Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Birds on the move!

Most of the day spent doing routine distributional survey work locally and preparing for the arrival of my son, Matthew, and his girlfriend, Rose, later this evening.

Limited time at home saw several commoner species on the move ( Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Siskin ). Given the house is in rather an isolated position, with very little cover around it, birds dropping in to feed are easily picked up. Likewise birds moving straight through can also be seen/heard without difficulty. Numbers of Goldfinch ranged from two to twenty + and Siskins numbers could be worked out through the combinations of male/females when birds dropped in to feed. Set against some of the exciting "finds" in the UK today ( Glaucous-winged Gull and probable Crag Martin ) little locally was of any real note!!!

A message from Venezuela brought depressing news relating to the further expropriation of ranches in the Llanos!! Apparently Hato El Frio has been expropriated after a government visit came to a view that its sustainable agricultural methods were "lacking in justification of optimum production".

Only Hato Pinero remains of the important conservation ranches, but one wonders for how long? A smaller ranch nearby, containing a primary dry forest reserve, was confiscated last year on the grounds of it being needed for " socialist indoctrination, reorientation and agricultural projects". The reality of the following months saw the Water Buffalo being sold, the woodland felled and the larger fauna hunted out. The place is now derelict!! One suspects the only people to gain benefit in the short term were Party officials!

Is this really what our group of "supportive" Labour politicians consider worthy? One can only surmise they also support Zimbabwe too and its past akin policies!! Perhaps the Chairman of the UK Labour Party "Support Venezuela Group, Colin Burgon, could explain as I, amongst many, am at a complete loss to understand what could be claimed to be the positive advantages arising from such vandalism!

When I visited the Llanos ranches I felt both priviledged and impressed that such "modern" approaches to sustainable farming were being practised,until I learned that, in many cases, they were following principles that had been utilised for long periods of time. Farming, diversification, conservation, all encapsulated within their approach such that one felt we had lessons to be learned. Now I fear we are witnessing the final throes of what could have been a successful case study, from which much could be learned, to something which will be consigned to the rather more shameful elements in a country's history.

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