Thursday, July 13, 2017

Things begining to move !

Out very early to miss the exercise enthusiasts and canine lovers !  Previous to 0600 hours appears to be a critical threshold and , currently, proved to be the most tranquil time in all other senses too.

Ingbirchworth Reservoir appeared to "hold" much less than previously, although the weather and viewing conditions were better than a couple of days ago. A full circuit produced a Little Egret, a Little ringed Plover (  alarm calls suggested late breeding ? ) , a Common Sandpiper, and, eventually, counts of waterbirds and  passerine feeding flocks were much the same as previously.  Each day I've ended up feeling guilty at disturbing the resting non-breeding adult Cormorant from its comfortable roosting position on a buoy, but there you go !

On to Broadstones  Reservoir, where an absolute bevy of ladies who walk dogs ( in advance of lunching ), suggested any passing waders might have been disturbed already. Nonetheless a group of 30 post-breeding Mallard, 3 Little Grebe, Curlew and odd Lapwing  and an attractive 25-30 charm of Goldfinches were noteworthy.

Nearby moorland areas produced Kestrel and Red Grouse , but little else.  Winscar Reservoir, I suppose the highest in this particular part of the South Pennines, had a Common Sandpiper, several Oystercatcher,  around 85 Canada Geese, a singing Chiffchaff and Jay in adjacent woodland and several Siskin. At a  lower level, Bowshaw Whams reservoir held 10 Mallard, Grey Heron and had an overflying Cormorant west.

A migration watch from 1000-1130 over a large expanse of open mooralnd had a Common Swift west, a local Kestrel, territorial Curlew interacting with a local Common Buzzard but little else. So, at lunchtime, and six hours on , I called it a day after an interesting and satisfying birding outing.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Donald Trump and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Now all of what follows is conjecture on my part, but I wonder about it all the same.

Much was made during the media coverage of the G20 summit of the approaches made by Merkel, Macron and May ( the M and M's ) to Donald Trump in an attempt to influence and reverse his previously announced withdrawal of the USA from the Paris Agreement relating to Climate Change.  Various sections of the violent demonstrations which took place left no doubt what was thought of Trump, either specifically or generally, in this regard.  No response was forthcoming from Trump on the matter.

Now we learn, here in the UK this morning, that his intended visit here has been put back to sometime next year. I just wonder if, on his return home, his advisers have cautioned strongly against his visit where it is likely a high level of opposition to his plans and him personally would be in evidence on the streets and in the press.. Remember over 2 million people registered their opposition to such a visit and his refusal to alter matters with respect to the Paris Agreement would infuriate further environmental groups and many others. The negative vibes to his already shaky reputation is not the sort of thing he would relish. Such opposition would be directed at him, not a collective presence of Heads of State.  Bad news one might say !

So does this also mean that, on his return home, discussions have been held already about the Paris Agreement and that the situation is not going to alter. We'll have to see what the ensuing days bring, or don't, in the form of announcements.

Not a good day for charities !

Currently new regulations are emerging which will cause charities to look carefully at their future plans and commitments. Given this Government's lack lustre commitment to "things environmental", and a succession of mediocre Secretaries of State for the Environment, the whole picture surrounding the UK's recognition of the worth and needs of our natural environment gets incrementally worse. Equally the social care sector will be affected too.

Now the new regulations , as I understand them, address something that I must say I don't necessarily disagree with. "Cold calling" and  unsolicited mailings linked to fund raising I've always thought to be pushing boundaries a lot of people might find offensive. All of us are aware of our own financial situation and I guess, in the event of an unexpected increase in our funds, are apt to consider offering one off support to something dear to our hearts beyond the annual subscription commitments we maintain. Some charities, not all, have felt differently and a number of difficult circumstances have resulted. Such direct appeal activities are now to be limited and doubtless various accountants are poring over the implications.

It's difficult as charities support much that Government has no connection with or deliberately chooses to ignore. The plethora of support groups in the social care sector are an example. I've always suspected the vast majority of appeal mailings must go straight in the bin, but clearly a sufficient number must produce results for the charities to continue with them. Are we now to see more TV advertising from individual charities ( or the ones that can afford it ! ) ?  I suspect the difficulty such regulations influence are the one off appeals for support for research projects or environmental disasters as, otherwise, how do charities communicate their needs to the general public. I suspect this is something which won't go away and might even see some innovative alternatives emerging. Certainly it suggests for those of us who care for our wildlife and environment, indeed any type of charity you support, now is not the time to be reviewing the usual commitments we've entered into and even to consider extending them.

Rain almost stopped play ! 10.7.2017.

And finally, back to writing! Feels good.

Why is it that, at the point of departure out birding, it all too often starts raining ?  And so it was yesterday morning, with conditions continuing for over five hours until , at 1100 hours in a thoroughly damp and demoralized state, I called it a day. For once a usual circuit of Ingbirchworth Reservoir was virtually bereft of joggers and dog walkers and I almost had the whole area to myself.  The water level is still slightly down, but obviously now being replenished as the rapid flow of the stream in the north west corner illustrated. However, more than enough mud exists to attract passing waders so it could be a good autumn!

Sadly little was on offer that indicated any link with migration !  Yellowhammer and a single Garden Warbler were still in song and young birds were widespread , although not abundant. Best of all was calling Willow Tit in two places, which was encouraging. House Martins were busy foraging over the reservoir margins where small ( irritating ) insects were present in profusion. The new housing development nearby appears to have been adopted by the birds rather speedily ! The usual suspects were hanging out  on the exposed banks ......Mallard, Canada Goose, Grey lag Goose and a single Coot ( the other birds present previously just seem to have vacated ). Sadly 4 Great crested Grebe  were out on the water with no young in evidence and access to any late breeding site now impossible due to the  receding water margin. Still, the variety of species was still good overall.   I may be wrong, but I felt this "season"  was possibly a little later than previously with perhaps first broods having perished with the period of poor weather we had before. Hopefully some birds might still be raising young and we've yet to enjoy the "spike" in newly fledged youngsters. I was intrigued by the absence of Common Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Song Thrush, but perhaps I was just unlucky!

Broadstones Reservoir, previously showing some encouraging muddy margins, is now back to capacity. Unfortunately the recently recorded Quail weren't in evidence. but given the weather that was hardly surprising , particularly as conditions were getting worse ! A single Curlew called forlornly across the rain swept fields and 10 Lapwing fed nearby, a mere reflection of post breeding season numbers present in previous times.

And so, eventually, soaked and defeated, I called it a day !  Rain, very definitely, had stopped play.