It's astonishing and very humbling to see that my petition to stop the killing of English Ravens is fast approaching the 50,000 signature landmark.
When it emerged that Natural England had been issuing licences to farmers granting them permission to kill this iconic - and protected - species, there was a surge of opposition from the general public.
A banal statement I received from Natural England back in August left me feeling less than impressed with their concern for the growing public outrage at their actions.
So I have again contacted them (together with Defra) and asked them for a statement - a copy of my correspondence is reproduced below.
The signatories of this petition deserve a considered and intelligent response to their genuine consternation at the government-sanctioned threat to this much loved bird.
I'll keep you all posted - meanwhile please continue to share the petition far and wide.
"Further to my correspondence of July and August, I am once again writing to you with regard to a petition calling for an end to the issuing of licences to kill Ravens in England.
The petition has now received more than 41,000 signatures and is continuing to gain huge support via social media and coverage in the press.
As we approach the 50,000 signature landmark, I am contacting you for a statement that I can pass on to the supporters of the cause. I feel that with such strong public feeling over this, it would be in your interest to acknowledge the concerns of so many citizens and to recognise that people do not accept any cull of a protected species, especially given that there appears to be little or no evidence to support the claims that Ravens kill farm animals - the primary reason given for issuing licences to kill the birds.
We await your prompt and considered reply"
CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION
The news that a coastal golf club in Leasowe, UK has ordered the culling of Canada Geese has caused outrage amongst locals.
The Geese, which are frequent visitors to the area, are much loved by many people who are furious that the birds are being killed merely because of their presence on the course.
A petition started by Leanne Hughes is gathering pace as stunned bird lovers rally to save the majestic geese from the guns of those employed to murder them.
As Leanne says "The people of Wirral value highly the beauty and nature of the area, and are disheartened to learn about the killing of these innocent creatures as they are about to migrate for the winter.....our children should also not have to witness this, they should be brought up with compassion for all living beings and not made to believe it is ok to take an innocent animals life for fun or sport."
Leasowe Golf Club is not alone in its callous attitude towards wildlife. Many other golf courses have resorted to massacring birds and other animals that happen to share their land, even when the wildlife existed on the site before the clubs themselves. Earlier this year another English club in Chingford, Essex admitted to shooting Geese, adding that their presence was ‘horrendous’ and claiming that many members were tired of "fouled fairways and geese blocking shots."
The Government allows the killing of certain species, including Canada Geese, without having to apply for a licence - but only in order to preserve public health or public safety.
In my opinion the presence of Canada Geese on the manicured greens of a golf course does not pose a threat to public health and safety.
It is yet another sign of human intolerance towards wildlife and must be challenged.
You can sign the petition to stop Leasowe Golf Club culling geese HERE.
Up to 70 protected Herring Gulls have been found dead in a Dorset field.
The cause of the deaths is not known but some possible explanations have included poisoning due to slug pellets, lightning strike or even bird flu, though the birds' bodies were too decomposed to enable tissue sampling.
The dead gulls were discovered last week in a field of oil seed rape.
Suggestion to 'cover up' the news...
By far the most worrying part of this news for me is that on the farming forum where I found the story, there were suggestions to 'cover up' the news before it reached a wider public, "clear the gulls up and ask admin to delete thread..." suggested one poster while another said "you can bet certain parties will be quick to blame farming without a shred of evidence."
Why try to suppress what is clearly a very worrying event? Surely that course of action would only raise suspicions.
Another poster, obviously not a fan of gulls, added "Why report it or some bugger will want to protect the flying sea rats?" Well perhaps I am that 'bugger' and the 'flying sea rats', to which he or she refers, are already legally protected due to their rapidly declining population.
So the news is out and I'm happy to bring it to wider public attention, if only to highlight the fact that some farmers would rather I didn't.
Whatever killed the gulls, it's important to note the somewhat sinister comments of a few of those who would try to keep it a secret. I sincerely hope that the relevant authorities are now looking into the matter. We shall await their findings.
Meanwhile if you hear of similar news that might not normally make it into the public domain, do please let me know.....
"The Vegan Society publicly endorsing this type of energy is utterly ridiculous and doesn't make them look very clever...."
My recent post concerning Ecotricity's so-called 'vegan' electricity caused some controversy. "How dare you criticise such a noble venture!" some vegans asked. Other more militant (though equally ill informed) vegans accused me of making the story up - even though Ecotricity have been promoting their vegan trickery quite openly in rather graphic advertising that shows minced meat pouring from electricity sockets. This company, who flaunt the fact that they embrace energy produced by wind farms, make such a big deal of being 'ethical' that they are in danger of being consumed by their own self-righteousness.
My problem with the questionable marketing of their energy as 'vegan' is Ecotricity's love affair with wind turbines which are known to kill birds, bats and many other creatures and to cause catastrophic damage to the environment.
Their electricity is in no way, shape or form 'vegan' - even though the Vegan Society have, for some very bizarre reason known only to themselves, validated Ecotricity with their 'Vegan Trademark'.
Electricity produced from wind turbines cannot be vegan.
"from a vegan point of view, wind energy is a very problematic source of energy..."
VegaWatt (German Vegan Energy Company)
So it was with interest, and a sprinkling of cynicism, that I read about another energy company, this time in Germany, who also appeared to have jumped on a fashionable trend bandwagon in announcing that their electricity was vegan.
But VegaWatt are not to be tarred with the same brush as Ecotricity. Healthy debate about the future of energy production is no bad thing and VegaWatt seem earnest at least.
Their website has a great deal of information explaining why they cannot support the traditional methods of producing energy and their arguments seem quite sincere. Though I still question the morality of such a 'vegan' marketing ploy, one interesting, indeed crucial, point that VegaWatt make is that wind power cannot possibly be used in the production of vegan electricity.
This from their website:-
...."from a vegan point of view wind energy is a very problematic source of energy. Larger wind farms are currently being built on the border with nature reserves or in the middle of the sea off the German coast. As a result, the sensitive ecosystem, especially in the Wadden Sea, can be significantly disturbed and the marine animals living there can be driven out of their natural habitat. In addition, due to the so-called bird strike, the rapidly rotating rotors, both over land and over water, can lead to deadly collisions with the wind turbines - especially in bats, birds of prey and seabirds...."
"Our conclusion therefore: wind power is not sustainable, not vegan!"
And there you have it. Direct from a company that is genuinely seeking a more ethical approach to energy. How on earth can Ecotricity claim that their electricity is 'vegan'?
It just isn't.
VegaWatt ultimately conclude that the only source of truly vegan electricity can be solar power and that vegan gas can only come from sugar beet biogas. We know that solar power has its own drawbacks but at least VegaWatt are resolute in their complete rejection of wind power as vegan or sustainable.
Though one might question their ability to deliver energy on a large scale, I admire the honest motives of VegaWatt, which are in stark contrast to those of Ecotricity who appear to be trying to hoodwink vegans and others into thinking that their electricity is kind to animals and ethical. It just isn't - and has the potential to cause immense harm to wildlife.
People need to wake up to the fact that wind farms are damaging and destructive. Ecotricity's misleading advertising is unhelpful and even dishonest.
And the Vegan Society publicly endorsing this type of energy is utterly ridiculous and doesn't make them look very clever.
I reiterate here that wind energy cannot be vegan - neither can it be green - it is harmful and unsustainable.
The Woodland Trust is calling on the British public to oppose ongoing work by Network Rail who are felling trees at a rate of 1000 every week.
According to Dr Nick Atkinson, senior conservation advisor for the trust, Network Rail has no biodiversity plan in place to accompany the removal of so many trees, adding that "trees are important and deserve to be managed carefully – not cut down in their thousands for no good reason.”
The mass destruction of such a valuable wildlife habitat alongside the nation's railways is huge cause for concern and with so many trees disappearing each and every week, the consequences for the nation's flora and fauna must be potentially quite catastrophic.
There are an estimated 13 million trees within 'falling distance' of the country's railways, something that Network Rail claim poses a threat to safety and reliability.
The Guardian newspaper reported earlier this year that Network Rail had proposed a five-year “enhanced clearance” programme to fell all leaf fall species within falling distance of the tracks, and athough that plan has not been implemented, still the shocking number of trees that are being lost is extremely worrying. That is why the Woodland Trust is urging the British public to have their say. The Trust points out that the corridors of trees that line our railways are home to a huge array of wildlife and also help to filter pollution.
To take part in the survey - which closes in two days time so you'll have to be quick - please visit this link:-
A petition against the felling of trees by Network Rail can be signed here:-
I'd always thought I could sing, perhaps not like Pavarotti, but sing and hold a tune for sure. And I assumed that, should I ever decide, in some moment of madness, to enter the X Factor, then undoubtedly I'd win and become a huge overnight sensation. It's not so much an 'ego' thing or smug self confidence, just a hunch that I should be good at something and that singing should be it.
A little while ago, a member of the family persuaded me, after three too many vodkas, to try karaoke. And that night, in front of an inebriated crowd who clearly had poor taste in music (and, it has to be said, equally dubious taste in fashion), I discovered a whole new world of singing. It was freeing. The audience were kind, if a little indifferent - one of them even applauded.
My public performances since that initial concert have been rare and sporadic, until two days ago when I discovered Singsnap, a website that describes itself as "the karaoke party that never stops!". Hmm, I thought, that sounds like fun, perhaps I might find other sensational singers like me on there.
The idea is that Singsnap supply the backing track and you sing through your computer, all online from your own armchair, it's very clever. The result is a karaoke video of your performance to share with the whole world.
What's not to love?
Well quite a lot as it turned out.
I decided to give it a go. I sat in my office, adjusted my chair to the right height for the built in webcam and microphone of my desktop - and scrolled through the many backing tracks on offer. For some unfathomable reason I selected Elton John's 'Your Song'. The music started. I pressed the record button on the screen and sang my heart out. It was great. Feeling very satisfied, I couldn't wait to see what it looked and sounded like. While I sat anticipating the big reveal, the Singsnap website grandly informed me that they were mixing my track ready for playback. Exciting stuff. I imagined the reaction there would be from the 'Singsnap community' and even talent scouts who would be clamouring to sign me up.
Then it was ready.
I pressed 'play' and saw myself on the screen, looking a little surprised. And ouch - bad lighting! I could see big bags under my eyes. It wasn't looking promising.
Then the music started and very quickly the horror began. In a moment of terrible realisation, I became aware that I sounded truly awful. Even though I wanted to believe that it was due to Singsnap's 'state of the art' software, I was painfully aware that the horrible noise was in fact down to me. That's how I sound. And it's not pretty.
The longest three minutes and fifty eight seconds ensued as I sat squirming, open mouthed, watching my deluded self paying homage to Elton John.
Then, thankfully, it ended.
"Ready to share?" asked Singsnap cheerily (and with an air of sarcasm I thought). I was presented with options to upload my embarrassing video to Facebook, Twitter and countless other social media sites where I could be humiliated and ridiculed by strangers from all over the globe.
As if the awful revelation that I really can't sing wasn't enough, Singsnap wouldn't even let me delete this piece of art, informing me that it would remain in existence for ten days presumably in case I lost my mind, decided it suddenly sounded great and wanted the world to witness the nightmarish debacle that I had just seen and heard.
Knowing that the video still exists somewhere in cyberspace makes me deeply uncomfortable.....
It became clear however that I was not alone. Some poor souls had not realised they could make their videos private, and as I browsed through the catalogue of catastrophes that were the latest offerings from Singsnap's karaoke community, I realised that some of them were even worse than mine. No mean feat.
Needless to say, I won't be sharing a clip of my karaoke video here or anywhere else. Now I have to face the fact the my singing career is over. Like Marlene Dietrich I will disappear into the shadows and become a recluse.
But here's an odd thing, I haven't deleted my Singsnap account. There's something strangely alluring about their website that draws me in. Perhaps it's the voyeurism, watching other deluded souls as they realise they can't hold a tune either. Or those who cling on to a belief that they really sound amazing. And others still for whom it's all just a whole lot of fun (which I expect is actually the aim of the website). And it is fun. There are even some half decent singers out there.
Now that a few days have elapsed since my Singsnap initiation and my video is firmly tagged for permanent deletion, I'm thinking that I really wasn't the worst singer on Singsnap after all. No really.... perhaps comparatively I was even quite good. I've since discovered other karaoke websites, where apparently people who don't make the grade at Singsnap find their niche.
It's a scary world of scary singers out there. And it's a world where I seem to fit.
Maybe I should give it another go....
I thought it would be fun to write a poem based on the colours of the rainbow,
so in a reflective mood that is what I did.....
In the beginning I saw Red.
Red would light the fire,
Red was the colour
of the first light of day.
Then there was Orange.
Orange was desire.
But Orange would expire
when the sunlight went away.
Every day was Yellow,
in one way or another.
And Yellow was the colour
that calmed my troubled mind.
Green, that was my favourite,
I grew to know it well,
I would ask and it would tell.
Green was gentle, free and kind.
Blue, it never left me,
it was always in my sky.
With azure wings I'd fly.
But I'm still blue to this day.
Indigo, like blue,
would be a constant friend,
she's a song without an end.
I would sing and she would play.
Violet, is the endgame
of the dream, and better yet,
of a life without regret,
infinite and free.
The colours of the rainbow
are my life, a serenade.
Of days in light and shade.
The rainbow lives in me.
©Jason Endfield 2018 all rights reserved
A tiny fish, on the verge of extinction, is at the centre of the global conflict between nature and humankind - and is set to become symbolic of the problem that is human domination of the planet at the expense of all other species.
It might appear to be insignificant and even dull, but the Spring Pygmy Sunfish has become a major player in the battle between nature and human development. Confined to a small section of Beaverdam Creek in Huntsville, Alabama, the tiny fish is classified as 'critically endangered' and on the very brink of extinction - but its habitat is threatened by the construction of a massive 2,400-acre car manufacturing plant which could completely wipe out the last remaining population of this little creature from the planet.
The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a law suit against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service who had at one point maintained that there was "no legal requirement to stop the project". Now the agency has finally agreed to designate the area as a critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act and in doing so has identified that the river system is 'essential to the conservation of an endangered species and may require special management and protection'.
But the fight is by no means over.
The Center for Biological Diversity and nonprofit organisation Tennessee Riverkeeper have filed notices of intent to sue the city of Huntsville and car manufacturer Mazda Toyota under the Endangered Species Act. According to the CBD, a lawsuit may be necessary because Mazda Toyota and Huntsville have failed to obtain a permit from the FWS that would allow it to build in the sunfish’s habitat.
Mazda are claiming that they do care about the plight of the fish. A spokesperson for the company told the local press that “throughout the planning and design of this project, we continue....to ensure that the necessary protections are in place,” she said. “Mazda and Toyota continue to make environmental preservation a priority, and we are committed to developing the property sustainably.”
The whole sorry matter is polarising opinion between conservationists - who suggest that knowingly forcing a species into extinction is unthinkable - and those who consider that a tiny fish is worth sacrificing in the name of 'progress'.
And, unfortunately, comments in the local US press suggest that there is little public concern for the plight of a species on the brink of extinction:-
"These tree hugging bunny lovers are out of hand"
"A donation will be made and work will continue. It's how the environmentalists get paid."
"What unique contribution does this specific fish provide to the environment?"
With opinions like those is there any hope at all of saving threatened wildlife?
Some might argue that the very existence of automobiles has contributed hugely to the ill health of the planet and yet still we put cars and industrial development before nature.
It's a contradiction that I find very challenging. On one hand we have big companies desperately jumping on to the green bandwagon of environmental protest, publicly parading their faux green ideologies, while on the other hand they are willing to sacrifice forever an endangered species by eliminating its only remaining habitat for industrial development and financial gain.
It makes me very cynical about any claim, be it by government or industry, that they care a jot about the environment.
Now that we as a global community are fully aware of the threat that humans pose to practically every other life form on the planet, one might imagine that causing the extinction of another species would be considered criminal in the extreme. But Mazda and others seem indifferent to the debt we owe to our natural world and are pushing ahead with plans to develop the last known habitat of the Pygmy Sunfish, bulldozing the fish and its home into oblivion.
And all so that people can have more cars.
It is a sign of the times for sure. And a sad reflection on the human race. And it looks like the tiny, unassuming, but beautifully unique Pygmy Sunfish might become a symbol, like the Dodo, of mankind's total disregard for all of nature outside of himself.
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