Tuesday, 30 October 2007


Purple Sandpipers and Turnstones

A few pics of some stunning birds I saw today during a bird survey on the south coast of England. A beautiful sunny day in the midst of grim industrial docklands was brightened up by discovering these crackers loafing on some concrete blocks....I once saw a colour-ringed turnstone on El Hierro in the Canaries. It was in the town of La Restinga, in a group of about a dozen birds, being hand-fed peanuts by a local guy. I reported the bird when I got home to the UK and it turns out it was ringed as a chick on Ellis Island, Canada. They do get about a bit.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Batty and Ratty

A few recent images from various wildlifey tasks...I must stress that all photos of protected species were taken under license and in the presence of a suitable license holder!

An arachnophobe is perhaps not the best thing to be when your job often takes you into dark spaces in search of bats. Many is the time when I have entered a loft or other roof void only to come face to face with hordes of the 8-legged gits, or at the very least been plastered in their evil webs.

Every so often though, my highly rational (in Darwinian terms) fear is forgotten when you strike gold...as in this case when a routine roof inspection revealed the presence of a truly amazing Brown long-eared bat having sex doggy style. The tiny ball of fur/leather was going for it big style, ensuring his lady had a treat to end all treats. The photo does not pick up the tiny beads of sweat on his wrinkled brow, but rest assured he was a studdly...


If you go down to the woods today you won't see a water vole. Go to a suitable river and you might. Or, more likely, you will just find their poo. Can't miss it...looks like tiny liquorice sweeties, left in nice neat little piles on the river bank...

There aren't so many water voles around these days thanks to vegetarians. Yes, you heard me...bloody vegetarians. In one of the biggest ecological feck-ups in history, vegetarian bunny-hugging do-good know-nothing animal rights 'activists' have been responsible for the demise in one of our most charasmatic native mammalian friends. Don't like mink farms? Well, neither do I much, but releasing thousands of the non-native ferocious water vole-eating predators into the unprepared British countryside was a bit fecking stupid you twats. Mostly thanks to you good old Ratty has declined by about 95% in the last 15 years or so. Nice one.

So I think I can be justified in feeling a little pleased when I come across firm, or runny, evidence that in some places, yet untouched by the mink menace, water voles are doing rather well.


A sign that at least all our countryside's not buggered.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Titchmarsh...put him in the skip.

God help us. Yet again I note the rise of wildlife evangelism on British television. Last week saw the much-advertised launch of a new BBC series called 'The Nature of Britain'. At last I thought, maybe the good old BBC bods are using our outrageously expensive license fees to produce something worth watching. Visions of hardy BBC Natural History Unit camera people working their arses off to bring us unparalleled images of Britain's rich wildlife heritage. Joy rose in my heart..at last we might have a film entitled to call itself 'The Nature of Britain'.

No. Instead we got Alan bloody Titchmarsh and his oh-so-cosy-ee-by-gum-everyting's-better-after-a-nice-cuppa-tea-aren't-us-Brits-a-perky-lot bollocks. Given the opportunity to make a momentous and serious wildlife series to educate the British viewer, the BBC chose the presenting equivalent of a cosy armchair snooze on a Sunday whilst watching Songs of Praise. What??? The man's a bloody gardener.

It was like watching some fecking quasi-religious sermon...at every opportunity we were reminded how "special" Britain is. Nowhere else on Earth has such "special" coasts, such "special" mountains, such "special" woodlands ad infinitum. Ever been to Spain? Morocco? India? Ireland? Georgia? North America? They're all bloody amazing...we're no different from any of them...we're not  "special" you tit.

Alan goes abseiling in search of British wildlife. The hand of justified indignation prepares to strike a small blow and send the tit to oblivion where he can wait until joined by every other BBC wildlife 'presenter'

And what images did we get? OK, Arctic skuas mobbing the Northern tit were good, but it wasn't long before we had baby seals gurning. I fully expect red deer rutting, puffins (aren't they funny!!), urban foxes and blue tits in the preceding weeks. Standard BBC idiot-fodder. It's enough that we have to put up with weeks of Springwatch ("Chaffinches!") and Autumnwatch and the endless live drivel about bird feeders and Dennis the badger (cow killer). There is not a single wildlife propgramme on the BBC nowadays that doesn't assume that we are all dribbling morons who collect cat calendars and wear those  fleecy jackets with wolves on them. 

If I see another cheesy, wimpy BBC wildlife presenter call something "BRILLIANT!!" again I will fall into an apolplectic rage, find them and beat them to death with a 'Fun Wildlife Pack'. I really will.

My message to the BBC - stop now, go away to your dark rooms in Bristol, have a think about what's worked in the past (Hint...Mr Attenborough...doesn't get excited, knowledgeable, authoritative, knows when to shut up, not a celebrity) and come back when you've worked it out.

We, and the Nature of the British Isles deserve better. Get a grip .