Thursday, 21 August 2014

Birdwatch - latest editorial

Last summer I took my 13-year-old daughter on her first demonstration – not because I thought it was time she learned how to wave placards and hold up traffic, but because she wanted to protest. Like me, she could not believe that – against both common sense and scientific advice – the government was authorising large-scale culling of Badgers. Nor could the thousands of others on that march, nor those who have continued to oppose the policy through legal channels since then, and who have recently won a minor victory against DEFRA in the High Court.

Protesting doesn’t always lead to change; sometimes it scarcely makes a difference. But it’s important to make our voices heard. If we who care don’t stand up for wildlife, who will? Earlier this year this magazine was criticised for ‘political activism’ in publishing Bill Oddie’s attack on the government’s claim to be the ‘greenest’ administration yet, but we are far from alone in advocating better policies for wildlife, at home and abroad.

Does any birder really oppose the new on-the-ground initiatives this spring that helped put the illegal slaughter of millions of migrant birds in Malta firmly back on the agenda? Of course they don’t – we are all activists, in spirit if not in deed.

More recently, there has been the dynamic attempt to tackle the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers in Britain, initiated by concerned and motivated individuals who are actually beginning to make something happen. There’s a long way to go before this issue is resolved, but it’s been a great start. Maybe something will change this time: certainly, in the 22-year lifetime of this magazine, I cannot recall a cause that so rapidly drew support from the birding public or achieved such a huge reach.

As a magazine we’re proud to be at the centre of support for the Hen Harrier campaign, and to use our voice to highlight all such issues of conservation concern.

Reproduced from the September issue of Birdwatch, on sale today

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Birding the Azores - read all about it

The report on the Azores birding tour I led last autumn has been accessible on the Birdwatch website for some time now, but in case any blog followers have missed it and want to get an idea of what this annual vagrant-finding fest is all about, here it is to enjoy 'direct'. It's only two months to this year's trip, on which there are two last places remaining (you can also access the 2012 trip summary via that link). With all the talk this week of the post-tropical storm that was Hurricane Bertha passing across the Atlantic, I'm already wondering what American migrants have been deposited on unwatched European territory in the Atlantic.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Patch pit-stop

After gulling on the Thames this morning I took the opportunity to head east for a quick visit to my local patch at Rainham Marshes RSPB reserve. I timed it to arrive over high tide, and was duly rewarded with a few waders and other species of interest, the best being 2 Garganey (including the eclipse drake below), 10 Little Egrets, 5 Little Ringed Plovers, Common, Wood and 4 Green Sandpipers, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Eurasian Whimbrel, and single Eurasian Curlew, Water Rail and Hobby.

A record shot of today's eclipse drake Garganey (note the blue forewing just visible, and broad white upper wing-bar).
It wasn't great weather for flying insects, so I was particularly pleased to find a Jersey Tiger moth near the Cordite Store. The only other one I've seen at Rainham, a more ragged example, was in the same area. This shot was taken with my iPhone and has been cropped but not otherwise adjusted.


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