Thursday, 29 October 2015

Puffins, Pochards and Turtle Doves

The sad and shocking news today that some of the UK's most iconic birds are now on the International Union for Conservation of Nature(ICUN) Red list of endangered species reflects the failure of both habitat conservation and unrestricted hunting.

The most shocking new addition to the list is the Atlantic Puffin, probably one of the most loved British Birds. Their decline is less obvious than some of the others as millions of the birds are still around the coast, but the research shows far fewer birds are reaching sexual maturity. This is due to habitat destruction wiping out the population of sand eels on which these birds depend. In 2004 a Royal commission into Environmental pollution recommended that 30% of the UK's coastal waters should become reserves in which no fishing was permitted, this was then backed in 2009 by a 500,000 strong petition, to date the UK has protected 0.01% of it's waters. Trawling and oil pollution have destroyed the beds of Eel grass in which the eels live, without their recovery the future is grim for puffins

Pochard and Turtle dove numbers are both dropping rapidly, on a personal note this was the first year that a Turtle dove didn't return to our garden in 9 years. The decline in these birds seems to be due to hunting pressure. The Turtle dove has to fly the gauntlet of the guns of Malta. Malta recently voted in a referendum to retain the spring hunt of Turtle doves and other migratory birds dispite international pressure to halt the annual slaughter.

Other birds that have joined the Red List are Slavonian Grebe , Lapwings, Oystercatcher, Bar Tailed Godwit and Curlew Sandpiper, two other birds the Black Tailed Godwit and the Curlew were already on the Red List. Some of these are probably due to changes in farming practices as several of the waders feed and breed inland during the year and with more intensive farming there is less food and more habitat disturbance.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Barnacle geese on Islay the forgotten cull

Whilst we have all been aware of the Badger cull in the South West of England and the backdoor efforts to continue Fox hunting the cull that is planned by the Scottish government in the Hebrides has passed largely unnoticed. Every year 40,000 Barnacle geese migrate to Islay to overwinter, that is about half the worlds population. For years the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust have been working with the locals, the geese have been managed by scaring them off certain crops on to areas set aside for them and this has been tolerated by the locals. The geese bring in a lot of money to the community through Ecotourism.

It has now been decided that their numbers must be reduced by 10,000 birds. Neither The Wildfowl & Wetland Trust or RSPB Scotland were consulted over the plans and both have submitted complaints the the EU. There is also the danger that in a cull of this size other geese may be shot in error, the endangered Greenland White fronted goose also winters within the flocks of Barnacle Geese.

On the WWT website Director of Conservation Dr Debbie Pain said:
“This is about finding a fair solution that works for farmers and for wildlife. It’s about resourcing farmers to be custodians of the countryside, and about finding out what works best in everyone’s interests, rather than shooting a significant portion of a species without finding out first if other methods are just as or more effective.”

Their full complaint can be read at   Goose Complaint

We all need to work together to try and stop this cull going ahead.



Readers of my other blog Gary's Garden will have noticed that occasionally and increasingly frequently lately I have been launching into rants about how we are destroying our enviroment. To this end I have decided to create this blog as a vehicle by which I can express my views, share information and promote causes close to my heart.

I was talking to a friend the other day who like me has been a wildlife lover all his life. We both came to the conclusion that as we have got older we have both got more frustrated with the way our society has been dealing with our environment and our wildlife both at home in the UK and Worldwide, we agreed that we were both becoming far more militant in our old age.

Each one of us only exists on this planet for an insignificant amount of time, but unlike our ancestors we each have the ability to cause a significant amount of damage to the planets ecosysytems. We should be custodians of the world around us for the creatures around us and that will come after us.

I hope you will enjoy this blog and it will stimulate thought. change attitudes and generate discussion.

Gary 28/10/2015