Operation Yellow Hammer

The petition Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU is poised just below 5 million signatures and the Prime Minister is lacking poise on the edge of a precipice.

A Yellowhammer from Tim Melling in West Yorkshire


Tim Melling – Swinhoe’s Striped Squirrel

Tim writes: the Swinhoe’s Striped Squirrel (Tamiops swinhoei) is only found in high altitude forests (usually 2500-3000m) in China, northern Myanmar and northern Vietnam.  I photographed this individual at about 2800m at Labahe in Sichuan, China.  It is a tree-dwelling squirrel, though I managed to capture this individual freezing, when it was half way across a road. You can see that its feet face outwards, showing that it normally uses them to cling to tree branches, as there aren’t many roads in its mountain forest habitat.   It is a small squirrel, about 25cm from head to tail tip and weighing less than 100g.  The stripes are on the back, and consist of five darker stripes, with four paler stripes between them, and it feeds on fruits, shoots and insects.  It was named after naturalist Robert Swinhoe (1836-1877) who was one of China’s pioneer naturalists.  He worked as a diplomat which gave him access to lots of areas that had not previously been open to collectors.  He discovered more than two hundred species of bird, plus dozens of Chinese mammals, fish and insects, including this squirrel. 


Saturday cartoon by Ralph Underhill

The petition calling for Article 50 to be revoked and for UK to remain in the EU is approaching 4 million signatures https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/241584


168 hours ago…

A week ago we launched our crowdfunder on the crowdjustice page to fund a judicial review of Natural England’s decision to issue the general Licences GL04-06.

Now we have raised over £30,700 of the £36,000 we need to cover our lawyers’ (highly discounted) fees, court costs and the possibility that we may lose the case and have to pay some of NE’s costs.

The response from you all has been phenomenal – over 1000 pledges of financial support. That’s amazing – and our lawyers haven’t ever seen anything quite like it.

Please help us get to our £36,000 target if you can – thank you!


Thank you United Utilities

I asked United Utilities for some information on two subjects on 2 March and got my first reply on 19 March – that’s a hell of a lot quicker than Natural England usually manage. Thank you United Utilities.

This question was about lead levels in water. This subject came up in questions after my talk in Preston on 25 February when a gentleman suggested that lead levels might be higher in areas shot regularly for Red Grouse (such as the nearby Forest of Bowland) and I said I wasn’t aware of any such evidence and that it seemed a bit unlikely to me because the uplands are a big place with lots of water! And that if there were a problem I’d expect water companies to know about it and be doing something about it.

Seems like my intuition was right according to the information sent to me by UU.

Dear Dr Avery
Thank you for your recent 2 enquiries.
I shall respond to you under separate cover, as soon as I am in a position to, in respect of your request regarding the numbers of Red Grouse shootings. This will be under my reference ID578 in the subejct header.
In the meantime, kindly note my response to your other queries:
1. Has UU tested levels of lead in water in different upland catchments?  Yes, we analyse for lead in the raw waters in our catchments
2.  Is UU aware (either through its own studies or those of others) of any evidence that links elevated lead levels in water to the occurrence/frequency/amount of shooting (for game (such as Pheasants or Red Grouse) or at targets (such as clays) in catchments?  We routinely monitor lead in our raw waters and are not aware of any links between the occurrence of shooting and an increased concentration of lead in those raw water catchments.
3. Does UU have any concerns about the amount of Red Grouse shooting in catchments such as the Forest of Bowland and lead levels in water?  We do not have any concerns about the concentration of lead in our raw water sources.

Utility companies are subject to these types of request. As you can see, I asked another question and I am waiting to hear the answer.