Friday, 6 November 2015

Who's nicked all our gold

The Safari is restricted to Base Camp for a week or so after yet another op on our knackered hands. With the weather far too iffy to sit out and do some vis migging; can you believe we still need fly over Grey AND Pied Wagtails for the garden list this year! there was only one thing to do - sit and watch the feeders from the sitting room window. Not too arduous and there is a brand new garden survey of Goldfinches absolutely anyone can get involved with so we read the instructions and 'randomly' chose a start time for a couple of hours later and settled down bins in good (= un-bandaged) hand to watch the action.
Nothing happened! Not a bird visited the garden, not even a Magpie! The feeders swung on the breeze, the rain came down, the appointed hour came and went but not so much as a single feather was seen. OK so that's a bit disappointing for the survey but all is not lost as negative results are just as important as positive ones and we're sure we'll get a few positive ones before the survey finishes at the end of February. 
It eventually took a further couple of hours, well into the afternoon, for the first bird to visit, a Coal Tit. Then there was a bit of a flurry of activity with a Blue Tit nipping in and out doing their usual smash n grab raid on the feeder and a fine male Greenfinch which spent a good ten minutes on the feeder. It's been so mild recently it could be that there is an abundance of natural food around and the sunflower hearts can't compete with that - we'll see as the season progresses and it gets colder and the natural food supply dwindles.
Do get involved whether you feed the garden birds or not, all results are valuable and the methodology couldn't be more simple, just a two minute count once a week - what could be easier than that?
Here's one we made earlier
Early morning today we still haven't had a sniff of a Goldfinch but two Coal Tits have visited briefly.
We've been whiling away the hours watching the BBC Autumnwatch  daytime shows hoping to pick up extra snippets of new information. We noticed that the show has been a bit weathered-off, suffering from the persistent fog that enveloped much of the country this week, indeed MHG said on air he didn't realise there was a mountain beyond the reserve until the last day! It's called Criffel, a Viking Norse name Cri-fell as in the the Lake Ditrtict fells across the waters of the Solway Firth. Cri being a modern corruption of someone's name (local Viking big-wig) or a feature on the hill. Here's a pic of its lower slopes.
You can see the natural regeneration of non-natural conifers creeping up the hill - if only they were native broad-leaves. But it does show that if the grazing pressure is ended, reduced or changed (by eg predators) trees can and will start to reclaim our uplands with all the knock-on improvements for many other species of wildlife, and the detriment of a few open moorland species..
It's not only uphill that trees can can come back in the absence of grazing pressure, these Willows are growing almost on the beach along Criffel's coastal plain. They may even be flooded by the sea on the highest tides.
We suppose it's the loudest shouting vested interests who will decide how much rewilding of the uplands can be achieved. Can't see the grouse-blasting 'guardians of the countryside' and their multi-million dollar Cecil-the-Lion-killing clients allowing a tree anywhere near their precious Red Grouse. Sheep farmers too seem to be dead against it, or at least dead against rewilding's most outspoken proponent George Monbiont, he has got their backs up big style (other re-wilding groups are available). Are they just being conservative with a small 'c'? As by far the most adaptable animal on the planet we sure as hell don't like and are very resistant to change! Who eats all the lamb anyway - we can't afford it, do we really need so much of it, could farming/land subsidies be used to better effect and more public good - after all it's our money they're getting. Of course if you're a livestock farmer you're not going to want big predators in the landscape when it's been so safe for hundreds of years.Here's a recent  snippet from GM, we don't go along with all of his ideas but it's a good starting point for debate. What do you think?
We do think Wolf re-introduction is still a huge step too far but it was great to learn of the Pine Marten releases in Wales. Great though it is we think this is too safe a move although much can be learned from it for the future. We'd like to see several Pine Marten releases throughout the country at the same time, say Devon, Sussex, Oxfordshire/Northants, Norfolk, Peak District, Cheshire, Cumbria and Northumberland and not confined to coniferous forests either, don't forget they were common and widespread in lowland and southern Britain until wiped out by the 'guardians of the countryside.
Similarly we think that the proposed Lynx re-introduction shouldn't be done in the wilds of Scotland but down here in England choosing areas where there is the greatest damaged to woodland habitat by Roe and Muntjac Deer and the lowest densities of sheep. It would be good to have a couple of release sites close to sheep rearing areas if only to prove how seldom they attack the livestock. There has to be a good measure of compensation for the inevitable few cases and there has to be sufficient robustness to prove it was Lynx doing the killing and not rogue dogs, one of which has killed seven sheep in Anglesey this week and probably gone back to lie by the fire every night, we wouldn't want Lynx scapegoated for that, nor compensation payments paid.
We're looking forward to having more Beavers and Wild Boar about the countryside too just hope to be able to live long enough to see these schemes come to fruition, it's an exciting time to be a young naturalist though - and they're the ones who are going to need dynamic, resilient ecosystems in the future. So come on kids, find your voice encourage the agencies to think bigger and bolder and tell the others not to be such stick-in-the-muds, there's benefits for them too if only they'd bite the non-lead bullet. Please sign this petition - who on earth wants toxic lead thrown around our environment in gay abandon year after year. One thing is for sure we need to rewild ourselves first part of the reason we're so 'afraid' of the wild is because far too many of us never experience it even those that live and work in the 'countryside', for the most part that's not wild just industrial greenery where wildlife hangs on by a slender thread.
Back to Autumnwatch it's a shame the Bittern, Snow Goose and Green Winged Teal weren't there when we were. The Bittern had already left but the other two must have been on site out of sight somewhere - dohhh.
Where to next? More staring out of the window at not a lot.
In the meantime let us know who's been rewilded in your outback

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

I did my bit for the Goldfinch survey Davyman, even sent in a few images :-) not that much on the feeders in this very warm weather though.