Nothing to Crow about!

Gamekeepers, farmers and land owners have clubbed together in an attempt to try and remove Chris Packham from working for the BBC. Their big complaint is that Chris is involved with an organisation that has just stopped Natural England from using licenses to kill a large number of bird species including members of the crow family. ‘Crows kill Curlew’ is a common theme as the Curlew numbers crash but what has removed these Curlew?

There are a number of factors 

Sad to say chemicals have killed most of the insects such as dung beetles which are a major food of the Curlew. A survey shows 80% 0f breeding wader food is related to dung! Ivermectin stays alive 147 days after coming out of the sheep or cow!! Many insect species related to dung are now on the verge of extinction. You can follow the decline of the waders from 1975 when this drug came on the market!! Stomach contents of waders before this date shows the missing link!!

Silage is a massive killer of Curlew for both young and nests. The speed of the mower kills everything in its way and the flocks of gulls, raptors and crows { most gamekeepers ignore the law and kill the raptors and crows any way !!]  over the fields are a sure sign of easy pickings.

Over stocking – Cameras placed on nests show sheep eating wader eggs for their calcium content as well as trampling the nests.

Predation – Yes it happens especially when the balance of nature is turned upside down – Goshawks and Buzzards killing crows for an example. One Goshawk nest contained 78% crows!!
Most upland areas used by Curlew need richer grassland to keep the Curlew in condition as the moorland can be very limited. Some feeding areas can have over 50 Curlew feeding up before making their territories on the moors. Other waders like Golden Plover have been seen moving over 25 miles from moorland to feed during the breeding season! Mapping the decline of these waders show that many species have been removed from the rich lowland pastures to acid moorland. Like the bird, the Corncrake, limited to where they can breed in Britain. Even Global warming is having an effect as silage moves up the hillside and especially on Orkney, the highest density of the Curlew today.
So were these people right to complain and use the species the Curlew as their symbol?

1 comment to Nothing to Crow about!

  • Fred Hodgson

    I am not sure on these facts. All I know is that in the last 50 years crow populations have exploded. They were shot as vermin prior to Protection of Birds Act 1957. After that Act they were still legally shot until the Wildlife and Countryside Acts. Good Acts in the main but too rigid in some places. Nobody can deny the evidence of their own eyes with Crow numbers now. All corvids are amongst the most adaptive and intelligent of birds and I for one am fed up of the damage they do to ground nesting birds when even the placing of a simple marker to denote a ground nest be it Curlew, Tern, Ringed Plover or other species cannot be done as the crows recognise the marker and raid the nest. So we don’t mark the nest and it gets damaged by machinery that would otherwise have avoided it.
    So why not just ease a restriction and judge the results. Who knows that giving a bit of slack will help stop the wilful and illegal persecution of raptors when crow numbers reduce?