Thursday, 8 November 2012

Egg on my face!

I believe you have to laugh in life and most importantly be able to laugh at yourself! Well I had to laugh at myself the other day!

I love my running and I'm really fortunate to have some nice hill's with amazing scenery to run around. Not only is it good for health (apparently) I normally get some cracking views of wildlife especially birds of prey.

Sunday morning I decided to go for a run around and over my favourite hill, it was a lovely morning with blue skies and sunshine the sightings of buzzard and kestrel as I got to the hill. I decided to run round the bottom of the hill alongside some farm land before going up and over back to my car.

Now I'd like to say I'm good at identifying native birds of prey by sight and sound as I spend plenty of time in the field watching them but sometimes you get it wrong, or in this case embarrasingly wrong. As I ran round the path next to the fields I heard an alarm call from a bird of prey and my ears pricked up straight away.

I slowed down to a jog and looked over in what I thought was the direction of the noise and noticed a gnarly bare Oak tree then I heard the noise again. At first I thought Kestrel and scanned the tree for a visual, then the noise again but it was actually more hawk like. I had stopped running at this point and heard the alarm call of another bird straight after the hawks alarm call but still no visual.

The noise started again and I checked the fields but with no binoculars it would have been impossible to see a Sparrowhawk in the grass. What was also odd was a couple of crows were wandering about in the grass not paying the blindest notice to what sounded like a fight near them. Then the noise again exactly the same as the other few times and the penny dropped.

The noise was coming from the farm behind the Oak tree, and then it started again right on cue. It was a hawk and its prey but a recorded one on replay designed to keep birds off the livestock feed on the farm. How stupid did I feel, and not only that I was freezing cold stood their like a right plonker looking for a bird that was in fact a plastic box in a cow shed. Lesson learned!

I bet the crows had a laugh about it!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

What is the answer to Amur massacre?

Like everyone who has read the news about the Amur falcons in Nagaland I found it deeply distressing especially watching the video but how can this sort of thing be stopped.

I have thought about this over the last day or two and also read peoples responses to the actions going on in India. I feel when something very shocking and far from what I might except comes into the public eye we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

I weighed a few things up in my mind before I wrote this because as a westerner I don't have to worry about basic things that other countries/regions might not have. I bet like you reading this I hold birds of prey in a different light to these people so the video really shocks me to the core. This doesn't mean that I'm less appalled by the slaughter of Rhinos for ivory or the deforestation of our rainforests for palm oil but these are normally for the greed of man. In the case of the people hunting the Amur falcon I feel its more a case of surviving.

This is a very emotive thing that is happening and it would be very easy for me to dam and blast the people in the video, anything that involves cruelty to animals is shocking but what about the people who are carrying such a thing out, why are they doing it?

Despite the double dip recession, unemployment, cuts with councils I still feel in my country we are very priviledged. Despite supermarkets pulling the strings we can still eat out in the UK for as little as £10 for two in some pubs! But this wasn't about me standing on my soap box preaching about what we have.

I presume the people of Nagaland still work the land and live off very little, so when the oppourtunity to make some extra money comes along or harvest extra food they will take it with both hands. Isn't that what they are doing taking advantage of nature?

I have read the Amur falcon appears in Nagaland in its vast numbers between October/November before moving on with their migration, the locals of this region  must have noticed this and want to take advantage of this bounty of what they consider food or financial gain. Its man surving by whatever means and happens in so many guises.

This doesn't mean its neccessarily right and I believe the way of resolveing this involves two important things which are education and political lobbying. The support of the local government bodies needs to be behind any action plan and that plan needs to include educating the locals about what they are doing and how they can find alternatives. What is the point of taking away nets and policing the locals without offering support and alternative means of farming or earning a living.

This is just my opinion on what is a really sad situation for a stunning little falcon which makes the most amazing migration of any bird of prey. We as humans should use our intelligence and foresight to help and support each other before we start deciding the fate of the worlds wildlife.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Strong Stomach Needed!

Some news just dropped in which urgently needs sharing with all raptor enthusiasts. It makes for distressing reading and the photos are upsetting, but the message needs to be spread.

I'm sure if you follow this blog you will be aware of the hunting of birds including birds of prey on migration in Malta, sadly this still continues but I have just received this link showing the awful killing of thousands of Amur falcons on their mammoth migration.

I have been fortunate enough to see the amazing spectacle of thousands of these little falcons coming into an evening roost in Southern Africa. If something isn't done about the massacre taking place it might soon be all over.

Take a look at the link below there is also a video but it is especially graphic!