Saturday, 31 March 2012

Between the Cold

Well, between my posting on a cold Sunday a week ago and the cold of today, it has been an exceptional week's weather. Cloudless blue skies and very warm sunshine every day, right up until yesterday evening, but what a shock to the system a walk on the reserve this morning at 7.00 was. I imagine anybody that has been at work all week must be well fed up with today's weather, I know I used to be when I incurred such weeks, for most of us, there's no substitute for warm and sunny.
The walks on the reserve every day this week have been sheer joy under blue skies and the grass has looked greener, the birds have sung louder and a few butterflies have made an appearance, mainly Peacocks around the stinging nettles. Coupled with that, the reserve management have once again re-filled all the new rills and scrapes with fresh water drawn from a borehole to the underground aquifer and so we have had the refreshing sight among the drought dry fields, of water sparkling in the sun. It will only be a temporary measure though because I doubt that such irrigation can be maintained for much longer. The grazing marsh surrounding the rills is so dry that it acts like blotting paper and after just a week a lot of the water will have been absorbed away again.
What has surprised me this week though is the shortage of spring migrants. In perfect conditions of warmth and sunlight I would of expected to have seen at least several Wheatears passing through, but apart from two Sand Martins on Tuesday there has been nothing and I'm certainly not going to maintain my record of recent years of always seeing a first Swallow in March.

A different subject now. I had a bit of a tiff with the Moderators of the Kent Ornithological Society's Forum this week when I made a light-hearted, off the cuff remark, about reacting to a cat that had been watched by another correspondent, chasing a pheasant in his garden. Within a short space of time my comment had been removed from The Forum and when I angrily reacted I was told that two people had complained about what they saw as my suggestion of cruelty to a cat. While I'm no lover of cats, I wouldn't harm a domestic one that was somebodies pet, despite regularly standing in what they deposit on my lawn. But at the same time I can understand why the KOS felt that they couldn't be seen to condone any suggestion of animal cruelty on their Forum and removed my posting on receiving the complaints, and I can live with that.
I do feel aggrieved however, at losing out to people that couldn't at least put their objection in print on the Forum alongside my original remark, at least we'd all know the reasons why.

What does surprise me in all of this is the fact that presumably out there, there are people, and not necessarily those above, that are concerned with the well being of birds on one hand but also, own and protect cats on the other. It has been well publicised that domestic cats are responsible annually for the deaths of many millions of songbirds in this country, and a lot of the time, in somebody else's garden. I find it hard to understand how, for example, a person who would react greatly to somebody harming a Sparrowhawk for repeatedly killing birds on their bird table, could protect and daily release a cat, with the potential to do the same.
I have become quite disheartened with some aspects of the conservation movement in recent times, there are far too many people commenting on the countryside that have far to little hands on, practical experience of both it and what it takes to create the right balance, and in some ways regret that I'm not young enough to enjoy the fun of my younger days, as this photograph shows.

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