Saturday, 29 June 2013

Busy Times!

Sorry for being quiet lately. As always I have been extremely busy with all things wildlife, so excuse the bombardment below, but here is an update as to what I have been up to over the last few weeks.
Unfortunately one of my hard drives crashed and I lost the majority of my images from 2013. Hopefully they can be retrieved and I will post some at a later date. 

Siccaridge 600 Bioblitz

Representing GlosARG and accompanied by two colleagues we helped Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust in their attempt to find and identify 600 different species of wildlife at Siccaridge Wood Nature Reserve.
The event was run over 30hrs, where more than 700 species were found and identified. This was a massive achievement by all who gave up their weekend for the wildlife and it just shows that Nature Reserves work!
Sadly the weather was not right for reptiles, but GlosARG made up for it by finding a large privet hawk moth, palmate newt and swan mussel. 

Click HERE for more info on the event

And HERE for some photos of the event

Interested in reptiles and amphibians? Visit GlosARG 

Cinderford Area Action Plan (Northern United)

Northern United

The Forest of Dean District Council has recently won a high court battle to develop one of the most diverse and wildlife rich habitats in the Forest of Dean.
Also known as Northern Arc and Northern Quarter, work will see a spine road built, isolating and fragmenting habitats, which is home to rare, declining and protected wildlife.

Fore the media article click HERE 

For the last two years I have been one of the people who has fought, not to see the development of Cinderford stopped, but to see it stopped at this location. Northern United. 
I have been attending FODDC meetings where I have been helping highlight the wildlife at this site and the threat to it if work begins.

I was and I still am more than aware that the town of Cinderford needs dragging out of the Stone Age, but there are too many flaws with this location.

  1. Deep mines run directly beneath the area, which is to be developed and built on. This build includes numerous houses, a college and possibly a hotel.
  2. Numerous vulnerable, declining and protected wildlife are found all over this location.
  3. How is it actually going to help the town of Cinderford as it is more than a mile away from the town centre.
  4. How will our drainage, roads and other amenities cope with this massive increase in people and vehicles?
  5. After construction, will there be equivalent (sustainable) employment created for the extra residents and will it help with the number of unemployed we have at present?
  6. What work will be available?
  7. Is this where it is to end, or will we see further development?
Like many other people, I have lived in the Forest of Dean my whole life and over the years and have learnt to appreciate and respect what an amazing place it is.
We need to protect our green spaces and our wildlife for future generations. More importantly, we need to show and teach our future generations that what we have is worth fighting for.
Yeah I know what some of you are thinking, "without employment, what future is there for them?"
This is where I will say again; I know we need more jobs, but this chosen area is the worst imaginable, with regard to biodiversity and wildlife.

My next fight, if/when work begins will be to try and save as many vulnerable wildlife species as I can. Any mitigation will be planned and implemented legally.
I'm not a paper shuffler and I have already been in contact with organisations and FODDC in case this day comes.
This is not in support, just "to save the wildlife."

Wild Boar

Wild Boar Piglet

A cull of wild boar is on the cards, likely to start in September. The "BIG" question as always is how many boar are out there and how many need to be culled, if any?
The biggest outcry for a cull always comes from members of the public that do not like seeing our road side verges dug up in the winter and I find this vile and sickening that people will call for an animal to be killed for exposing dirt, which is what our earth is made of!
Feelings from true forest people of the Forest of Dean that actually venture into the forest regularly is that sightings are very low. You only have to look online and you will notice that there is a massive drop in piglet photographs this year, compared to previous years. People just aren't seeing them!
This is worrying as the Forestry Commission has estimated their numbers at around 600 and I fear that if a cull is implemented, it could once again prove disastrous for this species.
I will not speculate as to why the numbers are low, but I have heard from a few sources that many boar are being baited onto private land where they are legally shot. Baiting them onto the land for this purpose could be seen as illegal though.

As we have new growth in the forest and the boar are finding their natural food, our road verges have recovered, along with the vegetation in the forest and many people are saying that it is the greenest they have seen the forest for years!
Could it be true? Could it be that the boar rooting has irrigated and regenerated the soil, allowing new growth to flourish?
We all know that by digging our gardens it actually helps our plants and vegetables grow, so why not in the forest?

Now for a bit of sarcasm.....
I am "very" disappointed by the lack of commitment by the dirt haters. So our road verges are once again lush and green and the dedicated, committed individuals that scream for the boar's blood every winter have once again gone silent.
To these people: If you are a true campaigner and if you want results, this is not the way to go about it. You must be strong, put your ass on the line and be there every single bloody day of the year. To only fight when things seem to be in your favour, only to sulk away when they are not, is a defeatist attitude.
I will look forward to seeing your dedication, your photographs and your dirt hate letters in the local media soon, to show how the boar has affected our road verges.

Along with a colleague Scott Passmore I featured in a media article recently, representing my other wildlife conservation group UKWBT
It was a double feature, with the forest insight from the Forestry Commission...

Then it was our turn

I must stress that Scott and I do not walk the forest with packs of condoms for the boar. Contraceptives are fed to the boar using specialist feeding stations and we feel that as prevention is always better than the cure, this is the way forward in helping control our boar populations, "if they require control."

Not Such a Common Sight

I will leave you with some images that I have taken since my hard drive gave up the ghost and thank you for taking the time to read.

Sitting Tight

Forest Sunset

Eggs Hatching

36 Hours Old

Had a Busy Day

Stretching Tiny Wings

Exploring the New World

The following are not great photos as I had to crop them, but it was fascinating to watch. Not good for the fish of course!

Gull Dives Under

Comes Up With a Large Fish

Starts to Swallow it

Nearly Down

All Gone!