Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Hiding the Nasty Bits

Looking at the visit numbers on my blog in recent weeks it's clear that not a huge number of people view it and subsequently, even fewer people comment on it. It's not a problem as such, I don't make my postings in order that every night I get euphoric, back slapping comments on what a wonderful person I am, as clearly one or two bloggers seem to do. But it does however, naturally cause you to question why the blog is being by-passed - how does it compare with others, why do some of them do very well, is there a particular theme on mine that pisses them off.
Trawling through other blogs, two things different from mine become commonly clear, the others contain lots of excellent, almost professional photos of wildlife and they pretty much all, stick to the same "three wise monkeys" control, i.e. see no evil, hear no evil and definitely, speak no evil. Even if you accept, or even agree that  nasty things have to happen in the countryside, never mention them or admit to it, stick to repeating lots of photos of nice cuddly things that get you lots of praise each night. How often is there a photo of a lovely and cute fox or cub on some - the fact that it probably ate their missing Coot or Moorhens chicks is conveniently overlooked. Tell them that a fox or a pair of crows can systematically clear a nesting colony of Little Terns or Lapwings of eggs and chicks and they'll deny it and blame it on somebody else, like the regular Mr. Nasty, the farmer. It's quite amazing how blinkered these people can be when having to accept that some of these creatures actually do harm in the countryside  In short, they are all clones of each other, and many take it in turns each night to back slap each other. Look on many blogs and you will see comments from the same people on each, all congratulating each other. Ah, ha you say, jealousy, no, amusement at how they all copy each other, and a determination to continue writing about some of the nasty but real sides of the countryside!

The BBC's Countryfile programme seems to have been ambushed by the same people, apart from the excellent "Adam's Farm" section, the rest is little more than weekly adverts for the English Countryside Tourist industry. When do you see any features on basic countryside management topics such as ferreting, pest controls and the reasons why they're necessary, wildfowling, pigeon shooting, etc. etc, they all go on in the countryside but not in Countryfile's country. Why, because once again they're pandering to the new generation of English wildlife watchers, you can show a cheetah killing a deer in Africa but daren't show a dog killing a hare in England. Years ago there used to be an excellent and much revered programme on TV called "Out of Town" with Jack Hargreaves, in which he not only showed country sports taking place but also showed you how to make things with which to catch or trap them - not likely to happen these days!

The RSPB have also fallen into the same trap and despite the fact that they actively practise pest controls on their reserves, and use legal methods such as Larsen traps to catch and kill crows and the like, they still hide the fact from their subscription paying members in order to keep the money coming in and subsequently these members don't believe it happens. When did you ever see an article in the RSPB'S Birds magazine entitled "Pest Controls and Why We Need To Use Them" and yet I could show you today an RSPB managed reserve with Larsen traps on it.

All of the above is fair enough, but all this hiding the facts thing is doing is creating a whole generation of people that believe none of these nasty bits actually happen, that the whole countryside is as Springwatch portraits it. That if it does happen it's done by nasty men who like killing things, it couldn't possibly be carried out by people such as the RSPB. What a shock these people would get if they actually spent some proper time on a nature reserve and saw how many creatures kill each other and how some of them have to be caught and killed in order to maintain a realistic balance.


  1. Derek, I should have read this with my violin, you seem a bit down. I always like reading your blog and my knowledge of Sheppey is second to none now. Keep it up mate, its a good read.

  2. Thanks for the comments Marc, appreciate them, but I wasn't down, just peed off with the repetetive and cuddly bunny nature of so many blogs. But I will be keeping it up, flying the flag for the real and mucky boots side of the countryside.

  3. To be fair to Springwatch, they do often show predation warts and all, last year's event was filled with young birds that had starved, died of cold/wet and some were eaten by predators (sadly, not always wild, native predators, but that's one of the real problems affecting wildlife now). Of course, the presenters all differ in their approach!

    Not sure I agree with you that bloodsports are necessarily part of population management, but there is of course truth in what you say that sometimes some kind of (more efficient) management is necessary (eg tern colonies and ground-nesters such as Lapwings are particularly vulnerable to a clever predator in the same location).

  4. Derek I enjoy reading your blog warts and all and have certainly learnt an awful lot from reading it. As you say some of the things that take place in the country are good and some bad. At least by you writing about them we are given an opportunity to choose which we want to read. Cute and cuddly or the real world ?
    Keep up the good work.

  5. Thanks you guys, its great to be able to swap comments with people.
    The whole theme of my posting was to emphasise the point that no one, even the one TV countryside programme, seems to accept or mention the fact, that real, balanced countryside management involves the necessity to control a number of pest species. That these pests such as corvids and foxes have been allowed to get to numbers that are overwhelming threatened species because a large number of countryside lovers, get some of their knowledge from the likes of Countryfile and the RSPB, who never mention what goes on behind the scenes. As a result on many of their blogs, you can see them react to any suggestion of killing pests by saying that nature will balance itself out naturally - that's never been the case, over-dominant species have always been needed to be kept in check. I just wish those who seek to educate this modern generation of countryside lovers would give a properly balanced picture of things. Its ironic that I can learn more about some aspects of countryside management these days by reading the Shooting Times, than I can by reading Birds magazine.

  6. It is obvious that our countryside is now incredibly low on numbers of wild animals, be they insects, mammals or birds. During a holiday in the USA I was struck by how many water birds were on very pond or lake nad how many species of mammals were easry to see. This is despite the fact that hunting is a very popular sport. It is probably in fact because of this. Habitats are preserved and there are careful controls on hunting. There is a mistaken belief in the UK that we are animal lovers and therefore a haven for wildlife, whereas in fact the woolly thinking exhibited by many people has allowed a progressive destruction of the countryside while they happily feed their squirrels and believe they are seeing true wildlife.

  7. You are totally right Tony and I'm pleasantly surprised to see us on a similar wave-length.
    Too many wild-life loving people nowadays get their education on that subject from watching the likes of Springwatch and Countryfile and as a result, end up feeding the squirrel, feed the fox, feed the Magpie. Also, many really good naturalists also refuse to accept that some of the best people at saving habitat from destruction are the shooting fraternity. Its a sin too far to admit that that is the case.

  8. We also agree in our family that Countryfile is often barely worth watching except for Adam's Farm and we all await that item. It shouldn't be like that. We need to know what goes on to produce our food, where it goes and why, how much it costs and what our losses are.

  9. Derek, I love your blog as it is written with very simply but with loads of genuine feeling. I think Sheppey is a very special place which I want to visit more and your blog inspires me to do that. My interest is bird photography. All power to your elbow an pen.