Thursday, July 14, 2011

To Cull or Not to Cull?

The government is due to make a decision within the next few days on whether to allow farmers to shoot badgers on sight in a bid to stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis. I seriously doubt this will solve the problem of the continuing spread of bovine TB.
The disease is a serious concern for farmers and I do feel for those that have lost their herds.
But I don't think giving farmers a licence to shoot badgers will help.
What tends to happen when you cull animals in a specific area is that other animals then come in and colonise that area and the pertubation that follows makes it more difficult to control the spread of disease.
It also seems to me that the government is passing the buck onto individual farmers to solve what is a nationwide problem.
Unfortunately I don't know what the solution to the problem is. But I don't think this is it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lapwing Chicks

It is rare to see lapwings nesting in this part of Yorkshire. But a friend of mine has created specific 'lapwing strips' to encourage these beautiful plumed birds. I spent three weeks watching three successfully hatch their broods.

These birds have benefitted from higher level stewardship scheme funding and it has really made a difference to their success in this area.

To read about the antics of these three chicks as they hatched click here to link to my latest column in The Yorkshire Post.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Owl Safaris

The owl safaris I held this summer have been a great success.
Originally meant to complement my summer exhibition I had so much demand that I ended up doing five safaris in total - even giving up my birthday evening for one!
But they were worth it. We started each safari here at the gallery to look at the kestrels and tawny owls that nest in a line of sycamores below my kitchen window and then headed off to Givendale, passing by the spectacular field of orchids on the way.
In all we saw little owls, buzzards, barn owls, yellow hammers, woodpeckers, and more. Each safari always ended with a warm drink and a chat over what we have seen at my kitchen table whilst we waited for the tawny owls to come to feed at the bird table.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Wildlife Watching with The Press

I took a journalist from The Press out wildlife watching with me and he enjoyed himself so much he has written a very complimentary article in Wednesday's edition all about it. I took him to my badger sett and we stopped off to look at some tawny owls and a barn owl chick on the way. He described me as an 'excellent' guide with an 'artist's eye for detail'. Hope all of you who have been on the owl safari's were as pleased with the experience!

Click here to read the article.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Woodpeckers Fledge

I spent a fascinating few weeks watching a pair of woodpeckers raise their chicks.
This photograph was taken a few minutes before one chick fledged.

The nest hole was at least 15ft high so I set my hide on top of two stacked potato boxes.

I then rigged up a remotely-controlled camera on the other side of the hole so that I had an all-round view of the action. The female seemed quite happy about my rig-up.

But the male was far more cautious and peered at me suspiciously the first time he came in with some grubs for the chicks.He would hang upside down looking for grubs under the bark close to the nest hole and was very adapt at prizing off the bark.Woodpeckers take in food on their way in and take droppings out on their way out.
Sometimes they fed the chicks on aphids gathered from the leaves of the tree the hole was in.

I watched as the chicks became bold enough to venture out of the hole. The adult pair encouraged the chicks to fledge by easing off on their food supplies. The chicks got so hungry they actually pecked at their parent's feet in frustration, before they eventually took the plunge and emerged from the hole.
It was a pleasure to see them eventually fledge. To read more about this story click here to link to this week's Ryedale Gazette & Herald.