Many bits and pieces

Last week this blog passed its 2000th comment – which seems pretty good going.  I am pleased to see that regular commenter Dennis Ames provided that 2000th comment alongside 137 others over the months.  I do enjoy seeing all your comments- whether I agree with them or not – do keep them coming please.

I haven’t mentioned the January issue of Birdwatch yet, and it won’t be long until the February issue is out in the shops.  My January column is about lead ammunition. Rather topically Birdwatch selects red-throated diver as the bird of the month and mentions that the Outer Thames Estuary holds 40% of the UK wintering population – not a good place to put an airport then?

I’m drawn to entering the The Rialto/RSPB poetry competition – how about you?

The stats I get for my website tell me where readers are located across the world – not surprisingly the vast majority are from the UK with most of the rest of the EU next, and the USA providing most of the other page views .  But over the months most of the rest of the world has dipped in to this blog with Africa and the ‘stans’ being the main gaps on the map.  I don’t pore over the figures but I have sometimes wondered what the occasional reader in say, Chile, Mozambique or South Korea gets from reading about red kites, George Osborne or Duke of Burgundy butterflies.  And I have wondered whether i am really looking at a map of where the UK readers of this blog travel.  Evidence to support that came from the following message this week: ‘I have just emerged from a swamp in Cambodia where I’ve been holed up for the last 3 weeks. I arrived in town this morning and went to the nearest internet cafe to catch up with news. Your blog was the 5th site on my list of ‘must read’.

The National Trust is marking the centenary of the death of their founder Octavia Hill with a range of awards for those who help the natural environment – closing date for nominations is the end of January.

Remember that next weekend it is not only the last racing at Cheltenham before the Festival but also the Big Garden Birdwatch. It’s been so mild that my garden hasn’t been crowded with birds although the goldfinch numbers are quite good on the feeders and we seem to be getting more and more chaffinches too.  But someone told me this week that they have a resident blackcap this winter which reminded me that although I hardly ever normally spot a blackcap in my garden they must be there because I do often see them on BGBW day! See what you can see – and maybe make sure your feeders are filled up this weekend because that feels less like cheating than putting out lots of food specially next weekend.

I’m not on target for seeing red kites on 200 days this year at the moment.  After three weeks I am only on eight sightings – just under three a week whereas I need almost four a week.  But when I do see them I am sticking to my New Year’s Resolution of spending a minute enjoying their beauty – they are marvellous.

I found this comment on Big Society interesting – particularly the take it has on charities in times of austerity.  The point is rather exaggerated perhaps (in fact, it is!), but the danger that charities become closer to government for financial reasons in times of austerity is clearly a danger. It’s a danger particularly if that government at the same time becomes more openly anti-environmental and wildlife needs NGOs to speak out on its behalf.  It’s a danger that our NGOs must avoid.

This looks like quite an interesting conference.

Peter Kendall is standing unopposed as NFU President for a fourth consecutive term but there are a range of candidates for other positions. How high will the environment feature in their campaigns I wonder? And ‘for’ or ‘against’? And does the electorate care?

Do, please, publicise this epetition on vicarious liability.

I had to check some things about forestry a little while ago and found the answers I needed in the book which I wrote with Roderick Leslie years ago but which has been re-published recently.  We, the authors, get our tiny royalty checks for Birds and Forestry in the spring, so how about making a contribution by buying?!

And I thought I’d end with some other comments from that reader in Cambodia that put a smile on my face: ‘Just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog. Many of the subjects you cover are beyond my area of expertise (and in some cases, my interests), but the way you present the material and the clarity of your writing/arguments, draws me in.’.  If that’s the case for some of the rest of you, then I am very content.

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3 Replies to “Many bits and pieces”

  1. Yes Mark,that reader from Cambodia put it much better than I can but you can be sure I feel exactly the same way and feel privileged to have by chance posted the 2,000th comment.
    One of your previous comments on blog keeps coming back in my head,where you said what a pity those wildlife friendly farmers do not publicise what many of them are doing which I am in complete agreement with.Can only think that after a long working day and say they have hobby's plus of course may well have family's that deserve time there perhaps is not the time or energy.
    Maybe we just need to be grateful that we seem to be getting more of them all the time more interested in improving wildlife.
    Always wonder how you manage to fit everything in and conclude you must be very good organiser besides all the other other talents.

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  2. Interesting to think about what defines a charity. I have long thought that it is giving from a willing and supportive public for good causes. Government money is not charitable and quite rightly is not given without strings. Once "charities" become over reliant on Government funding what makes them different from a contractor - Doing a good job probably, but not really a charity?

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  3. Ah, penny never dropped that Roderick Leslie was co-author of Birds and Forestry. I very much enjoy reading his comments and certainly gives me a lot of food for thought. Other books I've been reading of late have made points about forestry and birds which your book probably (hopefully) goes into more detail on. I think I shall put it on my list of better-get-round-to-reading-sometime.

    I'm also concerned over the cosying up of NGOs to a government that is anti-environment and in turn using them as instruments to offload central government responsibilities to them while effectively gagging them with threat of funding cuts for work that should be a broader partnership with NGOs and the state.

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