Before I get onto the latest barbaric proposal by the Tory bunch of 'merchant bankers' who claim to be the greenest government (what a fecking joke) yet, to destroy further species of our already beleaguered birds of prey, you might have noticed a change in my blog title!
The reason for the change is to reflect more of what my blog is about and also because all the Fleetwood bird stuff is covered in my good mate Ian and I's new blog Fleetwood Bird Observatory Depending on the success of our new blog and our commitment to it the title 'Fleetwood Birder' may return in the future! To launch my new blog title I was going to regale you with a tale of a classic days birding in late May in Norfolk in 1987, but that will have to wait until another day. Instead I am having to pass on more depressing news for the fortunes of yet another of our magnificent raptors.
Listening to the today programme on Radio 4 this morning I heard about Defras plans to control Buzzard numbers so some of the irresponsible gun toting idiots can have more tame Pheasants to blast for a giggle. No doubt this will all be dressed up as how Pheasant shooting is important for the rural economy, which is the usual lame excuse the 'boys in blue' come up with to keep all their wealthy chums happy. The income from blasting tame Pheasants won't be anywhere near as much as the income from tourism by people visiting the countryside to enjoy our magnificent birds of prey.
Anyway, below is an article from the good people at Birdguides
'The RSPB is stunned by Defra's plan to allow the destruction of Common Buzzard nests and to permit Buzzards to be taken into captivity to remove them from shooting estates. The Society believes this intervention against one of England's best-loved birds of prey will set a terrible precedent and prove to be a costly and unnecessary exercise. The move by Defra followed lobbying by the Pheasant-shooting industry. Buzzards usually scavenge on animals that have already died, but they will sometimes take young Pheasants that are released for sports shooting.
The Buzzard was eradicated from large swathes of Britain following decades of persecution. Legal protection and a general warming of attitudes towards Buzzards and other birds of prey on the part of many lowland land-managers led to Buzzards recovering across the UK: a fantastic conservation success story. Martin Harper is the RSPB's conservation director. Criticising Defra's proposal, he said: "We are shocked by Defra's plans to destroy Buzzard nests and to take Buzzards into captivity to protect a non-native game bird released in its millions. Buzzards play a minor role in Pheasant losses compared with other factors like collisions with vehicles."
Pheasants are not native to the UK. Around 40 million birds are released every year for shooting. The impacts of this practise on wildlife have been poorly documented, but serious questions have been raised about the impact such a large injection of captive-reared birds might have on the predator–prey balance in our countryside. Buzzards will take young pheasants from rearing pens, given the opportunity, but the RSPB believes the issue can be managed without destroying nests or moving Buzzards. Measures include providing more cover for young Pheasants in release pens, visual deterrents to discourage birds of prey and providing alternative food sources.
Mr Harper added: "There are options for addressing the relatively small number of Pheasant poults lost to Buzzards. Destroying nests is completely unjustified and catching and removing Buzzards is unlikely to reduce predation levels as another Buzzard will quickly take its place. Both techniques would be illegal under current wildlife laws, and I think most people will agree with us that reaching for primitive measures, such as imprisoning Buzzards or destroying their nests, when wildlife and economic interests collide is totally unacceptable. At a time when funding for vital conservation work is so tight, and with another bird of prey, the Hen Harrier, facing extinction as a breeding bird in England, I can think of better ways of spending £400,000 of public funds. This money could work harder for wildlife, and I hope the Government will therefore put a stop to this project."
Mick Carroll of the Northern England Raptor Forum said: "Given that Buzzards are still recovering from past persecution and there is no evidence they are a significant cause of loss, this is a scandalous waste of public money." Nigel Middleton, Hawk and Owl Trust Conservation Officer for the Eastern Region, said: "We are totally against persecution of any birds of prey, and destroying the nests of Buzzards is tantamount to this. We believe that alternatives should always be sought to lethal control where the commercial interests of humans come into conflict with birds of prey."
I don't want to say anymore because I will end up ranting, but it is possible to have a look at a project specification by Defra entitled 'The Development Techniques to Reduce Predation of Pheasant Poults by Buzzards'. If it wasn't so terrifying it would be funny. There are phrases like "a 2011 survey by the National Gamekeepers Organisation found that 76% of gamekeepers believe that Buzzards have a harmful effect on gamebirds". Oh what a surprise! That's a good bit of unbiased research to base a policy on then. I imagine that you could add any predator species into that and a majority of gamekeepers would say that they were having a harmful effect on gamebirds. What will be next; Sparrowhawks?! It then goes on to say that BBS 2010 results for breeding Buzzards in England shows an increase in the breeding population of 146% between 1995 and 2009". So that's it then, the population of Buzzards has increased, the Gamekeepers Association says they are having a harmful effect on non-native tame gamebirds soon to be blasted for a giggle, so lets have a cull. Sickening!