Showing posts from February, 2023

Virtually nothing

It isn't news. It should really come as no surprise to any of us. Our wild bird population is in free-fall, cartwheeling downwards to some horrible, unimaginable base figure.  For years we have been talking about the demise of such species as Turtle Doves and Spotted Flycatchers, but these migrant losses have been explained away as not really being of the UK making - it is the expansion of the Sahel desert you see, or the southern-Mediterranean hunters blasting them out of the sky. Our Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers are suffering at the hands (wings?) of nest site competition from Ring-necked Parakeets, not our fault but that of a foreign interloper. Our Willow Tits are being removed from southern England because of the drying out of habitat, a world-wide symptom of climate changing, so not our fault really. And now, any collapse of any bird population in the UK will be down to the bird-flu pandemic, handily attributed to unhygienic poultry-farming in some far-off country. The reasons

Something old, something new

It can be disquieting returning to a place that you have strong ties to after many years of absence. This morning, 64-year-old me retrod ground that I haven't walked since 1976, when, as a 17-year old I birded Ashtead and Epsom Commons. Back then I used to catch a bus from Sutton and get off just before Ashtead village, and, via a railway crossing, emerge out onto a lovely area of open ground, with scrub at knee- and waist-height. This was the haunt of guaranteed Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers and Willow Tits, plus, in the summer, several pairs of reeling Grasshopper Warblers. Since those halcyon days my visits to the common have been by entry from the other side, concentrating around the stew ponds. It was with some nervousness that I found the railway crossing and went through the gates. Would it all be scrubbed up now? This is what I found... In some aspects I was heartened that I could still recognise the area. Admittedly, the trees are taller (and after 47-years it would be surpri