Saturday, June 7, 2014

Buzzard Update, Birding Update

Firstly, and following Thursday's Blog posting. A big “Thank You” to readers from all over the world who gave support to our UK Buzzards through their blog comments and/or via a direct message to Natural England's website. 

By coincidence and within an hour or two of the blog posting Natural England had made their decision with the website updated as reproduced below. 

“Decision on buzzard control licence application. 

5 June 2014 

On 23 April 2014 Natural England received an application for a licence to cage trap and shoot ten common buzzard (Buteo buteo) in the vicinity of a site which has experienced loss to pheasant poults in recent years. The application had been made by the operator of a pheasant rearing and shooting business on the site and is supported by the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation. After careful consideration, Natural England has concluded that the application does not meet the criteria that would permit lethal control to be licensed. 


So the rightful verdict was made in favour of Buzzards however the saga raises questions as to how and why deliberations and decisions made by a publicly funded body are conducted in secret without openness and transparency. 

Make no mistake, the forces of evil will not give up and more applications to kill Buzzards and other raptors will inevitably follow. Destroying Buzzards or anything else they see as a threat is an easy way out for farmers and landowners too lazy or incompetent to find ways of protecting their young pheasants. In any case it’s time that as a nation we debated the practice of the captive breeding and release of millions of birds into the countryside to then kill for pleasure. 

On to happier things and my birding to Conder Green and Fluke Hall this morning. 

A couple of infrequent species for Conder Green began the morning in the way of 2 Great-spotted Woodpeckers in The Stork car park and 2 Stock Doves feeding in the road. The woodpeckers were a juvenile and an adult, the adult bringing food to the noisy youngster. 

Also feeding young were Meadow Pipit and Reed Bunting with 2 Reed Warbler, 2 Sedge Warbler and 5 Whitethroat in song. 

Meadow Pipit

I had a good count of Swifts this morning as more than 50 of them devoured the midge harvest above the hawthorn hedgerow. Swallows and martins were counted on one hand. 

On and around the water, 10 Tufted Duck, 2 Grey Heron, 15 Redshank, 2 Shoveler, 17 Canada Goose, 14 Shelduck and 15 Oystercatcher, the latter including 3 chicks. 

Canada Goose

There wasn’t much doing at Glasson Dock save for another heron, more Swifts, several Swallows and a number of Mallards with young. The water was very still, the sky very blue. 


 Glasson Dock

There were seven more Grey Herons in the ditches near Fluke Hall which told me that their breeding season is probably over, early nesters as they are. And then Surprise, Surprise. At last I saw 2 Lapwing chicks on the wildfowler’s pools along with a nesting Moorhen, 15/20 Shelduck and a singing Corn Bunting. This seems to happen each year, the late appearance of a few Corn Buntings which coincides with the fast May and June growth of the silage crop. 

Corn Bunting

In the vicinity of Fluke Hall itself, 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Great-spotted Woodpeckers, 7 Whitethroat, 1 Blackcap. 


Along the lane a single Kestrel hunted for a while until the morning’s procession of cars filled with dogs began to spoil the Kestrel’s fun and my photo attempts. 



Oh well, there’s always another day, another place for Another Bird Blog.

Linking today to Anni's Birding Blog and Eileen's Saturday Blog.


Russell Jenkins said...

Let's hear it for the buzzards. I think the conclusion is common sense. Maybe that's why they're common buzzards. Excellent kestrel shots while you had the chance and a cracker of the goose. I feel more relaxed after this post, Phil.

Bob Bushell said...

I love the Corn Bunting, I have never seen one yet, precious photos.

Tony Lawlor said...

Hi Phil,
A great post as usual.With regard to the buzzards I wonder if there is a plan for the future for the possibility that control measures could have to be introduced as an environmental necessity. I understand your fears for this magnificent bird as it is one of my favourites
but I think it would look well for the bird watching community to be seen to have such a responsible and sensible attitude to all species and the environment in general. While not a fan of the British method of high intensity game rearing it does also have to be admitted that
great help has been given to some bird species (yellowhammers , finches and some others who avail of many a free meal left out for pheasants)in your country by the game shooting community. The natural world has so many different parties who all think that they/us are totally right. To protect the environment and all its creatures it is vital that all parties become more tolerant and open minded with an interest in inclusive dialogue. Now, so as to give my own background after making such a comment. I started my outdoor life angling for flounders bass and codling with a hand held line. I also as a boy hunted rabbits with ferrets which provided many a good feed. I moved on to fly fishing for trout as a teenager. I then got my first shotgun and did quite a bit of rough shooting for pheasant, duck and pigeon to go with the rabbits. I began my working life as a commercial fisherman and fished for whitefish, salmon, crustaceans and shellfish. I stalked and shot fallow deer for a number of years. I am an enthusiastic beekeeper. I am a lover of all things living from the smallest to the largest.I have seen the arguments for conservation from all sides. I have seen many many disagreements to do with all aspects of wildlife and environmental managment over the years. Any of these have only been resolved through dialogue.The groups who come out best are always those who are seen to be organised and levelheaded in their thinking. Antagonising your opponents before the debate starts proper will only make your job harder. Try educating each other instead. My apologies to you if I seem very forward or out of order with my comments but I care greatly for the environment and I do believe that the expertise from all interested parties should be pooled for the benefit of all.
Tony Lawlor.

Phil Slade said...

Hi Tony. Thank you for visiting my blog and for your contribution to ideas.

I do think there may be a “problem” with Buzzards taking pheasant poults in some areas of the UK but as details of the requests to kill Buzzards are dealt with in secret it is impossible to know for sure who and from where is making the applications.

The wider problem in England, and certainly in the part of Lancashire I live, is the uncontrolled and unscientifically tested release of huge numbers of pheasants and red-legged partridge. This has almost certainly been a factor in the wholesale decline of Grey Partridge. The Grey is now virtually extinct in this part of Lancashire and probably in many others, obviously not entirely due to releases but it has to be a factor - see the recent BTO Bird Atlas.

As you rightly point out, Buzzards do not take birds in any large quantity as in my experience they are somewhat ”lazy” and would rather wait around for a passing rabbit or search the ground for earthworms and the like. If pheasants are presented to them “on a plate” without due (and probably expensive) protection and safeguards then Buzzards will take the free meal.

Of course many will argue in favour of the side benefit of the feed to small birds, and it undoubtedly does, but the environmental damage caused by the release of millions of game birds far outweighs any incidental benefits to farmland birds.

Far from introducing Buzzard control measure as “an environmental necessity” I think that we need an open and honest debate about the environmental pros and cons of game bird releases

Tony Lawlor said...

Hi Phil,
Is there any figure for the total amount of gamebirds released in the Uk? I do know a farmer nearby who is a neighbour of an estate where intensive game rearing and release is carried out and he lost a couple of cattle to salmonella which he fully believes was contracted from released pheasants defecating in the livestocks feeding troughs.

Marie said...

Fantastic photos! I am sorry to hear that people want to kill buzzards and other raptors. Buzzards have a job to do. Why do some people want to kill things they can't even eat! I don't gvet it! Anyway, loved all your wonderful photos. The clarity! And capturing that kestrel in flight. Wow! Thanks for coming by and commenting on my blog!

Phil Slade said...

The BTO Bird Atlas 2007- 2011 states that infection from caecal nematodes from farm-reared pheasants may be a factor in the dramatic decline of Grey Partridge.

“Releases of farm-reared pheasants have increased five-fold since the 1960s to around 35 million birds annually with some 15 million shot.

6.5 million Red-legged Partridge were released across the UK in 2004 and 2.6 million shot.”

Tony Lawlor said...

That figure is staggering. I never realised that the numbers were so high. That population of pheasants can only do harm. Yet another sign of mans greed. Any game hunter should be happy with one or two pheasants in the bag per each party of shooters. Here in Ireland there is a bag limit of two birds in operation by all gun clubs and hence there is not the need for a large population of pheasants on the ground. However I do realise that almost all hunting here is done by local clubs wandering the fields and that the British form of driven shooting is only rarely seen,thank God. I don`t suppose the suggestion of banning driven shoots and putting a one or two bird bag limit would go down well in your country. Has there been any studies on the effect of the gamebird population on the invertebrate and insect poulations, or even if they are putting pressure on some of the rarer wild plants?

Phil Slade said...

Tony, You obviously have a sustainable form of shooting In Ireland.

Here, and as you recognise, shoots are often highly organised, income sources for farmers and landowners that require plenty of pheasants and partridges for shoots to go at.

I am certain there has been no large scale investigation of the effect of large numbers of game birds on invertebrate, insect or plant populations.

Bird Atlas mentions - “Work by The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust … suggests that the interiors of many lowland woods managed for pheasants have a more open structure, creating favourable conditions for the growth of herbs and brambles supporting higher densities of songbird species”.

The impact of releasing 35 million pheasants and 6.5 million red-legs is by now impossible to quantify but is surely only bad.

eileeninmd said...

I am so glad the Buzzard won the war for now.. Looks like you had another great outing, beautiful birds and photos. Happy Birding and have a great weekend!

Carole M. said...

I enjoyed each of your lovely photos Phil, a post with a message too. The Mallards (in passing), are quite amazing how many variations to the theme they come in - they always fascinate me though I don't think are at all so fascinating to many others somehow. Carole, spruiking Carnarvon posts on
this church sure is GRAND ..what is this construction type called? It looks to be of little pebbles. I'd love to see how they did that. My it's so well maintained and beautiful inside too. I can't but help think how cold it might be sitting over the bricks in winter though. A lovely accolade added for your finale' - nice to get that response. Carole,

David Gascoigne said...

Hey Phil: I am really glad to hear that the decision went in favour of the buzzards. I was reading the exchange between you and Tony Lawlor with much interest. It would appear that the hunting lobby in the UK is a powerful force. At least for now, however, saner heads have prevailed. It has been my experience that all too often factual evidence has never been allowed to get in the way of overheated rhetoric.

eileeninmd said...

Phil, stopping back to say thanks for linking up with my critter party. Have a happy weekend!

Adam Jones said...

It certainly was good news from Natural England. A stunning shot of the Corn Bunting too.

TexWisGirl said...

the corn bunting is wonderful! loved them all. the reflections were beautiful, too!

Margaret Adamson said...

HI Phil Good news for the Buzzards. Lovely shot of the Corn Bunting. Have a marvelous weekend.

Karen said...

Terrific birds Phil. Great shots, especially the kestrel in flight! Glad all ended well in the buzzard saga.

Kenneth Cole Schneider said...

This proves the value of an informed public who were encouraged to speak their collective mind. Never let up the pressure to prevent such lame-brained schemes. We see it with our wolves, already proven to improve the health of prey game animals as well as the environment which they destroy because of their excessive numbers. Also interesting how the confluent breast spot is found in a variety of unrelated species.

Anni said...

Are you serious?!!! Killing one to protect another? Two wrongs don't make a right. This was disheartening to read from the get-go. I can't believe it was even considered...and VOTED on to top it off. Humans can be so lame and inhumane.

Glad the Buzzard won a victory. Now, to keep the nitwits from harming them, thinking they have a right to do so.

I'm so P'o'd.

Okay, got that off my on to your photo shares. Of course the birds are amazing...and the Dock with the reflection is simply gorgeous. The Corn Bunting is a new one to me.

Thank you for linking up this weekend Phil...and by doing so, you made us all a lot more aware.

Felicia said...

love love love the meadow pipit capture.

Gunilla Bäck said...

I'm so happy the buzzards won this round. Beautiful photos as usual. The kestrel is very handsome.

Betsy Brock said...

The pipit is a new one to me! Beautiful! I've come from Anni's and it's so great to meet you!

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