Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Anyone remember Twyford Down? It was an SSSI chalkland site partially destroyed to make a cut for the M3 so more cars could come back and forth from Southampton. Part of the Tories' hideous massive spending spree on roads, the site was marked as you drove down there with a the word Earthrape writ large.
When I lived in north-east London, near to Redbridge tube station on the Central Line, in the early 1990s, my local patch was Wanstead Park. The area was a mix of parkland and old ornamental watery woods gone to ruin and so great for woodpeckers, especially Lesser Spotted. Tucked away in one secret corner away from the regular dog-walker and kite-flying routes was an old disused sewage farm. This scruffy mix of concrete relics, mess and scrub was easily the best place to look for birds in the WP area. I found a few migrant Redstarts, Tree Pipit, all sorts of stuff around that delicious bit of brown field 'wasteland'.
Then one day, the bulldozers came in and tidied the place up. I arrived one morning to do my usual roudn of the old sewage farm to find the place screwed. In their wisdom, part of Wanstead Park had been subsumed by Epping Forest and part of the wonderful exchange project was the horrendous homogenisation of sewage farm to make it look like the rest of the park, suitable for picnickers and mothers with pushchairs. Or in shorthand: shit for birds.
I was a member of the local Wren Conservation Group (nowt to do with Wrens, but a Wanstead thing) and at one of their meetings brought up the appalling destruction of the best habitat in Wanstead park. The rest of the Group looked at me like I was a mad man!

My office in Peterborough is part of something called Lynchwood Business Park, named after Lynch Wood which runs along the River Nene out the back of the offices. It is just glass and concrete office block with a pond, a big car park, surrounded by trees and with a liberal smattering of bushes and hedges. Sparrowhawks nest in the trees by the pond, Green Woodpeckers feed out on the grass and all the usual woodland birds nest in and around, in the woods, bushes, trees and hedges.

For the last couple of months, one of the (few) joys of coming to work has come from the building of bird song as Robins, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Dunnocks, Wrens sang their hearts out
out to proclaim territories.
A couple of weeks back, I watched at arms length as a weird little display of Wryneck-style head and neck distortions went on between and male and female Blackbird, oblivious to my presence. Their nest site was clearly in the dense bush growth next to the bike sheds where the Robins, Wrens and Dunnocks also favour. A day later, the landlords in their wisdom sent in the bulldozers and cutters, tattooed hired muscle to strip and denude. Two weeks on, all the bushes and trees and all the nesting birds near where those Blackbirds candidly displayed are gone. Wrens and Robins still sing in the area, but their nests are no more.

The willful destruction of this habitat was done apparently to provide a better view of Media House (our office block) from the street, apparently to make it more saleable.

Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as amended by Schedule 12 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 is concerned with the protection of wild birds, their nests and eggs. Subsection 1(1) creates the offences of Killing, injuring, or taking ANY wild bird; taking, damaging or destroying the nest of ANY such bird while in use or being built, or taking or destroying an egg of ANY such wild bird.

If any person intentionally

a. Kills, injures or takes any wild bird.

b. Takes, damages or destroys the nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use or being built; or

c. Takes or destroys an egg of any wild bird,

That person shall be guilty of an offence.

1 comment:

John said...

Hi Mike,
This is the sort of thing that makes my blood boil! Why oh why do some people continue to `rape` and `pillage` this fair land with seemed impunity?!
I hope the landlords of your work place are aware of your feelings and perhaps the local constabulary would be interested to know of this willful destruction? Mind you, those with the biggest wallets pay the least prices!
AAArrrgggghhhh! It makes me so mad!