03
Oct
15

The blind leading the blind

I’ve been doing a lot of research in museums lately. Grubbing about in crates, cabinets and archive warehouses. More on that at a later date.

I heard on the grapevine the other day that the RSPB had also been doing some research in the archives. They have been looking up old occurrences of a couple of bird species with a view to gathering evidence to support more ‘re’-introductions.

Don’t laugh … Black Stork and White Pelican are apparently on the agenda.

Below is a photo of a Black Stork I took in France some years ago. Could these become a regular sight in British skies?

I do wish the money that the RSPB spend on reintroductions was put to more useful purpose. It’s not reintroductions at the top of the food chain that really matter. Releasing White tailed Sea Eagles and Red Kites is all very well and it’s crowd pleasing stuff; but they are unsustainable in the long term if we don’t get the food chain below them functioning correctly. More specifically the bottom of the food chain … the insects. These are the bottom blocks upon which all the other species blocks sit. If they are removed the pyramid will just come tumbling down. We, the human race, are part of that pyramid.

I remember driving my first car  to Bridlington one summer in the 1970’s from where I lived on the slopes of the Dearne Valley in Yorkshire. It was a Morris Marina 1.8L GT. Mustard with a brown vinyl roof. Proud of it I was. I guess the journey was 70 or 80 miles. I specifically remember having to stop three or four times to clean the windscreen of dead insects. When was the last time you had to do that? In the last 40 years we have sprayed insects out of existence in our quest to produce more crop from the same acreage of field. It’s all about money!

To put the mini-beasts back we need to put money into converting some farmland back to heath, grassland, pastures and marshes. I read the other day we waste around a third of all the food we produce. We don’t need all the food we grow. We could do this; it’s possible. We could effectively pay farmers to ‘farm’ insect life. We already give subsidies for ‘bee crops’. Do this and small mammals and reptiles that feed on the insects would increase. Lager mammals and birds would increase as a result. No need to reintroduce top predators … they would eventually move back of their own accord. Get the habitat right and we’ll get more insects. More insects, more everything else.

Our subscriptions to the RSPB should surely be wholly and fully directed towards land conversion. We need to start converting land and increasing efficiency of food use soon. The quicker the better.

Not really sexy though is it? Who would pay their subscriptions for that? It’s better to be seen to have an instant result. So let’s stick a few big birds back in the countryside.

Sadly it … is … all … about … money!

Black Stork

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4 Responses to “The blind leading the blind”


  1. October 4, 2015 at 1:11 am

    We’d totally forgotten about stopping – often – to clear our windshields of all the dead bugs. You are so right on this one. And, sadly, anyone younger than 40 probably has no idea just how bugs there were then compare to now.

    • October 4, 2015 at 8:11 pm

      Lost in time like ‘Spangles’ ‘Fireball XL5’ and ‘Putting out the ashes’. Things change and it’s important that our wildlife in particular is documented. Species abundance and distribution. We do it with birds, flowers and mammals. However, I’ve never seen any documented evidence from the past of insect numbers. It’s therefore difficult to prove if numbers now are down on numbers in the past. The windscreen thing is purely anecdotal but it does give a rough measure.

  2. 3 np001
    October 4, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Here’s my black stork – from Hungary. N


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