In amidst all that buzzard-bothering nonsense of the last couple of weeks an important restatement of the absolutely obvious was made: farmland birds have declined steeply and there is no obvious redemption in sight.
The most recent science on the subject was a report produced from national bird monitoring schemes across Europe, including the UK, by the European Bird Census Council. About 300 million birds have been lost from the European countryside (in just the countries contributing to this report) and the UK is reported to be one of the worst offenders.
In the Daily Telegraph the NFU’s Diane Mitchell seems to try to mudddy the waters by suggesting that declines of farmland birds on farmland may not be that much to do with farming. And anyway, it’s only the specialists that are declining – the skylarks, grey partridges, turtle doves, tree sparrows etc etc
Meanwhile, NFU President, the overwhelmingly re-elected farmers’ choice to be their mouthpiece, called for ‘super farms’ and a ‘complete rethink’ in the face of climate change and weather shocks.
I expect that the NFU’s preferred explanation for the loss of buntings is that the French have eaten them. It is certainly true, apparently, that President Mitterand’s last meal included eating an illegal ortolan buntings (or two – it is rumoured!). Imagine the dying French President breathing deeply, towel over his balding head, leaning over a bowl with ortolan in it – all the better to absorb the full aroma which adds to the flavour.