“we've had enough of being bullied and blamed for what is a human problem” said a spokesbird for the gulls...
Okay so I've got your attention now but although the headline might be tongue in cheek, the message is deadly serious.
Peoples' intolerance of urban wildlife has reached such idiotic levels that gulls, (and any other creatures unfortunate enough to share a habitat with humans), are being vilified for the most ridiculous of reasons.
Ignorant residents of coastal towns and cities across the UK, are calling on their local councils to address what they describe as the 'problem' of gulls. Those complaining say that the birds are not only 'noisy and messy', but they also describe their encounters with the gulls as 'terrifying' ordeals, some even claiming that the birds are 'sadistic'.
Hysterical residents have reportedly been 'dive-bombed' when eating food and many are also whining about lack of sleep due to the 'constant screeching' of the menacing birds.
Hmm. Noisy, messy, sadistic, constant screeching.....all of this, one might suggest, could equally describe much of the human population.
Last year, in a poll for the Times newspaper, a mind-boggling four out of five people in the UK supported a cull to control the seagull 'nuisance'.
If the figures are accurate then it's a shameful reflection on the British public.
Such obnoxious attitudes are prevalent across the country wherever there are gulls - and it's not only gulls - pigeons too are also targets for irrational resentment.
A quick Google search reveals that unenlightened points of view are very widespread, gulls being frequently referred to as 'dangerous, filthy, nasty, aggressive and raucous'. Again one might say very human traits.
Look, people of Britain, it's not rocket science, if you don't like seagulls then don't live by the sea.
And if you don't care for dive-bombing birds then maybe try eating your fast-food indoors – or better still buy some for our feathered friends (there's nothing more rewarding than feeding birds, it's delightfully therapeutic, try it).
And perhaps think about disposing of your burger and crisp wrappers in a responsible manner so that gulls and pigeons don't have to pick up after you.
Why not celebrate the fact that you actually have wildlife, appreciate it and accommodate it.
In a world where urban wildlife is being lost at breakneck speed, it should be treasured, not despised.
In conclusion, if you don't want to be ridiculed then don't be ridiculous about our native urban wildlife.
Animals and birds are unbelievably tolerant of human beings, let's take a lesson from them and maybe, just maybe, one day we can learn to appreciate them and value them.
Before it's too late.
The selfish halfwits who cut down trees to 'improve the view' from their homes.....
Bristol, the city that caused outrage around the world, when bird deterrent spikes were fitted to some of its trees, has been in the news again today....
A number of self-serving residents of the city's swanky Cromwell Road have hacked down trees on a wooded railway embankment at the back of their houses, apparently without any permission, to 'improve the view'.
The wood, which was believed to be home to badgers, bats and birds, has been completely destroyed, leaving behind what has been described as a 'scene of devastation'.
Network Rail who own and maintain the embankment are investigating after the home-owners took it upon themselves to employ a private contractor to remove the woodland habitat despite having been denied permission on several occasions to cut the trees.
Now there are calls for the irresponsible residents to be severely punished for seemingly taking the law into their own hands.
As one dejected onlooker pointed out “'The worst thing for me is the wildlife that's going to be affected. There's badgers living down there, bats in the trees, it's all going to be badly hit by this.”
The removal of the trees has decimated a valuable wildlife habitat and will severely impact on the bat and bird populations that lived in the area, besides leaving the embankment in a dangerous state that will require significant remedial works to make it safe.
Selfish idiots who wantonly cut down trees merely to 'improve the view' need to be punished in order to send out a message that such reckless vandalism is entirely unacceptable.
Areas like railway embankments provide precious wildlife refuges, especially in a country such as the UK where such habitat is disappearing at an alarming rate.
While it's too late for the Bristol wood and the animals and birds that called it their home, we must do everything to ensure that this kind of egocentric environmental destruction does not prevail and will not be tolerated.
I read this week about a lady who repaired the broken wing of a Monarch butterfly so that it could fly again and embark on its incredible migration across thousands of miles to warmer climes.
Romy McCloskey from Texas, a costume designer by trade, had been looking after some Monarch caterpillars since last Autumn when she collected a few from her garden. She had reared them from caterpillar to chrysalis.
Then last week as they emerged from their metamorphosis, Romy noticed that one of the butterflies in her care had a badly damaged wing and, knowing that it would be unable to fly in this state, with impressive patience she meticulously carried out an incredibly intricate repair using a good wing from a deceased butterfly and the tools of her costume designing profession, including needles, thread, beads and delicate fabrics.
Sharing the operation step by step on her Facebook page, Romy said “I was, needless to say, heartbroken at the thought of having to put him down. Then a friend sent me a video on repairing wings. I figured, since I do so much designing, cutting and putting together of costumes... I could give this a go. And I'm really glad I did!”
She considered that restoring the butterfly's ability to fly was worth a few hours of her time.
The next day she released the butterfly and was delighted to see it tentatively try its wings and fly away. Romy said on the day of release “We had a successful flight! A quick spin around the backyard, then a little rest on one of the bushes... then..... off he flew! My heart soared with him!”
This true story filled me with hope. Because fixing a butterfly's wing really is, as I see it, a metaphor for fixing our world.
To care enough to even think of doing such a beautiful thing for a tiny creature, whose suffering would normally be overlooked, shows compassion.
To take the time to research and carry out the delicate repair takes patience and understanding
And to experience the pleasure of releasing the butterfly shows a selfless empathy in witnessing the freedom of another life form, however lowly.
These are all lessons about living in a way that is respectful of others and of appreciating all forms of life in this world, however small or seemingly insignificant.
Compassion, patience, understanding and empathy. If we could all strive for these qualities then perhaps the world would be a better place.....
Mass killings of thousands of healthy animals are being carried out in London's Royal parks and the perpetrators, the park authorities, claim it will 'encourage the wildlife to flourish'. To suggest that the slaughter of animals encourages their well-being is not only incredibly ignorant but also wholly abhorrent.
UK animal rights organisation Animal Aid revealed the extent of wildlife killed in Royal Parks after a freedom of information request and their findings make for depressing reading.
Between January 2013 and January 2017, a total of 8,400 mammals and 3,240 birds were culled in the London parks, which include popular tourist spots such as Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park.
The shocking figures include 3,679 squirrels, 330 foxes, 2,657 rabbits and 1,734 red and fallow deer, 1,221 crows, 268 geese, 382 magpies, 46 jays, 1,025 pigeons, and 298 parakeets.
I have to admit that the sheer scale of this massive culling left me numb. As I've often said, these are supposedly enlightened times for conservation awareness but it would appear that human beings are as callous and uneducated as ever. It sickens me to hear that so many of our cherished and wonderful creatures have been culled and continue to be culled by those who wield the power but apparently have no sense of morality. What's more, they are excusing their barbaric killing spree by describing it as a “careful balancing act”.
Referring to their culls as 'animal management' the parks say that maintaining a diversity of wildlife is at the heart of their work....
So, even with more than 11,000 dead animals and birds on their conscience, it seems that they can carry out their 'work' secure in their twisted belief that killing animals and birds is the best way to 'maintain a diversity of wildlife'.
It makes me especially angry to hear the word 'management' used by those who harm wildlife and the environment as if describing their acts in this way somehow excuses the destruction of nature and the killing of animals.
Says Animal Aid Director, Isobel Hutchinson:
‘These shocking figures reveal the relentless persecution suffered by animals who help to make the Royal Parks such a popular attraction. For many people, visiting a park offers a rare opportunity to see and interact with wild animals. But rather than being cherished and appreciated, as they are by the parks’ visitors, these animals are being callously slaughtered.'
Nearly 100,000 enlightened people have signed a petition calling for the parks to stop killing any more healthy animals. You can find details here:-
When our wonderful dog Ozzie passed away last week, my partner Dan and I were in pieces, completely shattered and broken.
He was the third member of our little family unit, our team.
Ozzie came to us when he was already nine years old and I had no idea of the impact he would have on the lives of me, Dan - and indeed the very many people who met him - and loved him.
And yet somehow I knew he was special, that's why we chose him – or rather he chose us.
Not having set out to adopt a dog, we had nevertheless found ourselves one day visiting a couple of dog shelters and being moved, as one is in such places, by the sheer number of dogs needing a home. But it was only when we encountered Ozzie that we found our soul mate. And we knew instantly.
Not that Ozzie was going out of his way to appear desperate like some of his fellow homeless pooches, who pleaded with their eyes and whimpered softly at us as we wandered past rows and rows of cages filled with dogs of all shapes and sizes that had been abandoned or had otherwise arrived in this place through no fault of their own.
Too sad for words.
Ozzie, however, tried to appear unresponsive, he didn't want anyone to think he needed their assistance. It was clear that he had been fending for himself and was not used to much attention, let alone affection. But when I crouched down and asked him for his paw, he couldn't help himself. Dan and I looked at each other and knew. We hadn't intended to get a dog that day, especially not an old timer who seemed very aloof, and yet we knew we would be going home with him as soon as the paperwork could be completed.
And so it was that Ozzie, a nine year old Doberman Lurcher mix, became the centre of our little family for the next six years.
Ozzie was a perfect gentleman, he loved everybody and everybody loved him. He was especially respectful to children and older people. Gentle and well behaved, we could trust him implicitly. And, in spite of the fact that he had clearly led a chequered life (the dogs home had known him, on and off, since he was eight weeks old), he grew to trust us and love us more than anything else in his world.
We all travelled together wherever life took us. We shared quiet and beautiful holidays including a memorable trip to my beloved St Bees, a tiny coastal village in Cumbria which I had discovered in my troubled youth and which had, during difficult and lonely teenage years, eased my mind and spirit with the sound of the sea and the endless views of big skies. And Dan was the one who took us all there again, decades later, having persuaded me that it might be good to return to this little place which had been so poignant for me, to make new memories that were less tinged with melancholy. So, thirty years down the line, we went back, together with Ozzie of course, and the place was filled with sunshine. It made my heart sing to find that Ozzie loved it there. This magical little place that had touched my soul now touched Ozzie's too, proving to me that a soul is a soul, be it human or canine.
The three of us, Dan, Ozzie and me, walked together along grassy lanes in the fresh coastal air, making new memories to treasure.
So when Oz left us a few days ago, just two days after we celebrated his fifteenth birthday, we were shattered to the very core. And we haven't recovered.
Ozzie was for us the most wonderful friend, he cared for us, he loved us and he made us smile and laugh even when we were feeling anxious or angry at the world around us.
When we lost him that world fell apart and we didn't stop crying for days on end.
While we are still glimpsing him around the house in passing shadows, our home now feels big and empty.
I can't bear the thought of never seeing him again and so I have to believe that I will.
The loss is that of a beloved family member and the grieving the same. Laden with the same tears and heavy with the same sense of parting that makes the heart ache with pain.
Ozzie taught us so much about life and love, compassion and empathy. But above all else, I know, will be the legacy he leaves behind.
When other dogs need us, Dan and I will be there for them. And when other lost souls knock at the door to our hearts then we will welcome them in.
Ozzie taught us that opening our hearts to an animal in need is one of the biggest blessings in all of life. And that will be the driving force for us from this day forward.
Ozzie will live on, in the love that we will give to others who come to seek our help.
“Kindness, I've discovered, is everything in life”, so said author and storyteller Isaac Bashevis Singer, one of the most powerful pro-animal voices of the 20th century.
And nowhere is kindness more in evidence than within a unique group of dedicated volunteers in Northern California who together make up a very special organisation called Palomacy...
Established ten years ago by Elizabeth Young, Palomacy (“Pigeon Diplomacy”) rescues and re-homes some of the most unfairly maligned and neglected of creatures - pigeons.
Elizabeth points out the reason for setting up her rescue network: “[animal] shelters got in domestic (unreleasable) pigeons every week but, instead of providing them with the care and service that all the other shelter animals received, they were for the most part ignored until they were euthanized.”
And so that's when Elizabeth decided to set up her amazing group which saves homeless domestic pigeons from being killed, providing them with vet care, foster homes and adoptions.
“We advocate for pigeons and doves- all of them- wild, feral and domestic– every day of the year. While most of the thousands of people we meet may never see another domestic pigeon, all will encounter the feral Rock Pigeons who are somehow able to live their gentle lives on our mean streets. We speak up for those birds, we debunk the myths, we inspire compassion.”
I think it's especially heart-warming to hear about an organisation that is focused on helping one of the most misunderstood of all the species with which we share this world, and I couldn't agree more with the ethic of this rescue.
Without organisations such as Palomacy, the intelligent and adaptable pigeon would not have a voice. “We know that pigeons are a gateway to compassion” says Elizabeth – and for those who have never really given pigeons much thought, well I think that is something to ponder...... “a gateway to compassion”.
Palomacy relies on donations to rescue and re-home birds.
You can find out more about them by clicking on their advert.
A few days ago I announced that my blog will carry an unlimited number of FREE advertisements for wildlife and animal rescues and with readers in more than 80 countries I'm inviting enquiries from anywhere in the world.
I am offering this because there are lots of very small charities, organisations and individuals out there who are working tirelessly on behalf of sick and injured animals and they are doing so on the tiniest of budgets, relying on donations and the generosity of strangers in what are difficult times financially for many people.
So, with that in mind, I am very happy to tell you about two of our first advertisers....
The Nutkin Ward
First, I'd like to introduce you to a wonderful lady by the name of Tess who set up The Nutkin Ward in 2010 in Middleton Cheney, Northamptonshire.
Very quickly she found herself inundated with wildlife casualties in spite of having little room to accommodate them... “I don't think people realize how small I am. Its me, an 8 x 12ft shed and a couple of small aviaries. Overflow can often be found in the bathroom or spare bedroom!”
But even with limited space, last year alone Tess, who is a registered veterinary nurse, admitted more than 400 casualties. And she doesn't discriminate “I will take in and care for any wildlife. I always think it's so strange that people will distinguish between animals that deserve help and those that don't. In my opinion any animal deserves help be it bat, mouse, owl or pigeon.”
With hardly any spare time to fund raise, (as you can imagine looking after so many patients!) Tess nevertheless relies on donations and The Nutkin Ward has an Amazon wish list which can be found by clicking HERE or click on the ad below to visit their Facebook page.
London Wildlife Protection
Our second amazing organisation is London Wildlife Protection who offer a 24/7 rescue service for birds and animals in and around London. They are a volunteer run organisation and endeavour to provide a rescue and ambulance service when possible for all trapped, injured, sick or young birds and they also save eggs and nests. “Our core values are to investigate and increase public awareness of animal abuse, educate the public, protect and promote animal welfare legislation, and offer non-lethal wildlife control. London Wildlife Protection has a no-kill policy which means that we NEVER put down sick, injured or unreleasable animals.”
London Wildlife Protection are a Not For Profit Organisation, and rely solely on donations from the public for provisions of foods and medications.
Click on the ad to visit their website and to donate.
".....they will be shot at point blank range with a low velocity rifle."
After my piece about the gassing of Barcelona's pigeons and the resulting outrage from all around the world, I feel compelled to spread the word about another appalling cull that is happening right now, today, this time in Australia, a hotbed of bird culling in recent years.
The Corella, better known perhaps by the generic name Cockatoo, is an intelligent and characterful bird. The Corella family actually includes a number of closely related species, some of which have faced near extinction at the hands of humans during the early 20th century due to a mass killing spree of shooting and poisoning, perpetrated by people intolerant of the birds whose territory they had invaded. Populations of this resilient and rescourceful bird have since increased. And once again their interaction with humans has caused conflict. The point to remember is that people are the reason this bird flourishes in urban areas. Where there are human populations there are Corellas. Much like the pigeon, Corellas have learnt to live alongside people and adapt to the conditions created by human settlements.
There is something remarkable about a species that can adapt to its environment in spite of human interference, in a world where so many other species succumb to the pollution and destruction that our society causes.
But this clever adaptation is also the Corella's downfall because, as we know, humankind is intolerant of any other species that shares its space. And so we see today the announcement that a mass cull of Corellas is being carried out in Australia where these remarkable birds are labelled as 'pests'.
The mayor of a city called Geraldton in Western Australia said (in a particularly distasteful and unenlightened statement): "We're going to kill a few of these pesky little birds, and hopefully that sends a clear message to them to rack off." He told ABC News that: "They will be netted after being lured to the ground using wheat or any other nice snacks that they might like to consume, at which point they'll be rounded up and taken to a place to be humanely gassed."
In another city, Bunbury, an environmental officer is quoted as saying that "...The hardest thing is when the birds start disrupting people's sleep."
If that's 'the hardest thing' then one has to ask whether the residents really have anything at all in their lives to worry about.
The same environmental officer described in an interview with ABC News just how their city intends to cull the birds, it's a slightly different, but no less horrific, method to that employed by Geraldton..."We attract birds to sites where we can establish a regular feeding pattern....Once we get enough birds in attendance, we use a net that goes over the top of them and they will be shot at point blank range with a low velocity rifle."
Callous and cold blooded.
This is the 21st century, supposedly an enlightened era for conservation and awareness of wildlife.
Despite some opposition to the culls (which have been taking place regularly for the past few years), there are many voices in support of the killing due to the damage the birds can do to human infrastructure.
But with one of the primary reasons given for supporting the cull being 'difficulty getting to sleep because of the birds' then it seems that bird song is enough reason these days to shoot them.
Imagine if people felt the same way about the dawn chorus?
You know when people complain about the noise from birds then there is something very wrong with the state of the human race. We have already largely lost the ability to peacefully co-exist with any other form of life on this planet, now it seems we are so intolerant that we are exterminating other creatures simply because they are in our way or even just making a noise.
It's not a reason, it's just plain despicable.
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