Driven Grouse Shooting: the Bluff’s Been Called, by Les Wallace

This post was originally written for  Bowland Raptor Politics. The thoughts expressed here are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent my own. Well with clockwork regularity another season’s fledged hen harriers ‘disappear’ over grouse moor. They’re not even making an effort to throttle back in the face of growing censure in…

Mountain Hares crash and burn in Scotland

A new study, conducted jointly by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the RSPB, has highlighted a catastrophic decline in Scotland’s Mountain Hare population. With numbers suspected to have fallen to less than 1% of the level recorded just 60 years ago. From 1954 to 1999, it is estimated that hare numbers decreased by…

Compassionate Conservation or admirable ignorance?

Compassionate Conservation is proposed as a “growing international movement that seeks to build the welfare of individual animals into conservation practice. Achieved by promoting change, acceptance and education to reduce intended or unintentional harm to wildlife”. Its core principals are built around the assertation that, in our quest to conserve vulnerable species, humans should refrain…

Talking to Shooters, by Graham Appleton

Some of my bird watching friends don’t understand why I write for Shooting Times. I explain that, although there is a difference of views on some issues, the bird watching and shooting communities have two key things in common – they value the countryside and the diversity of life it contains. Isn’t it the people…

Dwelling on Deer: Culls and Control

There is no way around it, our small island is positively bursting with deer. So many in fact, that the issue of overpopulation and its subsequent implications are up there with the other great threats facing our countryside. And, arguably, of much greater concern than other issues prone to dominating the headlines – many of which,…

Time to take wading birds off of the menu

This week, Chris Packham, no doubt feeling rather chipper following his exoneration by the BBC Trust over claims of bias put forth by the Countryside Alliance, launched a new petition. One calling for a moratorium on the shooting of critically declining species of wading birds, such Snipe, Golden Plover and Woodcock, in the UK. Stopping short…

A focus on Black Grouse decline

The Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix) is, by far, my favourite upland bird. A vision of unrivalled beauty, clad in flamboyant plumage and boasting a surprisingly timid demeanour. A species which, each year, leks its way into my heart as I make my annual pilgrimage to view the birds in their upland realm. Usually at RSPB Geltsdale, or, should…

The historic decline of the Grey Partridge

Living where I do, secluded in a reasonably rural area of Northumberland, Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix) are still, thankfully, rather abundant. Indeed, many an evening stroll is accompanied by the guttural croaks of amorous male partridge and any venture into nearby farmland carries the risk of a mini-heart attack, induced by erupting covey’s vacating their…