Friday, 29 August 2014

This week's blogs roundup - Woodcock, Conference, Mink, Poisonous Flowers, Thistle

It's been a busy week for blogging at the GWCT, check out this week's posts here:

Conservation is not always white and fluffy, sometimes tough decisions have to be made (GWCT News)

6 reasons to attend the GWCT Members' Conference (GWCT News)

Sponsor a woodcock for just £3 a month (Woodcock Watch)

Don't frighten children away from the countryside, educate them (GWCT News)

Latest Woodcock Watch updates (Woodcock Watch)

Thistles and plumage! (Peter Thompson's Blog)

Miner enquiry ends up in Australia (Peter Thompson's Blog)

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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Conservation is not always white and fluffy, sometimes tough decisions have to be made

Below is a letter written by Dr Jonathan Reynolds in response to The Guardian's recent article on water voles returning to Cornwall.

Dear Sir

It is wonderful to hear that water voles have been reintroduced to Cornwall.  Your article was correct in highlighting the necessity of simultaneously controlling American mink – an introduced species which over several decades has eaten its way through our native water vole population.

Mink control became a realistic option for conservationists following our invention of the GWCT Mink Raft, which first detects and then traps the mink, leading to very effective and humane control of mink numbers.  Through careful research, we showed that this device allows us to turn the clock back, allowing water voles to be re-introduced where they had been lost.  The mink raft now underpins mink control schemes ranging from local to large scale, both in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

Perhaps one day there will be sufficient will to eradicate mink throughout Britain.  For the foreseeable future, it is crucial to maintain mink control effort wherever possible, otherwise both existing and newly reintroduced populations of water voles will be lost.  Predator control is unpalatable to many, but this is the only way to prevent the ultimate extinction of our native ‘Ratty’.  Conservation is not always white and fluffy: sometimes tough decisions have to be made to save the native species that we hold most dear.

Dr Jonathan Reynolds
Head of Predation Control Studies
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

6 reasons to attend the 2014 GWCT Members' Conference

This year's GWCT Members' Conference, entitled 'Raising our Game in a challenging world', is taking place on Wednesday 29th October at the Royal Geographical Society in London and we would love to see you there.

Rather than bore you with a series of presentations and slides we're looking to make the conference as interactive as possible and are encouraging questions from the floor throughout the day.

There are only 150 places available so you are advised to book early.

6 reasons to attend the conference

1. Listen to great guest speakers including RSPB Chief Executive Mike Clarke who'll be talking about the conservation value of shooting and Sir John Randall MP who'll be highlighting the importance of GWCT-published research being made widely available.

2. Discover how GWCT research continues to have a major say in how our countryside is managed.

3. Quiz our team of scientists on our current research programme.

4. Learn how our important work shapes policy from Westminster to Edinburgh.

5. Have your say throughout the day by asking questions during the conference.

6. Take the optional private tour of the Royal Geographical Society Collections – “Icons of Exploration: material relating to Livingstone, Stanley, Shackleton and Scott” before the conference begins.

Limited availability

Places are limited to just 150 so you are advised to book your place online now.

Event details

Location: Ondaatje Theatre, Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR (Entrance: Exhibition Road Doors)

Date: 29 October 2014
Time: 10:00am to 4:00pm
Price: £40.00 (members), £60 (non-members), £10 (optional tour)
Telephone: 01425 651010

Book your place online now >

Don't frighten children away from the countryside, educate them

A corncockle flower (SWNS)
Below is a letter written by Peter Thompson in response to The Telegraph's recent article on poisonous wild flowers being found among seed packets promoted by the BBC's Countryfile programme.

Dear Sir

It is deeply disappointing to read the negative coverage being given to the BBC for its efforts to  spread some colourful ‘wildness’ back into our rather bland countryside and parks (Project promoted by BBC spreads poisonous wild flowers across Britain).  The whole point of this exercise is to supply pollen and nectar for our declining pollinators, especially bumblebees as well as encouraging the regrowth of some of our more vulnerable wild arable flowers.

Children should be taught from an early age that there are many things growing in our towns and countryside that would be harmful.  Foxgloves, daffodils, bluebells and even the amaryllis you were given for Christmas might be unwise to ingest.

Rather than frightening children away from exploring the countryside, we should be introducing them and educating them as to the delights of all things ‘wild’ that grow around them.

Peter Thompson
Farmland Biodiversity Advisor
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

Friday, 22 August 2014

This week's GWCT blog posts - Advisory Courses, Midland Game Fair, Fluellens, Musto Jacket

The latest blog posts from across the GWCT:

GWCT at the Midland Game Fair - 20th & 21st September

Musto jacket wins 'Best New Clothing Product' award

GWCT Advisory team preparing to lead invaluable courses

Fluellens at your feet!

How your membership helps

Our team of dedicated scientists couldn't conduct their vital, ground-breaking research without the support of our members. Find out some of the ways in which income from membership is spent here.

GWCT at the Midland Game Fair - 20th & 21st September

The midland game fair at Weston Park, Shropshire is the last big show of the year, so whilst you’re grabbing a bargain come and see us. Our stand is bigger this year and we have some exciting attractions for you to come and see. We're at stand No. A 122 on Gunmaker’s Row.

Our advisory department will have a snaring demonstration showing good and bad practice – why not show off your knowledge and see if you can spot the difference. We will have prizes available. Game & Wildlife Advisor Austin Weldon will be available on the Saturday to help you with shoot and wildlife management questions.

Dave Butler, owner of Perdix Wildlife Supplies will be showcasing his wildlife management products. You can talk to him about feeders, security cameras and his range of traps amongst lots of other stuff.

Dawn Warr, taxidermist and artist will be exhibiting her work. This is a great opportunity to talk to Dawn and see her wonderful pet portraits.

Steve Richardson and David Thurgood will be on-hand to talk to you about the work of the Trust and the benefits you gain from joining if you haven’t already done so. You will also have a chance to sample the new William Chase sloe gin which we issue to GWCT shoot sweep donors.

Get your FREE Gamewise magazine

If you're coming to the Midland Game Fair visit our stand and pick up your FREE copy of Gamewise - our glossy members' magazine.

Click here to get your FREE magazine >

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Musto jacket wins 'Best New Clothing Product' award

Musto's new Fenland waterproof packaway jacket has won the Best New Clothing Product award at the 2014 Shooting Industry Awards.

We started stocking the jacket in our online shop during April and have sold out several times over. The jacket comes embroidered with our logo on the left breast and is available in a range of sizes.

Why the Fenland Packaway Jacket won the award

The Fenland is waterproof, breathable and exceptionally light and versatile.

There's no compromise on performance, despite its small pack size. Whatever your country activity, this jacket is designed for warm wet summers in the shooting season and when light performance clothing is essential. Great value at £175.

Click here to order your award-winning jacket >

Friday, 15 August 2014

This week's GWCT blogs - Grouse Moors, Big Farmland Bird Count, Woodcock, Tuscany

Check out the blog posts published across the GWCT this week:

GWCT letter to The Times on grouse moor management (GWCT News)

Four woodcock have now passed the 4,000km mark (Woodcock Watch Blog)

A day in a Tuscan valley (Peter Thompson's Blog)

Gearing up for the 2015 Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC Blog)

Hen Harrier Joint Recovery Plan petition

The petition calling on Defra to publish the Hen Harrier Joint Recovery Plan has over 7,100 signatures as of Friday morning.

Please sign the petition and help us get to 10,000 signatures as quickly as possible - Defra have to supply a written response at 10,000.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

GWCT letter to The Times on grouse moor management

The following letter by GWCT Chief Executive Teresa Dent was sent to The Times following Matt Ridley's recent piece 'Gamekeepers are one of nature's best friends':

Dear Sir

Matt Ridley highlighted the contribution grouse moors make to the conservation of upland waders, and refers to a 9 year study we carried out between 2000 and 2008 (Comment, 11th August). We studied curlew, golden plover and lapwing, and showed that predation control as normally undertaken by grouse keepers improved the breeding success of these scarce breeding birds by an average of three and a half times. This matters, and as the RSPB recently highlighted “the curlew is Britain’s largest wading bird and is in trouble. The consensus is that low breeding success principally from predation of eggs and chicks …is driving declines”. From an international perspective curlew is our highest conservation priority bird species. 

The north Pennines SPA (Special Protection Area) is designated for 3,930 pairs of curlew and within its boundaries are 40 grouse moors employing 115 game keepers. When the SPA was surveyed between 2005 and 2007 curlew numbers were at 5,454 pairs – better than the designation.

The RSPB is right to call for more breeding hen harriers in the English uplands, but let’s make sure that is not at the expense of grouse moor management, or the loser could well be our ‘highest conservation priority bird species’. Our experimental study found that areas of the north Pennines with no predator control would lose curlew at a rate 17% per annum, equivalent to 84% over 10 years. 

The Hen Harrier Joint Recovery Programme is designed to create the balance that achieves more harriers, but not at the expense of other species, or the very management that creates the conditions under which they thrive. We are keen for Defra to publish its Plan  - in getting it this far, Defra has succeeded in significantly moving forward resolution of the very genuine wildlife conflict which Matt Ridley spelled out – whether his article was as evocative as the call of the curlew I shall leave others to judge.

Teresa Dent
Chief Executive
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

Friday, 8 August 2014

Thursday, 7 August 2014

GWCT's Alastair Leake in new Kelloggs video

Phil Jarvis isn't the only small-screen star we have here in the ranks at the GWCT. Our Director of Policy at the Allerton Project Dr. Alastair Leake has also been getting in on the act.

In this short video produced by popular Irish parenting website MummyPages, Alastair discusses the benefits of the Kelloggs Origins project and the importance of providing soil with as many natural nutrients as possible in order to aid crop health.

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Since the Allerton Project started in 1992, agricultural objectives have shifted toward combining the need for food security with environmental objectives. The project has played a key role in influencing this policy through its own farm business and research.
By making a small donation you'll enable our experts to continue their groundbreaking work.

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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Leading raptor scientist believes hen harrier brood management could provide success

by Andrew Gilruth

Dr Arjun Amar published his own thoughts on how we recover the English hen harrier population today. His views, published here on the British Ornithologists’ Union website, are significant for two reasons. Firstly, as a raptor research scientist, he has worked for both the GWCT and the RSPB so he is very familiar with the issues. Secondly, he is now a lecturer in South Africa (Percy FitzPatrick institute) so he could be seen, by all, as neutral.

As Arjun mentions, he has “been involved in trying to find a resolution to this conflict for the last 15 years” - so I was fascinated by the 3 options he chose to highlight:

1) Ban driven grouse shooting
2) Licensing grouse shooting
3) Brood management scheme

He feels that “any one of these approaches could well work to provide a conservation success (i.e. more harriers) at least in the short term.”

So there we have it. With the English hen harrier population requiring immediate action; it would appear to make sense to implement the only approach that is ready right now – brood management.

The draft Defra-led Joint Recovery Plan for hen harriers includes a trial brood management scheme. With your help that could be in place for the next breeding season.

If you would like to read a copy of the Defra plan, including the brood management trial, sign this petition – it simply asks the hen harrier recovery plan to be published.

Sign the petition asking Defra to publish the Joint Recovery Plan >

Friday, 1 August 2014

This week's blogs - Hen Harriers, Salmon, Butterflies, Blue Pimpernel

Take a look at this week's blog posts from across the GWCT:

The GWCT congratulates Mark Avery (GWCT News)

When blue can in fact be scarlet (Peter Thompson's Blog)

How we can save Hen Harriers by Ian Coghill, GWCT Chairman (GWCT News)

Working towards a standard salmon stock monitoring programme (GWCT Fisheries)

Butterflies and London Wasps (Peter Thompson's Blog)

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The GWCT congratulates Mark Avery

Chris Packham said recently that Mark Avery’s petition to ban driven grouse shooting in England “is designed to be provocative”. As of last night, having now achieved ten thousand signatures, he is guaranteed a written response from Defra. That is quite an achievement.

© Laurie Campbell
The GWCT did not support this e-petition for reasons given here – but thanks to the help of all the people who did want to be “provocative”, Defra must now put pen to paper. Thank you for that. Birders Against Wildlife Crime (BAWC), who are the original organisers of Hen Harrier Day, have managed to galvanise a real focus on hen harriers this year. BAWC kindly interviewed the GWCT here. Congratulations to all at BAWC for helping raise the profile of hen harriers.
The burning question is how will Defra choose to respond on hen harriers? We have talked before about the Defra-led Hen Harrier Joint Recovery Plan and when this may be published. The delay would appear to stem from one of the partners that drafted the original recovery plan. It is hoped this single concern, now raised by the RSPB, can be swiftly resolved because it relates to a conservation technique successfully used in France and Spain for years – so the evidence is there.
I hope that Defra will highlight the huge effort they and their partners have put into the Hen Harrier Joint Recovery Plan over the last two years. They could also publish the plan, since its sole purpose is to recover the hen harrier population. GWCT Chairman of Trustees Ian Coghill said yesterday:
This plan is now drafted and the GWCT believes that it is essential that it is put into the public domain as swiftly as possible so that it can be properly debated and hopefully implemented at the earliest opportunity.”
Why not show Defra your support by signing this e-petition simply asking Defra to publish the Joint Recovery Plan? This is a comparatively simple thing to ask, and the more people who sign the greater the likelihood that Defra will do so. Signing only takes a couple of minutes, and it would be wonderful if you, and any of your friends or family who may want to, would add your name to an already impressive number of people who have signed.

Click here to sign the petition and save hen harriers >

If you want to know more about the current controversy regarding hen harriers, a great deal of relevant information is available