Last Wednesday on my journey to work, in and around the bends on the country lanes, the hedgerows looked quite magnificent with the tall grasses and cow parsley. Whilst marvelling at this, as always, I was greeted with the flacking and flailing of wings; as I got over the top of the brow the creature giving this fractious display revealed itself as a buzzard. I had obviously disturbed him in the midst of his acquisition of a breakfast snack. As he forced his wings down through the air to give himself lift, leaving a panic-stricken weasel behind, one couldn’t help but notice the extreme energy being used to force this giant bird back into the air space. Once at the right height to glide on the thermals, one can see why it is said that there is no bird in the British Isles that perfects this craft more masterly. Needless to say, the weasel did not hang about, scurrying into the long grass and cow parsley to reach the hedge once on the other side.
I was so pleased this week to hear that Natural England has seen sense and turned down a licence request by some sporting estate to shoot and trap ten buzzards. If this request had been granted, it would have opened the flood gates and we would have been back in the position that we were in the sixties through to the eighties when to see these birds one had to be in a bird sanctuary, due to the fact that they were all but wiped out throughout the British countryside. The absurd excuse given for this mass killing was that with such birds in the countryside it would render the ground nesting birds nearly extinct.
What amuses me these days is that when I think back to the sixties and seventies, I can see on every gate, every hedge and hanging from every tree stoats, weasels, jackdaws, rooks, crows, squirrels, magpies and jays; all killed mainly to protect the pheasant and partridge populations. It did nothing for the wild birds of the country, for there is no doubt that the natural British bird population was far more plentiful and diverse than what it is today, although numbers across all regions are now starting to stabilise. It would be nice to say the numbers are going northwards but from my experience and observations, if anything, for a lot of our British birds their numbers are largely in a southward trend.
To kill weasels, stoats, buzzards, hawks, kestrels and kites on a pretence that they are having a devastating effect on British wild birds is absolute nonsense and clearly not true for I witnessed just Wednesday morning the aerial arch enemy of the game keeper trying to make a breakfast of a ground enemy of the game keeper, the weasel. Let nature be the checks and balances and a countryside will remain more diverse, more natural and far more robust to the month on month element change that we have all witnessed throughout the whole of our lives. The architect of the master class that surrounds us all in this beautiful countryside is Mother Nature herself, whether it is your shooting or your hunting or your fishing, if the main aim is to artificially enhance certain elements of nature at the expense of another, you will only create an imbalance and intolerance that the integrity of nature continues to struggle with.
In other news, it was great to see this week the 89 year old veteran Bernard Jordan from the 1944 D Day landings get himself up from his old people’s home across the channel to be once again on the shores of Normandy. Quite an amazing story. A lesson for all the leaders of the States present to look up to. The sort of spirit shown by this elderly gentleman was the spirit that makes the United Kingdom what it is to this day and is the kind of spirit which is now very much needed more than ever to protect our British badgers from another roll out of this cursed 2014 badger cull. Please watch my short film of woodland dwellers, living in the way in which nature intended: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtDwSyOnF5A
Countryside is a much impoverished place without the magnificence of the buzzard.