Sunday, January 27, 2008

Litter Picking The Tye And Ferrets

Today's task with the FoTT, out on the Tye and a litter pick of the north end and the cross dyke, which you wouldn't know what it was, unless someone told you and pointed it out. It's been cleared at some point but inevitably the brambles have moved in. The cows have totally churned up the soil at the top part of the dyke and it's that good, thick gloopy mud that sucks at your wellies and hangs on to them as you take the next step and land barefoot or sock clad back up to your calves in mud. Luckily I didn't but the potential was there!

Most of the litter we collected was bottles - glass and plastic, crisp and chocolate wrappings with a few bits of car thrown in and rubble dumped down in the dyke. As the Tye has been reasonably successfully cordoned off with the bunding (a topic of some political and legal debate), the burnt out cars now appear along the rat-run between Telscombe Village and Telscombe Cliffs rather than on the Tye itself. Several bags were gathered in about an hour and left for collection the following day. Not quite as bad as it could have been, which might be due to the efforts of a regular litter pick around the Tye. Degrading plastic bags being the worst offender. It's unfortunate that it has to be done and people are so thoughtless as to just chuck their rubbish where they like.

As we adjourned to the pub at the bottom of the Tye - we walked past someone rabbiting with two ferrets. Very cute - one blonde, one brunette (the ferrets that is), although he shouldn't have been there as hunting on the common is banned. I'd noticed the netting pegged out around the bramble covered bunding on the edge of the funeral track as I walked up to meet the others in the morning but didn't realise what they were until later. The rabbits were prolific this time last year, they've all but disappeared now after a recent outbreak of mxyomatosis. Nature's very own pest control.

Second count

A better result today:

2 blackbirds
2 blue tits
1 chaffinch
1 collared dove
2 great tits
1 house sparrow
1 robin
6 starlings
1 woodpigeon
1 carrion crow

Nothing too exotic and just missing a couple of the usual visitors.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

and the scores are ...

1 robin
1 bluetit

Well it's been so mild recently that there haven't been a lot of birds visiting the feeders for the last few weeks - either that or there are just a lot less birds around. Even so it's not a very impressive count.

The peanuts weren't doing well, all the cold damp weather and they're rotted in the feeders which is probably why the birds had left them. I've cleared them out and put out more seed feeders.

Haven't even seen the starlings in the garden today.

Will try again tomorrow.

Friday, January 25, 2008

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2008 - 26th-27th January

This weekend is the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. Now in it's 29th year! Your chance to spend an hour with family and friends watching the birds the visit your garden or local park and help the RSPB to keep track of the numbers of species and that visit our gardens.

There's an easy reference sheet to download from their website with pictures of the most common birds likely to visit your garden.

Over the years numbers and species have changed - some birds are now more common - chaffinches, some birds are less common like house sparrows and even the ubiquitous starling.

If you see anything unusual - come and let me know.

When you're finished, log your results online - you don't have to be a member.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Big Food Fight - Hugh's Chicken Run

I've been looking forward to this series since I saw the previews. I'm all for changing the way we think about food and the more we know, the more of an informed choice we can make. Although when it comes down to it, most people will buy whatever's cheapest without thinking about the welfare of the animals involved.

Chicken and eggs are such a big part of the things we eat that it can be hard to avoid battery and intensively reared. What about cakes, biscuits, desserts, sandwiches, your local takeaway etc? Co-op have a policy on their Simply range of products for avoiding battery eggs, other supermarkets may have similar policies for their own brands.

As consumers we need to look beyond the price tag on the final product. Not just for the welfare of the animals but the fact that the supermarkets put such a squeeze on wholesalers and producers that their profits have to come from somewhere, if they're even able to make a profit.

Sign-up for Hugh's Chicken Out campaign. A good idea but how much of a difference will it make to the population at large?

Will you change your eating habits?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Rise of the Pigeon

Woodpigeons are becoming more of a common sight in our towns and gardens due to changes in agriculture. Fields are now sown with winter crops meaning there's more food around for them and they're growing in numbers. I've certainly noticed large flocks around the fields and there are often three or four of them in and around the garden.

Not quite as dumb as they seem, they've worked out that there's also a ready supply of food available in many gardens.

Mine have mastered the art of perching in a rather ungainly manner on the seed feeder but seem to be a bit selectively about the seeds they eat and not favouring sunflower seeds, which end up scattered below the feeders.

Have you seen an increase in these rather comical birds appearing in your garden?