Just when you thought it was safe…
(This article first appeared in the November 2012 edition of ‘Birdwatching’)
Just when you think things cannot get worse life turns around and bites you on the butt… I ranted last month about rich landowners stealing our wildlife out of their selfish desire to kill wild things for sport. The RSPB and others reported that the Hen Harrier is on the brink of complete extirpation from England and yet still they are persecuted, as are Red Kites and Golden Eagles in Scotland. Anything at the top of the food chain seems to be in the sights of these unspeakable people. Hot on the heels of my rant and the dire warnings of conservation groups comes news that DEFRA is going to issue licences allowing pheasant shoots to trap buzzards and destroy their nests.
This is not just immoral and selfish it is, of course, completely bonkers. Buzzards have always held on in good numbers in the north and west and in the last few decades they have managed to regain much of their former range in the south and east. Even Kent and East Anglia now has early colonisers nesting and slowly expanding wherever there are woodlands to nest and rabbits to live on. So, if you eliminate them by whatever means on an estate, all this will do is draw in birds from the surrounding countryside, just in the way that foxes recolonize the country from the towns when populations are wiped out by the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.
Government is not renown for getting things right. Indeed it has a long history of wasting our taxes on projects that are a complete waste of time and squandering our precious resources whether it be on Blue Streak in the 1960s or senseless wars on foreign turf more recently. Why, one might ask, should the current lot be any different.
Well they say they want to be the ‘greenest’ ever regime. They say that the welfare state is safe in their hands. They say that they favour the ordinary working man over City fat cats. It used to be said that the Church of England was the Tory Party at prayer. Well, in my view, pheasant shooting parties are city bankers at play. How can it be a source of pride to shoot a bird out of the sky that doesn’t like flying and has been driven towards the guns? If you want to prance about the country in a jacket with leather patches become a geography teacher.
It must be that these buffoons are part of a slow migration that occurs every weekend when all those Chelsea Tractors pine for a country lane to roar down, a pheasant to chase or a peasant to pitch into a ditch.
I have to assume that the Cabinet of Millionaires are, once again, favouring the needs of their rich pals rather than 99% of the population. Most people will be stunned to learn that, apparently, it is a priority to spend £375,000 to catch buzzards to see if this makes any difference to artificially raised non-native poults!
Should we be surprised when the minister responsible inherited a 20,000 acre walled estate, can’t tell a minnow from a kipper, thinks ragwort is an invasive foreign plant and happily created a quarry in the face of considerable opposition from local conservationists… the perfect fellow to be appointed to look after the environment.
There’s no point in me tearing out any more of my greying locks… the Guardian and others can lampoon, us ordinary folk can rant and rave, but this will just fall upon the deaf ears of those who honestly believe that they are destined to rule by virtue of the fact that their ancestors stole half of the nation from the people. Obviously taxation is just a means to avoid spending your inherited wealth on stupid and selfish schemes.
On a lighter note my better half has withdrawn rations from our babies.
Our yard is somewhat smaller than the ministers. It is probably a great deal smaller than his butler’s pantry. Nevertheless, it managed to attract in no less than 50 young starlings and their over taxed parents. It was OK when the marauding hordes just cost us a fortune in fat-balls. Maggie tolerated their early morning cacophony; she even forgave the odd bit of ‘bird lime’ discharged on her newly hung washing. What she could not allow was the destruction of half of our newly planted patio plants. These bully boys sat on anything and everything while they waited for mum or dad to come stuff them with high-energy offerings. After a week of putting up with them, she bade them farewell and withdrew the food for a couple of days forcing them to climb the fence and devour a neighbour’s bird food and squash his petunias and peonies instead of ours.
Tomorrow we will hang up the nyjer and sunflower seeds, put out some peanuts and mealworms and hope that the finches, tits and other passerines will forgive us and return now that they can get a look in.
I cannot see how anyone can derive pleasure from slaughtering game birds, but they clearly do – perhaps they enjoy eating them while trying to avoid cracking a crown on a bit of buckshot. On the other hand, whether I am abroad watching a Steller’s Eider or at home watching a Starling the pleasure I derive from my simple and harmless pastime is endless.
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