Look, we have to talk about this feeding the birds lark. I know the RSPB tell you to do it, and the WWT make it a tourist attraction in itself. But neither of them would have any truck with feeding white bread to ducks. Continue reading
Here’s a story that is doing the rounds in the ‘BelieveÂ it or not’ columns of the newspapers. Some boffin is rubbing his hands delightedly, as they’ve actually persuaded the municipality of Jerusalem to commission research into a DNA testing programme… for dog poo. Yes, wardens will be able to do DNA tests on any stray turd in the street, match it to a database of registered dogs, and the convictions will roll in.
It all seems so simple, and obvious. Why isn’t every city using this wonderful newÂ technology? Why indeed. Let’s see if we can find out.Â Continue reading
Today’s the Chinese new year, the first day of the Year of the Dragon. But the recent vogue for marking this and other events with flying lanterns has caused concern that is spreading across Europe. The UK Government remains under pressure to ban so-called ‘Chinese’ lanterns, or sky lanterns after the products were prohibited from sale or use in Spain.
The Spanish authorities said the flying lanterns, a signal of good luck and hope, posed a risk of burns and fire because, after launching, they fly through the air without control. Continue reading
Oh, it’s been a while since I wrote about this, but the issue of balloon releases seems to have raised its head in a particularly bizarre and upsetting way recently. Readers who’ve read this blog for any length of time won’t have missed my thoughts about this issue – but if you did, have a quick refresher by reading Balloons – how they kill wildlife, and what to do about it. Or smirk at the slightly more tongue in cheek Smoking for Turtles on the same subject.
The bottom line is that I’m worried about the damage balloons cause to the environment, and I wish people wouldn’t release them or encourage others to do so. Yes, even when it’s for a really good cause. And that’s the difficult bit, because some dreadfully worthy causes seem to adopt balloon releases as their chosen method of fund-raising or commemoration or whatever. Then it becomes quite hard to criticise the medium without being seen to be criticising the message itself. The latest person to face up to this particular Gordian knot is well-known Midland bird-watcher and seasoned internet debater Andy Mabbett, who’s one of the few people in the UK licensed to wear a Father-of-the-Internet beard without irony. Andy Mabbett has been approaching various bodies that are undertaking balloon releases and asking them not to do so. I won’t go into the debate for or against balloons – I’ve covered it exhaustively elsewhere. But I do want to examine an aspect of this that’s caused me some concern. Recently Mabbett approached Life After Loss, a Northern Ireland-based organisation for bereaved parents. The results were unexpected. Continue reading
London photographer Simon Lee spent a few months this year walking by a block of flats at the Elephant and Castle, on his daily commute. Perronet House is a social housing block in south-east London, and Simon was so taken by his regular encounters with what he describes as “some of the most defiant littering” that he decided to document it online.
On his Flickr stream he’s collated over 80 images of the same spot, each day, and the junk that people leave there. It’s an intriguing, and quite compelling glimpse into the mundane; and multiplied eighty-fold, makes a real impression of the impact our throwing-away habit can have on a public place. Simon says of the area:
Elephant and Castle isn’t very salubrious. It’s mainly known for being a set of large roundabouts (with bus connections to just about everywhere in London) which has somewhat intimidating subways, big estates and a pretty bleak shopping centre. The block of flats that this fly-tipping takes place against is fairly large but the street that this bit of it is on has opposite it a row of nice terraced houses. Like anywhere in London walking two minutes can make a big difference.
The Environment Agency is calling in hi tech help to track down illegal dumping in a field at Copythorne, Hampshire.
Dumped material included wood, plastics, tar, metals and even lumps of concrete. The unauthorised work was done in the autumn of 2006 and angered people living in the area. Objectors held a public meeting and also staged a demonstration. In May 2007 and June 2008 the Environment Agency prosecuted the landowner, Mr Kenneth Lovett, who lives next door to the field, for offences relating to flood risk, illegal deposit of waste, and environmental protection. Lovett said the work was carried out to raise the level of the land and prevent it becoming waterlogged. He was fined a total of
Today the Ranger had the delight of taking a walk along some of the South Downs Way, for the first time since the declaration of the new South Downs National Park. It was a simply wonderful day. With the dry white chalky fields stark in the bright sun we walked high, high above the smoky weald. The skylarks were so loud as to nearly drown out the distant traffic; and once we gasped at the whisper of a glider sweeping past – seemingly low enough to touch.
After taking this picture – which does scant justice to the landscape – I noticed something and went to inspect it. You can just see a brown object by the old post in the foreground. Whatever do you think it turned out to be? Continue reading
Mass balloon releases: don’t do it. Just don’t. Regular readers will recall many reasons why not, but in short, balloons on their way back down kill wildlife in nasty ways. Really, there are better ways to celebrate the launch of your new mobile phone shop than to throttle a turtle.
So anyway, in case you didn’t spot it, there’s a new, tragic, story concerning balloons and the marine environment that couldn’t have a more pointed moral. Continue reading