‘I HAVE No Hesitation In Saying It’s Terrorism In The Countryside And In All Our Towns And Cities. How Else Can You Explain What Is Happening ?’
Hill farmer John Pugh from Llanwrthwl, Rhayader is talking about rural predators the Corvids and Raptors – Magpies, Jays, Crows, Jays. Add Red-Kites, Falcons, Rats, Sparrow-Hawks, Badgers, Foxes, Herring-Gulls, ETC; And… the Grey-Squirrel Infestation –
“The List is Endless – From Far Too Many Scavengers Predators That Have Decimated Songbird Numbers Everywhere.” – Byline 2008: By Andrew Forgrave.
‘Fish populations have also suffered at the hands of otters and mink which have thrived unchecked in the Welsh countryside.’
He became so frustrated at the fashion for protecting predators that in 2001 he was one of the prime movers in establishing ‘Songbird Survival Trust’ a charity that campaigns for a countryside that is managed in balance, “the answer is to revisit the past when predators were controlled.” Native breeds of cattle of over 800 were recognized worldwide and performed the twin tasks of making the uplands productive and improving wildlife habitats.
Cattle, he says increase the number of insects which are so vital as the first level of the wildlife food chain. They also trample down the bracken providing food and habitat for song birds. His family has farmed in the Cambrian Mountains since the 1600s and his life revolves around farming and the rural way of life.
His home is full of books on wildlife birds and countryside management and points in particular to a run of bound volumes of the Ministry of Agriculture Journal from 1924 to 1930. ‘That contains what you need to know to have a living countryside.’ – Cont -
One of the too many attractive British Garden Countryside Songbirds were losing. Beautiful with yellow blue and white feathers.
“Regular user of nest boxes so check out design to make some. In return you will get a great all year round garden dinky gorgous little songster to listen to.”
Harmonious happy Blue Tits have a short undulating flight. Nest takes 12 days to construct inside trees pipes walls holes and in ground.
‘Our’ Stylish splendidly sweet serene confident cheerful songster.
One of Britain’s favourites.
But appallingly are being ‘Killed-off and Silenced’ especially by rural and urban predation!
Help Blue Tits: Insects grubs caterpillars spiders smaller seeds fruit winter fat-balls mealworms and yes ‘cream topped milk.’
‘If you’d like to attract blue tits into your garden they especially love peanuts sunflower-hearts millet so add some to your feeders today. Enjoy adept clinging hanging-on joyous little acrobats.’
“Tragic as it is ‘NO ONE’ KEEPS PESTS DOWN” -Blue Tits ARE Prone to Songbird Predation From Cats, Grey-Squirrels, Magpies, Sparrowhawks, Crows. Etc…
2010 BTO – ‘Warning Decline Of The Blue Tit.’ - “Would Astonish Many Songbird Lovers.”
“Shocking new study shows many songbirds are vanishing from Britains bird tables and feeders at an alarming rate!” Modern feeders and changes in bird feeding are threatening species.
‘Four times as many Great Spotted Woodpeckers now use gardens feeders than at start of this survey.’
Great Spotted and all Woodpeckers raid birds nests. Breaking and eating the eggs. And ‘eat’ – the Adult and chick Songbirds.
Cont: Back to the days of his youth when the dawn chorus would accompany his walk down the hills to school, when anyone could tickle armfuls of trout from the streams on their way home. Neighbours would fish for salmon that measured to a man’s shoulder.
Now, he says the birds have gone and he hears only the rough noisy cries of corvids the crows and magpies. And he has seen otters chase hen trout and salmon upstream and kill them before they have time to lay their eggs.
‘This valley used to ring with bird song when I was a lad, and now it’s full of silent fields.’ Back in those days buyers would flock to the area to buy native breed cattle for finishing in lowland areas of England. Farmers are blamed for the death of the songbirds and netsmen – in estuaries or at sea – are blamed for the dearth of fish. But he blames the misguided theories of conservationists that have caught the ears of civil servants and ministers.
‘Managing the countryside is an apprenticeship handed down from generation to generation. If you don’t have that you can’t expect someone from the middle of Cardiff to come to the uplands of Wales and know the kind of things to look for.’
He can reel off the mistakes that have created the silent fields of the Welsh countryside: the 30-month rule that means native breeds – that were not hit by BSE aren’t given time to mature; the increase in forestry that helped foxes and grey squirrels; the local abattoirs driven to closure; the fashion for fencing streams; the prohibition on burning off moorland.
Older farmers say the Elan Valley’s 60,000 acres used to accommodate thousands of cattle. Land consisting of moors, compulsion on farmers to remove the carcasses of fallen stock that kept predators and insects fed; and of course, the protection of badgers, otters and raptors.
“We’re not saying there should not be otters or sparrow hawks herons or badgers. But when there are more badgers than foxes in Wales there’s not much hope for ground nesting birds.”
He has his own herd of native breeds – Welsh Blacks, Blue Greys, Belted Galloways, Highland, Luings and a couple of rare old White cattle he bought recently, all of which run with Beef Shorthorn the beef variety of the shorthorn breed of cattle. The Shorthorn was a forgotten breed at one time, but it’s a very good crossing breed.’
2008 sold his upland sheep farm to a young couple and now concentrates on his cattle, which he regards as a vital element of a managed wildlife-rich countryside.
He points to a 2005 survey on part of his land – Crawnant Rhos – which detailed 48 species of rare plants and flowers on fields that his cattle had grazed and trampled.
‘I don’t remember when I last saw so much round-leaved sundew (Venus’s-flytrap).’
He says ‘the only pair of lapwings that in recent years have nested successfully in his home valley are the stuffed ones he bought in an auction sale a couple of years ago!’
‘A lot has to be done before the 13 farms in Cwm Valley will see lapwings and curlews nesting here again.’ Byline 2008: - By Andrew Forgrave Rural Affairs Editor.
Birds Death IN Britain ‘WHY?’ – “Grey-Squirrels Magpies Sparrow-Hawks Rats Cats Foxes Crows Herring-Gulls Jays Falcons Red-Kites Badgers” – ‘ETC!’, etc…
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