Very sad to be missing the fantastic Bird Fair this year but we'll look forward to going again next year. Not only missing meeting up with old friends from around the world, talking to folk about swifts, going to some of the 180+ talks, drooling in the art tent and trying not to spend money in the camera and optics tents. And what a coup to get Carrie Symonds to talk on the opening day. I do hope she bends Boris's ear about the environment (amongst many other things). Great to see that she chatted with Chris Packham and others and even joined him in a Q&A session.
She said that she was a new-comer to bird-watching having visited Bempton Cliffs and seen the amazing puffins there. And then being alarmed to later read about the slaughter of puffins that occurs by "trophy hunters" in Iceland where they are allowed to shoot up 100 per shoot. And this at a time when there have been dramatic declines of puffins in the UK, Faeroes and Iceland. The mindless slaughter of the planet's wildlife by thoughtless idiots with guns has to stop.
How anyone could think that the mindless slaughter of such a beautiful and declining bird was a fun day out is beyond comprehension, especially when they are so tame and confiding.
And I wonder if Carrie will also be at the Birdfair today to hear Chris Packham's presentation. This for us is the real highlight of the whole event. The hour-long presentation to a marquee full to overflowing with 1,000 people by Chris and colleagues will I expect touch on the destruction of our UK uplands and its wildlife on driven grouse moors. But resistance is growing by the day. If you haven't already signed the petition you can do so here.
The illegal slaughter of our birds of prey by some gamekeepers involved in driven grouse moors and the wilful blindness to this by politicians both in Scotland and England is an utter disgrace. A Golden Eagle was photographed last week over a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland last week with an illegal trap clamped to its feet. It hasn't been seen since and will almost certainly be dead by now. This follows the finding of two illegal traps near a Hen Harrier nest on the Leadhills Estate in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. One contained a badly injured male Hen Harrier that was taken to a specialist veterinary surgeon for treatment but later had to be euthanaised. You can read more about these atrocities on the RPUK website.
And finally good luck to Greta Thunberg on day 3 of her voyage across the North Atlantic on a small yacht to address the UN at a conference in New York. I don't have such fond thoughts for Arron Banks who tweeted to her that "Freak yachting accidents do happen in August ..."!!!. Lovely chap Arron. I wonder what makes this charming man think for one moment that it is acceptable to dish out abuse like this to a 16-year old girl with Asbergers who is simply trying to save the planet. A formal complaint has been made to Twitter.
Yes that's the same Arron Banks that is according to the Guardian under criminal investigation for his part in the UK Brexit Leave campaign. And the same Arron Banks that is said by the Times to be under investigation in relation to his South Africa mines. And the same Arron Banks that is suing the Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr who took home the Technology Journalism and Investigation of the Year prize at the British Journalism Awards in 2018 for exposing the harvesting of millions of Facebook users’ data by the now-defunct Cambridge Analytica and the wider impact of technology misuse on democracy. And you can read more on Carole's Twitter here. He is also said to be not very happy about what is said about him in The Great Hack. His tactics towards anyone that says anything about him that he doesn't like and especially to Carole Cadwalladr reminded me of this clip from Chris Packham's speech at Hen Harrier Day 2019 at Carsington Water the other day where he relays a comment that his dad made to him while they were at a football match when he was a young lad and had just witnessed a brutal foul - They're playing the man because they can't beat the team. I do urge you to watch this. The similarities with the abuse that Chris Packham (who also has Asbergers) gets from some people in the shooting community is striking.
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Here we will post interesting news about what we and others have seen in Cuba.