Should we stop placing such high value on rare species?

Attended an interesting talk by Martin Colledge on Gisburn Forest Past Present and Future organised by the Friends of Bowland. One of the things he highlighted was a meadow restoration project at the Gisburn Forest Hub. This meadow now has an abundance of common meadow species but he said apologetically no “rare species”. I think he said this because he believed there was a lot of  “hardened naturalists” in the audience. I think it is sad that there is, I am afraid to say, a well deserved perception that naturalists value rarity above all.  I have to say I strongly disagree with ascribing this high value to rarity,  if a species is rare it is by its very nature less ecologically significant than an abundant species (excluding apex predators). I believe this attitude damages wildlife conservation because it devalu...

March

On the 9th a Gray wagtail singing at the back of the house. Yesterday loud chattering in the trees and when we went indoors about 30 Siskins descended on the feeders. Today we are back down to 6 or 7 Siskins so presume we have seen migration in action. Regularly hearing and seeing at least one pair of Curlew. More and more plants starting to bud and a few now in flower such as the lungwort Pulmonaria  we eagerly await the bursting into flower of the Primula denticulata as these provide excellent early nectar for any early flying insects coming out of hibernation or emerging from pupa. Had a meeting yesterday with some fellow members of the Clitheroe Naturalists about how we could promote the group and bring in new “younger” blood. One of the things discussed was having one or more “Wildlife Wanders”. My idea for...
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Spring thick and fast

In the last week so much is happening have had no time to record it. 26 Feb. the first lump of frogspawn in the pond followed by a new clump on each of the following two days. Then a break until this morning with one more clump. Frog spawn Blue tits are exploring the nest boxes and possibly a Robin is building in one of the old kettles I have recycled as a nest box in the big tin shed. Now hearing Curlews and lots of bird song. Gamy wing the Starling has now learned to use both the peanut and fat snack feeders. Saw a queen wasp yesterday. We are getting more Siskins and Goldfinches now, plus still the occasional Brambling. Longtailed tits still visiting as groups but also as pairs. Been frantically sowing seed and splitting/transplanting perennials in the garden. At this time of year I dig up a lot of the Oxeyed daisy’s Leucanthemum v...

Is February the most annoying month?

The weather is horrible I hate and love February one day there can be sunshine and warmth enough to make us feel Spring has arrived the next can plunge us back into an arctic winter. Gamy wing the starling is still with us and I now wonder if it might become a permanent fixture. I should mention we have two other disabled avian residents Gamy leg a male blackbird who has a healed broken leg, he has been with us for at least three years and the year before last raised at least two broods. The third not quite right resident is Hoppy a Pheasant with a dodgy leg. There are a few signs of Spring the Dunnocks are chasing each other and flapping at each other. Pigeons are wing flapping, Wood peckers are drumming and the amount of song seams to increase daily. Saw a large Hare cross the field opposite the kitchen window this morning whilst making ...

Sparrowhawk wins a meal and a surprise visitor

Witnessed a Sparrowhawk take a Starling, I was outside changing the gas bottle when I heard a noise behind me, which sounded like a very muffled explosion. In the field behind me was a compact ball of Starlings the ball was much denser than the ball the form when moving around feeding and the sound was much louder. At first I only saw the Starlings and then a fraction of a second later I saw the Sparrowhawk swoop at the ball  from the right with its back to me looking like a fighter plane, part of the ball fragmented with a few Starlings peeling off from the group one in particular headed to the left as the main group headed to the right. The Sparrowhawk with a few twists and dives was immediately on the tail of this one Starling heading left. There was a few microseconds of move and counter move with eventually the Starling flying low ov...

Getting ready for Spring

Decided to revamp the pond before any frogs turned up. Last year we had a single male take up residence and over about a week, five lots of spawn appeared. So dug out the waders baled out some of the water into water butts along with some of the pond weed and algae. Then waded in and started digging, managed to deepen the centre by about a foot, so  now it is about one meter deep in the centre when full. I was hoping to add a liner but the pond was filling so fast I gave up on the idea. Not too worried as last summer I only had to top it up a few times though the level did fluctuate dramatically. Pond Also hard pruned a section of the boundary hedge amazingly this has added about one and a half meters to the wet meadow area.  Important to get this done before any nesting activity starts. The bird ringers visited us on Sunday and over a ...

Big Garden Birdwatch

Highest number seen in the garden at one time backbirds 4 Blue tit 5 Chaffinch 6 Coal tit 12 Dunnock 2 Great tit 4 Long-tailed tit 10 Robin 4 Starling 1 (this is the injured bird which looks to be getting better it can now fly up into the trees but the wing is still noticeably drooping) Also seen Nuthatch, Great spotted woodpecker and the ubiquitous Phesants and luckily two Buzzards flew through the woodland bordering the garden. Behind the house there is a flock of about 50 Starlings. Also early this morning saw a wagtail but could not tell which type. The Rabbits have started to venture into the garden to nibble on new shoots starting to emerge I will have to get out the chicken wire cylinders, to protect some of the more vulnerable plants. Have recently caught and dispatched a couple of rats who had moved into the barn presumably after s...
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Return of the Lapwing

16th Jan on the way to Clitheroe saw a flock of about 60 Lapwing presumably on one of their reconnaissance  flights from the coast. 17th Jan the Great spotted woodpecker is drumming on the tin plate capping a telegraph pole. Raked all the leaves off the gravel meadow and gave it a quick mow to knock back some of the grass and rush and both to help reduce the fertility of the soil. ...

A talk prompts a rediscovery

Went to a talk on Cross hill and Salt Hill nature reserves Clitheroe by Phil Dykes. The rich diversity of wildflower species was an eye opener  and now a firm promise to myself to pay these two sites much more attention. The talk was hosted by Clitheroe Naturalists and there hopefully will be a guided walk lead by Phil in the summer. This sudden cold spell has made the feeders even busier. The wounded Starling is still with us and can fly a bit, it managed to get about 30cm off the ground today. Not sure if it is related to the cold weather but we haven’t seen any Starlings flying over the house for a few days. Also today saw a Buzzard in the Ash tree by the gate, this is the closest we have ever seen one to the garden. ...

Looking forward to the Big Garden Birdwatch

Very simple to do sometime between 28-30 January watch the birds in your garden for an hour and record what you see. You can get full details and a free pack from https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch by post or you can download it. Currently in our garden we are getting Blue and Great tits, Coal tits, Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Longtailed tit, Robin, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Dunnock. We also have lots of Phesants! In the woodland outside the garden we regularly also see Tree creeper, Tawney owl, Jay and Magpie and in the fields Starlings Fieldfares and Redwings as well as Crows and Rooks. Above us we see Buzzards, Ravens and recently Kestrels. The injured starling is still about and is starting to fly a bit so fingers crossed for it making a full recovery. A great help is this BTO collection of...

New Year at Crow Wood Farm

Had a quick look around for wild flowers in bloom yesterday and found none. A look round the garden found the following garden plants in flower Dame’s Violet (Hesperis matronalis) Primrose and Wallflower both garden varieties. Over the last couple of weeks a male Sparrowhawk has been a regular visitor sitting on the bird table, in a vain hope his dinner would come to him. Not seen him for a couple of days which is fortunate for an injured Starling that appeared the garden three days ago with a drooping wing and unable to fly. Talking of Starlings every few days large flocks fly directly over the house on their way to roost, possibly they are part of the roost at Blackpool. As they regularly fly directly over the house and sometimes low enough to hear the wing beats, we wonder if our house is used as a landmark. The sound of a fl...

Fancy a new year plant hunt?

Need an excuse to get out in the fresh air after festive excesses? take part in the annual New Year Plant Hunt organised by the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland. It is very simple between the 1st and 4th on Jan go out looking for wild plants in flower. full details at http://bsbi.org/new-year-plant-hunt ...

Sustainable Tourism

Went to the Forest of Bowland Sustainable Tourism Forum last night. This is an annual event for Tourism businesses who support the aims of the AONB and want to be more environmentally friendly. The night was also the venue for the annual meetings of two organisations. Bowland Experience a business support network of which I am a Director and Champion Bowland a charity which gives small grants for environmental projects. One of the speakers was Amanda Parker from Browsholme Hall who had just won the Lancs. Tourism Sustainable Tourism Award. ...
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The debate to ban driven grouse shooting

After listening to the full debate I was left very depressed and it did nothing to dissuade me that this is not the beginning of the end for shooting. All of the fine arguments of biodiversity, employment and rural economic sustainability will not sway or influence the majority of ban supporters or stop that support growing whilst illegal raptor persecution continues. I think we are years away from a ban but unless the shooting industry radically changes I believe a ban is inevitable. The shooting industry has the power to stamp out illegal killing. If they don’t I think the support for a ban will just keep relentlessly growing especially as technical advances and increase in public awareness will lead to more reporting and discovery of persecution.  Eventually like fox hunting the numbers will grow sufficiently to start possibly in...

Petition to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting

This is the link to video of the debate http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/0b841a46-eb3d-44b3-83b7-9500482b6d92 and transcript https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-10-31/debates/06472E95-10EC-49A0-BF93-84CAD2BE4191/DrivenGrouseShooting

Thank you Slaidburn Brownies and Rainbows

Slaidburn Brownies and Rainbows won a class The Friends of Bowland sponsored at this years Hodder Show me and Louise and Jane Baddeley Chair of FoB visited them at one of their sessions to present the prize and talk to them about wildlife. We also took along some wildlife stuff to show them. It was a fantastic evening the children were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic and we plan to help them do some wildlife projects next summer. We were really pleased when I got a call from the AONB office that someone had left a card for me it turned out to be a wonderful hand drawn card from the group see below. ...

An interesting talk and Bowland’s future as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Went to an interesting talk hosted by the Friends of Bowland last night, the speaker was John Alpe who farms behind the Inn at Whitewell. Most of the talk was about the educational work he has done, on and off the farm. I got the impression that most if not all the land was or is farmed organically and farmed for conservation. However, and I apologise if I have got this completely wrong, but the impression I got was that the motivation for this was financial and that if it had been more profitable to go in the opposite direction he would. This got me thinking about how things may change in the future and how fragile the natural beauty of Bowland is. The first thing that came to mind is realisation that The Forest of Bowland is not an area of “Outstanding Natural Beauty”, it is an area containing outstanding natural beauty. Th...

Petition to ban driven Grouse Shooting

Following the online petition to ban driven Grouse Shooting passing the 100,000 mark which now means there will be a parliamentary debate on the subject on 31st October. In preparation for this the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and Petitions Committee questioned Dr Mark Avery, petition creator, Jeff Knott, Head of Nature Policy, RSPB, Amanda Anderson, Director, The Moorland Association, and Liam Stokes, Head of Shooting, The Countryside Alliance. You can watch this interesting presentation of ideas in full here parliamentlive.tv/event/index/cf85fa5a-c53d-40d7-9b6a-abe86c35ee4e my personal view is that ecologically well managed Grouse Moors can play a positive role in the mix of upland land uses and the loss of active management could have serious negative environmental consequences. However I do believe if Grouse Shooting an...