Thursday was my birthday, and traditionally it becomes a birdday – that is I have a day off and try and see as many species of birds as I can, a bird race. I had a cracking day out, met up with Phil, a fellow birder and managed to see 72 species. Some of the highlights are below, the Black-necked grebe being my favourite bird of the day, not because of it’s rarity, but because it ‘showed’ so well for us.
Sadly this site will be getting a lot busier when it fully opens as an RSPB reserve later in the month.
Last month I was attending the Gunning for Change Symposium in my role as Vice-chair of the League Against Cruel Sports, it was a really positive experience, and I bumped into a lot of unexpected friends (unexpected that they were there as opposed to the fact they are friends).
I was intending to write up the event, but that medium is pretty redundant when you have an experienced ‘event amplifier’ both tweeting on the day and recording a podcast for later. Charlie over at Talking Naturally did a cracking job.
In the North it’s been November since last October.
But this weekend the temperature reached double figures, in fact it was so warm I didn’t even where a scarf! H1 was running a 1/3 Marathon over at Hornsea so afterwards we took in the sea air and promenaded.
A grand day out on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway today. H1 sorted out a birthday treat for her Father (who is a bit of an ‘enthusiast’ when it comes to railways – even having his own in the garden). Along with the trip we had a super 4 course meal served in the Pullman carriage, we started at Oxenhope and went to Keighley and then returning (twice, in order to get all four courses in).
At the end of the day, we also got some time on the footplate – and as there is still considerable snow around, standing in front of the firebox was a welcome relief!
Sitting down and messing about with Snapseed after a long 8 hours taking Haversham through Chester (which from the canal is grim indeed). Driving sleet and freezing temperatures, didn’t make for a happy coxswain, but rum in ones coffee can work wonders.
I hope to rework this image in PS when I get home as I’m only travelling with the iPad, at least it reads raw.
Fantastic day out in Sheffield today at the British Athletics European Trials & UK Championships. Superb performances from all athletes. Heather got us great tickets with great views of the 60m finish, the high jump and the pole vault.
I shot at very (very) high iso, so these have been treated with noise ninja, but even so. Also being under the artificial lights wasn’t great for colour so I opted for black and white.
Back in July I visited Crystal Palace Park, I especially wanted to see the (first ever?) life size dinosaur models. The light was awful and even though I did capture lots of images I didn’t use them until I happened upon the idea of processing them as if they were from the same era as the models (19th Century).
I’d forgotten that I’d done this processing until I read a tweet highlighting a post by The Birdist. The post points out that if you are a birder (I confess I am) there are two kinds of bird photo – ID and behavioural. Sometimes they overlap. The post discuses the idea of adding emotion and drama to bird images by using instagram. I don’t have instagram, but a set of actions from Daniel Box allowed me to take an previous image of a standard ID bird photo, in this case a Reed Bunting, Emberiza schoeniclus, and play with it.
The first treatment I did was a slightly over exposed black and white, using standard tools in photoshop, after that I applied some of Daniel’s treatments. The results are below, do they change the context, emotion, drama? I find it hard, mainly because I keep thinking “yes, but can I tell it’s a reed bunting?”.
I’m sick of increments.
Of measured change.
One step forward, two steps back; two steps forward, one step back.
Incrementalism isn’t getting the job done.
Looking back at 2012, and looking at some of the campaigns I’ve been involved with.
My support of Birdlife Malta. Asking a hostile Maltese Government to uphold the law that they themselves have laid down. They are not concerned with the law per se, they are concerned about the EU Subsidies, the effect that the illegal hunting in Malta might have on the tourist trade. Political races are run and won by parties that offer the least protection for birds. So we see a half hearted attempt at policing the ‘law’ whilst birds endangered across Europe such as the Turtle Dove are killed legally with impunity.
Back in the UK and I’m involved in campaign against illegal persecution of birds of prey and illegal activities in the game bird industry. Small steps; “would you chaps mind obeying the law”, and then working with politicians to ‘improve’ the situation, to improve the welfare of living targets. And again why is this? Because there is no appetite for the fight, the fight for real change, it’s a step too far for far too many. Because, have no doubt in your mind, I want nothing less than a ban on all shooting of birds, of any living creature in the name of sport.
And then on Boxing Day, a campaign I’ve been involved with for over 20 years, the hunting of foxes. A law was introduced, a law enacted by a duly elected parliament of the people, a legally binding contract between the people, it’s Government and those employed to uphold the laws. And it is left to charities and volunteers to seek out the illegal, pursue the perpetrators and harry them through a court system, a court system whose sympathies are not always with the hunted. You might think this was not an incremental ban, you’d be wrong. It was a big step, but not big enough, and now those with a passion for the blood use loopholes, ambiguities and excuses to carry on with their vile pastimes.
Incrementalism isn’t working.
Malta must ban the shooting of all birds and its Government must enforce the ban.
In the UK the Government must tighten all wildlife laws and provide resources to enforce them. Further, it must increase fines and introduce custodial sentences for offenders.
The shooting of game birds must end.
The UK police force must chase down and prosecute all cases of hunting.
My New Year’s Resolution? I will campaign against these cruelties, and where I can, I will campaign against any acts of incrementalism that lead to inaction, injustice and ineffectiveness.
I was very pleased to be asked to do a short presentation to the Swillington Ings Bird Group last night. These are exceptionally knowledgable birders and naturalists, dedicated and passionate about our local patch. I think there were 20 or so at the meeting, in a freezing cold room so we all kept our anoraks on I kept pushing the idea that we need birders to go to Malta, to demonstrate that there is a better way, and that they can make a difference by doing something they love.
Below is the presentation, please bear in mind that it is just a set of slides and images. The content, the context is around the discussion. unsurprisingly I found firm allies for Birdlife Malta campaign. If you’re really interested check the video with Nik and the team.