Greg Lance – Watkins
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LATEST UPDATE: 10-May-2018.
I have pasted below ONLY Robin Page’s comments regarding the ‘Roseate Terns’; as the conversation veered away from the issue Robin had selected as his blog. Therefore I felt the conversation regarding the Roseate Tern and further comments about EU membership and Conservation etc. would tend to swamp his blog in a rather ill mannered way.
I have therefore continued it here:
To continue with the relevant extract of Robin’s blog & subsequent conversation read on:
… Now for well over a year I (and Lulu) have put up with a constant stream of orchestrated abuse from anonymous animal-rights extremists. A friend downloaded 31 pages of “stuff” from just one source from the web the other day.
Readers of my tweets will have seen some of the insults and invective from time to time. The aspects of web abuse that I find disappointing is when animal rights agitators masquerade as serious “birders”, presumably to give themselves credibility.
Consequently when I mentioned Roseate Terns and predation the other day I was immediately hit by a stream of abuse from someone called Jonathan Williams: ”Just to draw more attention to this utter lie about roseate terns – the tern colony is still going strong at Cemlyn. Anyone who has ever set foot in a tern colony knows how good the group defence is so to say only roseate terns succumbed (I didn’t) to predation is complete fantasy and fabrication”.
The real world lies outside the land of electronic fantasy and I wrote about roseate terns and the real world at Coquet Island in The Daily Telegraph in 2015 – a beautiful place with beautiful birds. The fact that Britain’s largest roseate tern colony deserted Anglesey for Dublin Bay remains a matter of conservation fact and shame. (See “Terns” – Collins New Naturalist Library by David Cabot and Ian Nisbet). I wrote this for the Telegraph…
Telegraph – Country Diary 26.9.2015
A Dose of Summer Ecstasy.
Please relax – I am not in the early stages of senility – but we have just drifted into autumn (from Sept 21st) and I am reflecting on the highlights of my summer this year. Consequently I have to say that the greatest pleasure was given to me by the RSPB; well I am a member and so why shouldn’t it? It followed the receipt of a press release from the Society’s Grahame Madge – the way my computer presents information I thought he was a woman for two years – Madge Grahame. In fact he is a very pleasant man and was announcing that the RSPB had achieved 100 nesting roseate terns this year on Coquet Island – the first time the roseates have reached three figures for many years. Coquet island is perfect for them – it is 15 acres in size, it lies 25 miles south of the Farne Islands and is three quarters of a mile out to sea from the small coastal town of Amble. The island is managed by the RSPB for the owner, the Duke of Northumberland. I asked if Lulu and I could visit; the answer came back “yes”.
The roseate tern is a beautiful, endangered tern and has been special to me over many years. The first one I saw was on the Isles of Scilly. The discovery of breeding roseates there was made by the late Humfrey Wakefield, a naturalist/potter. In the days before digital photography Humfrey had spent hours in a hide taking pictures of a pair of common terns at their nest. He was astonished; when the developed pictures came back they revealed a pair of roseate terns at the nest next door. Humfrey could hardly believe his eyes.
From there I went on a pilgrimage to see roseate terns on Anglesey – it is a sad story. As the New Naturalist book “Terns” says (by David Cabot and Ian Nisbet – a tremendous book): “persistent predation by foxes and peregrines eventually caused the desertion of the roseate tern colony”. Bush telegraph told me at the time it was either one fox and two peregrines, or two foxes and one peregrine, I can’t remember.
Whatever it was, I was outraged that the 200 nests of Britain’s rarest tern had been sacrificed on the altar of conservation correctness – no predator control or management. The terns went off to Dublin Bay and have never returned. Some conservation purists say that predation has no impact on populations – no impact? The loss of 200 pairs of a rare summer visitor is no impact? I must get myself a degree and PhD in Fantasy Conservation. It would be good writing this column as Dr Page – perhaps Chris Packham and the BBC would take more notice of it.
But would we make the Coquet crossing? I looked out of the window of our Northumbrian B&B at 6am – rain and a high wind. The old weather lore says “Rain before Seven, gone by Eleven” – so on a beautiful afternoon we went with the warden Paul Morrison in the RSPB’s “rib” (reinforced inflatable boat) to within a few yards of the Coquet shore and its old lighthouse – which looks rather like a miniature castle. It is now an automatic light, but the first lighthouse keeper in about 1841 was William Darling – the brother of that Northumbrian legend, Grace Darling.
Because the island is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, we were unable to land, but even so we were confronted by wonder – birds, thousands of them, sorry, it was just incredible. I have never seen such huge “rafts” of puffins with yet more rows of these attractive little sand eel eaters lining the low cliff edge. Then terns by the thousand (nearly 4,500 pairs of assorted terns) in the air at once – wings, tail streamers, their calls – like several thousand squeaky bikes – I am sighing just writing this and recycling my mental images of the “sea swallows”. Then roseate terns came in so close to us as they fed their chicks on the island’s edge – my first roseate terns for 25 years. More good news too, the number of nests had been confirmed at 113 – and they were still counting. The birds actually lay their eggs in nest-boxes, strategically positioned by Paul and his staff and which do not attract the common, arctic or sandwich terns – a strategy that has worked. And predators? There are so many terns, that any avian intruders would have had a very hard time. In fact last year, a visiting kestrel was killed by the outraged mob protecting their eggs and young. So I can say only one thing in this instance – well done the RSPB.
To respond to Kevin’s points – Point by point. Kevin’s points are in blue & as ever my comments are in black:
I am afraid to say I am unsure of the point you are trying to make. You seemingly have a fairly negative view of the workings of the European Union, which is of course your right, but I fear that not a single person who voted in the 2016 Referendum will get exactly what they want.
I guess the basic point is that there is no reason people can not co-operate without wanting to run the other’s economy, politics, defence & all policies.
I do indeed have a negative approach to the EU experiment and have opposed almost every aspect of it since the early 1960s! That no one will get everything they want from BreXit is a given but by leaving the EU it is clear that the majority of voters will get what they want BREXIT!
As for the Roseate Tern project – it may only be a ‘small issue’ as you put it, but the EU has funded it to the tune of over 2.4 million Euros. And the key to the ongoing conservation of the roseate tern is the fact that it is an international concern. Only within an organisation as large as the EU will such projects be realistically granted and the multinational efforts made toward single species survival. There may be plenty of things wrong with the EU, and some policy has been shockingly poor, but no-one can argue that its existence provides enormous scope for conservation action.
The EU has never funded anything when you realise ALL of its money is extorted from tax payers of its vassal Regions! There is absolutely no reason why the various Regions of the EU can not function independently on issues and co-operate one with another and with Nation States who do not wish to be ruled by an undemocratic and largely anonymised central Government dancing to the direction of an unelected neo dictatorship wielded by a unelected central committee.
Clearly co-operation is an essential for conservation and as with CITES can be orchestrated on a worldwide basis, the EU has in many areas been catastrophic for conservation – consider the obscene level of destruction of fish by the EU CFP. Not to mention the style of fishing in other fisheries such as the West African bight and Newfoundland Banks just remember how close rape of the fish stocks by Spanish fishermen on the Newfoundland Banks almost draged Britain into a trade war with Canada!
Let us also not forget the French & Spanish annual massacres of migratory birds passing over the mountain passes, where guns in hides are used to shoot 1,000s of swallows, martins etc.!
As is well documented, migratory birds (such as the roseate tern) face a multitude of problems. We can do our bit in the UK, but it counts for nothing if birds are getting trapped and shot on migration, or there are issues within their non-breeding habitat. I believe that one issue facing the roseate tern, and highlighted in Cabot and Nisbet’s book, is the impact of climate change and food shortage in the traditional wintering grounds off the West African coast. Problems that require international involvement.
It is easy to leap to the PC conclusions of the effects of climate change but in reality we have little or no knowledge of the ‘motors’ driving our climate and its patterns of change that have occured apparently cyclically since long before the relatively recent emergence and evolution of mankind.
Clearly mankind has absolutely no clue as to where our climate is moving and to attribute the movement to mankind is palpable nonsense when compared with plate techtonics, volcanic activity and the like – Politically correct as it may be.
The money saved when it is admitted that one of the most costly decisions in history has been the payments of subsidies on the hugely environmentally damaging wind turbines and related scams. see CLICK HERE, these savings could work miracles for conservation rather than squandering them as we have been doing.
And we have to be realistic about our own Government’s interest in conservation. Quite where monies will be found post-Brexit is anyone’s guess. The DEFRA budget has been slashed since 2010, Theresa May dissolved the Government department dealing with Climate Change almost as soon as she was appointed PM. Natural England’s strategy ‘Conservation 21’ smacks of deregulation, and we’re pressing ahead with Hinkley Point, HS2 and HMS Queen Elizabeth.
DEFRA & MAFF before them can hardly be presented as other than a disaster for the countryside and far too close to the corruption of the EU and its CAP etc. Conservation 21 has been far too influenced by the EU & PC and has had far too little input from informed individuals having been controlled by desk bound theorists with little practical experience. Input from RSPCA, RSPB, Greens and animal activists has been dangerous in their self interest.
HMS Queen Elizabeth has been a sound investment in our defence and alliances, made within our defence budget and in leaving the EU we will be able to strengthen our defences with control of our own borders, military and deterents.
HS2 will hopefully be brought to an end as it was greatly influenced by membership of the EU and was little more than a profligate vanity project that would syphon ever more people into the major cornurbation of London. A project that was undeniably unpopular, out of control and of no meaningfull value as we move increasingly into an age of virtual reality and automation. Any business man wanting to commute from Birmingham to London saving the 30 to 45 minutes HS2 was claimed will be cut would be well advised to use a hotel and stay overnight or set his alarm clock rather earlier!
There is no time for conservation within short-termism. Certainly not the bigger issues that we face as a race. If we are to tackle Climate Change, Renewable Energy, Plastics, soil degradation, pesticide impact, etc, we can only do so multinationally. Never before have we known more about our impact (on the environment) as a species, yet we would rather enjoy short term happiness rather than face up to our failings.
I believe you will find it has been the present Government and its immediate predecessor that has most clearly grasped the nettle and sought to confront problems with the obvious austerity needed.
Let us face the fact that there has been virtually no gain in subsidising the EU for Britain; many would contend it has been a net sum financial disaster for Britain. To believe we have any idea of climate change based o0n the faux claims of anthropogenic influence is unmittigated folly.
Realistic alternative energy sources are wildly and bellicosely opposed by so called greens and environmentalists holding up both Nuclear developement and fracking with no viable alternatives to prevent failure of power supply. Clearly renewable energy is a splendid idea but wind power as a viable source is nothing more than a lie supporting an outrageous scam CLICK HERE and solar energy is and will be in its present form nothing more than risible and will remain so until we are able to make some kind of huge leap forward as promised by the possibilities of Psi or should that be Si.
Do note Britain has in many instances led the world and taken front line action in the field of conservation and global care – even now our efforts to highlight the dangers of plastics and dumping dangers have been confronted by Britain, it has been Britain that has publicised ocean damage and international dumping! A record that could have been even more exemplary liberated from the EU!
We must indeed stop dealing with such problems on a short term basis a point we must campaign for once we are liberated from the short term budget structure of the EU and their need for our subsidy.
And the problem for us in the UK (particularly England) is that we are overpopulated and in massive debt. We cannot self-sustain and as the supermarkets squeeze and pressure builds on our farmers to improve yield at lower cost so intensive methods will have to increase.
We could hardly do worse than we have in the EU where we have experienced a 26% increase in intensive meat production in the last 5 years and where EU policies on derogation of certain investments such as porcine production by foreign investors has reduced British standards and we are forced to import eggs and chickens produced in the EU at notably lower standards than in Britain.
Regarding the levels of debt – do not forget this is our position WITHIN the EU, yet we are still expected to subsidise the EU!
The area within 120 miles of London is indeed overpopulated, yet the rest of Britain is largely functioning at a reasonable population density – a problem exacerbated by EU membership and the freedom of movement that has seen millions flood into Britain via open EU borders!
And who knows, your optimism might well be proven right. In 15 or 20 years, once the current economic downturn has been stabilised, we might see the financial benefits of leaving the EU. But what happens in the meantime?
You may well find the words of Helen Clark reassuring:
I believe if those seeking to betray our electorate, including a small body of MPs and the majority of the un-elected cronyism in the House of Lords, were to act to acquit their duties and work hard to uphold democracy by working towards BreXit the situation would be greatly enhanced.
Clearly there will be a period of continued belt tightening, the more effort we put into the move to liberty and self determination the better will be the outcome.
Personally, I would rather see the continued protection of 8 million hectares of land and sea, the continuation of the Habitats and Water Framework directives, the commitments to energy regulations and pesticide use – rather than have a Government (of any leaning) that is deregulated and desperate for money.
I trust this goes some way to answering your concerns Kevin and I welcome anyone wishing to join in the conversation, either in the comments section below or for more significant comments do eMail me and I will copy paste your response as I have with Kevin’s.
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