News tweets

News tweets

Write To: RSPB; their ‘patron’ the Queen. Your MPs. ALL Councils – To-Save Garden Birds?
Send & Into us: All Songbirds killed Data; Along with your ‘Area’ – location.
Send Into us: RSPB & ‘Wildlife’ Centre stories –

2011 August 19: SPECIES GO ON THE RUN FROM CLIMATE – ANIMALS AND Plants are fleeing the effects of climate change far faster than first suspected according to new research.
Species are moving away from the earths warm equatorial belt at a rate equivalent to 20cm (8in) per hour a team of British-led scientists claimed.
‘This has been going on for the last 40 years and is set to continue for at least the rest of this century,’ said lead scientist and conservation biologist Prof Chris Thomas from the University of York.
In England the comma butterfly has moved 220km (137 miles) northwards from central England in only two decades.

The researchers calculated that every ten years on average species had moved 18km (11 miles) in the direction of the poles. Shifts to higher elevations were at the rate of 12m (39ft) per decade.

2011 August 12: RED-SQUIRRELS – ‘EXTINCT IN 20 YEARS…’
Some of Britain’s best-loved animals including the red squirrel. Hedgehog, Scottish wildcat could become extinct within 20 years a report has warned.
Brown hares, woodland grouse, natterjack toads, cuckoos and turtle doves are also on the top ten ‘most at risk’ list in the Eden Species Report.
The red-necked phalarope wading bird was named as the animal most under threat with just 36 breeding pairs left. Followed by black-tailed godwit with 50 breeding pairs.
‘We can all do our bit to help these animals living on our own doorstep to ensure that are not lost forever’ said a spokesman for the Eden TV channel which commissioned the study.

Goldcrest: Europes ‘tiniest’ Songbird. Weighs 5g – ’20’ pence. Main Photos:

Flit restlessly hanging upside down from branches. Tiny needle-like bill.
Crests – female yellow male orange one.

Goldcrest twittering ends with a flourish their high-pitched frequency group call is above that which we can perceive.

Builds a suspended nest compact cup-shaped type rounded hammock of moss lichen and spiders web in a fork of twigs. At the end of a conifer branch.
Help Goldcrests: Grow Bushes Plants AND Ivy – For small insects grubs caterpillars.

2011 August 17: ‘Feather Brained’ They ‘Songbirds Are Not’ – Stress Levels in Birds –
Stress in birds can be measured by
examining their feathers.

When faced with threats such as predators bad weather or oil spills wild birds secrete a hormone called Corticosterone. Scientists used to analyse it in blood but now a study at Tufts University in Massachusetts has shown corticosterone spikes can also be detected in feathers which offer significant advantages over blood because they leave a record of stress as the birds grow.

2011 August 17: Kew Makes Meadows A Growing Concern Again
Native flowers which will help restore Britain’s vanishing meadows are being grown in special seed beds by Kew Garden botanists. Plants which have proved difficult to cultivate will be harvested for the £750,000 project at the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place, West Sussex.

Britain’s native seed hub features devil’s bit scabious, cuckoo flower and harebell among the diverse species being grown in a walled nursery. Other seeds will be provided for conservation groups and landowners to use.
‘Lowland’ meadows are an important part of our grasslands but in England and Wales were down to less than 10,000ha (25,000 acres) said project leader Michael Way.

A Nest Of Fledgling Blackbirds in the honeysuckle has just been pinpointed by a pair of sparrow hawks and I have now found an additional three dead adult blackbirds, presumably all with young in the nest.

I have never seen sparrow hawks in my garden until this year. I rather think they have been attracted by the adjacent farm which, for some reason, has decided to put up a decoy to attract birds and then shoot them.
They say it is pigeons, but what is the point of attracting them in open countryside to fire at them?
The dead and dying birds as a result of this have almost certainly attracted the sparrowhawks along with other carrion.
The balance has been totally upset. I am also incensed that farmers can apparently shoot birds with impunity during the breeding season, thus leaving young to wither in the nest.
The previous farmer in his 30 plus years before retirement never found it necssary to shoot anything. What has changed? Should not the RSPB be at long last far more vociferous about these issues?
With best wishes for what you’re all doing at – Jacqueline. Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire.

2011 July 6: The Tiny Bee Hummingbird Weighs As much As A Lump Of Sugar. The Tiny Bee Hummingbird Measures two -and-half ins (6cm) in length. It lives in Cuba and lays the smallest eggs of any bird. The Songbird Can Fly Backwards, Forwards, Sideways And Hover Motionless For Up To One Hour.
The, AMAZING TINY LITTLE  Bee Hummingbird Can Also Beat Their TINY Wings ’90’ Times A Second.

2011 June 23: BRIGHT BIRDY A peacocks Plumage Might Appear Colourful to us but it could appear drab to other birds. Humans are capable of seeing only a fraction of the colour that birds can.
The feathers they produce are only up to 30 per cent of the range of colours birds can see.
‘That doesn’t mean their palette might not expand into new colours.’
A joint Cambridge and Yale University study found.

2011 June 11: HUMAN RELATIONS: Our Ancestors May Not All Have Evolved In Africa After All. Homo erectus is now thought to have died out in Indonesia earlier than previously thought, long before the arrival of our own species – homo sapiens – in Asia. It backs up the ‘multi-regional’ theory that modern humans evolved from ancestors in different global locations say scientists in Indonesia.

2011 June 3 Metro: ‘450’ Turtles Smuggled IN Suitcases –
SHELL-SHOCKED Custom Officers Seized 451 Turtles And Seven Freshwater Crocodiles At A Thai Airport Yesterday.

The smuggled reptiles were hidden in cases offloaded at Bangkok’s airport Suvarnabhumi from a Bangladesh passenger flight.
The animal trafficker a Bangladesh national fled on arrival but he could have got about £20,000 for them in the cities giant Chatujak market. Last December 1,140 turtles were found by Thai customs on a single day.

2011 June 3: MELANCHOL-BEE: Stressed bees are likely to accept a glass half empty’ attitude as depressed humans scientists say. The insects were more likely to be pessimistic when faced with a sticky situation such as a predator attack researchers found.
The discovery of bees ‘emotions’ could lead to calls for stricter animal testing laws.
News from Newcastle University scientists.

2011 May 31: CARBON EMISSIONS HIT RECORD WORLD CO2 emissions soared to their highest level in history last year. It was revealed yesterday. After a dip in 2009 caused by the global financial crisis emissions jumped by five per cent from the lat record year in 2008. India and China account for most of the rise as their economic growth accelerated though emissions have also grown in developed countries according to the International Energy Agency.
‘This significant increase in CO2 emissions’ represents ‘a serious setback in our hopes of limiting the global rise in temperature to no more than 2C said Fatih Birol chief economist at the IEA. ‘Our latest estimates are another wake-up call. The world has edged incredibly close to the level of emissions that should not be reached until 2020’ he added.

2011 May 10: and Finally… Toffee the tortoise found herself in a sticky situation when she was carried off by a crow. But the pet was found alive five weeks later in a cemetery over walls and across a busy main road from her home. She had scratch marks on her shell. ‘We had all but given up hope.’ Said owner Lucy Hiscock from Isle of Wight.

2011 May – SEA CHANGE: The oceans act as a giant mop to absorb our airborne carbon emissions. But climate change is reducing the ability of our seas to clean up CO2 as warmer water cannot hold as much of the element, a study of the North Atlantic shows.
US and French researches worked with nearly three decades of data to identify underlying trends and provide some of the first evidence that changing climate caused by atmospheric pollution is affecting the ocean carbon sink.

2011 April 19 Metro: Fish are the new victims of cigarettes –
Discarded cigarette butts are wiping out fish by leaking poisonous chemicals into their stomachs scientists say. A single butt with just a tiny amount of tobacco left in it was enough to turn one litre of water toxic and kill 50 per cent of species swimming in it.

Even if no tobacco remained it took less than two butts to destroy half of marine fish and just over four to do the same to freshwater varieties researchers from San Diego University claim.
Cigarettes are the most common form of litter in the world with more than 5.6trillion filters finding their way into the environment every year.
When immersed in water each one becomes a time-released capsule of compounds such as nicotine and cancer-causing chemicals.
Leachates (contaminated water) from smoked cigarette butts with remnant tobacco were significantly more toxic to fish than the smoked filters alone but even un-smoked filters exhibit a small level of toxicity said Prof Richard Gersberg.
The study represents the first to show leachate from cigarette butts is acutely toxic to representative marine and freshwater fish species.
The study is published in Tobacco Control.

2011 March 30: Tourist Bug IS Linked TO Ape Deaths
Two rare mountain gorillas have died in the wild from a human virus raising fears that eco-tourism is harming their environment. The adult female and newborn were part of an 800-strong troop living in Rwanda made famous by the researcher Dian Fossey portrayed in the film Gorillas In The Mist.

They died from a respiratory virus that can cause pneumonia in humans test results released yesterday showed.
They lived in a tourism-designated area designed to protect them from poachers but experts believe the deaths in 2009 resulted from human contact. ‘Because their are fewer than 800 living mountain gorillas each individual is critically important to the survival of their species.
But mountain gorillas are surrounded by people and this discovery makes it clear that living in protected national parks is not a barrier to human diseases’ said Mike Cranfield a director of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project.

The birds eventually fell onto a grass verge and near to a bush they had been perching on.
The Magpies
were disturbed by a Red Kite which literally appeared out of nowhere, as it circled ever lower the Magpies flew off and eventually the Red Kite swooped down and picked up one dead Chaffinch. Anyone who had only witnessed the Red Kite would have wrongly assumed it killed the Chaffinch.
On other occasions I have witnessed Magpies take chicks and eggs from a Black Birds nest we have in an Ivy laden tree in our garden. Magpies are definitely increasing in our area they are the main villains as I’ve noticed at the moment not the birds of prey, in the decimation of song birds.
Jeff A, Midlands

2011 March 4 Metro: Nation Of ‘pet lovers’ Leaves ’10m’ TO SUFFER.
More Than 10million Pets IN Britain Could Be Suffering
Because Of Their Health AND Welfare Needs Not Being Met. The PDSA Revealed Yesterday.

Some 5million Cats 4million Dogs and 700,000 Rabbits are not receiving the necessary care fir their happiness and wellbeing said the veterinary charity.
More than 3.3million cats were unvaccinated and susceptible to potentially fatal diseases its animal wellbeing found. Some 1.9million dogs were being left alone for too long and 2.4million others were being fed scraps as one of their main food items.
More than 150,000 rabbits were living in hutches that were too small it added. The Public Needed To Have A Deeper ‘understanding’ Of Their Pets Welfare The PDSA Said Today.

Way too many bird cages are far too small –
Being without twigs greenery or anything to interest or occupy ‘live’ birds or parrots.

Many fish bowls are far too small –
Without any plants pebbles or enough of anything to interest the living fish occupants.

2011 March 1 Metro: China One-child policy may be relaxed
The country’s population grew slightly to 1.3 billion people last year, leading experts to suggest the state may relax its generation-old one-child policy. The figure which is preliminary and based on a sample survey shows the nation added about 6.3million people last year according to the National Bureau of Statistics. ‘China’s population is mainly growing because people are living longer not because they are having lots of babies’ an analyst at North Carolina university said. The family planning limit was imposed in cities in 1981.

2011 March 11: A Fish Suffer – Zipping around on a speedboat may be lots of fun.
But spare a thought for the fish whose supper you are disturbing. The noise of an engine at full throttle made sticklebacks more prone to mistakes and less efficient while foraging, say Bristol university researchers. Just ten seconds of noise put them off.
These mistakes increase the chances of eating harmful items as well as predation risk because fish have to forage for longer.

2011 January 2 The Sun: Field Birds At Record Low –
The UK’s farmland bird populations have fallen to a record low official figures showed yesterday. In England alone the numbers of 19 species which rely on farmland for food and breeding have dropped by more than half since 1970.

Grey partridges, turtle doves, starlings, tree sparrows, yellow wagtails and corn bunting are among the hardest hit.
The Environmental Department said the number of woodland birds has also fallen by a quarter since 1970.
Blackbirds, bullfinches and song thrushes declined with willow tits, tree pipits, spotted flycatchers and lesser spotted woodpeckers down by more than 70 per cent.
The RSPB said the fall in some farmland birds was linked to decades of habitat change – which meant a lack of suitable nesting sites and shortage of food. It urged greater use of new schemes to pay farmers to manage their land in a wildlife-friendly way.

View: 2011 January ‘New Corvid Research Project’

One a hedge sparrow other a blue tit. Is it not time to have the sparrowhawk taken off the protected birds list?
Although its maybe a striking bird to look at. I for one would not miss it.
Give me a garden full of song birds any day. The RSPB say we should not interfere with nature.
But they are doing just that by reintroducing birds of prey.
I think I read that they are going to release Red Kites into parts of England because it was once part of our landscape, well so was the bear and lion!!
Oh just one more thing, make the wearing of a collar and bell compulsory for cats that are let out by their owners.
David GARRARD, Halesowen

Red Kites – View – Top 10 British Charities –
Hold ‘£35 billion’ – In Reserve – 2008!

2010 December 22: Banish This US Import – I did not see the original article on species non-native to Britain but I don’t agree with Animal Aids F Pereira and her views on grey squirrels (Metro Mon).
Perhaps red squirrels were persecuted and their numbers reduced in the 18th and 19th centuries but the fact remains the biggest threat to our native reds today is the grey squirrel.

Greys are the US import and as such they are pests.
They are larger and more aggressive than our reds and will win out in competition for food and shelter.
Also as I’m sure Animal Aid knows but fails to mention grey squirrels can carry a virus that they are immune to but which is deadly to red squirrels. I would endorse a grey squirrel cull. In fact I would go as far as to say I would like to see every single grey squirrel eradicated from Britain, with a consequent return to a country populated only by our native reds. – Allen, Tyne & Wear

2010 August 26 H&H: Seagulls Aren’t ‘Sweet’ They ARE Scavengers AND KILL Our Songbirds. Who ‘IS’ The RSPB London Communications Manager f- FOOLING?
Not Me For One!
Yes gulls are certainly ‘intelligent and resoursouceful’ having ‘learned to take advantage.’ But to promote the attitude to just leave gulls to their own devices is wrong. Predators cull everything else that their own numbers need to be culled; they dont suffer predation…
To accept anything else as normal ‘nature’ is barmy. The RSPB admit the gulls get all the advantage of tons of waste food, yet fails to reason this is giving non aggressive and non predator species any hope or help. What, RSPB, is ‘natural’ about that!
They expound to using ‘non-lethal’ methods.
Obviously then, these do not work! I have not seen the RSPB saving any ‘songbirds’ – ?
A.Risonne, London E14

2010 September 9 H & H: Further To His Defence Of Seagulls (Bill Oddie) – Am I The Only Resident of Belsize Park –
‘Who  IS Irritated And Alarmed By Them?’
Having just moved to the area I find it very hard to get used to their loud cawing and screaming though out the day and much of the night. I’ve tried calling Camden pest control about it but they simply told me they don’t ‘do’ seagulls.
But these are not nice birds. Seagulls are a dangerous pest. It’s not just the noise they are flying health-and-safety hazard with no natural predators.
Like rats they both carry and spread disease and as they get bolder they can attack people with their hooked bills. If you live by the sea that might be a risk you’d be prepared to take.
But if I wanted seagulls I’d be living in Brighton not Belsize Park. Uncollected refuse in the borough may offer easier pickings than the ever-dwindling stocks of fish in our seas.
But do we really want to encourage this evolution. Come on Camden pay for some hawks, start a nest- removal programme and give us our rural environment back. To a natural city dweller the sound of traffic is just so much more soothing.
– S.Prentis, Haverstock Hill NW3

2010 August 27 Metro: Stuffed tiger toys conceal live cub!
Customs officials at Bangkock airport found a two-month-old tiger inside a bag filled with stuffed tiger toys. The cub which had been sedated with antidepressants was hidden in a suitcase bound for Iran. A 31-year old woman said she was carrying it for someone else. There is a thriving black market trade in tigers, mainly for their skins.

2010 August 12: Water meters for all to save rivers.
All homes in England and Wales should have water meters to relieve pressure on rivers conservationists say. WWF-UK warns that a third of rivers are facing damage from over-extraction which can lead them to dry out killing fish and other wildlife. About a third of households have the meters which cut water use by average of 10 to 15 per cent.

The wildlife charity wants the government to bring in universal metering by 2020.

2010 August 6: Forest Death. Nearly 80 per cent of the animal and plant species in the world’s rainforests may be extinct in 90 years research suggests. Wildlife will have to adapt or die in the face of deforestation and climate change –and just 18 per cent could remain by 2100 said US ecologists. ‘Land managers should focus on reducing deforestation and helping species adjust,’ said Dr Greg Asner at the Carnegie Institution.

2010 August 6: GM Escape. Genetically modified plants have been discovered in the wild for the first time, researchers claim today. Some 86 per cent of canola plants found by the side of 5,400km (3,355 miles) of roads in North Dakota in July had their genetic structure altered to be tolerant to two pesticides.
It is not yet known how the plants seeds ‘escaped’ from regulated crops said Meredith Schafer of the University of Arkansas.
Canola is a yellow cultivar of rapeseed.

2010 August 2 Ham & High:
Squirrels great overdue debate.
BrewDogs adverts of a stuffed grey squirrel with a bottle of ale in its mouth is without (for once) any sentiment for this too prevalent killing pest. Plus as well Budgens have also seen the truth of this tree ‘rat as they are now selling squirrel meat which tastes great as its so organic.
Squirrels are pests they may look cute and cuddly but marauding greys are devastating thousands of songbirds and ranks alongside the domestic cat as the top killer of farmland birds.
It has an insatiable appetite and if it comes across a chick or eggs, it gobbles them up. So come and live Mr Roberts where I do life is not just your cosy enclave. Prof Roy Brown, of Birkbeck University of London said in 2006 ‘In areas of high grey squirrel density, more than 93% of small birds nests are being raided.
‘When this is combined with Sparrow hawk activity it can result in 100% of breeding failure.’
This should serve as a wake up call to all those who do not believe or want to believe that squirrels are a major problem.’ Tragically in 2010 W Roberts hasn’t learnt a thing about other peoples problems re the ‘antics’ of grey squirrels or reads the newspapers.
Alex, Whetstone N20

2010 April 2 Metro: Race Ban Call As ‘500’ Horses Die…
More than 500 race horses have died in the past three years after either collapsing on the course or being put down from bad injuries, the country’s largest animal rights group has claimed.

Animal Aid said four horses died at the recent Cheltenham Festival and with the Grand National meeting at Aintree, Liverpool soon it has launched a campaign to see the worlds most famous horse race banned. ‘It’s not a race course, it’s an obstacle course.’
It’s more about how lucky a horse is – last year it was won by a 100-1 outsider, five horses died at last year’s meeting and Dene Stansell of Animal Aid urged people not to bet on the race.

2010 April HOT TOPIC: Global warming could give us the shivers geologists say. The ‘big freeze’ of 13,000 years ago was caused by melting ice according to a study in Nature. A ‘mega–flood’ from an ice sheet in North America led to an excess of fresh water entering the Artic Ocean.
This created more sea ice which shut down the warn Gulf Stream turning much of Britain into an artic desert.

2010 March Daily Mail: Don’t prey on songbirds.
The RSPB’s Mark Avery professes to be a bird lover but wants people to love the sparrowhawk the biggest butcher of all our songbirds.
Perhaps he likes seeing a sparrowhawk eat a songbird, which takes half an hour to die as it is gradually eaten away.
The hawk holds it down with its talons while eating the flesh and the prey can’t get free. I’ve seen it from my window.
Why does the RSPB not protect songbirds as it does birds of prey? Songbird populations are down by as much as 90 per cent, while every bird of prey species is at the highest known levels since numbers were recorded, with the possible exception of the kestrel.
The RSPB took the parakeet off the protected list ‘because it was damaging crops.’ Or was it because they discovered it could take the leg off a sparrowhawk with its nut-cracking beak when it was attacked?
The day the RSPB starts protecting songbirds is the day I return to its membership, but it spends its millions on rearing sea kites, sea eagles, peregrines, goshawks, sparrowhawks, buzzards, etc.
We see TV coverage of pick-up trucks loaded with poultry offal being shovelled out daily to feed kites, which would die if they weren’t fed because there isn’t enough carrion in nature to sustain their numbers.
Peregrines are brought into cities to nest in custom-built boxes on high rise buildings because there aren’t enough natural coastal cliffs to house their needs.
Goshawks are brought to farming locations, near chicken and pheasant-rearing farms, to provide food for their young.
The almost ‘extinct’ corncrake breeding Island of Islay was purchased for the RSPB, but after daily disturbances by the charities staff, the birds decamped elsewhere.
Sea Eagles failed when brought to Mull, so now they are being brought to Suffolk. They tried Norfolk, but farmers threatened to shoot the lot for their lamb-killing habits.
Lapwings are now in small numbers, but who cares? Farmers do. The RSPB? Not likely, they don’t have the talons or hook beaks. It lobbies Parliament to have the law changed to protect predators, but songbirds? No way.
– W. Cowell, Wincanton Somerton

2009 November Telegraph: Charlie Brooks Comment ( Nov 13th ).
Claims there is insurmountable evidence that certain species are counter-productive to biodiversity. The problem is that this is anecdotal evidence.
Government and major conservation bodies will not listen to this and hide behind very outdated and flawed research. For them to conduct high quality new research would be expecting turkeys to vote for Christmas. Many of them say that controlling excessive levels of predation is the thin edge of the wedge.
Although it may involve overturning the cosy urbanised sentimental and lucrative conservation world, we are striving to nail this issue by conducting irrefutable high quality research. In our wholly managed environment we have a choice. Is it to be wildlife as a cash-earning entertainment medium with extinctions or is it to be biodiversity for our grandchildren?
– Nick Forde, SBS

2009 May 5: AND FINALLY – China – A depressed mule hurled itself off a cliff to its death. Apparently to ‘avoid facing any more hard labour’ hauling rocks in a quarry. ‘This was the first time that poor beast had ever been out of his harness and he took the chance to end it all,’ said one of a group of workers at the quarry in the eastern city of Wenzhou.

2009 May: While everybody’s worried.
About the swine flue pandemic killing tens of millions of us, here’s something to take your mind off those fears:

Since 1945 – Its thought that at least 50 nuclear weapons have been lost at sea and remain somewhere on the ocean floor…

2008 December Shooting Times: A Conservationist No More.
Having planted trees in my village in the early 1970s, created a four-acre wildlife reserve in the 1980s and annually coppiced firewood in nearby woods for many years, I used to feel proud when people on occasion said ‘I hear you are a bit of a conservationist.’
In the early 1990s my wife and I saw our first sparrowhawk. Within a year we were appalled by local songbird losses.
Appeals to the RSPB (which in those days we trusted totally) to consider the need for control of the rapidly increasing hawk population proved fruitless and their reasoning suspect.
In the late 1990s, badgers wiped out hedgehogs and decimated bumblebee nests in our mini-nature reserve as well as doing damage to farmland and village gardens.
We raised the matter with our local Wildlife Trust but there was a horrified reaction when we suggested the need for badger control.
With the so-called professional environmentalists, the RSPB, the BBC and the Bill Oddie types full of half truths and seeking suburban popularity.
I now find the title of conservationist rather distasteful. I prefer conserve or plain countryman.
Despite not participating in field sports we are now subscribers to Shooting Times rather than national wildlife magazines as we prefer the wise countryman’s logic of ST’s contributions to the biased pseudo-scientists.
G.Morris, Suffolk

2008 September 2 Metro: He’s all out of pluck By Joe Steele.
Robin had little to show of his old red breast after right wing-ding.
IT’S NOT quite a case of who killed Cock Robin? But certainly the mess this bird has been left in would at least indicate he had been in a not-so featherweight dust up. Poor old robin red-breast is thought to have been attacked by a sparrowhawk.

In the pecking order it appears there was only going to be one winner. But at least the robin lived to fight another day with the help of David and Wendy Baggaley, Scruffy- as the couple have dubbed him – is slowly regaining his looks.
Mr Baggaley of Halifax said ‘we’ve named him Scruffy because he’s been looking like this every time he’s visited our garden since the attack.’ Despite looking wounded the sprightly bird has even retained the love of his pretty partner. Mr Baggaley added ‘his mate clearly still loves him. They have had two broods this year. We have seen them perched together.’
His wife said ‘there were times when we thought he was a goner. But we have noticed a bit of his old self and red tum coming back. ‘I feed Scruffy Marks and Spencer cheddar its what I eat as well.’

2008 August 6 Metro: Its Prey Silence At – 10 Ten Downing Street has two new official residents-a pair of kestrels. The birds of prey have made a nest in the guttering of Gordon Browns home and due to their protected status they cannot be evicted.
Since their arrival the prime ministers garden–which once rang to birdsong–is said to have gone deathly quite. ‘The birds know not to hang around when there is a predator like that around’ an insider said. Watch the kestrels at Metro … !

2008 July Metro: Cockney Sparrer is Brown Bread –
The cockney sparrow is on the verge of extinction a new study has found. The RSPB Breeding Bird Study, to be published tomorrow, found that the sparrow population in London has dropped by 68% since 1994.

Declining insect numbers due to climate change, development and more housing may be among the reasons…

Songbirds-Slaughter; ViewYour Lost Birds- & RSPB —

House Sparrow2010 BTO ‘Numbers’ Down 90%! UK Slay-Monstrous. On guess what – Damn forever this – Sickly ‘Red-Deadly List.’
Grey crown. Bustling perky gregarious jolly little House Sparrows.
From 1840 taken all over USA Boston New York and around the world.
‘They’ All Manage – To Retain British Sparrows? Not killing them all off! Maybe ‘they’ just kill off- Keep down their own ‘predator species?’ Cheerful & chirpy song – Cockney chirrups.

Help House Sparrows: Allow some patches of weeds & unmown grass to attract seeds insects. Feed sunflower seeds fruit millet. Moist cut up chicken sausage meat bacon. Need to raise their family under house eaves. Stop blocking them up!
Avoid chemicals-sprays pellets killing soft-bodied bugs young House Sparrow chicks eat.
Have some really dense bushes scrubs for Sparrows to forage roost & hide in from predators.
House Sparrows struggling to survive alone here in Britain.
WHY this disaster in the UK? PLEASE – ASK THEN – ‘Only The RSPB!’
2010 BTO: Numbers Down 90%! Damn forever this – Sickly ‘Red-Deadly List’!

NOTE: Along with just – Far Too Many other once – ‘common’ – British ‘Garden Songbirds!’

Albert Einstein. Only two things are infinite the universe and human stupidly and I’m not too sure about the former.

2008 May 16 Metro: Horses for courses? Schattenlady, the racehorse featured in yesterday’s Metro, was indeed lucky to escape injury after colliding with the side railings, unseating her rider and taking a tumble. Sadly, this reaction in thoroughbreds is not uncommon.
They are highly strung and can become frightened during a race. In an attempt to escape they make for the side railings. This year’s Grand National witnessed McKelvey unseating his rider and colliding with the railings, being killed in the process.
Horse racing is not the sport of kings, it is operated by a cynical, moneymaking industry that puts profit and glory before the welfare of the animals. – F Pereira, London SE 27

2008 May 16 Metro: Sport of kings? While the photo of Schattenlady is portrayed in a flippant manner, the seriousness of racehorses being killed on courses around the world is an important animal welfare issue that needs to be dealt with by the sports regulators.
More than 200 race horses have died on racecourses or shortly after due to their injuries since March 2007 – nine have been killed this month alone.
It’s time to bring this to the attention of the public who, if they were given the facts about the racing industry, might choose to boycott betting and attending race meetings. – Dene Stansall, Kent

2008 May 16 Mail: Raced to death.
Commercial horse racing is barbaric. Two in every three of the 15,000 foals bred for the racing industry every year don’t make the grade and are killed and made into pet food or sold off. About 375 race horses a year are ‘raced to death’.
A horses heart beat can increase tenfold during a race causing them to collapse and die. – R Brendan, Surry

2008 May 16 Metro: Dead, Dying or Doomed. Animals Wiped Out as Humans Take Over the Planet. Mankind today stands accused of wiping out more than a quarter of animal populations on the planet in the past 35 years. As the number of humans has grown from 4 billion to 6.5 billion, the spread of other creatures has declined by 27 per cent, according to a disturbing new report.
Mammals such as the hippopotamus minus 96%, polar bears and chimpanzees -55%, Sea creatures such as the swordfish and hammer-head shark -78%, and freshwater species such as river dolphins face extinction because of loss of habitat and hunting.
The decline will only get worse because of climate change brought on by human activity, campaigners warn. The figures come from a study of 4,000 species by conservation charity WWF.
Its Living Planet Index shows the number of populations of land-based species has fallen by 25% between 1970 and 2005.
The biggest drop was among tropical land species which tumbled by 55%. The potential loss of animals spells bad news for humans said the WWF Director-general James Leape added: ‘Reduced biodiversity means millions of people face a future where food supplies are more vulnerable to pests and disease.’
Biodiversity minister Joan Ruddock said: ‘Supporting wildlife is critical to all our futures. The rate of wildlife loss needs to be slowed in both the UK and internationally.’ – Miles Erwin.

2008 May12 Metro: Shoppers go nuts for squirrel pasty
Squirrels have long been on the menu at some top restaurants-but now they have found their way into the humble pasty.
And it seems shoppers can’t get enough of the healthy meat which tastes great, is good for the environment and is free range.
Butcher David Simpson, who sells the pasties in Fraddon, Cornwall, said: ‘People like the fact it is wild meat, low in fat and local- so no food miles.’
David Ridley owns a fish and game store in Northumberland is also surprised by the success of grey squirrels, which apparently tastes like wild boar or duck. I wasn’t sure at first, and wondered would people really eat it. Now I take every squirrel I can get my hands on.’
I’ve had days when I have managed to get 60 and they’ve all sold straight away. ‘It’s moist and sweet because diet has been berries and nuts.’
There are about 2.5 million grey squirrels in Britain and killing them for food could help control numbers as they are over-running the native red squirrel. Keith Viner, former chef of Michelin-stared Pennypots in Cornwall. Said: Southern fried squirrel is good. And tandoori style works well.
It’s especially tasty fricasseed with Cornish cream and walnuts. But the one everyone seems to like is the Cornish squirrel pasty. By Miles Erwin.

2008 May 9: H&H Series. Removing our ancient trees should only be a last resort. Hampstead residents want to keep their beloved trees out of the hands of profit-seeking developers.
They are in shock after seeing ancient trees being cut down to make way for new homes and swimming pools. Last week John Weston from the Heath and Hampstead Society demonstrated the lack of regulation governing the felling of trees in the area, its not only new development that is putting trees in danger.
Insurance companies are also calling for trees to be cut down because of fears of subsidence. Mr Weston said: ‘One of the problems is the super-safe attitude adopted by insurance companies.
Finding a crack in a building is not difficult and they are too quickly attributing this to trees.
But building in Hampstead date as far back as 1690 and there have been trees in Hampstead ever since. If subsidence was that much of a problem these historic buildings would not still be standing.’
It is hoped that new protocol introduced by the Forestry commission and the GLA will bring about more co-operation between the council and insurers.
The Joint mitigation Protocol being published this month, will demand better evidence that trees are causing subsidence before they can be chopped down.
Later this year the Woodland Trust is also launching a new campaign which will ask people to report threats to trees. The campaign called WoodWatch will urge people to join forces with others concerned about the preservation of trees and will offer them access to resources to help them fight the threat.
Diana Millis said for the Woodland Trust ‘We are particularly concerned that ancient trees are not removed due to the perception that they are dangerous.
‘Ancient trees harbour a unique array of wildlife and it has been estimated that Britain may be home to about 80 per cent of northern Europe’s ancient trees. Ancient trees are often thought to be dying or dangerous if they have dead limbs or decaying trunks. But often ancient trees can be made safe without needing to remove the whole tree.’

2008 April 11 H&H: Collars are the cats whiskers. Few cat owners will appreciate that the occasional small bird or mammal taken by their cat translates into an immense number when multiplied by the national cat population of over nine million.
And in the last 40 years the age span of cats has increased from eight years to now well over 20! Responsible owner awareness is desperately needed as cats predation on songbirds must for once be properly addressed by owners.
Fitting SonicAlert cat collars brought 65 per cent fewer bird kills in 1999 trials.
Cat owners should also provide more toys for cats as this reduces their boredom and this then reduces hunting. Which in the case of domestic cats is never for food, but purely recreational – unfortunately for our songbirds!

[click image to view full size]

2008 March EXTINCTION FILE: It sounds like the storyline for the next instalment of the Jurassic Park movie series – scientists develop a DNA bank for animals facing extinction. But the ‘Frozen Ark’ is real. It will preserve the genetic blueprints of endangered species and could one day be used to help bring creatures back to life after they have died out.
Thousands of animals are expected to disappear over the next 30 years – including a quarter of mammals and 12 per cent of birds. now the joint initiative between the Natural History Museum the Zoological Society of London and Nottingham University will store frozen tissue samples from thousands of rare animals.
The first to enter the genetic bank vault will include spotted seahorse Arabian oryx Socorro dove and Partula snails. A spokesman described the work as of ‘immeasurable value.’ He said: ‘The current rate of animal loss is the greatest in the history of the Earth. The fate of species is desperate.’ Without it our descendants would be left only with brief descriptions in scientific papers and specimens in museums.

2010-Songbirds-Slaughter: EXTINCTION FILE –
Since scientists began recording extinctions in 1500AD 680 animals have been recorded as extinct. They are the dodo Californian grizzly bear and the passenger pigeon. The group of animals that has lost the most species over the last 500 years is the gastropoda (snails etc) with 260.
Birds rank second with 129. For every species alive today it is estimated 1,000 more have lived previously and become extinct. There have been ‘mass extinction’ – where a lot of species disappear over a short time. Scientists believe we have already entered the sixth.
Over the past 600million years it is estimated that between one and ten species have become extinct every year. When the beautiful hulu bird died out in the early part of the 20th century, its own species of louse (rallicola extinctus) died out as well.
It is almost impossible to record accurately the number of extinctions because not every species on Earth has been discovered –

2007: Charity – Are Not being allowed to display their one leaflet in all City of London Libraries.
Said –

When Alone The RSPB Are ‘Always.’
Being able and permitted to display ALL their books, cards, leaflets, brochures, videos. Etc, etc!

May We Ask ‘Why’ SongBird Survival ‘Is’ – Being refused?

2007 December 18: SongBird Survival – Policy Director, Keith McDougall
To-David Bradbury Director Libraries, Archives & Guildhall Art Gallery.
I simply want to emphasise to you that SongBird Survival is not a political organisation in the sense you imply. We are a conservation charity engaged in serious research on the subject of the preservation and enhancement of songbird populations in cities and the countryside.
We are involved in research ( funded by our charity ) with the British Trust for Ornithology and the Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, University of Reading.
This work is important and on-going. Should this research and our existing scientific data conflict with current legislation then, naturally, we would and do pursue an agenda to have flawed legislation changed.
We would not consider this offensive ( your expression ) illegal ( certainly not ) or commercial ( which would conflict with our charitable status. ) We are frankly, surprised if your library policies avoid viewpoints based on facts and important conservation issues which affect all citizens and age groups. We enclose a copy of recent newsletter and we hope you might consider displaying this in your reading sections or periodicals.
More copies can be supplied quarterly should you so wish.

2007 October thelondonpaper: Dog – walking scares wildlife
Walkies call makes songbirds fly into exile. One of the most popular out door activities in the UK could be harming woodland birdlife, it was claimed today.
Dr Peter Banks said his research shows dog-walking leads to a 41 per cent reduction in songbirds and 35 per cent reduction in wild bird species, even when pets are on a lead.
This is because birds, who see the dog as one of their natural predators, will leave the woodland when they see the animal. His research, based on a study of 90 sites in Sydney showed birds may not come back to the habitat, or if they do, they will stay further away from the path.
Banks, of the University of New South Wales in Australia added: ‘I don’t think we can say any more that dogs on a lead have no effect on birdlife.’

2007 April 23: ITS 4bn OF TOXINS ‘DOWN THE DRAIN.’ Four billion items of chemical pollution are flushed into Britain’s water system each week it was claimed yesterday.
The chemicals are contained in household products such a shampoo and washing up liquid. The average household uses 18 toiletries and cleaning products a wee each containing ten synthetic chemicals, said the study of 2,000 adults by Elave a chemicals-safe skincare brand. Just as people are being asked to cut their ‘carbon footprint’ to save the environment, they are now being asked to reduce their ‘toxic splashing’ of water.

2007 April 5 Metro: The vast majority of scientists agree.
Climate change is a reality and the threat is serious. Everyone is likely to see increases in temperature. Water is a key concern, with likely changes in availability and the global water cycle.
There’ll be big water reductions in Southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East making life more difficult for agriculture and people.
This could lead to conflict. We’re also looking at changes in pests and diseases- such as malaria- moving north.
The Amazon basin is likely to dry out which would have a massive ecological impact. In Britain we’re likely to see, in the next 80 years, temperatures increases of up to five degrees Celsius. The most severe impact will be in weather extremes.
The 2003 heat wave that killed tens of thousands of people? By 2050, those heat waves will probably be normal.’ End of the world? ‘It’s very likely climate change will be a global disaster.
The next 30 or 40 years will bring very significant changes.’

2007 April H&H Series: London air-more dangerous than aftermath of A-bomb
Breathing polluted London air is potentially worse than being exposed to the radioactive consequences of an atomic bomb, new research revealed last week.
The health of Londoners is at greater risk than that of survivors of the Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion, according to findings published in the Bio Med central journal Public Health.
Millions were exposed to potentially dangerous levels of radiation when the former Soviet plant exploded in 1986.
But these latest findings claim the consequences suffered by survivors of the blast could be much less damaging than previously thought. Survivors might expect their lives to be shortened be an average of 2.6 years – or a one per cent increase in mortality rates in a given population.
But the increased risk of dying from adverse effects of air pollution in central London, compared with the cleaner air of Inverness is 2.8 per cent. Writing in the journal, Jim Smith, a scientist at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said: ‘The immediate effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs led to approximately 210,000 deaths.
However radiation exposures experienced by the most exposed group of survivors led to an average loss of life expectancy significantly lower than that caused by severe obesity or active smoking.’
He did conclude at a later briefing that his findings were limited as they excluded certain social and lifestyle factors. In 2005 Marylebone Road was named as the most polluted street in Britain and failed European Union emissions standards.
Two weeks ago the Marylebone Express reported on the councils 25 point plan to cut air pollution in Marylebone. Cllr Alan Bradley said:
‘The council is revising its air quality strategy this year and is considering a range of measures.’
2011 June: Songbirds-Slaughter; Westminster Council Anything achieved? Nothing found todate…

2007 March 14: Mark Field MP Cities of London and Westminster.
As you will recall we were in correspondence regarding the display of the charity Songbird Survival leaflets in libraries in the City of London. Following my letter on your behalf to David Bradbury, Director of Libraries.
I have now received the enclosed response which as you will see sets out the City’s Policy with regard to the display of leaflets.
As you will see the Council does not think it appropriate for the material they display to be advocating a particular viewpoint or campaign. I hope you can understand the sense of this policy.
Many impressionable children use the library facilities and it would be inappropriate for them to be subjective to politically sensitive information.
I am sorry that I am not able to be of more assistance in getting the decision to remove your leaflets overturned, but you will appreciate that my jurisdiction is limited in this area. I have no doubt that you will find plenty of other locations in which to put your leaflets.
Thank you for having taken the time and trouble to write, and please do feel free to keep me up-to-date with the campaigns progress.

Songbirds-Slaughter –

See their one brocure for yourselves.
Compared to all the RSPB ‘Gander’

‘Subjective to politically sensitive information.’ Stone the crows!

So ‘Who’ has made this up to denegrate this charity?

2007 February 16 Daily Mail: UK consumer use an estimated 10 billion plastic bags a year.
Manufactured from about 700,000 barrels of oil.
The energy embodied in these bags is the equivalent of driving more than a billion kilometres.
The facts were enough to stun many shoppers…

2011 February: Songbirds-Slaughter; Nothing has changed! No One headed Or – cared? Supermarkets are wasteing billions tons plastic. Because of us. Cannot you fold up & carry?
In daily use one Marks & Spencer plastic bag – ‘For 45 years’! Photos: 2006 September 1st

2007 January 31: Britain Pays £712m for illegal Wood. Britain has been condemned as the third largest importer of illegal timber. It spends about £712million a year bringing in 3.2million hectares, an area the size of Belgium, a WWF report shows. It is beaten by China and Japan.
The wildlife charity said more than 65 per cent of timber goes into the construction sector and most originates from Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia and Latvia.
The WWF wants the Government to urge the European Commission to introduce laws to ban illegal wood being chopped down from protected areas – coming into the EU. ‘Illegal logging robs communities of funds, exacerbates corruption and devastates forests.’

2006 December 11 thelondonpaper: Smokescreen. Carbon talk fails to halt bad air. Global carbon emissions rose nearly 3 per cent in 2005, up more than a quarter from 1990 levels despite many governments pledging cuts to fight global warming a top scientist claimed.
Greg Marland who provides data for the US Department of Energy said: ‘The rate of acceleration is quite phenomenal. Half of all emissions have been since 1980. I think people lose track of the rate of acceleration.’ The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre which supplies data to governments estimates that global emissions rose by 200million tonnes to 7.9 billion tonnes in 2005, up 28 per cent from 1990.

2006 November 15 Metro:…and Finally.
Birdwatchers looked on in horror as a swallow not seen in Britain for 20 years was carried off in the claws of a sparrowhawk.
The twitchers had been watching the red-rumped swallow for 20 minutes when it stopped to rest on a TV aerial. It was then that the hawk swooped, near Montrose in Scotland.
Group member Mike Sawyer said: ‘We were horrified. We had just called other birdwatchers to tell them the news and then had to call back to say it had been eaten.’
A RSPB spokesman added, ‘its just one of those things’… !

2006 November W&V: We All Need Songbirds in Our Lives.
I wholeheartedly agree with the letter ( Songbirds under threat, not just from Pelicans W&V, November 3 ) as to the real reasons that all our parks squares and any bit of open space are utterly depleted these days of just about any songbirds, sparrows, etc.
I agree its also all our fault in letting predators, namely squirrels, magpies, sparrowhawks, crows and jays, take over and that’s without all the cats, and the loss of habitat they have had to contend with, that their numbers have all drastically plummeted.
RSPB: Since 1954 they gave the sparrowhawk legal protection. While we have since ‘lost the sparrow’ along with so many of our songbirds.
They ought to be ashamed as yet again show their ill thought out doctrines. Just what do they do with all their money as songbirds under them have had no protection whatsoever.
I also used to be one of just so many who travelled in from Romford (now years ago) to feed the multitude of sparrows in St James Park and these became quite famous in the press, sadly killed off by sparrowhawks and magpies. We are all witness to that.
So why doesn’t the RSPB do something? Or would that upset all their raptor loving members at the expense of the tragic continued loss of songbirds especially in all our cities?
D.Oliven, Horley Surrey

2006 October 25 Independent: ‘New planets needed’- by 2050!
The human race is consuming the Earth’s natural resources so fast we will need at least two planets’ worth by 2050 wildlife campaigners are warning.
In Britain each person uses the equivalent of six football pitches of resources to support the way they live, the WWF’s Living Planet Report revealed.
The report indicates that the world’s ecological footprint- the demand people place upon the natural world- has more than tripled since 1961 and that rising carbon dioxide emissions are the biggest cause of human ecological impact on the planet.
Britain has risen from 15th to 14th place in the worlds ecological footprint league table since 2004.
WWF director of campaigns Paul King said: ‘We urgently have to face up to the fact that we are running up a serious ecological debt and that we cannot continue to exhaust natural reserves without putting something back.
It’s time to make some vital choices.’ Mrs Beckett said in Germany: ‘When it comes to our inaction on climate change our generation is in danger of global irresponsibility on a massive scale.’
She used her address to foreign policy experts at the British Embassy in Berlin to call on Germany to use its forthcoming presidencies of the EU and G8 group of industrial nations to speed up progress on the problem.

2006 October 27: Gulp! Pelican pigeon-eater strikes again.
The pelicans of St James’s Park are making a habit of having pigeons for dinner. An Eastern White pelican is caught for the second time snacking on a hapless pigeon in front of witnesses.
Despite experts saying the first incident, which happened on Tuesday, was a one-off, these video pictures reveal otherwise. Royal Parks spokeswoman Louise Wood said: ‘The pelicans are well fed-he must just have taken a shine to a live dinner.
It is unusual for it to happen twice within just a few days.’ The park today refused to round up its five resident pelicans and keep them in a cage. Ms Wood added: ’Pelicans have been in St James’s park for more than 300 years – that is where they live. The whole idea is they are not caged’ but maybe starting to eat pigeons because they are becoming tame.
She said: ‘Wild pelicans only eat fish, but these pelican are very used to human contact so their behaviour is quite different. They are more opportunists.
Because they don’t have to hunt for fish they will eat people’s leftovers and anything else that comes their way. That pigeon was probably walking round looking for food and was regarded as competition-then became dinner.’
Pelicans were introduced into the park during the reign of Charles II, when they were a gift from the Russian ambassador. Park keepers feed them 12lb of fish and vitamin supplements every day.
The pelican-eating pigeon was spotted by Cathan McNaughton on Tuesday and the latest photograph emerged last night. It is not known if it was the same pelican. By Anna Davies.

2006 October 25: Pelican has pigeon pie for its lunch.
Horrified families discovered how life can be when a pelican ate an unsuspecting pigeon. The eastern white pelican struggled with the frantic bird in its beak for 30 minutes before swallowing it whole.
The gruesome sight was caught in St James’s Park London by Cathal McNaughton. He said: ‘tourists were watching the pelican preen itself. Then it just grabbed the pigeon in its beak. It kicked and flapped the whole way down.’
RSPB said it was ‘almost unheard of’ for a pelican to eat a bird adding ’Its diet is strictly fish’…

2006 Winter: Letters criticising the RSPB and Government departments about the magpie controversy do not go far enough.
In the eighties the then Department of the Environment negligently allowed the European Commission to put magpies on the list of protected species of birds (although this has been relaxed since).
This was particularly galling in view of the permitted massacre of migrating birds in Italy and other Mediterranean countries.
The RSPB is naive to say that magpies have only increased by 100% in the last 30 years. If the comparison is made with the thirties the increase is many thousand per cent.
At that time magpies were a rarity and even in the country many people had never seen one.
The relative rarity was said to be due to the efforts of gamekeepers who knew very well about the egg stealing habits of magpies and so rightly regarded them as a pest.
Paul Roberts, Camberley, Surrey

2006 September 15 Daily Mail: Arctic Sea Ice disappearing fast.
Arctic sea ice has shrunk by 14 per cent in a year-which is a clear result of global warming, according to one expert.
For the first time, the year-round sea ice was seen melting in summer as well as winter. One satellite image showed a hole one- and-a-half times the size of Wales had developed in the summer ice north of Alaska.
Normally the perennial sea ice shrinks by 1.5 to two per cent per decade, but it reduced by 14 per cent between 2004 and 2005. Shrinking Arctic ice means less sunlight gets reflected and more gets absorbed, exacerbating the problem of global warming.
Nasa scientist Josefino Comiso said: ‘The winter warming signal is finally coming out. The greenhouse phenomenon is actually becoming apparent in the Arctic.’ The melting ice threatens many species in the area, including polar bears which hunt on the ice.
The loss of winter ice is also bad news for the ocean and sea mammals.
This is because when it melts in the summer it provides crucial breeding ground for plankton- the bottom rung of the ocean’s food chain.

2006 September 1st H&H:
I’m pleased that the subject of plastic bags keeps raising its head in your pages.
Also that there is general awareness of this never-ending waste we humans keep inflicting on our planet.
I have had a Marks and Spencer plastic bag for over 45 years and as I’ve noticed their ‘now’ environmentally-aware campaigns I wrote to the company telling them of this very old and still in service strongly made bag. The bag always receives attention in any M&S store and I always do mention its age to people who enquire trying to set a good example.
I’ve also suggested (too many times) to their assistants that continually throw far too many new bags at everyone ‘they might set another example’ and make a charge for all bags they do supply. Having written in about this four timesto their head office but never received a reply.
I assure readers that it is no problem to fold up flat and to carry around a few old plastic bags as an alternative to always requiring new ones at the till. Shops should charge for them with a ‘donation’ to go to an environmental charity. In lazy countries like ours we are using up billions of them every week and wasting the same amount in oil. – Jennifer Eclair, London

2006 September 1: TREE COVER? To make London more attractive like Paris and many other cities, and so that bicycles are not chained to them or propped against them all trees should be surrounded be an attractive metal protection.
This would also give much-needed space to prevent things being pinned to trees. This long overdue protection could also carry a small and attractive ‘advert’ (if need be) for a local shop to support the scheme. If Paris and many other cities can give their trees this added protection from people bikes and dogs, so then why cannot Camden, Westminster, Kensington et al?
J Paget, London NW8

2006 August 21: GOING FOR A SONG Every year we hear about the growing plight of Britain’s songbird population (metro Fri). The people responsible for so many songbirds being ‘decimated’ in the country are those idiots at council recreation departments.
Every summer they get their shears mowers and hedge trimmers out and take away literally in one stroke the cover these songbirds need, leaving them at the mercy of cats, rats, stoats and of cause people. Why doesn’t someone tell them not to do it until autumn? – J Sutton, Birmingham

They are responsible for almost wiping out their native cousins and now it seems grey squirrels have another species in their sights. They are devastation our much-loved songbird populations by killing adult birds and raiding their nests.
Around 180million birds a year are killed by animals particularly grey squirrels and domestic cats according to Professor Roy Brown who carried out a study on behalf of SongBird Survival.
That is out of a natural population of around 260million of the main 15 main songbird species, including blackbird song thrush blue tit great tit robin skylark meadow pipit and the wren.
The report claims that in areas where the grey squirrel population is high 93 per cent of small bird nests are raided. When this is combined with predatory sparrowhawk behavior it results in the loss of 85 per cent of adult songbirds. Songbirds have been in decline for 25 years.
Previous studies blamed this on intensive farming the use of herbicides and pesticides and the removal of hedges used for nesting.
But Professor Brown believes the threat of other animal species must also be addressed. ‘If predators are having as bad effect as that then the answer is to look at doing something more systematic to restore the balance certainly with mammals and possible with birds of prey’ he said.
Grey squirrels were brought to Britain from the United States in the late 1800s. They carry a disease which doesn’t affect them but kills their red cousin and competes with them for food.

2006 March 21 Metro: Two in tree birds have disappeared. Many of Britains favorite woodland bird species are in steep decline, the most extensive poll for 20 years has found.
Numbers of tree pipits and spotted flycatchers are down by 70 per cent in some areas – largely due to changes in climate and landscape. Of the 34 species checked eight decreased by more then 25 per cent in four years while 11 showed increases above 25 per cent. Rob Fuller of the Repeat Woodland Bird survey said. ‘The declines were more serious than we were expecting.’

2005 July 19: Stressed? Then go back to nature.
Feeling stressed? It could be time to head for the seaside or the park. More than eight in ten people said getting back to nature helped them beat their daily hassles.

Almost half recommended a walk on the beach while a third headed for the park. One in ten said the smell of grass gave them a lift and one in six got a boost from hearing a songbird singing the survey for beer maker Hoegaarden found.

2005 July 18 Metro: Fast food rubbish on Britain’s streets is creating overweight ‘super pigeons. Pigeons rely on waste to survive, anti litter campaigners warned today. The pigeons are becoming reliant on scrap food because people are throwing rubbish on the street instead of using a bin. A pigeon population explosion has resulted.

2005 March 8: Mark Field MP Cities of London and Westminster.
It was very good of you to write in such detail about the demise of the song birds and I am aware that there is much in the news at the moment about the fall in numbers of many of our species of wild birds, which should be of great concern to us all.

Though I recognise your particular interest lies in the birds in our parks and squares in central London. I will now write to the Minister for Nature Conversation on your behalf and will get in touch with you again as soon as I receive a response from him. Thank you again for taking the trouble to pursue this matter with me.
2010 June: Songbirds-Slaughter; Nothing WAS Achieved. Result NEGATIVE…!

2004 December 17 City of Westminster:
Provision for songbirds in Westminster Parks. I can confirm that the City Council is also concerned about the decline of songbirds and are involved in several initiatives to help encourage them into our parks and open spaces.

As members of the Westminster Bio diversity Partnership, we are engaged in a number of projects to promote and encourage songbird populations.
We have planted hawthorn bushes in several of our parks and increased the native species in low shrub/scrub planting west of Hyde Park meadow.
Log piles and other dead wood is now left in appropriate parks to encourage invertebrate populations.
In addition to this, we have commissioned a study of London squares to establish the causes of songbird decline, with a view to implementing improved management techniques though out our open spaces. Leader of the Council: Simon Milton.
2010 May: Songbirds-Slaughter;Result Negative AND Nothing EVER ACHIEVED…!”

2003 September Daily Mail: ARE MAGPIES KILLING OFF SONGBIRDS? There’s something touching in the naivety of those who fondly imagine that nature will always find its own balance.
Its all very well telling us that the magpies can’t go on increasing in number if the numbers of their prey – in particular the much prized songbirds – full below a certain point.
But what will we end up with then? No songbirds and no magpies either.
Whatever the nice symmetry of the ‘natural’ argument, its clear that for whatever reason – mans intervention, climate change, acts of God – imbalances do occur. If magpies attack songbird nests and I’ve seen them too often do it, more magpies means fewer songbirds.

I read with interest Mr Martins letter and was impressed with the factual manner in which he made his point. It is a pity he did not mention the large increase in magpies and hooded crows everywhere.
They have increased tenfold in recent years causing devastation amongst song and wading birds. Dr James Robinson’s (RSPB) answering letter shows a complete lack of understanding.
Birds of prey are at the top end of the bird ladder and in order to sustain them a healthy and viable population of song and other birds must exist.
To artificially encourage and try to justify large numbers of raptors (hawks) when a prey species in under pressure is bad management. The countryside has been man managed by landowners for generations, a fact the RSPB should grasp and accept the necessity to cull certain species of birds at selected times for the greater good of all birds.

2002-2003 Public Health Laboratory Service:
Change in pecking order! While sparrows are fast disappearing from London gardens, it seems they are being replaced on council estates, in parks and on city streets by thousands of pigeons.
London’s changing bird population is of serious concern. A report by the Public Health Laboratory Service has indentified six infective disease organisms known to occur in pigeon droppings, all of which may be transmitted to people.
These organisms – the best known being salmonella – can cause pneumonia, severe intestinal illness and diarrhoea.
The risk of infection is greatest for children, who are most likely to touch bird faeces on the ground, but people of all ages who may be consuming hand- held food are at risk.
The sheer number of pigeons packing into some areas increases the transmission of disease and parasites from bird to bird. Pigeons may be passing these diseases onto other birds.
A survey carried out in Trafalgar Square in August 2002 found that only one per cent of people thought that the pigeon numbers should be allowed to remain the same.

2002 April 4 The Daily Telegraph: Songbirds Biggest Population Falls. Percentage drop –
1. Blue tit 43%
2. Long tailed tit 39%
3. Greenfinch 34%
4. Reed bunting 33%
5. Blackbird 32%
6. Sedge warbler 32%
7. Blackcap 30%
8. Chiffchaff 24%
9. Dunnock 24%
10. Reed Warbler 23%
11. Robin 15%

2001 September Daily Mail: BLAME THE GULLS.

The demise of our songbirds has nothing to do with modern farming or changes in the weather. I was brought up on farms and worked on them for 30 years so I know a lot about wildlife and farming in general.
Take it from me that unless we have a cull of magpies, crows, grey squirrels and seagulls there will son be none of the aforementioned songbirds left. I took my dog for walks across fields near where we live.
The trees and hedgerows go all the way round the fields except for the gateways and this spring I witnessed two blackbird pairs and one thrush make nests there. A magpie started making its nest in a sloe tree next to the gateway about 100m from the songbirds nests.
Not one pair brought any young up from their nests and I saw magpies eating the thrush eggs.
I have seen squirrels eating the songbird eggs, attack the chicks and I have watched them trying to bury the eggs under leaves. I have also witnessed seagulls eating lapwing peewit and skylark eggs. The gulls now outnumber the rooks that used to follow the plough; some of our paddocks that the skylark used to nest in are now overrun with gulls.
So don’t blame our farmers or the change in the weather just like the RSPB repeatedly does. Blame the do-gooders who say we must not kill anything. If nothing is done soon there will be no more dawn chorus that we have known and loved.

2001 February 3 The Daily Telegraph: Grey Squirrels the enemy within.
Photo: Red Squirrel moving an orphaned related pup. A social females will adopt orphan related pups. 20 years of research showed this intelligent behaviour; They live in compete isolation; the only time they will allow another red squirrel on their territory is the one day a year when the females are ready to mate or when they are nursing their pups.
Full story: Garden Bird tweets. Grey Squirrels – Imported Enemy Within ‘Red Squirrels Will Adopt’ – ‘Orphaned Related pups’ – 2001!

1996 September The Field: VIEWS ON THE RSPB
Chief executive of the RSPB Barbara Young gave a fulsome response (letters April issue) to my article criticising the RSPB for being increasingly driven by sentiment rather than science. My case is amply proven by a statement in her reply: ‘We hope soon to demonstrate scientifically that illegal persecution is limiting the population size and the range of protected species.’
Good science does not consist of coming to the conclusio0n first and then attempting to demonstrate it to be true. Rather one starts with an open mind and lets the facts determine the outcome. Otherwise one is indeed putting sentiment before science. – W Newlands, London

1995 May The Field: Sounding The Alarm. I write in reference to the RSPB article in March issue, which refers to the fact that Britain’s cats are responsible for the death of 75 million birds a year. I am not disputing the number, as I know that the cat is the perfect killing machine.
I am a bird and animal lover and am continually rescuing or burying rabbits, mice and birds which my cats bring home. I have six cats only two of which are avid hunters.
They both wear collars with six bells apiece during daylight hours of the bird-breeding season. This cuts considerably the number of birds killed. This works for me and my cats as they frequently monitored. Cats alone all day or out at night could get themselves into difficulties with a badly fitting collar or wrongly attached bells, and could not be noticed for many hours. It would not work for everyone. – Mrs A Major Whitchurch, Hampshire.

RSPB- Reading the article in The Field: One wonders whether it knows the difference between sensible conservation and mindless preservation.
However on reflection one realises that it does and is at the same time cynical enough to pander to the uninformed and emotional ideas of its urban subscribers that is never to kill or cull anything but to take active measures against predators on or about its reserves when it suits.
It is perfectly clear that the urban subscriber has done nothing whatsoever in an active sense for conservation and is in no sense at all to be compared with the average shooting man who, in controlling pests of all kinds does far more. – H Foster, Malden Essex

1995 The Field: By Antonia Macpherson. I read with great interest and concern the article in the March issue (RSPB’s Pride and Prejudice) about the decimation of garden birds caused by the explosion in the number of sparrowhawks, kestrels and so on in the east of England.
In Norfolk there are large numbers of sparrowhawks all over the county and garden birds are disappearing daily in large numbers.
Early last year I arranged a meeting of a number of very knowledgeable and experienced country people with local and national RSPB officials.
We made a strong case for some form of action, but were dismayed by the attitude of the representative from Sandy who said the RSPB would do nothing to promote any form of culling, reducing its protected status or take any other action.
We were told that when their food supply was exhausted in Norfolk, the predators would move on elsewhere, such as the West Country where they were not yet a problem. On a day when I had just found the feathers of possibly our last song thrush at a plucking post, the RSPB had the gall to send me an appeal for money to save the song thrush.
This money will be wasted so long as it ignores the evidence of what is happening on the ground.
The extent of its lack of contact with reality is demonstrated by an item in its catalogue promoting a device for feeding grey squirrels only – with a platform to enable them to feed in comfort.
I conclude with the feeling that the RSPB has lost its way.