Sunday, 2 March 2014

Drizzly Sunday

The Safari was left alone at Base Camp again today and with Frank feeling his rheumatism in the dank weather he wasn't much for going out.
We finished reading Feral which raises some interesting points about the future of conservation and indeed land management in the UK and further afield, but we'll come to that in a bit.
The drizzle eased a bit after lunch so we took Frank for a quick visit to Chat Alley with the hope of perhaps catching up with another Stonechat, the easterly breeze may have pushed some inland moving birds to the coast and being offshore the breeze shouldn't have chopped up the sea too much so there was a chance of blubber.
The rather high than usual high tide was still well up and a Turnstone was the first bird we saw feeding on the mown (a prime example of what c/sh-ould be (re)wilded to allow the wildflowers to flower and the bees, butterflies n hoverflies to feed on but it won't be because that would look too 'untidy' - a change in attitude and perception of 'green spaces' by the general public is desperately needed...or they need rewilding too)
Just the hints of the white headed summer plumage starting to show
Frank sniffed every little tussock and we scanned a grey rain soaked sea which provided us with nothing but a handful of gulls, a Cormorant and a couple of Common Scoters. No sign of anything blubbery.
A lone Black Headed Gull paddled for worms on the sodden grass.
The rain came down heavier and Frank had reached the limits of his endurance so we turned to go and looking over the fence one last time on the off chance a Stonechat had hopped up to sit on a dead stem - none had but we did spot an area of Rabbit digging.
We've seen Rabbits in the more formal gardens nearer town but never here. 
Looking closer for droppings we didn't see any but something else in the scat department caught our eye!
Can you make out what the arrowed grey blob?
Not the world's most pleasant pic but the grey blob is something a Fox has left behind - good find - - one of our biggest remaining meso-predators - it's pretty wild out there!
But not wild enough!
The cliffs are separated from the sea by a mass of concrete because they erode. Many tears ago they were natural but a child dug a den into them and being unstable they collapsed on him and that was his demise and the start of the 'we must stabilise the cliffs pour loads of concrete' scenario we have now, so no chance of slumping and sporadically and randomly reversing the natural vegetation succession.
The nature reserve is another example of how we hold the succession in check - not with concrete there but with a management plan - this first of which we rote!
The reserve is partitioned into 'compartments' based on habitat types and we hold those compartments in suspended animation because of some form of 'natural ecological community' we 'like'. 
OK this is a very small reserve and if it is to remain biologically diverse it needs managing otherwise it would become a very large bramble thicket with a few large trees poking out. The lake and most of the reedbed are just about properly wild as intervention is impractical and expensive...and that's possibly where the wilderness has naturally managed to start to return - in the form of long lost Otters.
The terrestrial areas have been a sort of rewilding experiment in that they started from the scorched earth position of being the Council landfill site with no vegetation what-so-ever and for thirty years or more was left to its own devices until Your's Truly came along and rote the plan mostly to 'ensure' the right birdies continued to use the site in the 'correct' proportions.
At the time we had virtually no idea what the invertebrate fauna was apart from butterflies and odonata. Even now 20 years later we only have an inkling what moths are present; are Garden Tigers still there - we caught some a few years ago but none since and no trapping has been done in the last five or so years - and Garden Tiger is a whopper and a beaut of a moth but is it more or less 'important' than, say, Linnets?
In fact we don't even know the birds that well in that are we doing better, worse or the same as the regional or national population trends for the species present on site, specialists and generalists alike?
We suppose what we're trying to say is that rewilding seems to be a good idea and would have its benefits but huge areas of land are probably required and that is where there's going to be conflict with the traditionalists and Establishment. If the recent floods have taught us anything it's that there needs to be a new approach to land use over large swathes of the landscape - and not just the sparsely populated areas of northern Scotland - new traditions will have to be developed as freak weather events become less freak and more 'normal'. 
Who eats all the sheep anyway and why isn't venison virtually free?
Where to next? Back to Patch 2 tomorrow but will it be calm enough to look for blubber?
In the meantime let us know where the wildest bits of your outback are.


Scyrene said...

I'm happy to participate in a moth trapping experiment in the summer! It occurred to me to try it down there last year, but I'm not sure I'd do it alone :)

cliff said...

That BH Gull pic is excellent Dave, a great opportunity well spotted & photographed.

Warren Baker said...

Nice informative post today davyman :-)