19 March 2013

Friday and Monday's TWATs

I am depressed.

Depressed at missing all the (few) birds that have come our way (today Woodlark, last week: Curlew-- not one, nine of the buggers;  Shelduck; Short-eared Owl, Rook - 2 of them lifers for the patch!).

Depressed at the weather.

Depressed because yesterday was Monday.

Since I've been unable to catch up with any birds, I've resorted to counting dog-walkers who can't read, or who are too self-serving, selfish and sooooo far up their dog's arses they can't see or care about little endangered song birds. And that's depressing too.

Talking to them, to point out the error of their ways, even more depressing.

Humanity = depressing.

Then Jono and I did a good thing. When I met up with him at the Stonechat twitch, he was on his knees in the grass. He'd found a bag and was collecting the discarded contents. We managed to piece together the whereabouts of the mugger's victim and I returned the bag to her neighbours.  It made me feel better and Jono is quickly moving towards sainthood (what with re-uniting dead dogs with former owners). Seeing the year's first Stonechat also helped.

On the way home Steve and I admonished a woman with about a hundred dogs, all out of control and in the protected zone, she apologised, not realising why she was not meant to be walking unleashed dogs.  She'd seen the signs and obviously not quite put 2 and 2 together. A guy I'd spoken to the other day said he thought the signs were just for one bit of the flats, the bit that he'd just walked through with his dog running around miles away from him.

You couldn't make it up. Dog owners are so used to being able to see any patch of land as theirs by dint of having a dog, say a National Nature reserve, that they can't understand why they should not be allowed to carry on as usual.  No matter what. They find it just too hard to grasp that their pooch could be anything but an improvement to the natural world.

Some of them are self-professed nature lovers, blissfully unaware of the environmental disaster that having a pet is.  Last year £2.7bn was spent on pets in the UK alone (over £30bn in the US). It's a vast and growing industry so unsurprisingly the government is loath to countenance legislation in any beneficial or meaningful way.  Most pet owners said they would rather go without rather than reduce their spending on the mutt, the moggy or what other crutch they have lurking at home. So given the choice they would rather their pet have the meat and soya/wheat based biscuits and treats than a healthy bio-diversity.  But they don't see it as a choice because they are blissfully unaware of anything beyond emptying the dog on the flats, ignorant that the dog population of this country has a bigger carbon footprint than the car industry, or of the forest destroyed to feed their charges, or that the huge amount of nitrogen waste being dumped, literally, out of their dog's arses is changing the very nature of land they are now walking over.

We will lose Skylark as a breeding bird here in the future.  In the very near future if these people have their way, while the Corporation fiddles, ineffectually, on the side lines.  And some of them will say why did no one do anything about it while there was time. As is the human way.

Just don't get me started on cats.

I could have filled the memory card already.


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  3. So long as the kids don't step on the Skylarks. (Kids also have a bigger carbon footprint than dogs... just saying)

  4. Indeed. Don't have either, but point taken.

  5. It isn't a protected zone. That's the problem, the signs are not clear or well placed, they refer vaguely to an undefined area. I also note you aren't bothered by footballers or model planes I should think the mowing a tad more disruptive than a flock of dogs.

  6. The mowing was to help the Skylarks by providing new growth grass, they are supposed to do new areas each year. We have asked the corporation to temporarily close the model aircraft field, and the car park on centre road. Nothing from them on that. We have new signs to put up, however some have been removed and a dog walker was seen pulling them up. A minoirty certainly, and it does appear that most owners are now using the paths slightly more and some even have dogs on their leads. We have had to take this action because of the lack of concern shown by the City Corp., while the keepers are in favour of our suggestions, the reply from the management suggests that signs should be enough. It shows how far removed they are from their responsibilities and their own overall policy for Epping Forest.

    As for placing of signs, we certainly need more and they need to cover all the small paths leading on to the skylark area, that is being put into action.

    One dog owner who refused to put his dog on a lead said not until you control the foxes and birders. Slightly confusing the point there!

    The whole area should be made a SSSI and as such would have more legal protection, and signposting, as does the SSSI on the other side of the road.

    Josh you are obviously correct, we have a much larger carbon footprint than dogs, our demand for meat, fresh veg and fruit at ridiculous times of the year etc. We can offset and change our ways, become vegetarian...

  7. Of course the dogs are only there because of humans, so saying humans are worse than dogs is like saying humans are worse than cars... it's ultimately our behaviour and habits that is causing the damage and dogs are just one particular way we humans impact the environment.

    I think the Corporation have a duty to make it clear that some areas are out of bounds, where they are exactly and for what reason they need protecting, and this would solve a lot of the disputes simply by people knowing (literally, heh) where they stand.

  8. Hi, Jono here, not previously weighed in on this, one of my favourite topics. I do not blame the dogs. Dogs run around and crap on things. I blame the owners for being self-obsessed, obstinate, lazy and short-sighted. And blind. And I blame the Corporation for being completely and utterly lacklustre in their approach to the Flats in general, not just this specific problem. Any company can have a nice shiny conservation mission statement, but many think that's where it ends, and the Corporation of London is a shining example.

  9. I spoke to a dog walker the other day who said it was the Skylark's fault for nesting on the ground and not in trees like birds are supposed to, that it was the Skylark's own stupid behaviour that was gunna wipe it off the face of the earth, and that evolution favours those who change their behaviours to address new threats. After saying this they got into their car and drove the barely half a mile to their house to pack for their fourth holiday in a year, all overseas, by plane ... can't wait until humans are wiped out by a nuclear war or man made ice age, then I can be all smug and say "and the Skylarks were stupid?" ... apart from I'll be dead... need to rethink this plan.

  10. I can train a a parrot to say it, then the irony would be even greater!

  11. I have been pondering. I think the Corporation have unofficially designated the Flats as buffer lands. That's why they don't give a stuff about it, won't put up litter bins, joyfully erect police stations, dig it up for pipes, cover it with footballers, broken glass....