This week we have seen the Badger Trust raise three main concerns with DEfRA over the pilot culls, but as yet, they have delayed any decision to launch a fresh legal bid to halt the pilot badger culls in England even after securing meetings at the highest level with senior DEfRA officials. Let us all hope DEfRA can still be made to see the error of their ways.
In and around the garden young chicks seem to be everywhere. Blackbird chicks, Hedge Sparrow chicks, Blue Tit chicks, Great Tit chicks and even some Wren chicks. The weather is suiting them all quite beautifully and what a privilege and a total joy it is to walk around the garden and see them all.
It is a reassuring sight in amongst choruses of calls from their parents trying to ascertain their whereabouts for yet another beak full of grubs.
I listen frequently to the reasons given on why the British garden bird has diminished in number by a staggering 60% and very often, to my surprise, some of the so called experts come out with the same old nonsense in blaming the Raptors, whereas in reality, the Raptors take very few garden birds. I have been very lucky to have had the advantage and the freedom to have been born and lived in an area of exceptional outstanding beauty and it has given me an insight and an understanding of nature ever since I was big enough to stand and hold a pair of binoculars.
We have always had a pair of Sparrow Hawks around our garden and they will undoubtedly take small birds, the clue is in their name Sparrow Hawk, and it is the only bird of prey that specialises in hunting a garden. His wings are so adapted that he can fly at low levels, turning in unbelievably tight, acute angles, and any garden which is blessed with one of nature’s breath taking pieces of art is all the richer for it. The Kestrels will work along the verges and along the hedgerows hunting out voles and mice, this menu is their preferred luncheon. The Buzzard along with the Red Kite will soar high in the sky on their look out for carrion, anything dead for they are and always have been opportunist specialists and kill very seldom. The Long Eared Owls, the Short Eared Owls, the Tawny Owls, the Barn Owls and even the Little Owls, don’t bother the British garden birds to any great extent. The biggest killer by far of British garden birds, and in my humble opinion the main culprit as to why British garden birds are in decline is the domestic cat.
I remember years ago I had an old pair of rough work boots. Although they were half worn they had got to that stage in any boot or shoe’s life when they had become their most comfortable. After some excursion across the fields, I managed to get them covered in mud so I put them under the bench outside our back door to clean off at a later date, when time was less pressing. Some weeks had passed and the sun had begun to shine and the ground had become dry once again. Spring was upon us and the boots that had been thrown under the bench I decided that now they would be the footwear of choice. I went out of the back door and as I approached the boots where they had been kicked off, under the bench, a Robin jumped out of one and flew off at speed. I picked up the boot and looked inside, there to my amazement were three young Robin chicks calling out for food. I gingerly put the boot back into position and told my mother and father that I would be wearing wellingtons for a little while longer, until the situation righted itself. As the chicks fledged and left the boot, the mother Robin used to venture in through the back door and as my mother cut the bread sandwiches for my father to take to work, the crumbs from the crust would fall from the bread board onto the floor. This was the Robin’s cue for breakfast, and I can remember as a youngster watching the Robin on my mother’s slipper picking up the bread crumbs as if he had every right in the world to be there, which in fact he did. It amused us all greatly at the time and it amuses me greatly now looking back.
Garden birds like most country animals become so very, very trusting. By putting a bell on a household cat the quality of life throughout the whole household takes on a whole new dimension. The household cat does not need the garden bird as he only catches them for fun, he does not eat them. His food is either out of tins or packets.
A garden once again will reverberate to the sound of the dawn chorus and the feel good factor for everyone and anyone who can marvel at it and listen to it, is a joy that can only be served up by nature.
Please watch my short film of my Badgers mozying about in woodland on a warm, spring evening.
Badgers mozying about on a warm, spring evening.