Chick or tweet: the birds we are honoured with

TWO years ago, I started keeping occasional notes on the birds we saw in our garden. I don’t claim to be anything but a complete amateur in bird-watching or that my records are comprehensive. But they are a snapshot of the wonderful, soul-enriching observations of life that is, thankfully, still hanging on in our ever-shrinking green corners and hedgerows. Our garden is only a modest one, in a medium-sized town, but I am still impressed by the life cycles it harbours.

I dedicate this post to builders across Britain of housing estates, trunk roads and airport runways, pro-HS2 campaigners, office block developers, concrete layers, Natural England – which wants to allow the annihilation of robins’, pied wagtails’ and starlings’ nests and eggs – and all other determined destroyers of hedgerows and wildlife habitats. Continue reading


Biodiversity bunkum: You can’t ‘offset’ nature

IN RUSSIA in the late 1920s, Stalin began his confiscation of peasants’ land to enforce mass collectivisation of farming, in the belief that slicing up land, fencing it off and generally putting the natural world in some sort of order was not only possible but desirable, and that the people didn’t really know what was good for them in terms of ownership.

Now, nearly 100 years later, we have a government in Britain that appears to be thinking along similar lines.

For those in their Westminster towers who think trees are easily replaceable and that living creatures are dispensable, there’s a modest little lesson that needs to be learnt.

Trees take decades to mature, aided by populations of wild birds that learn from instinct and parental habits; together with hedgerows and wildlife, they thrive on interaction and interdependency. The strength of our countryside lies in its very history and finely balanced mix of mutual nurturing. Continue reading