August 26, 2016 by Whispering Smith
Whispering Smith Column published in the Littlehampton Gazette August 11rh 2016
Natural England is the government’s adviser for the natural environment, an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Environment. They have recently, supposedly on our behalf, issued a licence to kill 10 buzzards. The reason being the raptors are a threat to someone rearing game birds considered to be ‘livestock’ that will, when mature, be slaughtered in their tens of thousands by rich, shotgun toting toffs. It makes no sense whatsoever to me and to even consider birds reared in their thousands as part of the ‘natural environment’ is, to say the least, a bit of a stretch. Add to this the fact the RSPB clearly state that these magnificent birds of prey principally dine on rodents, but also take small birds, reptiles, amphibians, larger insects and earthworms and that anything heavier is usually carrion or seriously enfeebled individuals, (shot injured pheasants perhaps?). It looks like the thin edge of a very thick wedge and yet another nod of approval to a hunting and shooting fraternity comprised largely of people who kill for pleasure and not to put meat on the table.
SADLY I have seen very few swifts in the past two summers whereas by now there would have been several broods wheeling and screaming their way through the Littlehampton sky, this year not a single brood. Maybe this is due to disturbed nesting sites as there has been maintenance work on the old houses along Irvine and Selbourne roads and modern replacement eves are not swift or swallow friendly and offer a poor surface for their mud nests. If readers know differently please let me know.
DELIGHTED that Mewsbrook Park has again been awarded a green flag. I know the hard work both the council and the local volunteers put into the running of that super facility and how much it is cared for by those that work on site and those who give of their free time.
Photograph: A ‘chattering’ of jackdaws over Arundel Park.