Morning spent covering a couple of BTO Winter Thrush Survey squares and also counting a WeBS site I had too little time to cover yesterday. Certainly here on the west coast of Islay no migrant thrushes were in evidence and I suspect none from Iceland have actually come through this far as yet. I'm still convinced the Redwings and Fieldfares we see on Jura and eastern Islay are Scandinavian birds that flood westwards , particularly down the Great Glen, as well as Icelandic birds eventually filtering eastwards. .
Whilst near the coast north of here a flock of around 30 Barnacle Geese came in hurriedly from out at sea, calling wildly, continued east over the Rinns until they reached Loch Indaal and then turned abruptly north towards Loch Gruinart, the traditional area where virtually all birds arrive and congregate at before gradually dispersing more generally. It's good to see such navigation by birds "in action", particularly when they've obviously overshot their initial arrival point!
Eventually returning home I was gazing out of the front window, cup of tea in hand, when I noticed a redpoll feeding in the garden. Carefully reaching for binoculars I managed brief, but good , views of a Common Redpoll , which then flew off together with another bird I hadn't picked up. Textbook views and confirmation that we do get them coming through occasionally. Some people maintain they breed in Northern Scotland, in the Outer Hebrides and on Orkney, but certainly all breeding season birds both on Islay and Jura are Lesser Redpoll. Odd birds are seen in spring in west Scotland and may well be from a more northern population, who knows?
News has emerged today that the RSPB has lodged a complaint with the European Commission against the UK Government for what it feels has been an altogether questionable approach taken by Natural England / DeFRA in resolving issues relating to the mismanagement of Walshaw Moor in West Yorkshire, which operates as a grouse moor. Rather than go into details, may I encourage people to read the entries on Mark Avery's blog (Wuthering Heights 28 ) and today's entry from Martin Harper, Director Conservation, RSPB, ( Walshaw Moor. ). It's fascinating reading and represents only the third time RSPB has ever done this!! It won't endear the Society to this supposed, and self-appointed, Greenest Government ever whose embracing of conservation matters is lukewarm at best. Well done RSPB. More importantly the final outcome from all this might have far reaching effects on how our uplands are managed in the future and the nature of the regulations such enterprises operate under. Can't wait!!! Other entries and comments are within the Raptor Persecution Scotland website and make interesting reading. I'm surprised , and heartened at how many people have come out and congratulated the RSPB, but also expressed relief that the Society has , finally, bared its teeth and taken such a positive stand on the subject. Have no doubt that the Society will not be flavour of the month with DeFRA or the Government generally, but I suspect that, privately or otherwise, there will be many in Natural England who will welcome the move. Given the inevitable "atmosphere", it will be interesting to see how the newly appointed Secretary of State for the Environment and the long standing Minister, Richard Benyon , react to the matter, how the eventual results of the Law Commission Review will emerge once the consultation period is over and what the pending review of Natural England results in. With a Government relegating "the environment" to a position of little or no relevance, to pursuing a barely disguised policy of deregulation in favour of economic development, come what may, and one which has drastically slashed the budget of Natural England , one might imagine retaliation might figure within their response in some "official context". We shall see!!