Saturday, 30 May 2015

All A Bit Thin!....

....and a bit of political stuff.

In addition to the agricultural work I observed on Tuesday, I did note some other bird interest in the area - including the return of the Common Terns to Conder Pool - though it was all a bit thin.

A few Swift and Sand Martin were over Conder Pool, with 2 Little Egret noted. A wander along Jeremy Lane proved little other than the male Reed Bunting on the very same fence post it was on a week ago yesterday, and a pair of Great Tit seen.

Perhaps the title of the post should have been 'A Wander' as another one around Cockersands had good views of a Whitethroat which was in full song despite being in a bush bent by the strong north westerly, a Sedge Warbler and 6 Skylark seen. Between an almost wader'less Crook Farm and Cockerham Sands CP I saw a Wheatear, and Little Egret was over Plover Scar.

Not much pen and paper needed there then. There are several places I want and need to visit, but until the weather settles down I have no intentions of doing so.

The Skylark.

Skylark Jan Larsson

Here's a comment I received to my last post 'Here To Stay....Gone For Good' regarding the demise of farmland this case the Skylark. 

Silage, which appears to be the crop being taken off the field in your picture, is a traditional and important source of food for farm livestock in the winter. Unfortunately it has to be cut around about now, when the grass is lush and green and obviously, when some wildlife is using the same field. Presumably you are suggesting that the farmer in question should not actually farm but should simply sit back and admire the view, while his income and valuable food for his livestock disappear. He will now possibly allow the grass to re-grow and hope for a later hay crop off the same field, or even graze it - both, in order to maintain his living. 

In a perfect world, farmers would never touch their fields, wildlife would multiply and all naturalists would be happy but unfortunately farmers and the country, need farmers to farm and unfortunately it does come into conflict with wildlife, especially now that habitat becomes more and more compressed by massive housing estates.

It's unfortunate the comment includes a remark that I suggested....'the farmer shouldn't actually farm, but sit back and admire the view, whilst his income and valuable food for his livestock disappear'....It is actually not true that I made any such suggestion, and the comment that the crop needs to be 'cut around about now' is a little vague in what it really means, I think it is probably implying precisely when birds are breeding in the field....Silage cutting in May....excuse me!! 

Briefly....I conclude from these comments that we are all supposed to sit back and admire the view, to watch these intense farming methods continue to bring about these drastic declines of farmland birds. 

But in fact where possible, farmers have been urged to revert to spring-sown cereals, and to leave stubble fields for winter foraging, not solely to the benefit of the Skylark I might add. Where this was not feasible they are encouraged to leave unplanted patches within the crop to provide nesting and feeding habitats in the summer. The key to these conservation measures are agri-environment schemes - Environmental Stewardship'swhereby farmers are paid to maintain appropriate wildlife habitat. I see little if any evidence that any of these schemes are a roaring success, or even taken on by farmers, but do find lots of evidence that they aren't.

I'd sooner be birding!....But for a combination of reasons unfortunately can't.

Thanks to JL for the Skylark, and to BB for the Common Tern header....Excellent and much appreciated Jan/Bob.


Derek Faulkner said...

OK Pete, so you didn't actually say what I suggested but I couldn't see what other alternative that you was offering.
Silage has to be cut at this time of year, when the grass is fresh, green and lush, it can't be postponed until it's become hay and sticking signs and it would take an awful lot of trampling about to identify ant nests in there prior to cutting. Silage cutting is hardly "intensive farming", it's simply part of a traditional cycle of the farming year.
As for being in or out of any stewardship schemes, well you'll have to ask the farmer if he is or isn't, sometimes chatting with the farmer, as I always try to do, you'll find that they aren't always doing things that result in ruining habitat or wildlife simply to wind up naturalists such as yourself. Sometimes you can even win them over with a suggestion or two - sometimes you will find that what they're doing isn't what they want to be doing.
Alongside the reserve that is my patch here on Sheppey in Kent, is a large field that has been untouched by the farmer for over thirty years. As a result the grass is a tangled undergrowth about a foot and a half high and heaving with voles, mice and gawd knows what else. Some hawthorns have also started to colonise it and it is perfect for wildlife. Recently the farmer put up stock fencing all round it and so I had a chat with him and he said that cattle were to go in the field and graze it down to a few inches in order to "clean it up". "I don't want to do it" he said, "I'm happy to leave it as it is but Natural England, who authorise my subsidies for doing so, have insisted that in order to maintain them I have to graze it out every 3-5 years now in order to keep the grass growing better".
So things aren't always as simple or as clear cut as you would have it and it isn't always the farmer's fault.
As for Mr. Botham, well see my last reply on your previous post.

Pete Woodruff said...

I have no more interest in any of this Derek, you've made your point of view on the subject to follow up on mine, so we'll leave it there mainly because as I've said before Birds2blog isn't primarily about this.

But as you said....'As for Mr. Botham, well see my last reply on your previous post'....Again you used words I didn't use to describe my attitude towards Botham, but just to repeat, he says little - if anything - which makes any sense, and as a result is a danger to our wildlife, in particular the Hen Harrier which is the subject bringing him back into the limelight once again.

You have my e-mail address if you'd like to continue this debate, meanwhile many thanks for your contribution.