked up by a Minister (Elliot Morley) who often knew more than they did. And I’m convinced that some of the strangely antagonistic reaction to the Forestry Commission from several conservation bodies including NT, RSPB & Woodland Trust even following the Governmment’s climbdown have to do with FC simply being too good – it did, after all, achieve the highest score (99%) for SSSIs of any organisation including the conservation bodies. I don’t think its a very positive way to treat people who have ‘come over’ to the conservation side – quite apart from risking getting into arguments you might not win ! Surely FC actually looks a lot like we would all want to see the whole of the land use sector, including our friends in the NFU ?

  4. Strangely Mark although I think differently your way of writing probably make farmers think you are anti-farmer and my opinion is you do it deliberately.Think you get a buzz out of writing provocatively.I particularly liked the bit about farmers not having much ecological knowledge which probably upset us then quickly followed by like any other industry really.Think that is a bit of exageration as being in the countryside they are probably bound to know more about it but arfter all you should really only expect farmers to know about farming just like you only expect other industries to know their particular knowledge.

  5. The challenge is what will make farmers sing to your tune?
    Answer – being convinced they like the tune and that the tune is not too difficult to sing.
    Currently, it is a tune they do not know; they are continually berated for not knowing the tune and noone will take the trouble to teach them this new tune and convince them that it is a good tune worth singing. What is more until now they knew this new tune was around, but they thought it was very difficult to learn.
    Until they learn the tune, nothing will improve. The Choirmaster must make the effort to teach them. Will he take the trouble or not?

    1. Birdseye – but who is the Choirmaster? And the ‘voice of farming’, the NFU, and it is an elected voice remember, chooses to sing a completely different tune (there is no biodiversity crisis). I don’t like painting farmers as victims – the ones I know are a varied bunch but they aren’t living out of touch from the world, they have brains and often quite sharp ones. Farmers can think for themselves and need to take some responsibility for their industry – and that’s one of the most anti-farmer things I have ever written!

  6. The problem with farmers is that everyone is different, everyone is a businessman trying to get by. Mark your blog is great as it challenges some of my thoughts and that is the part of the fun in life – like arguing with the Mail. I do find myself increasingly agreeing with you. Fundamentally if the public is paying us to look after wildlife then that is contract we must honour.

    I do have sympathy for many farmers who earn very little from their land and if we want the rich landscape we all enjoy then we need to continue to support them. Conservationists and farmers can work together – however there will always be those that can’t find the middle ground – on both sides.

    Keep up the good work – lets hope December is a bit more cheery than last month. I fed up of being depressed.

    1. Cowboy – thank you again. I, too, have sympathy for those farmers who are having a tough time in the uplands, tenant farmers, in the dairy industry and a lot of small farmers of all sorts. They are the ones, particularly if they are towards the widlife-friendly end of the spectrum, to which i want my taxes to go. But I’m not so keen on my money going to barley barons, large land-owners and those who show no environmental sympathy at all. And you and the other farmers (and ex-farmers, Dennis) who post comments on this blog will influence my thoughts and words too – so please keep commenting.

  7. I think that may be you are not anti farmers but you are certainly trying to make money on the back of them. Majority of farmers work very hard and care for the enviroment within the legal constraints that are getting more difficult daily. Forget Peter Kendall and the NFU and your petty squabbling. I am proud of British agriculture and how we have worked hard to deliver enviromental targets that we have been set. Grow up and start promoting how you can help us by buying local british food. then maybe we can all do our bit to improve things further.

    1. Farmer murphy -welcome and thank you. But I don’t see how I am trying to make money on the back of farmers. Could you explain please? Tell us which environmental targets you have met please? You haven’t actually delivered very well on farmland birds – a target that this government abolished as soon as it came into office – but I tend to blame government and the NFU for that, not individual farmers.

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