News has been released that the elderly birdwatcher who went missing on Sunday last, when weather conditions were somewhat extreme, has been found dead in Yardley Wood, Northamptonshire. Full details have not yet been released by the Police but his unfortunate death is a reminder to us all that our hobby is not without its risks when we explore new areas, go far off the beaten track and so on, particularly abroad. A sad episode in any event.
Similar sad news has come from Northern Ireland where a young Golden Eagle, born on the Outer Hebrides this year and transferred to the official release project, has been found poisoned. Additionally news of two poisoned Buzzards in Strathspey has also emerged. In both these instances the poison carbofuran was used. The latter news comes in the immediate wake of the Stage 1 presentation and debate on the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland ) Bill which addresses this amongst other problems. The subject of raptor persecution was commented on by John Scott, MSP, who declared that Scottish Tories didn't accept there was a problem and that it was "part real, part imaginary". Given he's a member of the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee, which has led the way in bringing this draft legislation forward, received endless details on raptor persecution incidents in Scotland, his remarks are crass in the extreme and have simply rendered the situation down to what is little more than Party Politics.
A venture out into the wide and wonderful yesterday was rewarded, locally, with a 2nd winter Glaucous Gull after a tip off from a colleague. It may have been around a few days but is very mobile. Few birds are around in numbers and the anticipation, but not reality, of coming across small parties of species like Reed Bunting, Linnet, Stonechat and Meadow Pipit suggest some of these may have moved out. With such hostile circumstances of weather so widely applicable over the UK this in itself becomes a problem and lays heavy value on the provision of food at garden "feeding stations", from which we then get the added enjoyment of seeing various species at close hand.