Wednesday, 29 July 2015
Lots of media ire re a Minnesota dentist who reportedly paid thousands of dollars to kill a lion with a bow and arrow in Zimbabwe (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/28/walter-palmer-dentist-accused-killing-cecil-lion-upset-hunter-zimbabwe). It turns out that the lion was 'famous' being part of a long-term study and had a collar facilitating satellite tracking. The animal (it may well have been used to humans) was reportedly enticed outside a protective park so it could be shot. The dentist blames his guides for misleading him but a) American dentists don't need to kill lions with the profits extracted from people's teeth, b) He was presumably much richer than his 2 guides, so one could say he enticed them and c) What kind of an eagle-eyed hunter fails to see a collar around the animal's neck? I personally think that this whole trophy ideology needs fixing!
Sunday, 26 July 2015
Spent one of this Summer's few fine days at Oxwich and couldn't help being struck by the effects of climate. I saw a morel-like fungus and a large toadstool on the dunes (it's high summer!). Some of the usual plants were in flower including Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis); Wood sage (Teucrium scorodonia); White stonecrop (Sedum album) and the end of the Kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria) and Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) seasons. There was also less Wild thyme (Thymus serpylium) than usual. The usual range of day-flying Lepidoptera was also not in evidence but the Small skipper (Thymelicus flavus); Small blue (Cupido minimus); Six-spot burnet moth (Zygaena filipendulae); Grayling (Hipparchia semele); Callistega mi and Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) were spotted in reduced numbers. Hardly any beetles were seen but a solitary wasp optimistically explored.
Friday, 24 July 2015
There seems to be an incredible media frenzy about 'cold-eyed, killer' Herring gulls killing tortoises, small dogs, swallowing 'mother' starlings whole, pecking people and ripping pasties out of our hands (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/23/killer-seagulls-top-the-pecking-order-for-a-media-frenzy). The birds have even been likened to terrorists and there have been yet more calls to 'cull' them (who's the terrorist then?). This medium-sized bird is a wild species that is designed to obtain food for itself and its chicks. All the examples cited could easily reflect the animal being a) offered a tempting meal or b) protecting its eggs and chicks from possible predators. Humans (by inappropriate waste disposal and becoming associated with food rewards when snacking outside) and providing high buildings as cliff substitutes for nesting have been a major factor in increasing their numbers and concentrating them in towns and cities (the name 'seagull' is a bit of a misnomer).
The NFU have apparently negotiated an 'emergency' relaxing on the ban of neonicotinoid pesticides that have been linked to changes in the behaviour and survivorship of bees and other pollinators (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/23/uk-suspends-ban-pesticides-linked-serious-harm-bees). The ban is said to have been removed so that rape seed oil growers can treat their crop to kill off cabbage stem flea beetle which can damage the monoculture. I am not sure that such 'temporary' relaxations are either warranted or desirable. Certainly, even farmers can't do without their pollinators.