This could be a very useful list latest in the ‘You Forgot the Facts, Sir Ian’ campaign is reaching out to the farming community.

Farmers are being asked to sign up to an error-riddled anti-RSPB letter, and when 100 of them do, then their names will be published. I’ve always wanted a list of the 100 most ecologically illiterate and rabid farmers in the country and I can’t think of a better way of getting it than this.

Apparently the RSPB criticises farmers on a daily basis. Really? When did they do that yesterday then?

Buzzards are exploding all over the countryside (watch out for Buzzard shrapnel!) and have been seen eating small birds rather than their usual diet of nuts and berries. Presumably we should blame the Buzzard for the decline in the Turtle Dove, Tree Sparrow and Yellow Wagtail should we?

White-tailed Eagles make farming very difficult in some unnamed parts of Western Scotland, apparently. Although the tourist industry is thriving because of them.

By the way, Elmley is no longer an RSPB nature reserve.

This letter, that real farmers are being asked to sign, was produced after ‘a lot’ of conversations with farmers, and is so bad that it really does look like a comical pastiche of a Shooting Times editorial and a Songbird Survival press release. But, I do believe they are serious.

Let’s see 100 farmers put their name to this nonsense. Will we see the names of current and past NFU hierarchy? Peter Kendall will you sign? Meurig Raymond – how about you? Guy Smith – surely you will sign? How about past Presidents of the CLA then? I really can’t see the likes of Henry Aubrey-Fletcher or David Fursdon putting their names to this – but it would be awfully interesting if they did.  Maybe FWAG worthies will sign up? Philip Merricks, owner of the Elmley Marsh nature reserve and occasional contributor of comments to this blog – will he sign up to support this (bit difficult probably as Chair of the Hawk and Owl Trust when the letter is banging on about Buzzards)?  I’d have thought that the farming members of Songbird Survival would be more likely to sign up (Keith Cowieson seems to have gone a little quiet recently). How about Robert Middleditch perhaps?

Which of the country’s c60,000 (is that right?) farmers want to be seen to be the 100 on this list?

We can only speculate until the list of the maddest 100 farmers in the country (not shooters mind, these are farmers) is published.  It’ll be more interesting than the Sunday Times Rich List.  I’ll certainly be spreading the word on Twitter and Facebook.

At least this initiative claims that it will publish the first 100 farmers to sign up – if they can find any to do so. How about giving us an idea of who the first 100 shooters are who support this campaign too? Or even who has funded it?  Or maybe the ‘You Forgot the Facts, Sir Ian’ campaign could allow comments on their website to gauge public reaction to their views?



39 Replies to “This could be a very useful list”

  1. I would also like to see a list of those who ‘dislike’ your blogs, so that they might be given an opportunity to explain their motivations and influences.

    1. Mike – they don’t bother me. Especially whoever it is who dislikes everything that appears here quite quickly – you have to admire him (for it must be a him) for sticking to his task (even though it is a pointless one).

  2. It’s a month ago today that YFTB posted it’s first Sir Ian blog. I see their petition on ‘vote for bambi’ has roared away to 121 signatures! Perhaps they’ll publish all those names as well.

    1. I clicked on it hoping to get more information and was shocked to see it jump by vote, so at least one ‘signature’ was a mistake. Personally I think its great that the RSPB undertake deer management, The deer provides a very environmentally friendly source of meat (and tastes good). The RSPB undertake lethal control where needed, which is a good thing. YFTB seem to be angry because there no yelling about it from the rooftops.

      1. …and of course, the species that are controlled by the RSPB are also controlled by gamekeepers along with other predators and those being controlled illegally. A neat straw man argument if ever there was one. 😉

  3. In the paragraph of what I take to be your “dislike” organisations, starting with NFU, you include FWAG. I joined Suffolk FWAG years ago for advice. FWAG started here with a group of conservation minded farmers and is still going strong. To be fair it is not their core business but RSPB and Suffolk WT proffer advice then walk away and leave you with a mountain of forms, regs and choices to apply with. This is no problem for the large farms and contract farmers with back office staff but if you want small working farmers then they need help, which FWAG provides.
    Is FWAG in your area a more dis likable beast? I ask this because we were graced with the presence of Robin Page for this years farm conservation awards and he made some disparaging comments about FWAG membership elsewhere when he surveyed the assembled farmers. Who to their credit, when he ranted about the RSPB, went very still and embarrassed.
    Maybe he will be in the first 100 list.
    So what is to “dislike” about the FWAG type help with complying with the paper work, RSPB does the research but Suffolk FWAG helps smooth the way as well as offering advice.

    1. andrew – I don’t dislike FWAG at all. I rather like them. I don’t dislike the CLA either. I don’t really dislike the NFU under new management either. In fact, I like almost everyone.

      I just pondered on a few organisations that are clearly for farmers since YFTF,SI seems to want farmers’ support.

  4. The ‘You forgot about the birds’ campaign will soon implode on itself, it’s full of inaccuracies and full of biased & twisted facts & figures. The only positive is that they are almost making fools of themselves with all the rubbish they come up with, do they really thing the British public are that naive?

    1. As a shooter and Farmer the you forgot the birds campaign actually caused me to join the RSPB as I was embarrassed by the tosh that was supposedly coming from a section of the community that I consider myself part of.

      1. Peter – good for you! Of course, you might find a bit of tosh over here too – but much less I hope.

  5. Well it made you a blog for today so be thankful for that but cannot understand the hysteria unless lots of ordinary non shooting farmers sign.
    It must be a good laugh,most farmers could do with some fire lighting paper.

  6. Mark
    This is an excitement in the outfield when the batsman long gone. No sane fielder (farmer) would be bothered to pick up and return the ball from the long grass #wasteoftime

    Yours etc

  7. Buzzards normally eat nuts and berries? I bet that is not much consolation for earthworms and rabbits.

    Still you have to credit them because it is the kind of hand grenade arguments that are well familiar on Bird Forum. There is also an element of carpet bombing (apologies for the military analogies but they do work) by raising as many points as possible and waiting to see which ones are ignored or receive the least attention. It has now become a massive anti-conservation strategy and has been used on so many subjects that I doubt it will ever stop. The end result is that it is necessary to get just one person to believe just one or a few points. They will then launch their own focused attacks even though they become awfully exposed when they do not have Beefy’s backing (or is that anonymity). I once had it post-RSPB when talking to friends about ruddy ducks and realised they had been sold on just one point and even that was based on semantics. Reduced to this level it is easy to see that it is an attempt to indulge in ‘look over there’ politics much beloved of US senators and British MPs.

  8. Mark – Like you I was not over impressed with the YFTB letter and was not too pleased that Elmley was included in the text of the letter. Hence a few days ago I sent the email below :

    From: Philip Merricks
    Date: 19 November 2014 12:07:52 EET
    To: “”

    Dear YFTB

    I have been sent a link to your petition letter which makes a direct reference to our management at Elmley.

    Whilst I am pleased and proud to say that Elmley is the only National Nature Reserve in the UK that is both owned and managed by a farming family and that, as a result of our pragmatic farming and conservation management, Elmley now holds the largest concentration of breeding waders in lowland UK by us focussing management on chick productivity (ie fledging success). However I am not pleased that you have used Elmley in the way that you have in your circular letter. I believe that there are better ways to engage the enthusiasm, the energy and the expertise of farmers to benefit birds throughout the countryside.

    So can I please ask that you remove the direct reference to Elmley from the letter asap.


    Philip Merricks MBE
    Elmley NNR

    Mark – Very glad to hear that you “rather like FWAG”. I also took it from your reference in your blog to “FWAG worthies” signing up to the letter that you were having a pop at FWAG. My view (admittedly as a former FWAG chairman and trustee) is that no organisation has done more to influence farmers attitudes and actions in creating and managing better habitats for wildlife in the wider countryside.

    1. Philip – thank you. Very interesting. Well done for your email and thank you for sharing it here.

      No I wasn’t having a go at FWAG – that would be very foolish of me, married as I am, to a former FWAG advisor. I have always been a supporter of FWAG although sometimes I feel its success has been overstated.

    2. Good on you Philip – though I see that YFTBs still hasn’t got round to removing its reference to Elmley. Its a shame that this group chooses to attack the RSPB rather than help stem the illegality that is so tarnishing the shooting community.

  9. I was hoping for your views on the tosh that Countryfile put out last night. A balanced view of the Hen Harrier problem it was not, though it certainly was dressed up as such and could influence the viewing public. I don’t have your confidence that RSPB won’t suffer some serious damage from this many pronged onslaught and get the blame for not being willing to cooperate with ‘salt of the earth’ gamekeepers with union jacks on their caps and farmers trying to earn an honest shilling from their shoots…no, I ‘m not sure shoot was mentioned..from their grouse moors.

  10. “Keith Cowieson seems to have gone a little quiet recently”

    Mark, to be fair, I have been away in Spain for a bit recently, carrying out volunteer work at the Dehesa de Abajo nature reserve on the Coto Doñana – birding with a purpose and all that. However, in the past 2 months you must have missed my Comments on 11th November, 6th November, 4th November, twice on 7th October, 6th October, 29th & 30th September and on the 26th September.

    But actually, you didn’t miss my Comments on your deplorable 6th October blog inciting people to hate gamekeepers did you? You kept on digging a deeper and deeper hole for yourself on 7th October, until Emily (a student) and Phil (an RSPB Skydancer project volunteer) finally shamed you and the other anonymous internet bullies and trolls into silence. Is this post a prelude to inciting a farmer hate-fest?

    Anyway, to answer your associated Twitter question – no, I am not a farmer and I enjoy volunteering with the RSPB to protect Cornwall’s small, and happily expanding, Chough population and monitoring Cornwall’s small, and sadly dwindling, Corn Bunting population.

    1. Keith – I can’t miss your comments, I moderate them all. But you have gone quiet which is interesting.

      Although, if you are just going to be rude about a perfectly innocent blog which is about six weks old, then keeping quiet might well be the preferred option, thank you.

      1. “A perfectly innocent blog….”

        Let’s see…..

        “Gamekeepers – DON’T YOU JUST LOVE ‘EM? They are a profession – DID YOU KNOW? What would be the right collective noun for a group of gamekeepers? This started as a discussion on Twitter last week – SO HERE ARE SOME IDEAS TO GET YOUR IMAGINATIVE JUICES RUNNING:

         a ‘slaughter’ of gamekeepers
         a ‘dropped the ball’ of ‘keepers
         a ‘denial’ of gamekeepers
         a ‘profession of raptor haters’

        YOU MAY BE ABLE TO DO MUCH BETTER” (my emphasis).

        I guess it’s always embarrassing when you let the mask slip Mark, but at least it allows your readers to get a glimpse of the real man behind the blog.

        Negative stereotyping of any diverse group of people is always a loathsome activity, so a bit of advice, avoid inciting your anonymous, troll followers and others to speculate on an ‘amusing’ collective noun for any group of farmers who may just not happen to agree with your view of the world.

        In the meantime, what about those unanswered questions from 7th October?

        • Would you like to read those sort of ‘jocular’ Comments about your gamekeeper husband/wife or ‘Daddy/Mummy’ on-line?

        • Would you like your neighbours or school chums to read that sort of vitriol about your gamekeeper loved one?

        • Do you think that gamekeepers (and by extension their families) have the right not to be abused en-masse?

        • Do you think you have the responsibility not to encourage the unedifying behaviour that we witnessed on the night of 6th October on your blog?

        You find it interesting that I have been rather quiet recently? It’s not that interesting. The fact is that I was repulsed by that noxious blog, as were many other readers, and rather disgusted by your lack of contrition and failure to admit that you had got it badly wrong. Even now you are still in a state of denial ‘….a perfectly innocent blog……’ That and the fact that an apology to the gamekeeping community was clearly beyond you have made me a lot less inclined to spend much time visiting, let alone commenting, on this site.

        1. Keith – you do go on…

          The followers of this blog are a diverse group but you stereotype them as anonymous trolls. I see.

          I’m happy for anyone to read what I wrote.

          The original blog did not incite anyone to do anything except come up with a collective name for a group of gamekeepers. It certainly seems that readers of this blog think that the correct collective noun is more akin to ‘a murder of crows’ than ‘a charm of goldfinches’. You didn’t contribute anything at the time did you? An upstanding of gamekeepers?

          But to come back to the present, and the ‘You forgot the facts, Sir Ian’ call to farmers. Your own trustees are mostly farmers who appear to have a gripe with the RSPB aren’t they? Will SBS be the main recruiting ground for signatures for this ridiculous letter? What do you think of the letter?

          Your own organisation seems to think that the main cause of songbird declines is ‘predator and scavenger numbers’ being at ‘record levels’ and that this is ‘being ignored’. It’s hard to back that up from the evidence collected by the science, including science that your own organisation has funded.

          I see, according to your website, that your post is funded not by the 1700 members of Songbird Survival but largely through the generosity of Lord Vinson of Roddam Dene.,_Baron_Vinson

          The offer of a Guest Blog on the work of Songbird Survival is still open. Maybe you could tell us whether SBS would encourage farmers to sign up to this letter critical of the RSPB. Or maybe you could just set out your stall to the world? As Director of SBS, you seem strangely reticent to promote your own organisation.

          1. Mark – I’m surprised you give any airtime to Group Captain Cowieson and the guff perpetuated by the sham of an organisation he represents.

            As for the anti-RSPB farming letter, the inaccuracies in themselves show the gaping holes in their argument. It all seems rather desperate to me.

          2. I have to say, you do make me laugh – there I was sitting minding my own business yesterday when you started to rant and decided to name-check me – first you appear to be concerned that I’ve ‘gone rather quiet recently’, then you then you think ‘I do go on’……Make your mind up man!

            Reference your anonymous troll followers, they are the ones who hide their identities behind pseudonyms and indulge in trolling – I can’t be bothered to list all their pseudonyms, readers can see for themselves by reading some of the Comments incited by you on the Gamekeepers hate-fest blogs of 6th & 7th October.

            [A large chunk of text has been edited out by Mark because it is merely repeating some comments that Keith approves of – all the comments are still on the original blog]

            Those who don’t feel the need to hide their identities tend to be more circumspect and less inclined to troll. Some of their Comments are worth heeding.

            What do I think about the letter? Not much really.

            Meanwhile, it’s a small world isn’t it, there were you attending the North West Birdwatching Fair at Martin Mere Wildfowl Reserve last week – a reserve funded through the generosity of its founder donor in 1972, one Lord Vinson – and extolling the virtues of the reserve and its birds today. This is of course the same Lord Vinson who also funded the SongBird Survival Director post. As Director of SongBird Survival (SBS) I regularly set our stall and promote the charity – at times and places of our choosing – and I shall be doing so again in a talk tonight.

            Your mercurial utterances, sometimes reflective and engaging (such as your Stanwick Lake piece yesterday), but all too often lashing out and attempting to intimidate those who have the temerity to disagree with you (such as your Gamekeeper ‘hate-fest’ blog on 6th October), and above:

            • “I’ve always wanted a list of the 100 most ecologically illiterate and rabid farmers in the country”
            • “We can only speculate until the list of the maddest 100 farmers in the country is published…….I’ll certainly be spreading the word on Twitter and Facebook”.

            make it most unlikely that I would consider promoting the charity on this site in the near future.

            So anyway, what about those unanswered questions from 7th October?

            • Would you like to read those sort of ‘jocular’ Comments about your gamekeeper husband/wife or ‘Daddy/Mummy’ on-line?

            • Would you like your neighbours or school chums to read that sort of vitriol about your gamekeeper loved one?

            • Do you think that gamekeepers (and by extension their families) have the right not to be abused en-masse?

            • Do you think you have the responsibility not to encourage the unedifying behaviour that we witnessed on the night of 6th October on your blog?

          3. Keith – well it’s either silence or pages and pages from you isn’t it? That’s the trouble with you extremists! (Please take that as a friendly dig rather than a hate fest).

            I answered all your questions with: ‘I’m happy for anyone to read what I wrote.’ because I am.

            Some of the comments made were certainly robust then so have the last three of yours been – and yours have been personally aimed at me. I’m just pointing that out rather than complaining. I haven’t edited yours (except above to remove a long list of repetition of text still here on this blog, and I didn’t feel I needed to edit anybody else’s either.

            Your response to the question of what you think of the letter that is the subject of this blog post was a non-committal ‘Not much really’ before returning to your personal attack on me. I’m not complaining about the attack, just pointing it out. But I am complaining that you, the Director of a ‘wildlife’ charity cannot, it seems, express a clear opinion when asked a question, so try this one: would you recommend to Song Bird Survival farmer members that they sign or don’t sign the YFTB’s letter?

          4. Brilliant Mark, first you incite a ‘hate-fest’ (to coin the RSPB Skydancer Project volunteer’s apt and pithy phrase) next indulge in a spot of distraction behaviour when there is a backlash, then lapse into denial before finally embarking on a burst of censorship. But I do understand the reason for the latter – the critical Comments you deleted don’t cast you and the trolls in a great or flattering light do they? And they do appear to have gathered a pretty overwhelming amount of support from other readers don’t they?

            Anyway, on the letter, and as a non-farmer, I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to recommend how any farmer responds. In my experience, British farmers have sufficient innate common sense, in spades, to analyse the letter for themselves, and to make their own individual decisions as to whether or not to endorse the letter.

            And a question for you in return – I’m curious – what is the intention behind your statement “….I’ll certainly be spreading the word on Twitter and Facebook.” Is it some sort of veiled threat intended to intimidate any farmer who is contemplating endorsing the document?

          5. Keith – you obviously want to say ‘hate fest’ as often as possible. The blog I wrote was no such thing and the comments made on it were less hateful then the comments you keep making here. You need to move on.

            In case anyone thinks from your comment that I deleted other comments – I didn’t. I edited your previous comment so that it was very long rather than very very long and I edited out your selective repetition of some comments that are still on this blog for all to see. Don’t get huffy with me about it.

            You are indeed curious. If you look on Twitter and Facebook you will find that I have brought the possibility of signing this ridiculous letter to the attention of the NFU, CLA, LEAF and others – just doing my bit to make sure that any farmer using social media gets the chance to sign up. I wonder who will. That is what this post was about after all.

            You again avoid giving any comment on whether you’d recommend that farmers sign up. Let me just speculate on why. Is it that you cannot bring yourself to endorse something which is so ridiculous but you cannot bring yourself to criticise it either because… well there you’ll have to help us out by telling us Keith. It’s not a very difficult question really is it?

          6. “…just doing my bit to make sure that any farmer using social media gets the chance to sign up”

            Love it – that would actually be quite funny if it wasn’t for the hectoring undertones,

            • “I’ve always wanted a list of the 100 most ecologically illiterate and rabid farmers in the country!

            • “We can only speculate until the list of the maddest 100 farmers in the country is published…..I’ll certainly be spreading the word on Twitter and Facebook”

            Don’t know why you’re in any doubt about my views, so here they are again – I don’t think much of the letter and as a non-farmer I have no intention of recommending anything to the target audience of real farmers out there. They are in a far better, more informed position to judge how to respond.

        2. “you forgot to say ‘hate fest’ ”

          Apologies, from my original Comment – “Is this post a prelude to inciting a farmer hate-fest?”

          There you go.

  11. I really don’t believe they have had a lot of conversations with farmers and are now clutching at straws to widen the appeal of this pathetic campaign – who next, a letter signed by convicted egg collectors that don’t like the RSPB? I think the YFTB loons have made this letter portray the farming community as stupid and I can’t see many wanting to put their names to it. My dog could have written a better letter and fronted a more convincing campaign.

    Having previously worked as an agricultural adviser for the RSPB for a number of years I can assure you that the vast number of estates and farmers we worked with don’t share these illogical views. Well done to Philip for distancing himself with this pathetic drivel. I personally find Ian Botham, Martyn Howat and the tiny minority of other turds hidden under this campaigns stone offensive, contradictory, unintelligent, delusional and desperate. They are doing more harm to the shooting industry in the eyes of the greater public than good, yet they don’t have the brains between them to realise this.

  12. I tried to send YFTB an idea, a constructive one, honest, but it mysteriously does not send…

    I’ll suggest it here instead, in case they’re reading the comments here:

    Why not have an open comments section on your blog entries?

    If your views are as widespread as you imply, it would be quickly seen in the responses to the things you post.

    Preventing comments, it’s almost as if you’re afraid of what people might say…


  13. Was anyone else bemused by their use of a Carolina Wren image on the ‘Friday’ page?

    This is what we’re dealing with, ladies and gentlemen…

  14. No I don’t think so, it’s not been widely pushed in the farming media. The RSPB is actually quite well respected in the farming world generally mainly due to the fact that it has a moderate stand generally. Quite unlike the situation that Gavin Grant got the RSPCA into which has in effect totally destroyed any working relationship that they had with farmers in what was quite a short period of radical activity.

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