Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Rant And Ring

There’s still no ringing allowed near home. DEFRA are taking no chances on the possibility that Avian Flu might still spread, but there’s no information about when the saga might end. 

Avian Flu Zones

What a shame that DEFRA’s inspectors weren’t on the ball in the first place when they would have seen that in this part of Lancashire gamebird rearing operations are environmental disasters waiting to happen. 

It gets worse. Each autumn in the UK many millions of cage reared pheasant, partridge and duck are released into the wild for the purposes of then shooting them. Pre or post, there is little or no qualified assessment as to the impact of the releases upon wild bird populations or the environment.

So called “game shooting” is big business in providing jobs and revenue for those involved whereby there is zero likelihood of anyone tackling the subject in favour of the environment or the landscape at large. In that word “anyone” I include politicians or political parties of any and every persuasion, pressure groups, wildlife charities, wildlife trusts, clubs, organisations and the various hangers-on who claim concern for the countryside. There are some like the BTO who must remain impartial to promote their scientific heartbeat, but there are other individuals and organisations that show little desire to stir the murky pot and we all know the reason why. 

Game bird rearing pens

Rant over. What happened today? 

Luckily Andy and I have a standby site outside the avian flu 10kms zone in the hills at Oakenclough but where the grey, wet and windy weather of late has kept us from going; until today that is when clear skies and a rising sun met us at 0645. That entailed an alarm clock call at 0530. Being a bird ringer is neither for the faint-hearted nor for those who have difficulty getting out of bed on a cold March morning. 

We had a quietish few hours with just 17 birds and finches once again in top spot: 4 Siskin, 3 Goldfinch, 3 Coal Tit, 2 Blue Tit, 2 Great Tit, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Lesser Redpoll and 1 Bullfinch. 

The first winter female Bullfinch was only the third Bullfinch we have caught here. We see or more likely hear the species quite regularly but they don’t often come near our net rides. Their short, stubby beak is specially adapted for feeding on buds and they are particularly enthusiastic eaters of the buds of certain fruit trees. Due to their bud-eating habits, many thousands used to be legally trapped and killed each year in English orchards.

Bullfinch - First winter female
Bullfinch- First winter female

Bullfinch - First winter female

In all we saw and heard 12+ Siskins but Lesser Redpolls were decidedly scarce by way of the single one caught. 

Lesser Redpoll



Below is an adult male Chaffinch coming into full and colourful spring plumage. 


Coal Tit

Other birds seen today: 50+ Curlew, 18 Oystercatcher, 3 Pied Wagtail, 2 Goldeneye, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Grey Heron.

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


Linda said...

Phil, what a blessing and joy it must be to have these beautiful birds in your hand. Your photos are gorgeous, and I love the variety of birds you share.

Bill Nicholls said...

Poor old pheasants they seem to have forgotten how to fly because of all the breeding for shoots. My dad used to beat on shoots and said the pheasants used to come pecking around their feet looking for food. He used to shoo them back in the undergrowth to safety but always came home with a brace. Beautiful birds you caught for ringing

Findlay Wilde said...

You can rant away on here if you want, and sign the thunderclap too of course http://wildeaboutbirds.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/thunderclap-dont-let-shadows-win.html
Hope you get back to ringing soon

David Gascoigne said...

Your rant expanded my knowledge somewhat about I have always considered a pretty sordid aspect of game bird hunting in Britain. Let me point out that I am not intimately aware of how various bird societies and animal protection organizations operate in Britain, but would not this be a matter for the RSPB to take up? From what I understand it has a powerful voice and a membership well over a million people. It seems to me that it would hard for the British to condemn the wanton slaughter that occurs in the Mediterranean when these practices are sanctioned at home. In all advanced, modern democracies, surely it is time we can get past this kind of barbarism and let wildlife take its rightful place among us. Faint hope, huh?

Mary Cromer said...

The Bullfinch is certainly an interesting and also attractive bird. Happy that they decided not to claim their lives any longer...
Your story is a sad, true tale and I just don't understand...it always seems to stem on the mighty dollar, who cares what might go wrong in the meantime, so long as they raise enough birds to release for the big shoot out...hate it Phil!
Love that little Redpoll.
Happy remainder to your week~

Anu said...

I am afraid that the H5N8 will come to Finland via migratory birds. During winter is found some H5N8 cases in the West-coast of Finland. They were White-tailed eagles.

Les Fous du Cap said...

Quel plaisir trouvent-ils dans le tir de poulets ??? ;-)

Céline & Philippe

Stuart Price said...

I've seen all those species in Hokkaido this week (except Chaffinch).

Maybe the hunters will all die off from bird flu one day..........

A Colorful World said...

So sorry about the "game shooting"...it seems very irresponsible, since they aren't studying the affect on the wild bird population, and especially since the released birds aren't deemed necessarily healthy!

Love the bullfinch..your photos are awesome as always.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

That raise and release for shooting thing seems like a terrible idea. I hated the shooting scenes in Downton Abbey and The Crown and now I hate them even more.

I don't think we do that over here, but nobody I know is a hunter, so I'm not sure. I know we have introduced birds, like the Chinese Pheasant and there is a season on them.... but I think the original birds were just released into the wild in areas where they thought they would do well (and they were right)

Politicians are always on the side of the money. Most of them have no soul ... and even the ones who do have probably never spent much time outdoors doing normal activities, so they don't understand.

Jenn Jilks said...

That seems so shameful such hunting. They hunt around here, but deer and turkeys.

Love your birds!

Lowcarb team member said...

Oh Phil what a lovely collection of birds.
Their colours and markings are exquisite.

All the best Jan

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