I grew up in Bristol and went to Bristol Grammar School where a couple of masters (Derek Lucas and Tony Warren) were instrumental in fueling my interest in birds. I was in the Young Ornithologists' Club.
In the school holidays I practically lived at Chew Valley Lake - a bicycle and a pair of binoculars were all I needed.
My parents liked nice scenery and walks in the countryside and that gave me plenty of opportunities for birding.
I spent a few years when rare birds were very important to me but aside from the very occasional lapse they aren't any more!
I did a Ph.D. on pipistrelle bats but most of my research before joining the RSPB was on bee-eaters in the south of France (nice eh?) and great tits and marsh tits around Oxford. However, the first scientific paper I wote was about the lekking behaviour of great snipe.
I joined the RSPB staff in 1986 as a researcher, became Head of Conservation Science in 1992 and Conservation Director in 1998 - all have been great jobs!
Last week, on Wednesday, we all got a message at The Lodge telling us to go home early.
So hundreds of us left at 445pm instead of the official end of day at 515pm.
After we had gone, a World War 2 bomb was safely removed by bomb disposal experts. They were pretty sure, 95%, that it would not have exploded but, hey, 5% is 5%!
When the news of a suspect device circulated, speculation mounted about whether the Provisional NFU were active in the area.
Provisional NFU Mark or Real NFU?
BobP’s policy (see above) is not to make Party Political comments
And of course Mark’s comments are intended to be (mildly?) humorous and entertain – and so it does!
But the reality is that following the commencement of the Coalition Government things really have changed – we even have (Tory) Minister – Jim Paice - with responsibility for Hunting & Shooting.
I’ve always found the NFU – “not a brain between them” – to be somewhat behind the curve - whereas organisations and publications like the Countryside Alliance and (say) Shooting Times are genuinely up to speed.
Indeed - I take the Shooting Times and its recent (and current) comments regarding for example Eagle Owls, Hen Harriers, etc seems more reasonable than does the RSPB’s argument.
The RSPB’s Political Stance?
It’s still under careful scrutiny – I hear!
Sooty, I think theres a simple answer that you've touched on yourself in the past - NFU don't actually represent all farmers - and what real farmers do doesn't always match the rhetoric of their political representatives. I remember ebing involved with a (forestry - but still many of the same landowners) grant scheme which we were told very loudly would never work & would never be accepted - it 'sold out' - more applicatiopns than money available - almost at once, including to many of the people who siad it would never work. Behind the promotion of even more intensive farming by NFU are many farmers wondering how they are going to make ends meet - I hope that some will be able to move towards less intensive, wildlife friendly farming - and that is why HLS is so vital as it is key funding that will allow the co-operation between farming and the environment to develop. Please, please Mr Osborne realise that this is par tof all our futures and not just a marginal issue noone cares about.
Sooty, While I can't agree with every word I agree with the concept of what you are saying. The RSPB is able, with varying success, to work with individual farmers and other organisations representing land, shooting and game interests. Mark, time to get talking. Ignore the 'lapwing flavoured chocolate' jokes and there must be some agreement, even a quail sized chunk.
Think it more likely a employee wanted to get home a bit early,wonder what one of them will think up next.Obviously not provisional NFU or no warning would have been given.
Seriously I find it sad that for whatever the NFU and RSPB say on the surface and top brass always act as if they are best of buddies there is bad blood there for sure and it is seriously detrimental to wildlife,in my opinion BOTH organisations have to behave more responsibly to each other and to wildlife.
I am not blaming one more than the other all they seem capable of is scoring cheap shots against the other,as the RSPB point out farmland birds have gone down seriously in numbers and they will not admit to it but if the two organisations had a better relationship farmland birds would definitely gain.
The saddest thing of all is that the RSPB make great play about interacting with lots of individual farmers but the NFU and RSPB seem incapable of some compromises on both sides for the benefit of all concerned.Not a rant against RSPB both organisations need to look where in harder times we are going and for certain farmland birds need both to sort themselves out.
I recall a bomb hoax when I worked at the Lodge. Ruddy ducks and animal rights seemed to be involved. I also remember some tricky negotiations with NABU too, although the prospect of both sides carpet bombing never seemed likely. Glad everyone was OK on Wednesday.