Sunday, March 13, 2022

General update as at 11.3.2022.

 Given that President Zelensky appears to be able to successfully lead the defence of his country via the means of a mobile phone I feel somewhat ashamed at my repeated apologies and admissions  of failure when it comes to WiFi and akin technical issues. Perhaps being located in Norfolk was not a help , but there you go !

Following the piece relating to the apparent persecution of a White tailed Eagle and efforts by the local MP to suggest such was unworthy of investigation I did write to the Speaker of the House of Commons and ask if the matter could be taken further. I received a very helpful response explaining that his position demanded neutrality and the means whereby he could take action simply weren't available. It was suggested that I could consider raising the matter with my own MP.  No further information or reports have arisen on the subject.

My time in Norfolk coincided with a period of poor weather  ( Storm Eunice etc ) and was hard work in some respects.  All of the ten days, barring one , saw rain and accompanying fresh to strong winds at times. Such was disappointing and frustrating, but there were still good birds to be seen. I didn't manage to see everything on offer but, nonetheless, had good views of Siberian Chiffchaff,  Great White Egret, Spoonbill, White fronted Geese,  Caspian Gull,  Goshawk and, above all else, phenomenal views of Red breasted Goose plus most of the "supporting cast" of species that we regularly associate with a birding break in Norfolk. Amongst these was Grey Partridge which, sadly , becomes less of a likelihood in my own local area. I had some prolonged views of a couple of birds at Holkham and admit to thoroughly enjoying the whole episode.

I returned home to find the village in absolute mayhem.  The gas supply pipes are being replaced which means traffic controls, excavations, and general disruption,  although it does seem the work is moving forward at pace ( that beloved expression of modern day MP's ). Unfortunately the house I live in is central to the traffic control system, which means parking is no longer available. Hopefully the work will be completed soon, although estimates tend to vary which is not helpful for future planning as , apparently, you've to be around at the point the conversion directly affects your address !!  Happy days.


Friday, February 18, 2022

White-tailed Eagle persecution.

Around a week ago a report was issued on Raptor Persecution's web site giving details, based in turn from a report issued by the Dorset Police and an accompanying appeal for further information. Essentially a White-tailed Eagle had been found dead in suspicious circumstances on one of the large estates in Dorset. The bird was one of those released under the Isle of Wight scheme and, sadly, joined another of its counterparts also found dead in Sussex last October. To my knowledge neither of these has yet had the routinely associated post mortem or toxicology reports placed in the public domain. Such follows a now almost regular litany of similar reports on bird of prey persecution, many of which are associated with shooting estates, although, in this case, there is nothing which has emerged which connects the estate in question with the incident. No doubt further information will be reported on in due course by the Police following their investigations. But that is when the whole scenario assumed a rather unfamiliar twist. The local Conservative MP, a Mr Chris Loder, put out public comments on his Twitter account advocating that he did not wish the Dorset Police to investigate what appears to be a criminal incident. Sadly he fell back on what has become a familiar stream of comments based on hysteria and predjudice stating that he didn't want eagles "killing our lambs or plaguing our farmers" and that he felt investigating county lines drug distribution activities were of more importance. I doubt anyone would argue against the need to carry out work on the latter, but it should not be assumed that investigating wildlife crime takes away resources from other section of the police force, a major aspect he appears to have overlooked. Wildlife Crime investigations are carried out by dedicated Wildlife Officers, a function I am sure he would support ( or would he? ). It has been reported that the wealthy owner of the estate in question has been a prominent supporter of the Tory Party and that his wife is involved with the Countryside Alliance, also that Mr Loder himself is a tenant farmer in the county. Whilst there is nothing in any reports to signal any connections with the incident, there is clearly a justification for concern to be expressed when such a clear case of suspected criminality is openly advocated by the local MP to be set aside and ignored. Whether such arises from utter naivete or other reasons is immaterial as, in my view , this is not an activity one expects from an MP. A colleague of mine recently contacted Mr Loder's office (01305 818446) and was advised that various complaints on the matter had been received from outside the constituency. Similarly the Crime Commissioner for Dorset (01202 229084) had received various contacts on the same subject. I feel the subject deserves airing more widely as there are obvious matters of principle involved given the scenario involves a serving MP. I would remind people that when the Prime Minister sought to "protect" the lobbying activities of the then serving MP, Owen Patterson, the whole sorry episode ended in tears. Here we have a serving MP openly advocating that an active police investigation into a potential criminal activity should be abandoned !! Not a responsibility I was aware MP's were invested with! Whilst it is clear Mr Loder openly opposes the release scheme on the Isle of Wight of White tailed Eagles , an open advocation that criminal activities against such birds should be, by implication, openly tolerated, encouraged and decriminalized is a step too far in my book. I have today sent an E-mail to Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker's Office ( Houses of Parliament, Westminster ) drawing the matter to his attention and asking that he refer the matter on to whichever authority within the House of Commons it is that deals with such matters. I make no secret of the fact that, personally, I support conservation initiatives and worked in that sphere for many years and that I accept that the opinions and views of others should be considered equally, however, open advocation that the rule of law should be set aside in the cause of predjudice is not an initiative to be tolerated whether promoted by an MP or not! If other people feel similarly I would encourage you also to E-mail the Speaker ( ) or,indeed, your own constituency MP. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

The Dawning of the Age of Aquarious.

I'm aware that, on various occasions in the past, I've "announced" my intention to start Blogging again. Admittedley this has usually been at the cessation of a period of lockdown associated with Covid, or in one case, after an injury and period of recuperation. The honest truth of the matter is that, whilst there was serious intent in the announcements, they never ended up with any continuity attached to them despite regular birding activities. Can do better was an understatement. Will this one be any better? Well, I hope so as Covid restrictions are being wound down or close to being withdrawn altogether. Admittedley, whilst the situation does seem to be improving, it's still more than a little patchy and, from a personal viewpoint, I think there's every reason to put effort into what might best be described as "personal caution". But, in my case, there's another reason why I hope things proceed differently. As the title of this Blog suggests ( and do forgive the pun ) I reached my 80th birthday on the 24th January and so fall within the Aquarious star sign. That's simply an unavoidable fact, not something to which I attribute any direct relevance ! But, given that I'm healthy, full of good cheer and free of restrictions I think there's every good reason to make an effort and set out what can happen in "one's personal autumn" given a little focus and concentration is applied to life! The strategy to be followed, as you might imagine, is not markedley different to anything that's gone before. Travel and birding, family and friends, and generally getting around and enjoying things. So it seemed the obvious addition to all of that was to share the enjoyment and provide a regular account of how things were going, the quirks encountered and the successes enjoyed. So, the eighth decade is born and, hopefully, will provide an encouraging testament to what can be achieved, post 80, and underscore the idea of picking up the baton and continuing ambling!! I've various UK trips arranged but, as yet, have made no firm arrangements to travel abroad as I don't yet believe "the Covid situation" is under absolute control. I'm sure some would disagree but, after enjoying various "domestic" holidays within the last couple of years, I'm more than prepared to extend the approach a little further. I can't speak for everyone, but I've also found that I've managed to save money within the lockdown periods too. So, I've effected a complete conversion to Swarovski. Having traded everything else in I'm now equipped with a pair of 10x56 binocuars and the new 115mm scope with binocular eyepiece attachment. Yes, the latter is heavy, but I'm not doing as much rampaging about the uplands as in the past and suspect a practical approach will soon emerge to cope with the problem. And so, despite the imminent weather forecasts, I've a trip to Norfolk planned and will put all of the above to the test. Watch this space.