At last, a touch of sun, a dry morning and chance for a spot of birding, with Rawcliffe Moss the destination where with luck there was an hour or two before the shoot arrived and all hell broke loose.
Another person asked me the same question earlier in the week. “Why in this modern day and age do we tolerate the shooting of our declining and therefore increasingly precious wildlife, and this coupled with wilful persecution of our raptors?” It’s not as if people rely upon a brace of duck, a couple of partridge or a wader or two to feed hungry mouths is it?” I agreed, long gone too are the days when Hen Harriers or “hawks” really did steal a few hens from our subsistence farmsteads.
From the British Association for Shooting and Conservation BASC, (now there’s a complete contradiction in terminology), is a list of so called “quarry species” in the UK - “Gadwall, Goldeneye, Mallard, Pintail, Pochard, Scaup, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, White-fronted Goose, Snipe, Golden Plover, Jack Snipe, Woodcock, Coot and Moorhen”. In addition “The Woodpigeon is both the UK’s major agricultural bird pest and one of the most popular species providing sporting shooting. It is legal to shoot the bird all the year round under the current general licence arangements (sic). The Woodpigeon makes good eating and provides nourishing cheap food, and appears on the menus of top restaurants.”
Maybe it’s time all the diverse elements of the UK’s far too many conservation movements joined together and made a concerted effort to put a halt to the killing through politicking, while at the same time exploding the many myths and untruths around the “economic benefits” and “conservation value” of shooting? Moan over for now.
At the farm were plenty of the aforementioned Woodpigeons turning the tree tops grey with a count/estimate of 4000+ in just a couple of woods. It looks like many of last week’s huge numbers reported on Another Bird Blog may have moved to south west Lancashire, with enormous flocks seen near Martin Mere, Ormskirk. - 20th November “The huge flock of Woodpigeons which has been building up just beyond the edge of the reserve was estimated to contain around 50,000 birds this morning – a remarkable sight!”
Watching the tree tops made for a sighting of 2 Buzzards flying in from the east, calling as they came and scattering the pigeons in all directions and setting the Jays off screeching.
Good numbers of passerines today, impossible to get precise counts for all when they scatter along the hedgerows, but 60+ Chaffinch, 50+ Tree Sparrow, 5 Corn Bunting 2 Yellowhammer, 7 Goldfinch and c15 Reed Bunting.
Thankfully we haven’t suffered the floods of elsewhere in the UK, the fields here are just remarkably wet for now and the foreseeable future, so a good place to find gulls, Lapwings and Snipe, plus the odd Buzzard waiting patiently. There’s a Buzzard on the distant fence, and out of shot 90+ Lapwing, 120 Black-headed Gulls, a couple of Snipe and a passing Kestrel.
When the gunslingers arrived I made for the car and a drive across the Pilling Moss to Lane Ends. Over the moss road I counted 3 bird watchers lying in wait for assorted owls, 2 Kestrel, 10 Tree Sparrow, 15 Chaffinch, 1 Buzzard, 2 Redwing, 18 Fieldfare and 6 Meadow Pipit.
When I got to Pilling there was another shoot all along the marsh road - Wednesday again, I forgot. Don’t these people have work to do?
Thursday should be OK for a spot of birding, photography or just putting the world to rights - log in soon to Another Bird Blog and find out.