Greg Lance – Watkins
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The Dark Arts of the RSPB
I’m Proud to Be a Bumpkin.
The other day a regular tweeter, specialising in abuse and misinformation called me a “bumpkin”. I was pleased about that, as I am proud of my roots and of the fact that one grandfather left school at twelve to become “a shepherd boy”. He left school “because they couldn’t teach him anything else”. I don’t know about my other grandfather – he died before I was born.
Of course if anybody finds the word “bumpkin” offensive then they can also call me a “a field naturalist”, because I have spent my whole life in one place, rather like
the wonderful writer and naturalist the Rev Gilbert White; an interesting man and also a shooting naturalist – there is a long list of those that includes Charles Darwin, W.H.Hudson, Richard Jefferies, and more recently
Sir Peter Scott. I do not shoot and never have, apart from the odd rat, rabbit and grey squirrel, but there are still some prominent naturalists who do shoot. I will not name them to spare them the inevitable abuse that would rain down on them from the ignorant and the intolerant.
In his excellent book “Cuckoo”, Professor Nick Davis writes:”Gilbert White spent some sixty years of his life in Selborne village (Hampshire). His letters demonstrate that a wonderful way to observe the changing natural world is indeed simply to stay in one place”. I agree – as I hope that my next book will demonstrate – that will be number thirty-two, I think, unless two others jump the queue.
The “bumpkin” compliment arrived on the same day that The Times carried a story ”RSPB sits on crimes for publicity” (March 29th 2018), which simply revealed what some of us have known for years. The RSPB started as a conservation organisation for birds which I joined when I was fourteen or fifteen. I am still a member but it seems to me that the charity has become a money making business, using phoney “science”, paying its top people well in excess of £100,000 a year and chasing publicity, donations and “research” grants with far more enthusiasm than it applies to finding actual conservation solutions.
It seems highly likely that a current case at the Preston Magistrates Court under Judge D.J.Goodwin and involving the RSPB could blow its reputation sky high in the very near future. Reporting restrictions have been imposed on this case. I wonder if it involves any illegal activities by the RSPB? As many people will know the RSPB is obsessed with “raptor crime” and “gamekeepers” and information seems to be manufactured and manipulated for maximum publicity, whether based on fact or fiction. Consequently assorted radio-tagged “raptors” from eagles to harriers disappear and it is immediately put out “that it was gamekeepers what done it”. Then a few months later the bird/s reappear with no comments or apologies.
A few years ago I visited the Forest of Bowland with members of the North West Raptor Group, including the great Terry Pickford.
Now for some reason the RSPB doesn’t seem to like the North West Raptor Group or Terry Pickford. After walking along a public footpath and watching peregrines from afar, training their fledged young to hunt using a dead pigeon, we were ambushed on our return to the cars by the police and the RSPB. Cars were searched; we were accused of disturbing a protected bird – on a public footpath? We were lined up for names and addresses – “I am Robin Page” – “Why are you here?” – “I’m a journalist and am here with The North West Raptor Group for The Daily Telegraph”. The policeman rolled his eyes – that was that, nothing more was done or said – it had been a complete concocted “stitch up” in my view – orchestrated by the police and the RSPB.
But this is one of many instances; some time ago I met a gamekeeper, an amateur taxidermist who had found the bodies of a sparrowhawk and a kestrel as road kills. He put the bodies in his freezer – a bad move; he was raided and accused of killing birds of prey – avian road bird-kills are quite easy to confirm.
Another gamekeeper was prosecuted after a dead peregrine was found outside his hut in the Peak District – now peregrines do die – but not normally directly outside a gamekeeper’s hut after being stored in a deep-freeze. So how did a dead peregrine manage to defrost itself and land outside a gamekeeper’s hut?
Of course the phoney peregrine was “news” – there was NO news involved when a nest full of Hen Harrier chicks , again in the Peak District, was predated by buzzards, with guards rushing down to the nest shouting “SHEW – SHEW”; most people suffering from “raptor rapture” support policies of “non intervention” when raptors eat protected or vulnerable species, but not evidently, when they are eating hen harriers.
Again from my days at The Daily Telegraph I loved a quote from that arch predator lover Mark Avery, formerly of the RSPB.
When avocet nests and avocets themselves had been plundered on a reserve managed by the RSPB on the Isle of Sheppey, Mark said:”It doesn’t matter they are all prey species now”.
Oh – so the RSPB is breeding avocets to be eaten is it? Are members told this? Certainly it seems that most of the avocet chicks and eggs at the RSPB’s flagship reserve at Minsmere in Suffolk get predated every year. Never mind, it has a lovely shop and tea room.
Interestingly when Mark Avery failed to get the vacant CEO’s job at the RSPB he appeared to throw some or all of his toys out of the pram. I am told that several organisations including The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust had a kind offer from Mr Avery, saying that for a modest payment he would be happy to blog and tweet for them. Can this be true? Will Mr Avery confirm or deny this terrible tale? If it is true it is so funny that I will never, ever call him anything other than the Oliver Hardy of conservation. As Oliver must know, the GWCT is a strong supporter of managed heather moors and grouse shooting because of the many species of brilliant and vulnerable wildlife they support. But doesn’t Oliver, now that he apparently does not blog and tweet for the GWCT, tweet and blog for organisations that do not agree with grouse shooting?
So are Oliver Hardy’s tweets and twitters based on conviction, conservation or naked capitalism? Will he let us know? I don’t know the answer.
The RSPB appears to have an odd view of predator control. In Britain it seems to go silent on the subject. When I was on St Helena recently it was being said that the RSPB was very hot on predator control and with their help the St Helena Plover – the “Wirebird” had been made secure – and what a fantastic bird it is.
But why is the RSPB so silent when it is involved with predator control in Britain. Way back in 2007 I remember reading an RSPB boast. While it was shedding crocodile tears over the decline of Broadland birds –lapwing pairs had fallen by 35%, redshank by 32% and snipe by 94%, at the same time it was praising its own Berney Marshes reserve; lapwing pairs had increased from 12 to 47; redshank had increased by 500% and snipe had increased from two pairs to six.
Silly me – I went rushing straight out to the Berney Marshes reserve expecting a tale of habitat management. Instead I was told a tale of top of the range .22 rifles with night sights – 40 foxes shot in the first year – crows and magpies were being given the same treatment and virtually all the trees had been cut down so that watchful predators had nowhere to perch. In addition all the reeds had been cut to make the area unsuitable for marsh harriers – that’s right – marsh harriers – and to think, I always believed as they were monitored by the RSPB they like other members lived on cucumber sandwiches, not lapwing chicks.
Many years ago before East Anglia had large numbers of marsh harriers I had spent hours watching the first pair back at Minsmere with the Head Warden at the time, the excellent Jeremy Sorensen. Before then Jeremy was the RSPB’s warden at Welney. Under Jeremy with good predator control Black-Tailed Godwits were breeding – and what a spectacular display flight – or more accurately, “plunge” by the males.
Because of my memories of that, two or three years ago I went to what was one of the most important breeding sites of the Black Tailed Godwit in Britain– the RSPB’s Nene Washes reserve. Sadly I did not see one Godwit – or one corncrake – corncrakes were being re-introduced at the time – but I saw several Marsh Harriers.
Consequently – as any journalist worth his salt would do I phoned the RSPB wanting to know the number of pairs of Godwits and Harriers and the numbers of nests and fledged young of both species . The press office would not tell me.
I wrote to Mike Clarke (CEO) by recorded delivery – he did not even acknowledge my enquiry – why not?
If marsh harriers had been stopped breeding at Berney Marshes by the RSPB (was it legal), why couldn’t the same be done at the Nene Washes to save one of the most endangered and beautiful birds in Britain? Now of course, with maximum publicity the RSPB is hatching Godwit eggs and re-introducing the chicks where it is considered to be safe and suitable – this is, in my view “brood management”. And of course with maximum publicity the RSPB will have nothing to do with the brood management of the hen harrier organised by other conservation bodies.
I could go on – the RSPB’s phoney “climate change” to avoid admitting losses to predation; the mismanagement of its heather moors including the RSPB reserve at Geltsdale; the avoidance of conservation problems with badgers; the lack of interest in, or action for red squirrels, and why do some of these real issues not get aired on BBC Television’s Spring watch? Now let me think –
isn’t Chris Packham a Vice President of the RSPB?
To view the original article CLICK HERE
To which I commented:
good to see you back using both barrels 😉 perhaps you could find out how to get the transcript of the Preston Court Judgement, because time and again we hear of situations like this with organisations like the RSPB & RSPCA – sadly it is similar for humans! Consider the number of collapsed trials and the £Millions spent not to mention the travesties under the eye of Alison Saunders heading up the CPS & the witholding of disclosures under her guidance (praise be she has resigned after her 4 year period of mismanagement).
Let us hope Alison Saunders is replaced by the best qualified person to bring a new broom and integrity to the CPS and not some PC political appointee with an agenda, who is selected on the basis of the configuration of their genitalia!
The Judiciary itself is little better, with its highly questionable secret Courts in the Families Division.
Then we see the obscene elevation of Cressida Dick to head the Met. despite her responsibility for the murder of Jean Charles de Menenez, for which neither she nor anyone else was prosecuted. Murder by an ill trained out of control police hit squad under her control, yet again slaughtering an innocent man in their new PC Britain where the Death Penalty is blocked and rapists & child murderers (eg. Poppy Worthington’s!) go free!
Remember when they tried to fit you up Robin, with false claims of racism when you told the truth and refused to comply with the dishonesty of ‘Politically Correct’ comments.
Then consider the pucillanimity of the Press, now run by accountants and lawyers with few journalists of repute left and all too many of them becoming personality cult Slebs! It is rare to see sound investigative journalism holding public figures, corporations or charities to account in this corrupt age of gagging orders – I presume in the recent CRT troubles that despite having probably been forced to fire those who tried to hijack the CRT to control and asset strip the charity Gagging Orders & payoffs were used by the miscreants to protect their identities, so that they could move on to try to rip off some other charity in anonymity!
I’d wager the loss of income whilst they did nothing beneficial for the Charity bar draw their salaries and feather their own nests and those of corrupt fellow travellers. I would guessd the costs of getting rid of them probably would have provided enough to put a deposit on a small farm for the Trust! It is to be hoped this will be reflected in the annual report since the CRT is a Charity and the truth should come out!
There is so much pandering to the snowflake generation the image portrayed is that all birds & animals live peacefull lives as vegitarians munching grass & sunbathing! Reality is every time a doormouse, lark, shrew or vole ventures out to find food it is at risk from predators – yet the conservation theorists in their comfortable offices, cush salaries and meaningless jobs producing nothing but aggrivation & hot air as self publicists have always favoured predators. There has been no material change of hedgerows in this area nor the Forest of Dean since the war but badger, boar & fox levels have skyrocketed at the expense of both the flora and fauna.
I rarely see hedgehogs now, not even road kill, slugs and snails have burgeoned in my garden! Ground nesting birds are a rarity and song birds are scarce, even the garden birds are depleted but there is no shortage of buzzards, badgers, sparrow hawks, foxes and rats! Pandering to the unrealistic and irresponsible ‘bunny huggers’ it is now all but impossible to buy rat poison of any validity and farms nation wide are over run with rats
Farmers in the area have watched badger & fox populations flourish but cattle farmers have lost 10s of 1,000s of pounds worth of cattle to TB. There isn’t a farmer near hear who doesn’t welcome badgers but they curse their numbers. The boar have become a danger with them marauding in herds in the forest and uprooting large areas of forest floor trashing the insect and plant life, uprooting acres of bluebells and flattening areas of sweetcorn to get at the cobs.
Management of the countryside has never been so costly or so damaging as now, with crews of pontificating idiots on TV peddling this weeks PC clap trap to the detriment of all save their egos!
Thank you again Robin for yet another sound countryside blog, packed witjh interesting detail and wielding a large pin to prick the pomposity and corruption of the current generation of pundits and parasites who peddle the PC messages as they destroy our heritage!
AND THEN – having read the many other comments I added:
having read all the comments (22 so far):
Perhaps it is worth considering it really isn’t the raptors’ fault – the problem, as with badgers – are the self serving and grossly overpaid personality cults attracted by such as the BBC, RSPB, RSPCA & the like and the armies of qualified idiots milking the gravy train as members of these PC scams including the scoundrels living off of pontificating about green issues and animal rights who have done so much damage to our countryside and wildlife, by failing to cull and control natural numbers to make up for the natural loss of ace predators.
The ace predators who are unwelcome in our modern world, lynx, wolves, leopards, bears, cougar and the like and the larger eagles that predated other raptors and happily killed magpies. crows and the like, that do such damage.
Don’t blame the raptors & the badgers I regret it is the humans making their living on programs like country file and the various season watches, who parachute in with their PC prejudices and total irresponsibility!
How about renaturing some of the cities with lions – that would soon solve the drunks, druggies & homeless sleeping and passed out in the streets – No I thought not!
So lets settle for a cull to control boar, badgers, foxes and raptors to give a chance to what was once a rich heritage of wild birds and small mammals and while we are at it can we emulate the cities and have suitable toxins and control of vermin, where recent climate changes have been so helpfull to rats!
Then there was an anonymous & as is so often the case with key board warriors who shelter in anonymity, vitriolic comment by someone calling themselves ‘PP’ – I wonder if this is the ex director of CRT who seems to have gone, and in view of the lack of comment from either Robin or the CRT, I would hazard a guess fired with a golden handshake and a gagging order off to try to rip off some other chartity – I’d be surprised if she hasn’t got her fingers in a new #charity float yet!
Alternatively it might be that odious woman she slid in (her chum) the animal rights activist who is a campaign manager for Chris Packham I believe and the other person who seems to have gone missing without any comment was the ‘Jock’ who seemed to be off sick so regularly as he found ways to fomment problems no doubt seeking compensation.
Anyone’s guess really as the likes of ‘PP’ are unlikely ever to have the integrity to put their names to their vituperative comments – but in the interim keep your eyes open and if you hear of these individuals in othe Charities or Tribunal/Mediation scams perhaps you’d care to warn their latest victims!
Here is the latest comjment from the ‘Keyboard Warriors’ as clearly their carers don’t realise they have bypassed ‘parental controls’ on the computer:
If you understood even the basics of predator/prey relationships, you’d realise that predators don’t reduce the population or else their own population would dwindle. Education is a great thing.
& here is Robin Page’s apposite measured and informed response:
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Nothing like being misguided, ill-informed, or just ignorant. Explain then why the Kenya wildlife Service shot all the lions in the Aberdares National Park? I’ll help you as you shake your mystified head – it was to try and save the Bongo (a forest antelope for your information) and the giant Forest Hog – I hope you can work that out.
Once you have come to terms with that I suggest you read “The Future Eaters” by Prof Tim Flannery – there, a professor,, I suppose that makes it alright for you doesn’t it? Your lack of basic understanding and lack of facts are simply astounding. So keep pulling the wool over your own eyes – but please spare other people your pseudo scientific nonsense.
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