And There’s More

It seems summer is reasonably intent on remaining glorious or is the wet summer just waiting for the school holidays?

Most birds are in scruffy mode, adults a bit worn out and in need of a moult and young birds gradually changing in to adult plumage. In the garden, woodpecker year has continued with the arrival of the Greens feeding on the numerous ant nests in the turf.

Thought I had someone with me?

To me, there is something endearing about woodpeckers appearance, they always seem to look rather “too sincere” or , less politely, a little dumb. It might be to do with their rather direct gaze but I love them.

 

There you are!

Over a number of days the spotty young bird was taught and fed about ants nests. As I write the young bird is now flying solo and seems to be making a good job of mining ants.

Surprises round the house has included one inside when I noticed a gem like wasp trapped on the inside of the window above my desk! Though I have seen these wonders in the garden they are usually so active, bordering on frenetic, that they are impossible to photo. As you can probably deduce being caught inside allowed photos whilst covered by a glass.

Ruby Tailed wasp

Even the photos I have don’t really do justice to the amazing colours. Beauty can’t disguise behaviour as they are parasites on other insect species, this one I think on solitary bees which nest in my brickwork. Tiny but definitely a designer insect for everybody!

The flower meadows on Broad Street have moved in to a further glory with mass Knapweed attracting hundreds of Marbled White butterflies.

Butterfly heaven.

There are definitely losers amongst the natural world as the UK experiences climate change but there are also the occasional winners. Marbled Whites used to be an uncommon species, a special sight when I was young, but this year numbers really are exceptional.

Enjoying the blooms.

Broadstreet has provided surprise after surprise. Round the corner from the meadows is a woodland glade that has been managed “by accident” as it follows the line of some electricity pylons and stretches of path. The first time I have walked down this path, ridiculous as this sounds after 25 years of living locally, to immediately encounter a sunbathing White Admiral butterfly.

 

My wife was thrilled and Francis was well chuffed on subsequent visits to see not just the White Admirals but the orange glories that are Silver washed Fritillary’s.

In fact we have now seen 14 species of butterfly which for a local patch is really wonderful. patience and  a bit of sun really pays off but do remember there are losers in the fallout from climate change. Just for 1, ask yourself when you last saw a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly?

Surprises haven’t just come butterfly shaped or flower shaped. met an old friend Brian whilst walking round the meadows and he showed me an unusual tree in the adjacent woods.

Wild Service Tree

Thanks Brian! Hope to write a little piece about this “stranger” in the woods so I’ll leave it here for now.

Have a Close Look

A couple of weeks ago I was looking at bees in the reserve and one caught my eye. I instantly knew it was a species I was unfamiliar was and after a little research and help it was identified as a Tree Bumblebee. I was pleased as it was a new species to me and helped to add more information in my quest to learn about bee identification and their habits and requirements. They are very handsome bees with a unique colour formation amongst the UKs Bumblebees. They have a very gingery fury thorax and its very eye-catching and was the feature that drew my attention to it originally. So far, my observations have all been made of individuals feeding on flowers in the reserve and I have seen them seen them feeding on 7 different flowers so far.

I did some reading up after seeing them on my reserve and discovered a lot of interesting facts about this species.

This attractive Bumblebee has only been recorded in the UK from 2001 when there were first sightings were at a Wiltshire site. Since its arrival it has done something that most other UK bee species are not doing, increasing and spreading rapidly, and is already in southern Scotland and Ireland. It doesn’t seem to be slowing down much in spreading and will probably be seen throughout the UK within a couple of years. I had least 3 feeding the other day out the back on the reserve.
The effects of this species have yet to be studied properly but a positive effect can be seen already with the fact that they will pollinate other plants and flowers. With the drop-in numbers of other bee species, additional plant pollinators are to be welcomed.

Their name comes from their original choice of nest site but now it seems that nest sites can include; bird nest boxes, loft space in houses and even specially built bee nest boxes. They have also been known to use holes in the ground like many of the other bumblebees and this shows that they are an adaptable and opportunistic species. In other parts of their range populations can reach the arctic circle. From the looks of things, and with the continued warming of the climate, it looks like Tree Bumblebees will keep spreading. I’m quite glad as I think they are an attractive and helpful specie to have around in the UK. We shall see what long term affect their presence will have on our countryside.

Keep your eyes open in your gardens and you may well have some around you.

Babies and Blooms

Sadly I have the kind of mind that readily gets distracted by the politics of life, but over the last few weeks, following a series of family dramas, pleasure and peace has been found in the living world which surrounds all of us. Rather than write a logical and sequential piece about walks and wildlife, thought I would simply share a rather random number of thoughts, experiences and encounters. Late May and early June is the time for young birds and hopefully a display of natures fecundity.

Couple of weeks ago my wife, good friend Jo and myself repeated a walk, in reverse (always a good idea, looks and feels rather different) starting at Cutmill.

Cutmill Grebe

Woods a little quieter as many birds are now in the midst of breeding and spending less time on singing but the lake busy with breeding birds. There were already a couple of family groups of mallards with very small ducklings and interestingly there were 2 pairs of Tufted ducks.

Mallard family by Steve Duffy

Though the Bluebells were over, and much of the hedgerow blossom, the Surrey countryside feels rich and burgeoning at this time of year.

Near Shackleford

There is such simple joy in encountering  and observing the living world so don’t walk with me or my ilk if you want to get anywhere quick! Though I am impressed at those who use walking as serious exercise or as a means to get some where I am always going to want to stop and stare. A long walk with me means time , not distance!

Our garden, like many others, is full of young birds and very harassed parents. Poor weather has meant fat balls and sunflower seeds are disappearing at an incredible rate! Both feeders are designed to restrict the size of the feeding birds (Jackdaws are capable of emptying normal fat ball feeder in under an hour!) and I am amazed at just how many birds you can squeeze in to a cage feeder with the record so far being 12 tits! As usual our tits, Great and Blue , have apparently done well but the entertaining surprise this year has been a Great Spotted Woodpecker family that successfully bred in a very neat hole made in an old apple tree. One of the young birds has remained in the garden and still continues to be fed by mum, whilst generally lounging about.

Waiting in the sun for food

If birds have character……..

What to do when bored

Persistently lazy and incredibly persistent in calling for mum, who has cleverly figured out how to access the fat balls (upside down from underneath!), this young bird even survived a collision with our back door.

My head hurts!

Yes, that is our door mat.

Pleasingly both the House Sparrows and Green Finches have returned to the garden as breeders but no Starlings or Song Thrushes this year. It’s also now the second year without a cuckoo around which coincides with a lack of Whitethroats in our hedgerows. Might be a link but declines of species are as a  result of complex factors and rarely a single pressure. It is clear that, locally, there is a shocking lack of Swallows, Martins and Swifts.

To repeat myself, larger birds doing well often disguise the underlying trend, downwards.

 

Little Egret in Chobham stream

It is however a real thrill to sit outside our back door and watch a Red kite spiral to the ground and pick up food scraps!

Red kite by Steve Duffy

Whatever the reason it does seem that this year and its weather has proved to be great for triggering flowers whether its on hedges with fantastic blackthorn and hawthorn or wonderful Cowslips and meadow flowers.

Our usual visit to the Hogs back illustrated this “bloom” year with unexpected and rather large Bee Orchids.

To further surprise me (or so it felt!) I then glimpsed some purple in a roadside verge on our return journey which the following day proved to be dozens of Pyramidal orchids.

In close up….

I suspect this verge has by chance been missed off a mowing schedule as the verges along the Hogs back have been cut, leaving a couple of similar orchids in the long grass away from the road. So unexpected were these glories that I submitted a record to find that they had not been recorded before!

Some flowers are much less obvious but on closer inspection just as beautiful. Nearby Broad Street common is clearly going to outstanding for grassland flowers and hence, if the weather gets better has huge potential for butterflies.

On a recent stroll I was surprised at the number of a little often missed vetch

Flashes of fuschia pink

On closer inspection…

Grass Vetchling

More flowers more butterflies

My first Common Blue this year

And more moths…

Forester Moths

In between the showers do get out and look, you will find little gems like these.

 

So Far

A year ago
A wall of scrub

 

This morning I was looking at the reserve and assessing the work that I need to do. I noted that there was a total of 15 flowering species out and thought t to myself that none of these species were growing here a year ago. I then remembered the date and realised that it was exactly a year to the day that I started working on the site and it seems a good time to chart the progress of impact my work on the local wildlife.

Today
Room for flowers and beasties

The aforementioned flowering plants have not only bought colour to the site but have attracted a host of insects to the area. A total of 9 bee species have been recorded at the site so far and in the last week I have noted various species feeding on the flowers that I had planted in last 12 months. Bees were one of the many reasons for creating this site and it has pleased me to see the variety of species present. Hopefully even more species will be seen with further habitat improvements.

Buff Tailed Bumble

Being quite an obvious group of insects, they are quite easily seen and one of my neighbours recently said that he had never seen so many bees in the area as he had in last year. This is the kind of thing I wanted to create and for my neighbour to say this recently means that my habitat improvement is working in a relatively small space of time.

White Tailed Bumble

It is a basic understanding that flowers will attract insects and insects will attract more insects which in turn will provide food for larger life forms such as birds.

Loved up Craneflies

Again, birdlife has become more obvious since the clearance and replanting began. The clearance of the woodland area has created some space and even though I haven’t had my bird feeders going for a few weeks now there are regular visitors to the cleared area including Jay, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush occasionally and the local Stock Dove dropped in early one morning recently. There are the regular common species ever present and I have a pair of Wrens in the pile of brash that have been feeding young but sadly the local Robins chicks were killed by cats. Its hardcore out there.
In the management of woodlands, the areas with most biodiversity are the woodland edges and although it is very early days in improving the woodland area there are signs that the local wildlife is reacting and benefitting from the changes I have made. Over the course of next winter more work shall be undertaken to try to improve the area. Birds are similar to bees in the fact that some species are very obvious and again this has been noted by my neighbours and I’m having regular conversations with them about the birds that they have seen out there. As I said earlier when my neighbours are remarking on the wildlife, I know that the big plan is coming together.
As I reflect over the progress over the last year I am starting to put together species list of the different wildlife families that I have seen in and around where I live and its starting to look quite impressive with 47 Macro moths, 11 butterflies, 53 birds, 7 mammals, 3 Hoverflies

Marmalade Hoverfly

and the aforementioned 9 bee species. To me this is just the beginning and I again have a feeling of hope for the well-being of our environment in the future when I looked at what I have achieved over the last year. Now all we need to do is start serious habitat creation on a much larger scale and is a government responsibility. I wonder how much they have been listening in recent months. Us everyday people can start the small-scale change in our gardens, if you have one, as I have been doing. My project is on-going and I still have many hours of work ahead of me but if the improvements in the wildlife keep occurring I’m more than happy to carry on and we shall see what the next year brings.

Progress

Today I realised that I hadn’t I hadn’t reported on the new reserve for a number of weeks now and I also realised many changes had occurred since I had last written about it, that I’m not sure where to start this piece but will go with the important and traditional word about the weather.
So, I’ve reported about how warm the winter was and saw some of the plants in the reserve staying green throughout the cold season. So, the cold weather that moved over the country from mid-April into early May then proceeded to slow down plant growth and many of the seedlings I had planted struggled to grow. These particularly cold night really held back the growth and was only relieved about a week ago with the arrival of some warmer conditions. The reaction of the warmth was the kick started the plants and many species put on rapid growth and some came into flower to join the already flowering Green Alkanet and Common Forget Me Knot. I was encouraged to see plants that I had sown or planted coming into flower for the first time.

Ragged Robin

These new flowers included ones that I had bought as plugs and ones I had grown from seed and I as write this there is the beginnings of an array of colour with Cut Leaved Cranesbill, Ragged Robin, Birds Foot Trefoil, Charlock, Red Valerian, Germander Speedwell and the first Common/Black Knapweed all coming into flower in the 10 days. It was not only the new flowers that were growing but a whole host of unwanted plants, commonly called weeds, we’re proliferating in places and I have spent a good few hours trying stop their invasion and will have to keep doing so in order to give the new flowers a chance to establish themselves.

Birds Foot Trefoil

 

Cut Leaved Cranesbill

In the second week in April whilst talking with my neighbour I discovered that the boundary of the garden/reserve expended into the woodland on the bank behind the flats. This news sent me into a lot of thought about how this area could be connected with the area that I had already started trying to manage for wildlife. The woodland is a mix of broadleaved trees with everything from Pedunculate Oak, Hornbeam and Sweet Chestnut to the more common Sycamore and Ash. These last two species were shading large areas of the new reserve and gardens bordering it. After a couple walks in the woods I found a few old Hazel coppice stools that had been abandoned and grown leggy and old Hawthorn that had been chopped down every few years and done the same. I decided that removing some of the Sycamore and Ash would help some ground flora grow and I could try to create a small area of Hazel coppice that would give the wood land in general more biodiversity. The aforementioned cold weather had held the plant growth up and I felt there was enough time to take some of the trees down and I borrowed an electric chainsaw and spent a few hours taking the shade offenders down. When I took the Ash trees down I discovered that they had the Ash dieback disease Chalara and were destined to die before I felled them. I had better say that I have been trained in the use of chainsaws and looked at health and safety before under taking the work. I only did a few hours work because the leaves started to appear and there were Blackcap and Chiffchaff using the area and I didn’t want to scare them away. They do still seem to be holding territory in the area and the male Blackcap even sat on the pile of brash I had piled up and sang the other day. The woodland work has been started and will start again in the autumn once the birds have stopped nesting and the plants have died back. Exciting times ahead.

Charlock

Other wildlife sightings have also been encouraging and hopefully are showing the improvements in the local habitat. I was up early one morning and observed a pair of Jay’s feeding for 15 minutes on a whole host of food from animal to vegetable. The Jays were joined for a little while a Song Thrush who was then chased of by a male Blackbird whilst a Mistle Thrush sang in the woods behind. There have been quite a few Bullfinch sightings and I’m fairly sure they are breeding in some bramble scrub on the edge of the woods…

White tailed bumblebee

There have been a couple of interesting insects seen with a Grey-Patched Mining Bee seen on a dandelion on April 25th and a Lesser Stag Beetle on the May 21st.

Lesser Stag Beetle

Up to 5 White Tailed Bumblebees have been seen on a number of days using the few available flowers that were present and I’m hoping that with the emergence of more flowers they will in turn attract more insects to the area. We shall see what happens.

Hope to Reality

The state of our planet is very big in news at this point in time and the potential extinction of many species is also being widely discussed. This is starting to happen already and I have watched many species here in the UK decline during my lifetime and still declining wildlife has to struggle or cling on to survival.
This last point hit me hard four years ago when I paid a visit to little site I knew that contained Nightingales. Now Nightingale are a migratory species that arrive in the UK in mid to late April and the male birds sing their famed song to attract a mate. They were always on the edge of their European range here in the UK but numbers have been falling mainly due to lack of decent habitat for them. So, every site that is being used is a precious site for this species. On that May afternoon four years ago, I arrived at the site to find that the whole area where the birds had been singing had been cut to the ground and there were no birds present. I was pretty angry to say the least.

I visited the site in the following years and there were no birds present. Some of the cut down vegetation had started to regrow and a couple of years ago I wondered whether the Nightingale would possibly return because of improvements in the habitat. And so, to last Monday when I found myself back in this place and whilst 6I was looking around the unmistakable song of a Nightingale erupted from a scrubby area. I was delighted and very quickly made some notes of what the bird was doing and where it was singing. After 20 minutes I moved off and was left with a few questions in my head. Where the bird had been singing was an area where I had never recorded them before. I had seen them close to this area in previous years but not in the corner where I had refound them that day. This area had been scrubbing up with Brambles and Blackthorn over the last few years and these two species are known to be favourable to nesting Nightingale. I’m hoping this is a breeding pair and they will stay and breed successfully. We shall see.
This episode reiterated the point that if suitable habitats is present it will be used by wildlife, common and rare alike.
Many species that have undergone population declines in recent times could be helped with a few comparatively simple measures and this example of the Nightingale shows this well with good habitat availability being available.
I am old enough to remember the times where many species were far commoner than they are today and I know that nature has the capability to recover if given the chance and opportunity. This can only happen if land management and wildlife laws are radically changed. We shall see if the new political pressure makes any improvements so we can still hear the incredible song of birds like Nightingales in years to come

Free Therapy and Heaths

Most people now accept the powerful positive effects on the human spirit, and body, of enjoying the countryside. For me personally I cannot imagine a life without daily contact with the green environment and recent events have brought in to sharp focus its calming effect on both my mind and body.

In the company of good friends I recently returned to two famous heaths, one of which I know intimately, Chobham Common, and the other, the Devils Punchbowl at Hindhead, less so despite the familiarity of having driven round it for decades. The contrasts between the two sites is worth noting both as to the differences in consequences of different owners and the level and type of public usage.

Most access to the Devils Punchbowl is via the owners, National Trust, car park for dog walkers and site seers whilst there seem to be many mountain bikers taking advantage of some well way marked trails. Unless you are a NT member there is a charge at the car park but this is a long established “destination” car park with a rather good cafe, loos, and the facility to do some fun crafts with kids and interpretation with the adults. Yes it was sunny, the car park was packed! In other words visitors know they are getting something more than “just countryside” for their money unlike visitors at Chobham Common who are largely regulars and not getting anything new or extra for the car parking charges imposed. Not surprisingly many visitors to Chobham Common are now using any alternative parking that is available free!

My brief rant for the day!

Back to therapy. Though I had driven round the Punchbowl many times on the old A3, and drunk many a cuppa at the cafe, I have never wandered much of the site other than close to said cafe. I have a vague recollection of helping with some work with the NT wardens but that was probably over 20 years ago. Always intended to have a look but probably wimped out at the thought of having to climb back up if I went down!

Our friends however guided us up the easy path up Gibbet Hill where the views are just glorious.

Recently cleared view

On the way up you pass a commemorative stone which if you don’t know the story I won’t spoil it by explaining too much, go and discover it yourself!

Sailors Stone

The views from this path are great all the way to the top

but really I should have paid more attention to the pony grazing on the heath to the other side of the path. Though many may still have some reservations about grazing heathlands that are open to the public, most issues can be minimised by using what appears to be a common sense approach. On the NT site it seems that the grazing animals have been excluded from the area of most public use, the path up Gibbet Hill and the path along the route of the old A3. Have to say that the fencing is for the large part well sited and now largely invisible behind gorse and scrub. If I was to get all professionally picky I would probably prefer a little more scrub removal from the Punchbowl but heathland management is often a subjective thing and maybe the site managers have a different vision!

If you have never been to the Devils Punchbowl but you have driven through the A3 tunnel, you really should make the time.

View down to the old A3

The old A3 followed the curve of the Punchbowl and was locally famous for the dramatic view (and for interminable traffic jams exacerbated by the traffic lights just round the bend). The opportunity to erase the road after construction of the tunnel was taken and to be honest its now almost impossible to imagine that a major trunk road has been replaced by a sandy path.

No more traffic jams….

The whole place feels well managed with good sign posting and paths in generally good condition. I am not aware of staffing and funding levels for the place but I would be surprised if the cafe and parking charges make up more than a small part of the running costs of the whole site. More likely is that Agri Environment scheme grants combined with National Trust membership fees core fund the Hindhead Common complex, all of which is in stark contrast to the situation at Chobham Common.

Visiting my old haunt, with another friend a couple of days after the Punchbowl, it is clear that the continued Surrey County Council cuts to the grant made to Surrey Wildlife Trust and the long term reduction in site based staff is now clearly beginning to manifest itself as an appearance of neglect.

It is simply not possible to reduce a countywide workforce of 32 to 12 over 20 years without there being severe consequences. The subtlety of some of these consequences does not mean they are unimportant.

Heathlands have always been prone to both wildfires and acts of deliberate arson but with the lack of site based staff with detailed site knowledge (and some equipment) the risks of more frequent and more damaging fires has greatly increased.

One of this years wildfires

Fire has often been used on heathland for centuries as a management tool, particularly to encourage a flush of grass for grazing animals, BUT was always during the autumn or winter when conditions were more favourable. Happily this approach fitted in with the needs of wildlife unlike spring wildfires that can be devastating for newly emerged reptiles and small mammals.

As always there is an opportunist in the natural world and the fires on Chobham Common appear to have encouraged Woodlarks to breed in much better numbers than previously. We saw several Woodlarks including young birds.

Woodlark

Snatches of song form tree tops and some odd contact calls (which were new to me) were frequently heard and I suspect the high altitude ethereal song will have to wait till early next year when their cycle starts again.

Chobham Common is still a beautiful and wondrous place with regulars like

Female Stonechat

and increasingly rare

Distant Tree Pipit

Dartford Warblers are frankly all over the place! And difficult to catch with a small compact camera!

More unusual plants can be found if you know where to look

Petty Whin

And insect life is beginning to crank up! Always something new.

Black Headed Cardinal Beetle

Heaths and therapy, yes it works for me.

 

 

To Build or not to Build

Much has been written concerning the proposed development of Blackwell farm to the west of the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford and I am not well informed enough to speak with authority on its merits or with outrage at its failings.

Last week I did however walk over the land adjoining the proposed site and was frankly rather surprised at what we found (I was with a mate). My intention was to check on the status of 2 rather rare Surrey visitors previously found on a forgotten piece of land near Wood Street Village, Nightingales and Turtle doves. Sadly no burst of song from the scrub or quiet purring from the trees or hedges. I will be repeating the visit next week much earlier in the day as though I expect to be disappointed again the habitat still looks and “feels” right and there is always hope that an odd pair of these 2 threatened species will have returned.

We did hear and glimpse lots of regulars, tits, Nuthatches, Blackcaps but the surprise came on leaving the scrub behind and crossing in to the the farmland that then runs along the southern face of the Hogs Back.

Hedgerows

Well not so much the hedgerows! But what was singing at intervals along the hedges, Yellowhammers, quite  a few for a birder like me who has worked on heaths for years where they are now largely absent. A further surprise were singing Skylarks. I cannot tell you how bittersweet it is to experience the joy of encountering both these 2 birds when they used to be such a normal part of my environment (up to about 20 years ago). The habitat needs of both these species are thought to be well understood but the complexity of their needs is certainly not going to be served by greatly increasing the numbers of local human residents and their accompanying dogs.

Ok, I know the following photo isn’t great but its the best I could do with a compact!

“Could do better” pic of a Yellowhammer!

The fields, paths and small pockets of woodland were also dotted with some magnificent trees including some casualties that have been ignored, hooray!

Fungi and wind victim

Always amazing to me that fungi, so incredibly important, can help fell such strength.

Source of the vulnerability

Take wood and add the wrong/right fungi equals paper like rot.

Precursor to a collapse

Some of the standing landscape sentinels are just awe inspiring

In it’s prime

Some years behind its declining neighbour

You can think of Oak trees like these as almost a whole world on their own. Problem is the rest of the world intrudes on their health, air quality and soil compaction from machinery can be catastrophic.

Yes it was the middle of the week but there really is little sign the paths are heavily walked or ridden. The impact on this wonderful area, with fantastic potential for wildlife, of large-scale adjacent residential development is difficult to underestimate. The farmed landscape is broken up not just by hedges but by copses of trees like Wildfield Copse and the traces of an older planned landscape.

Old planted beech avenue?

Anybody who isn’t filled with wonder at spring colours needs to have a word with themselves! Get out there and breathe deep.

As we walked past a copse a final surprise amongst the Bluebells

Early Purple Orchids

Uncertain future yes but what is certain is that if people don’t get out in their local environment then they won’t know what’s threatened till it’s too late.

A Not so Gentle Reminder

Spring and Easter were rudely interrupted for me by a probable mini stroke and assorted family dramas that left me with a temporary loss of desire to write about the joys of life.

Have to say that a reminder of ones own mortality soon led to two thoughts.  Firstly, get on with your life and enjoying every moment that you have. Secondly, and for all it’s present woes, it really is a beautiful world.

As an expression of all that it could be summed up in happenings at home. During the last couple of days; my wife witnessed last years twin Roebucks play fighting on the back lawn like a couple of teenagers just released from mum’s apron strings, this years Roe deer babes have arrived and a Red Kite has now joined assorted crows, magpies and “our” young male fox (truly glorious he is) in the argument over any meat scraps we put out!

One of last years twins before growing up!

 

Yes I know some will cry foul over the feeding of meat to a fox or other predators in a garden but to honest I don’t care! The privilege of seeing wildlife close up is such a thrill, a glorious joy! And it’s probably the high point of my elderly mothers day which is reason enough.

More time in the garden and the planting of some new wildflowers also had a speedy insect response.

Female Orange Tip homing in on newly planted Cuckoo Flower.

 

 

At Last?

Last week apparently saw a monumental decision by the British government, to finally address the massive world issues of climate change and loss of species and habitats across the world. For those of us with half a brain; we know that the world is getting hotter.

When this news appeared a few nights ago I have to admit, I felt shocked. Are politicians finally starting to see the bigger picture about the condition our planet is currently in and how it will worsen for future generations if we continue to live in certain ways. I am encouraged to see this happening, I’ve hoped that this kind of ruling would come into place for most of my life.

For those of us with our eyes and ears open, and particularly those over 40, the decline of the UKs wildlife is obvious. Some of the issues written about by myself and Steve over the last year have touched on some of the issues that have lead to the reduction in numbers of many of our once common wildlife.

There seems to be an awakening in the younger generations about the state of the planet and this to me is vital if we are going to try and halt the decimation of the natural world. I have been encouraged to see the school strikes and the words of sixteen year old Greta Thunberg demanding changes in the way governments protect our (or don’t protect, which often more the case) planet. The youth have got to do something now and as I said it is good to see the youngsters speaking out about their future lives. I have also been encouraged to see that it’s a whole range of different people that have speaking out to demand change with the Extinction Rebellion illustrating the urgency.

The optimism I have felt in recent days is also a feeling of hope. I have for the first time in my life talked to the general public about the state of our planet and where are all the sparrows gone. The facts are out there for all people to find out and these are facts that have come from top scientists and experts in their field. It is now the turn of the governments to actually take proper notice and act fast. I will be honest and feel that the greed and power culture that we are currently living in will prevail with this government and probably in the following one. With the media and political parties currently quite aware for once about the crisis our planet is living in. I know I’ve said this before to you but now is a great time to email your local MP and express your concerns for our environment and its dwindling wildlife. MPs aren’t that keen on losing voters you know. Pressure has got to be put on government from as many ordinary people like you and me if essential changes are to be made