Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Starling Squad

Many thanks to Jeff Higgott for posting this clip on YouTube – it’s a Central News report from November 1984 on the work of Leicester Polytechnic’s ‘Starling Squad’, which was formed to investigate (and try to get rid of if possible) the huge Starling roost in Leicester’s Abbey Park.

It’s very poignant seeing my old ringing trainer Jim Fowler interviewed here, as sadly he died last month. Strange to think that he was younger than I am now when this was filmed. Also in the clip, pretending to catch roosting Starlings in broad daylight, are Will Peach (holding the net), Jeff (with hair!), Dave ‘Hodders’ Hodson (with head torch.... in daylight) and Richard Seddon. I think I must have got involved with the Starling Squad shortly after this was filmed. This was my first introduction to ringing, and I spent many nights over the next couple of winters with the team in Abbey Park catching and ringing thousands of Starlings. Happy days!

And here’s a scan of my official Starling Squad badge – there can’t be many of these around!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Cull everything!

Watching a piece on Springwatch last night about Magpies v ‘songbirds’ got me thinking....

The argument of the Songbird Survival Trust (as championed by that intellectual leviathan Jeremy Clarkson) goes like this: We like songbirds – they’re pretty. But songbirds are declining. Magpies eat songbirds. Therefore Magpies must be causing the decline of songbirds. Cull Magpies!

Supposing some members of the Songbird Survival Trust tried to extend that logic to other things....

We like butterflies and moths – they’re pretty. But butterflies and moths are declining. Songbirds eat caterpillars. Therefore songbirds must be causing the decline of butterflies and moths. Cull songbirds!

And if we culled songbirds, then the Magpies would have less available prey, so their numbers would drop as well. Brilliant! Oh, hang on a moment – songbird numbers are falling anyway, and yet predators are.... somehow.... increasing.... and butterflies and moths are.... declining as well.


Perhaps we’d better cull everything just to be on the safe side.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

When Bellringers go bad...

From today’s Daily Bollox:

It was once the most mild-mannered of hobbies – but bellringing’s image is being tarnished so much by growing concerns over the bad behaviour of devotees that a “respect” code is now being introduced.

Followers have warned of rising tensions and even outbreaks of violence among bellringers (or “bellers” as many prefer to be known) as they vie for the best ropes to pull.

Traditionalists have become so concerned about damage to the hobby’s reputation that they have drawn up a new code of conduct, published in the belling “bible” Bell Ends, and endorsed by the Royal Society for the Promotion of Bellringing.

The new code calls for Britain’s estimated six hundred bellringers to “respect” others taking part in the hobby, stresses the need to observe “good belfry etiquette” and urges people not to “tug their ropes” too hard. Fights have broken out over limited spaces in bell towers, while there are increasing reports of bellringers interfering with each others clappers in their determination to ring the most bells.

Lee MacAllister, a leading beller who set up the British Belling Association said “many of these newcomers don’t know their Reverse Rounds from their Weasels and just turn up pulling ropes willy-nilly. It’s just got ridiculous.”

He said he personally had been involved in several violent confrontations with other bellers. “I have had lots of serious, physical fights when I have tried to stop people from tugging on my sally while I’m trying to ring Plain Bob Minor. In the last three years the situation has been just awful. The hobby has gone down the pan.”


knobcheese said: these peeple need to get a lief

mememememe said: G.E.T. A. L.I.F.E!!!!!

wanker258 said: they need to get a girlfreind, too much tugging on there bellends lol!!!!!!!

fluffyhead said: leeve them allone they arn’t doing no one any harm!

doltbrain said: i never seen a bellriner on xfactor so it must be crap lol

wanker258 said: well they ovbiously wudnt fancy you flufyhead lol!!!!!!!!

fluffyhead said: and how would u know wanker258 you’re name says it all wanker!!!!!

Imsofunny said: “Weasels”? “Plain Bob Minor”? Sounds like something from Monty Python!

pleaselikeme said: bellringing is just wierd. why don’t these people do something normal like going to football or getting pissed or watching tv?

neverhadanoriginalthoughtinmylife said: I agree!!

goosefat said: I’m naked.

Bellman said: Well at least we aren’t as bad as those bloody birdspotters – I heard they all carry knives these days!

sparklyshoes said: omg i cant beleive people waist there lives like ringing bells! wtf is that all about? sad or what?!?!

fluffyhead said: and what do you do with your life thats so grate sparklyshoes? some people oughtto look at there own life before slagging off others all the time!

wanker258 said: ffs ligten up fluffyhed!!!!!

goosefat said: anyone want to ring my bell?

cumface said: This comment has been removed by a moderator

FFS give it a rest

No doubt this will be commented upon and dissected in detail at great length on Birdforum and elsewhere. I would hope that anyone with a grain of intelligence, whether they know anything about birding or not, will be able to see that it’s largely typical British media sensationalist crap, but I’m going to restrict myself to one comment:

Lee – if you’re genuinely concerned about the image of birding being tarnished, for fuck’s sake next time a journalist rings you up looking for a comment, just politely tell them you’re not interested.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Stop......................Carry On!

Now there's an obscure catchphrase from the past that probably only about 1% of people reading this (if indeed anyone reads it) will remember! Mass appeal? Bollocks, more like.

Anyway, I got fed up with seeing my moribund blog taunting me with its lack of updates since February every time I switched the computer on so rather than leave it sitting there on the remote chance that inspiration might strike, I deleted it. Fortunately Blogger allows you to undelete a blog for up to 90 days, so in a fit of probably misplaced optimism I decided to do just that and carry on.

Since my last post, spring has been and (just about) gone, the highlights for me being Leics & Rutland's long overdue first Glossy Ibis at Rutland Water in early May, and an equally overdue twitchable Hoopoe at South Kilworth last weekend. Not so good was the Savi's Warbler which sang in the Lagoon 3 reedbed on Monday evening, but hasn't been heard since. At least we heard about it this time, unlike all the previous county records.

Never mind, it'll soon be autumn...