You must read this blog by the National Gamekeepers Organisation (I keep wanting to put an apostrophe in there but I mustn’t because it’s their name and they can call themselves whatever they want). In fact the NGO call themselves the ‘largest group of professional conservationists in the UK’ which is a bit of a stretch particularly once you read their blog.
Let’s start with the nest that keeps on giving – eggs
Let’s start with this image of a Rook taking an egg from a nest. It’s certainly a Rook. It’s certainly an egg. The same video footage and still photographs of this location are repeated and scattered through the blog and in the last video this is described as a Rook taking a Lapwing egg whereas earlier it’s described as a Rook taking wild birds’ eggs. It’s not a Lapwing egg. On none of the footage or stills do the eggs look like Lapwing or wader eggs. It’s a Pheasant egg (95% sure of that, what do you think?). How odd that the largest group of professional conservationists in the UK don’t recognise a Pheasant’s egg when they see one (or several). If anyone were going to recognise a Pheasant egg then surely gamekeepers would, particularly because they may well have a few lying around back home where they might well be breeding up some Pheasant poults for the shooting season. What a strange error.
Is it a nest? Difficult to tell really. It would be a not-impossible but somewhat remarkable site for a Lapwing or other wader nest – right next to that wall and fence where nest predators could perch. And it would be a pretty remarkable place for a Pheasant nest, completely out in the open like that but Pheasants aren’t the brightest of birds. So I think this is a Rook, it is an egg, but it isn’t a Lapwing egg, it is a Pheasant egg, and it hasn’t come from a nest it has come from a fake nest. That is where my money would go. How unlucky that some passing gamekeeper (I guess) set up a camera here and was so cruelly tricked into posting this. They must be professionally embarrassed as hell for falling for someone’s ruse.
But there is more.
This apparently fake nest is visited by more than one Rook and also by at least one Jackdaw. Because the images are time-dated we can follow the chronology of this nest, by the wall, in front of that characteristic double spike of Juncus, near the fence post that leans to the right and with that nice view of in-bye in the background. This is what happens:
24 May 05:26 A Rook with an egg (a Pheasant’s egg) in its beak.
26 May 04:07 a Rook at the nest
26 May 04:34 A Jackdaw at the nest (which contains 3 eggs)
27 May 12:37 A Rook with an egg – a Pheasant’s egg (image above)
30 May 06:58 A Rook removes an egg
30 May 07:51 A Rook removes an egg
30 May 07:52 A Rook moves an egg around
30 May 07:53 A Rook is at the ‘nest’
This is indeed the nest that keeps on giving. A bunch of Jackdaws and Rooks having first visited the nest on 24 May are still taking eggs away from it on 30 May. We see 3 eggs being taken away from this ‘nest’ and there are another two images of Rooks with eggs in their beaks so this is quite a nest. It’s almost as though someone is putting more eggs in the ‘nest’ every time they turn up with their camera? Remarkable and incredible.
You might want to go and watch the footage of the Herring gull (aka seagull) catching bats coming out of a roof – that is worth watching.
But if you want more on eggs, stay reading here.
The egg that is labelled as a Lapwing egg might be a Lapwing egg but I’m not sure it is. It has been suggested to me it’s more likely to a Redshank egg.
There is a video of a very tame Jackdaw eating Pheasant eggs from what might be a Pheasant nest or might be a big pile of Pheasant eggs put in a pile of nettles (and there is no background shown so it might be in a gamekeeper’s back garden for all we know. But, those wild bird eggs are Pheasant eggs.
Let’s move on to the montage of 5 eggs, one of which is labelled Golden Plover. The four unlabelled eggs are actually three eggs (at most) as the top left image and the large bottom left image are of the same egg which is a gull egg. It is either a Herring Gull (and do look at the Herring Gull catching bats video) or a Lesser Black-backed Gull egg. This NGO blog wants to cull these gulls so presumably it’s good news for them that the egg has been got at by a predator, although this egg was addled anyway – that’s why it’s so yucky inside. So the predation was irrelevant. The other two small images at the top (centre and right) look like gull eggs and look as though they have been predated by a mammal and not a bird as they are clean inside and mammals can clean out eggs because they have tongues but birds can’t because they don’t have anything similar. This blog is about general licences and so mammal predation is irrelevant as they are not covered by the general licences. And so to the egg labelled as a Golden Plover egg – it’s not a Golden Plover egg. Although I don’t see them very often these days in my youth I was pretty familiar with Golden Plover eggs and this ain’t one. It looks to me, and I’ve done a bit of Googling, like a Red Grouse egg. It looks so much like a Red Grouse egg that I think it is a Red Grouse egg. How odd that a bunch of gamekeepers don’t recognise a Red Grouse egg when they see one. It’s amazing.
Before we all go off and re-watch the video of the Herring Gull catching bats again, let’s recap. This blog is about how awful the lack of licensing is for wild birds and it purports to show Rooks and Jackdaws having an impact on wild birds including Lapwing, and by inference Golden Plover. But the evidence is mostly of Pheasant eggs being taken from perhaps a real nest but also a remarkable nest which keeps on giving, the Golden Plover egg is a Red Grouse egg and many of the other eggs used are either from species (large gulls) that the NGO wants to kill lots of or from mammalian predation which is not covered by the general licence.
The ‘largest group of professional conservationists in the UK’ seem to have slipped up badly. But then they aren’t alone as their errors are being used or retweeted by the Campaign for the Protection of Moorland Communities, my old friend Gethin Jones and some other well-known shooters.