Friday, February 28, 2020


Help.  It's looking like there will be no ringing or birding until the middle of next week.

As if this isn't bad enough I’m assaulted on all sides after posting a few doubts that according to that eminent scientist Professor Prince Charles, the Earth and life as we know it will end ten tears from tomorrow. A fellow bird blogger on the other side of the world blacklisted me because I view Extinction Rebellion as a bunch of anarchist vandals and pointed out that Doom Goblin is an emotionally damaged, traumatised child.

And then C4, BBC newsreaders and Countryfile insert into every other sentence the phrase "global warming", and I lose the will to live.  I'm old enough to remember when the BBC was a trusted institution and Countryfile was about the countryside rather than a chance to mark my Bingo card with buzz words.

"Carbon footprint", "hot weather records", "cold weather records", "drought/climate change", "floods/climate change", "CO2 emissions", "bio-fuels", "turnips", "fossil fuels", "vegan sausage roll".  House!

“We’re not going to give a platform to climate deniers,” is the current mantra from mainstream media who all agree that humans are mostly to blame for altering Earth’s climate.  “The science is settled”. 

"The Science Is Settled"

I’m neither a “denier” nor a “believer”.  I’m an ordinary open minded bloke who does his best to seek the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth from the complexities of the climate change story. 

This post is not to debate the merits of today’s apparent consensus that humans have a decisive, apocalyptic impact on the climate. It might be correct, but there is enough doubt and curiosity in my mind to want to examine and question it; more so when it is accompanied by a fervour equivalent to religious fanaticism.  Perhaps my cynicism stems from the time as a child when my parents packed me off to Sunday afternoon Salvation Army while they found better things to do?

Funny that.  At the time I really believed in the Biblical Flood and Noah's Ark.  Fell for it hook line and sinker.  Mind you, back then I was seven or eight years old.

Noah's Ark

The point is that if someone is absolutely 100 percent convinced that there is a Climate Emergency, as evidently 99% of mainstream media do, they have a right to say their mind is settled.  But please never say the science of this or any equally complex subject is “settled.” I could quote many, many examples from ornithology where the science is ever changing and far from settled. But, leave that aside for another day. 

The crucial lesson was learned centuries ago, when something far simpler than Earth’s climate was hotly debated.  Back then the scientific community was convinced beyond doubt that the planet lay at the centre of the universe.  In the sixteenth century, Nicolaus Copernicus, a “geocentric denier,” to use today’s scornful labelling, was mocked for believing the sun was at the centre of everything. Mainstream scientists and university professors of the day decreed the science settled and justified their “evidence-based” derision of Copernicus by citing the piles of data in favour of the geocentric consensus. Tragically, if a good number of today’s “trusted sources” had been around, silly old Copernicus would not have been allowed to argue his case. 

Ditto for that other notorious geocentric denier, Galileo Galilei. In the early seventeenth century even the Catholic Church, which had long since reconciled scripture with science’s earth-centred consensus, condemned Galileo for his wayward thinking. Declaring that both science and scripture were settled, the Pope’s chief inquisitor sentenced the aged astronomer to house arrest but only after shaming him into publicly recanting his denial of geocentricism. 

Albert Einstein once faced a similar kind of lynch mob. In his day the scientific establishment believed that time and space were absolutes, and cited as incontrovertible proof a vast literature of peer-reviewed, published studies. Collectively, mainstream scientists mocked Einstein’s belief that space and time were relative. Yet, as everyone now knows, Einstein, like Copernicus, Galileo, and scores of other vindicated “deniers” over the centuries, ultimately disproved the promoted scientific consensus. 

The list is long of examples in history where scientific consensuses have been disproved. Worse - disproved only after “deniers” were crushed and destroyed for questioning nonconformist interpretations of available evidence. 

The lesson should be crystal clear. Science, the most brilliant discipline, the only method for understanding the universe, is fallible and therefore always up for debate. 

Current policy is dangerously unscientific. And so are the calls by many individuals to not just silence, but also to punish or deny a voice to anyone who dares to question the current consensus of human caused climate change. 

What these “scientists” are telling us is that a Climate Emergency will destroy the west’s economic and social ecology even though: 
  • There’s no evidence that current changes in the climate are different from the fluctuations in climate over many centuries 
  • The idea that a chaotic and highly complex climate can be significantly affected by anything human beings do on their tiny pinhead of a planet in a vast universe is intrinsically absurd 
  • All climate forecasts are based on computer modelling which is unable to process this level of complexity and unpredictability; modelling that is also susceptible to false assumptions fed into the programmes, programmes that go on to produce false results 
  • Much evidence of current environmental trends is ambiguous and contested 
  • Scientists in climate-related fields can often obtain grant funding only if their research corresponds to the theory of apocalyptic anthropogenic global warming. 
Nevertheless, scientists with intellectual and moral integrity continue to challenge this bogus science with integrity, curiosity and facts. Kudos to them.

Meanwhile our old friend John Kettley just stuck his head above the BBC parapet. Lucky for him he no longer works there otherwise he would be collecting his P45 on Friday.

John Kettley

Don't worry John.  The BBC will soon become extinct too.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Little Surprise

Birders with eyes on the skies and ears to the ground will not be surprised by a RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) report that raptor persecution shows no signs of slowing down across the UK.  Are we also shocked to learn that while the figures are scandalous enough, they simply scratch the surface when many incidents go undetected and unreported? 

Another Bird Blog has alluded to this in the past when in this part of Lancashire the Common Buzzard mysteriously disappears from regular locations where countryside folk love their shoots.  Exchanges with such folk reveals a huge distaste for Buzzards, Sparrowhawks and Peregrines. In many cases the same people have little or zero knowledge of each species other than their own ingrained prejudices and misconceptions about "hook-bills". 




The RSPB revealed this week that 2018 saw 67 incidents of bird of prey persecution confirmed in England alone, equalling the previous highest in the country noted way back in 2007. These figures come as the RSPB’s Raptor Persecution Hub, originally launched in 2018, and now for the first time depicting a full 12 years' worth of confirmed raptor persecution incidents back to 2007. 

There’s an interactive map where a user can filter and search for incidents in their own locality.  The visual map makes for a better appreciation of a problem that will not go away.

RSPB - Raptor Persecution 

Over a 12-year period, 22 species of bird of prey were targeted. Species of highest conservation concern include Hen Harrier (13 incidents), Northern Goshawk (24), White-tailed Eagle (4) and Golden Eagle (14). 

Common Buzzard is the most frequently persecuted, with 428 incidents involving the species. Red Kite is in second place with 189 incidents and Peregrine Falcon - 131 in third. 

Red Kite 

Other victims include Eurasian Hobby, multiple Long-eared and Little Owls and singles of Red-footed Falcon and Eurasian Eagle-Owl. The Red-footed Falcon was well documented at the time, a well-twitched bird seen in Staffordshire and Lincolnshire before being found shot in Cambridgeshire. 

Red-footed Falcon 

There are several clear black-spots, where persecution is highly prevalent with little surprise that the majority are in areas of upland habitat, often used for driven grouse shooting: 
  •  North Yorkshire accounts for more than 10% of the 1,200+ incidents over the 2007-18 period,   with   132 at an average of 11 per year. 
  • Highland Scotland with 71 incidents (5.6%)
  • Scottish Borders at 58 incidents (4.6%) 
  • Angus at 44 incidents (3.5%) 
Shooting is the most common form of persecution with 484 confirmed such instances. Poisoning was close behind on 472. A further 194 were due to trapping of which 104 were pole/spring traps, while 30 findings were of nest destruction. 

The figures above are simply the number exposed and will have little bearing on the actual number of birds of prey targeted in the year while detection rates remain low. Mounting evidence shows that crimes against raptors are more covert as the perpetrators become more secretive in their movements. This follows the enactment of vicarious liability legislation and the increased use of satellite tags to monitor raptors and a reduction in poisoning incidents, presumably because such crimes become increasingly easy to detect. 


The figures show that few areas of the UK are unaffected. It is also obvious that the highest concentration of these incidents tend to occur where the land is managed for intensive driven grouse shooting. 

The RSPB - “This data underpins the need for urgent changes which must be made to protect our magnificent birds of prey, and put an end to this appalling slaughter once and for all."

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

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Another January

We’re into the third week of storms with no prospect of birding or ringing for several days. Storm Ella is lined up to be next. 

Almost every day has been so awful that I have struggled to get out birding or ringing, even for the occasional “window of opportunity”. Everyone is pretty fed up, not least those people whose homes have been flooded.  Fortunately here in coastal Lancashire, apart from fencing panels, we have escaped any serious damage, but there’s more to come from the current cycle with its misplaced and overactive jet stream.  

UK 2020 - Getty Images 

Meanwhile the Government is happy to blame so called “climate change” for the damage and destruction while muddying the waters, diverting attention from building on flood plains; or forgetting to mention the Environment Agency’s failure to properly maintain dykes, ditches and rivers because of the European Water Framework Directive 2000. Roll on 2021 when Britain becomes again an independent nation, free from the dictats of unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, and when our politicians will be paid for making decisions of their own. 

For those of an enquiring mind willing to read other than mainstream media I recommend:

That’s the whinge over for now.  Meanwhile a few pictures from January 2011 and a holiday in sunny Egypt where we saw a somewhat limited range of species within the confines of the resort of Makadi Bay, Hurghada.  A couple of miles of beach plus 15 or so lush hotel grounds provided ample time and opportunity for birding while soaking up the winter sun. 

Makadi Bay, Egypt

 Red-throated Pipit




Laughing Dove

Makadi Bay 

Sleepy Camel

Striated Heron


Cattle Egret 

 Makadi Bay, Egypt

Makadi Bay, Egypt

Hooded Crow



Greater Sand Plover


Cattle Egret

We had a great time with two weeks of unbroken sunshine in the eighties when back home there would be rain, wind and whatever else the British weather might throw at us.   

I know someone who went to Hurghada just two years ago. Following terrorist atrocities in Egypt the rules are now more controlling whereby tourists are unable to leave the confines of their hotel grounds, barred even from walking into neighbouring hotel surroundings because of security concerns - such a shame.

It's raining now.  Back soon - sometime, never?

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

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Beating Dennis

We’re braced for more bad weather at weekend as forecasters warn that Storm Dennis follows hot on the tail of Storm Ciara. There’s a yellow weather warning in place for Saturday. 

Meanwhile, and away from click-bait headlines, bird ringers scrutinise the forecasts for a window of respite where they might connect with a few birds. Thursday looked such a day with a few hours of lesser winds and the chance of an odd shower rather than bouts of rain. 

The previous visit to Gulf Lane and Project Linnet was 5 February when we bumped up the total of Linnet captures for winter 2019/2020 to 109 new ones and two recaptures from 2018. That’s about half where we hoped to be at this point in 2020. 

Recent visits to drop our supplementary seed have shown the Linnets’ hunger has overtaken their natural and normally very cautious nature as groups of up to 30 birds fed in the seed drop zone. 


On Thursday morning I met up with Andy at 0845 where we set the whoosh net, dropped more seed and then waited.  We didn’t hang around too long as the Linnets arrived in their customary fashion of small groups that eventually built to a flock of circa 140 individuals. 

Two pulls of the whoosh net resulted in a catch of 39 Linnets - 37 new unringed ones and 2 recaptures. The 39 comprised of 13 second year males, 11 second year females, 10 adult males and 5 adult females. 

Field Sheet 

Recapture S348959, now an adult male had been ringed here at Gulf as a juvenile of unknown sex on 5 August 2017. We have no recaptures for this bird from 5/8/17 until today, a gap of about two and a half years. 

Recapture AKE 3707 had been amongst the catch of 5 February 2020. 

Linnet - adult male 

Linnet - tail of adult male  

Not all adult tails are as clear cut as the example above. 

It seems the Met Office has gone "woke" and prepared for the year of storms ahead with a suitably non-binary, diverse and inclusive list of names in the frames but no Andy or Phil as far as I can see. 

Storms to come

Stop by to Another Bird Blog soon to see how we beat the Met Office storm predictions.

Linking today to  Anni's Birding and Eileen's Blogspot.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Highs And Lows

The morning ended on a high note following a rather disappointing ringing session. On the drive back home from Oakenclough via Garstang Town and Eagland Hill, I spotted a day-hunting Barn Owl. 

Barn Owl 

Barn Owl

Barn Owl 

Barn Owl 

Barn Owl

On Wednesday evening a check online told me that our last visit to Oakenclough was 10 November 2019, almost three months ago. At 700 feet above sea level Oakenclough can be desolate in winter, even more so given the wet and wind that continually overwhelmed plans to return. Only now, part way through February 2020 did the weather relent enough to allow a return to this our most productive of ringing sites. 

The ringing database DemOn showed that 2019 produced 867 captures at Oakenclough. Willow Warbler, Blue Tit and Redwing were the most ringed species at 85, 85 and 84 respectively, these three followed by 82 Goldcrest, 78 Meadow Pit and 70 Lesser Redpoll. Not many complaints there other than an unprecedented lack of Siskins (just 20) and far too many Blue Tits, a by-catch species that gives little return. 

As an early year exploratory visit we rather hoped that Lesser Repoll, Siskin and Goldcrest might be on the cards this morning but apart from a single Goldcrest, there was little evidence of early spring migration. We caught just 12 birds - 4 Blue Tit, 2 Chaffinch and singles of Dunnock, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Wren , Blackbird and Great Tit. 





Never mind. We’ll try again after Storm Ciara has passed. 

“A Met Office yellow warning about Storm Ciara has been brought forward to midday on Saturday. It is set to bring a deep low pressure with strong and possibly damaging winds, with widespread travel disruption expected.  Coastal areas may be affected by large waves and potential flooding. 

Met Office 

The warning is in place until midnight on Sunday. The forecast is of gusts between 50-60 mph across inland areas that could reach speeds of 70 mph and possibly 80 mph in exposed hills and coasts.” 

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

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Forty Today

If only! Forty refers not to the ages of the ringers but to the number of Linnets captured at Gulf Lane this morning. 

Morning arrived with overcast skies, a slight frost and zero wind so Andy and I set a couple single panel nets in what is basically a field of flat vegetation. After the catch of 25 Linnets on Thursday last we set the whoosh net again, hoping that one or even both catching systems might work. 

Morning Start

We have noticed how in the last week, and as the natural seed depletes, the Linnets are more prepared to come to our supplementary seed. 


Lack of food in winter has been identified as a contributor to the national declines in numbers of some farmland birds. The observation that many farmland birds use game crops in winter prompted research into the potential of seed crops as a conservation measure and to then develop it further in helping those species that had suffered. Nowadays wild bird seed mixtures are included as an option in agri-environment schemes and appropriate Countryside Stewardship habitat options. 

Different seed crop species retain their seed for differing periods through the winter. By January and certainly into February overall seed supply reduces greatly, and is often completely exhausted. For these crops, seed supply declines as bird numbers increase during the first half of the winter, and bird numbers then drop in response to the continuing decline in the supply of food, the so called “hunger gap”.  This is a time when supplementary feeding is hugely beneficial in keeping birds alive. 

Our supplementary seed proved its worth today when we fired the whoosh net three times as the Linnets came back for more of the millet/rape seed.  Of the forty Linnets caught, 30 came from the whoosh net and 10 from the mist nets. 


Field Sheet

The forty comprised 38 new ones and 2 recaptures from previous years. It’s very unusual to have recaptures here at Gulf Lane, the huge turnover of Linnets during a typical winter means the odds of catching the same bird twice are very low. 

At the foot of the sheet are the two recaptures - S800964 an adult male, and AJD6366, an adult female, the first recaptures of the 2019/20 autumn/winter. 

S800964 was a large male with a wing length of 87 mm, the only recapture since it was first ringed on 9 March 2018.  Female AJD6366 was first ringed here on 22 November 2018 but not in the intervening period until today.

A single Wren made 41 birds for the day. This is the only capture of a Wren on site throughout the whole of the winter, even though there is always one around.


There's more news soon from Another Bird Blog.  Maybe tomorrow! 

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