Friday, 25 April 2014

This week's GWCT blog posts

Below are the blog posts published across the GWCT this week.

Open Farm Sunday 2014 at Allerton Project (Loddington Estate Blog)

Busy Easter period sees flurry of woodcock activity (Woodcock Watch Blog)

Is it not surely, a question of balance? (Peter Thompson's Blog)

Allerton Project shortlisted for National Recycling Awards 2014 (Loddington Estate Blog)

Thursday, 17 April 2014

This week's GWCT blog posts

Here are this week's blog posts from across the GWCT:

The Twitter response to our Countryfile appearance (Big Farmland Bird Count Blog)

Could more aquatic wildlife mean more food for us? (Allerton Project Blog)

"Our green and pleasant land - yeah right!" (Peter Thompson's Blog)

Countryfile at the Allerton Project (Loddington Estate Blog)

My Swallow is back home!! (Peter Thompson's Blog)

Friday, 11 April 2014

5 things we've learnt this week

1. There are some sick people out there (GWCT News Blog)

2. Our woodcock aren't hanging around (Woodcock Watch Blog)

3. It's exciting being on the telly (BFBC Blog)

4. We’ve got a fan in Sir John Randall MP (GWCT New Blog)

5. One billion hungry people could be fed on less than 25% of food wasted in the US & Europe (Peter Thompson's Blog)

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GWCT Allerton Project praised in House of Commons

Our pioneering Allerton Project farm received warm praise in the House of Commons this week from Sir John Randall, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip during a debate about the state of British grasslands.

Sir John had visited the farm at Loddington the previous week and had this to say:

"We must be careful not just to point out what is wrong abroad. We have problems here. I am pleased to support wildlife trusts in their campaign to save our grasslands, which are rapidly disappearing, and support wide biodiversity. I was lucky a couple of weeks ago to visit a commercial farm in Leicestershire called the Allerton project, which is run by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. I was impressed by the ability to show how a farm can be commercial, but also aware of its conservation and wildlife responsibilities. I recommend to any Member who has an interest and to officials of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who I know go there, to visit the project and look closely at it as it is doing very good work. I was shown around by Professor Chris Stoate, who impressed me with his knowledge and his love of the subject."

Last month Sir John had complimented our science when it came to discussing the issue of introducing a close season in the hunting of the brown hare.

Find out more about our Allerton Project >

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Local farmers & landowners pledge £12,000 to help bird deaths investigation

A group of farmers and landowners from the Moray Firth area have come together and pledged a reward of £12,000 for information about the deaths of 18 birds of prey in the Highlands.

Thirteen red kites and five buzzards have now been discovered near Conon Bridge, with tests showing several had been poisoned.

The local group, comprising members of Scottish Land & Estates and the NFU Scotland, have condemned the deaths and offered their assistance to police in the investigation.

Their pledge takes the total reward for information to more than £25,000.

One of the landowners involved in collating the reward is Alex Matheson from the Brahan Estate, which operates the Tollie Red Kites centre in partnership with RSPB.

Alex said: “We have been appalled by these tragic and senseless bird deaths. By pulling together as a community to do all we can to help, we want to send a strong and clear message that any form of wildlife crime is totally unacceptable. We would urge anyone who has any information to come forward.

“Scottish Land & Estates and NFU Scotland have both fully supported this initiative. We call on all sections of our local communities to work with the police - and through appropriate organisations such as PAW Scotland - to create effective partnerships in order that we can totally eradicate all incidents of wildlife crime.”

The reward will be paid for information that leads to the successful prosecution of the perpetrators of this crime. Any information on the deaths should be given directly to the police by calling 101. If anyone would like to contribute to this reward they should contact Brahan Estate directly via email

Butterfly numbers 2.2 times higher in managed game woods

With UK butterfly population figures in the news today I was reminded of some of the findings from our 2005 study into the effects of pheasant management at wood edges.

As the graph below shows, butterfly numbers were 2.2 times higher at game woods than in non-game woods in East Anglia. The number of butterfly species was also 1.5 times higher.

Game woods had a more sloping profile and 1.3 times greater shrub cover up to 4 metres high than non-game woods in Eaat Anglia, but not in Hampshire. Also shrub density 10 metres inside the wood was 1.7 times higher in game woods than non-game woods in East Anglia, but not Hampshire.

You can download our 2005 Annual Review and read our study into the effects of pheasant management at wood edges, it's on page 30.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Empty skies

The police investigation into, what is suspected to be, the largest mass poisoning of birds in the UK goes on. Across just two square miles of the Black Isle, north of Inverness, the bodies of 12 red kites and four buzzards have already been recovered – there may well be more.

RSPB Staff and volunteers at the nearby Tollie Road reserve, near Conon Bridge, are involved in helping Police Scotland with their investigations. The RSPB reserve has a red kite feeding station and the ‘Tollie Red Kites’ have become a popular attraction. Brian Etheridge, the RSPB red kite officer in the Black Isle who had ringed and tagged the birds, summed this up as “the worst two weeks of my life”.

This sense of loss and outrage extends across all those that live in and love our countryside. Whilst the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has no specialist local knowledge about the land management or raptor conservation around the Muir of Ord it remains fully committed to the recovery of raptors in the UK. Along with the RSPB our conservation research staff began the first Joint Raptor Study in 1992 and that joint effort continues.Today we are still working together at the ground breaking Langholm Moor Demonstration Project. This specialist conservation knowledge has enabled the GWCT to; train Police Scotland staff, sit on no less than three committees for the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife (PAW) crime in Scotland and give expert advice in court. Having said that we do not, as such, investigate wildlife crime. That is something for the police to solve.

We remain outraged by this recent loss of raptors from our skies and urge anyone with information helpful to Police Scotland to contact them immediately. For those that wish to boost the RSPB reward fund for information about these poisonings please do so at JustGiving. Here’s to hoping Police Scotland get to the bottom of this fast and we see the return of healthy raptor population numbers.

Friday, 4 April 2014

5 most read GWCT blog posts this week

These are the 5 most read blog posts from across the GWCT this week:

- 11 exciting new location updates (Woodcock Watch Blog)

- What the GWCT had to say at the 2014 BOU Conference (GWCT News)

- The Fox and the Leveret (Peter Thompson's Blog)

- Water Friendly Farming project update (Allerton Project Blog)

- WOW! A good news story about farmers in the press!! (Peter Thompson's Blog)

Thursday, 3 April 2014

What the GWCT had to say at the 2014 BOU Conference

Some of our team spoke at this year's British Ornithologists' Union conference on ecology and conservation of birds in alpine and upland habitats.

Here is just some of what they had to say as reported by others on Twitter:

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

GWCT helping grey Slovakia

Our very own Dr. Francis Buner will be sharing his expertise and delivering the keynote speech at a conference in Slovakia where conservation measures for the grey partridge will be discussed.

For those of you who speak Slovakian the flier is below:

You can help conserve the grey partridge today

We have been running the free and voluntary Partridge Count Scheme since 1933 to collect information on the annual abundance and breeding success of grey partridges. If you would like to take part please click here to find out more, we provide everything you need to start counting.