Conservation and cooperation across human borders? Marine reserves, Seabird reserves. Wildlife knows no boundaries.
Feature Picture by Lesley Martin
‘The population of gannets on the Bass Rock, off the East Lothian coast in Scotland, has reached an all time record. There are now around 150,000 birds which will increase further once this year’s chicks have hatched. The Bass Rock is the largest single gannet colony in the world and was described famously by Sir David Attenborough as ‘one of the wildlife wonders of the world’.’
We hope that on this referendum day for Scotland whoever wins the power will protect the amazing range of wildlife that also has its home in and around Scotland.
On my recent visit back to the UK we went to visit the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs. Here we were able to watch at close view gannets flying, soaring by from cliff top viewing points. For me far better than taking a boat out to sea and far off rocks. Still haven’t quite recovered from my 24 hour ferry from Santander!
We learnt some interesting facts about gannets and can now possibly age them as under five years old or over. The young are quite black and then become more speckled until when mature at 5 and ready to mate their plumage becomes brilliant white with contrasting black wing tips. Around their brain is a kind of jelly that protects against the cold of the sea and their rapid dives in to catch fish.
Another place that we saw gannets a couple of years ago was off the coast of Ireland. We were visiting our friend in Kerry and went on a boat trip to the mystical and wild Skelligs. On Skelligs Michael in May there were also plenty of puffins and other sea birds such as Razorbills. Two places well worth a visit for the wildness and the wild inhabitants. Photos below with thanks to Nature Watch and other wiki sources. Last one …. My iPhone…..
At present in the UK and in the rain! I had wanted to post this about a week ago and have been busy visiting friends and attending a Quaker conference on ‘Creating Peace in a Violent World’ At times the prospects of peace in terrible conflicts seems daunting but there are many ways to be actively peaceful. This might not mean a peaceful life and can be challenging when so much needs to be challenged. There also seems to be so much violence inflicted on our environment and I hope that all these newly elected MEPs will take this up rather than focus on the fine or distracting details of migrating humans. There is so much irony in the economic sense of the word’growth’ Can sustainable growth exist ?
In Spain the SEO organise a bird fair on the outskirts of the Donana Reserve and have been celebrating 60 years of campaigning for birds and habitats. SEO would benefit from an even wider base of support within Spain but are part of Birdlife International which includes the RSPB in the UK. These organisations have to work tirelessly to defend habitats for wildlife and to look into the complex issues affecting our environment. When we visited the bird fair we were fortunate to see all the tree nesting storks in the area, flamingos swimming in the lake, birds of prey, bee eaters and a tiny siskin as we were guided around the reserve Dehesa de Abajo. The SEO have a very good website and now there are the Latin names, Spanish names and English ones!
We also met up again with Rafa, a young and passionate naturalist who has created many books now on identifying birds in our area the Sierra Aracena and books on trails across the Sierra Morena. Later in the day we went to another part of the areas on the outskirts of Donana and saw the glossy ibis and different types of herons. We also had ourselves photographed by Natura Red with a butterfly gesture for nature. The organisation is supported by the EU and other wildlife organisations and the aim is to keep the network of wild places and habitats across the EU free from exploitation.
Donana is always under some threat and there have been pollution disasters here. However there are successes and the bird life is vibrant along with the breeding of the endangered and beautiful lynx. But there are always threats and on return to the UK there was an article in the RSPB magazine which mentioned the EU directives for nature ; Natura Red means Nature networks or web as Red is also the Spanish for the Internet /Web. Parts of Scotland were also mentioned as under threat of some form of development when these are protected spaces. An article in a Wildlife Trust magazine also tried to think outside the box and try to look at the economic benefit of keeping and extending wildlife habitats for both animals and people.
On arriving here in Humberside by the Humber Flats and estuary I read about the success of all the above organisations working with the companies involved in order to protect and develop habitats for the birds and more along this estuary. A complex struggle to preserve or develop more suitable habitats. Every little helps but takes time and support for the smaller organisations trying to uphold wild spaces and the desperate need to create more whereas the big companies have finance and access to lawyers and a government often ready to overturn existing protection because there is a overriding ‘need’ for the development.
Below is another of the disturbing bird/man sculptures in the Dehesa de Abajo ‘s visitor centre exhibition!