Some thoughts on non-native species

How many non-native species do you think there are in the UK? Ten? Fifty? A few hundred? Keep going upwards…

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A tail-less tale

We’ve had a lot of young birds in the garden recently, and they can look a little odd sometimes. So at first we thought this wobbly and tail-less blackbird was just such a story… Continue reading

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Monday Bird of the Week No.50 – Buzzard

_DSC5991 (1024x670)Another conservation success story this week, but one that has been more divisive than the Avocet. Persecuted, recovered, and persecuted all over again, it is the Common Buzzard.

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A domesticated pochard? 


One of the pochard continues to be unusually tame, probably because it’s identified a spot where food regularly gets thrown in the water. 

I say tame, but it terrorises the other waterfowl. Mallards, Moorhens, Coots, even a Greylag Goose, all have been chased by this tiny, dainty croaking psychopath. 


I’m not convinced it’s doing the right thing by its duckling though. Half the time while she is chasing off everything else in sight, the duckling is alone and vulnerable. 
Still, it’s amusing to see a usually timid bird chase something as aggressive as a Coot clear out of the water. 

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Monday Bird of the Week No.49 – Avocet


This week’s Bird of the Week is a bird of such style, elegance, and grace that no less than Chris Packham called it ‘the Audrey Hepburn’ of birds. It is also a bird that is literally iconic, given it’s the logo for the RSPB. It is of course the Avocet.

The first time I tried to see an Avocet was somewhere around the mid 1980s at Blacktoft Sands. At the time it was still a very rare bird, though it was recovering after once being extinct in the UK. But there were still only a handful of birds there, and across the entire site we saw…zero. It was always a long shot.

Move on around twenty years, I’m living in Lancashire, and visit WWT Martin Mere, where I see at least fifty birds. Some years it can be as many as a hundred there. It’s not just Martin Mere. At sites like Blacktoft and North Cave back home in Yorkshire, I know if I go along in Spring I will see Avocets. It’s a remarkable turnaround, and bodies such as the WWT and RSPB get huge credit here for managing this.

As you know I’m generally a little uncomfortable with the compromises that often accompany animals elevated to conservation icons (such as the Giant Panda and the WWF). But in this case, the focus worked. Not only that, managing habitat for Avocets benefits a whole host of other animals. This is iconoclasm done well.

As for its graceful reputation, it’s well deserved. Any photo of an Avocet somehow looks like a watercolour painting instead. Watching them probe the water with that elegant sweeping motion, all long neck and long legs…Packham’s comparison may be inadequate.

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30 Days Wild – Day 30 – Feisty Pochards

I didn’t want it to happen but time, weather and other things have beaten me. So we end not with a bang, but with a whimper… Continue reading

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30 Days Wild – Day 29 – The end is nigh…

There’s an unfortunate sense of the month petering out at the moment with the weather minimising chances for anything special to close it out. Continue reading

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30 Days Wild – Day 28 – Rain 

With the rain continuing to fall I was wondering what I could write about today. Surely not another wildfowl photo? Continue reading

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30 Days Wild – Day 27 – Let sleeping ducks lie

A very quick one today. Spotted a bunch of ducks sleeping by the lake. But the moment I stopped to look at them, they were up.  Continue reading

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30 Days Wild – Day 26 – Aberlady Bay


Day 26 is really a second part to Day 25, coming from the first ever Local Nature Reserve, established in 1952. Aberlady Bay.

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