Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Tame voles and the same old bull

On Sunday I called in at Moor Green Lakes on the Hants/Berks border to look for the Yellow-browed Warbler that had transformed into a Pallas's! Despite hearing it call on the other side of the river, I never got acceptable views. I did see a few new birds for the year such as Egyptian Goose and Red Kite (neither of which would have been likely when I lived in the area up to 10 years ago) but highlight of the day was an incredibly tame Field Vole which sat out in the open feeding for about 10 minutes, completely oblivious to a bunch of hairy birders standing 2 metres away taking photo's. Thanks to my brother for the photo (forgot my camera as usual).

In the evening I had Countryfile on as background noise whilst working. I glanced up at one point and saw a man wearing a prominent Wildlife Trusts logo. Now whenever the WT's are in the media there's a pretty good chance that it will be cringe-worthy, laughable, just plain wrong or, frequently, all three, so I had to watch the piece. It was about a reserve which was 'behind a locked gate to protect the rare [sic] inhabitants from disturbance'. Oh god, it's going to be bloody Water Voles again I thought. A fair assumption as it is one of the half dozen species that the WT's have heard of. But no, it was Green Sandpipers. the piece proceeded without too much to make me want to vomit (apart from the pathetic reaction of the presenter when made to hold some invertebrates) but the WT's just couldn't help themselves. We were told that the sandpipers had been colour ringed and this showed that there were six birds using the site (not six being seen together you note) and this made it 'THE BEST SITE IN BRITAIN to see these birds'! A quick check of the 2010 Hampshire Bird Report showed 4 sites with numbers up to twice this figure during migration but perhaps the WT's meant in winter? Still doesn't help as 12 were seen at Alresford cress beds in January 2010.

So get yourself down to Alresford soon so that you can see this 'rare' bird at its best site in the known universe.


  1. Top reporting Tony! I love you cos you say it as it is and don't bloody care!
    Would say more but off to a twitch as Alresford......

    1. Thank you Sarah. Not sure who this Tony chap is but you are right that I don't care about offending idiots. What I do care about is the wildlife, and if more 'conservationists' did as well, there would be less to moan about. I don't know how the few good people left in these organisations cope with all the nonsense around them.