22 Dec 2012

Allhallows 21-12-12

Quick trip to Allhallows on the way back from a nightmare shop, weather was a lovely bright even warm day with visibility excellent.
Resting elbows on the seawall I scanned the shore and mud of the Thames Estuary with the trusted Swarovski bins they revealed an absence of birds of what I was there for BIRDS, but eventually spotted at distance14 Brent Geese and a few Oyster Catcher, 3 bait diggers and of course gulls.
after half an hour I abandoned my quest and made my way home for a very welcome brew.

14 Dec 2012

The 12-12-12 certainly will be memorable as being one of the hardest frosts I can remember, but that said what a beautiful white blanket nature chose to cover her domain with, yes, nature can be cruel but, she can also be an outstanding artist as we witnessed yesterday, I was hoping that today would bring about an action replay but alas not.

Christmas is nearly upon us and not too far off a new year, but before that occurs we have to get over the Christmas two days of mayhem and over indulgence, which brings me round nicely to Christmas dinner, and the unfortunate bird we choose, in Dickens time it would have been a Goose but these modern times Turkey seems to be the preferred choice.

Turkeys are somewhat amusing birds, and as baby Jesus was arriving in the stable some 2000 years ago, the wild turkeys of South America (one of only two species in the world) were being domesticated by the Aztecs Mayans and other tribes of Indians. The Spanish introduced the domestic turkey to Europe in the 16th Century, we then took the turkey back across the Atlantic to North America at a time of the Irish and Scottish land clearances who, among others migrated to the New World taking livestock goods and chattels, to where the second turkey species is domiciled, there domestic potential not being realised.

Up until the 19th century and prior to intensive battery farming of turkey’s  the delicacy on our dinner tables, would have been the bird of that time, the Goose.
The pictures below were taken around Allhallows and depict the very hard frost we had on the 12-12-12.

13 Dec 2012

The plight of the Turtle Dove.

Should you be anticipating a present of two Turtle Doves this Xmas, from your true love, as the carol goes, you will inevitably be in for a disappointment.

Latest compiled figures show the numbers of Turtle Doves have depleted by nearly two thirds in five years, with just 14,000 pairs in Britain the species is in dire straits. The RSPB states that the Grey Partridge - which also features in the song – is also under threat.

Losing six out of ten of our Turtle Doves and three out of ten of our Grey Partridge in just five years, you do not have to be a mathematician to work out the scenario of the next ten years, these figures if correct makes both species an unsustainable wildlife disaster.

These two icons of Christmas are telling us that wildlife not just for them but in general has reached crisis point.

Turtle Doves for the record and for the uninitiated are never here at Christmas they migrate and winter in Africa, it is said that intensive farming in the sub Saharan wintering ground are robbing the birds of natural habitat, the journey back to us they are running the gauntlet of Mediterranean hunters eager to shoot them for the pot.

And finally in all my years in the countryside I have never seen a partridge in a pear tree, and the composer of the carol, we can assume was not associated with birdlife in any way.

I can also say that personally I have not heard or seen a Turtle Dove for four years and have not photographed one for five years.

Happy Christmas.