Friday, 8 January 2010


A couple of crows searching for food in a patch of clear ground. The photo, illustrating bird behaviour in the current cold spell, was taken yesterday in the University grounds. Today the RSPB news release stated dramatically "Icy blast set to be millenium's greatest wildlife disaster". I wonder if they realised we are already in the new millennium (just 10 years into it!) and that climate warming was supposed to be THE wildlife disaster as far as we know anyway. I can entertain some theoretically possible, much more serious wildlife disasters: we could be stricken by an earth destroying meteorite and the Amazon might disappear entirely within the next 900 years). Climatic fluctuations, such as a spell of freezing, snowing conditions are natural phenomena which have shaped organisms behaviour for a long time. We cannot attempt to control this, as much as I am saddened by any bird losses due to cold weather, this is unavoidable and I am not sure that I would try and avoid it. Many animals are prepared for this, for example aquatic birds might undergo short migrations to the coast, where water is not frozen. Much as I appreciate that people are concerned about some endangered species that have recently been coached after much effort, to flourish (such as the Bittern), things can strech a bit too far. Central heated feeding stations? I don't think so.

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