Badger update

Another quick visit from the badger last night. I’m feeling a bit bad, as I cleared up a lot of plums off the garden at the weekend, meaning I’ve got rid of a lot of potential food for our visitor!

Just as I wrote about how birds of prey are being slaughtered in our area, seemingly by some individuals with game interests, a report by the South Yorkshire Badger Group shows badgers aren’t faring much better. Illegal poisoning and trapping are rife nearby, in the Bradfield, Broomhead and Langsett areas, in proximity to grouse shooting estates and a pheasant rearing area. If this is more than a coincidence then it’s very sad indeed, as badgers only have a minimal effect on ground nesting birds.

Combined with the grubby, sadistic and highly illegal “sport” of badger baiting, and repeated government plans to cull the population based on quite spurious claims of them spreading bovine TB, the badger is probably one of Britain’s most persecuted mammals. Which is very sad indeed, as they’re brilliant animals much-loved by the general public, which do little or no harm to humans.

Check out the South Yorkshire Badger Group Website for more details, but be warned you may want to turn your speakers down before you do so, unless you particularly like terrible midi renditions of ‘Born Free’…

A welcome visitor

Last night, as I was locking up and switching off lights before bed, I saw some movement at the top of the garden. I presumed it was probably a cat, but hung around, squinting into the darkness, on the off chance it was a fox.

Just as I was giving up, I caught a flash of white out of the corner of my eye, and noticed a large badger feeding from the fallen fruit under our plum tree! This was the first sighting of a live badger I’ve had in my entire life, and not something I ever expected to see looking out of my kitchen window. After a bit of foraging, it sloped up the steps, and out of sight. I watched for a while and sadly it didn’t return, but it makes me wonder how many times I’ve been sat in the living room watching crap telly while badgers have been frolicking in the garden.

According to Paul Morrison’s Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain and Europe, badgers eat windfall apples and plums from around September, to help build up their fat reserves for the winter. Seeing as our garden is constantly under a blanket of juicy, purple plums at the moment, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for return visits!

Ranty Pete vs Primark

After failing miserably to garner a response from Subway for forcing plastic bags on people, I’ve just fired a missive off to Primark.

My girlfriend went into your Sheffield store yesterday and bought a top. Already having a bag, she told the till operator she did not need a plastic carrier, only to be told she had to have one and wouldn’t be allowed to leave the store without one. Her top was placed in a very large bag which was way too big for the product.

At a time when major supermarkets are quite rightly pushing for people to abandon carrier bags in favour of reusable bags, I find it alarming that your company insists customers take one. While I appreciate security is paramount to any retailer, I do not believe that this should outweigh environmental inpact, and supplying customers with an outsize bag that undesirables could then stuff with as much produce as they like doesn’t seem to me like much of a solution. Reminding customers to keep their till receipts handy until they left the store would be just as effective.

It is estimated that one million plastic carrier bags per second are used worldwide. As well as wasting natural resources, the vast majority of these are not biodegradable, and many end up in the sea where they kill marine wildlife. Forcing customers to have one even when they have no need shows an out of touch company, at odds with current consensus on environmental matters.

Egrets!

Almost forgot to mention that on Monday I had a very, very brief visit to Old Moor, and managed to spot the three little egrets that are reportedly still there.

One of the only good things about climate change is the spread northwards of little egrets (and seeing a few pretty white herons by no means makes up for it, of course!). These birds first reached Britain in any numbers as recently as 1989, and first bred in Dorset in 1996. They are still primarily birds of the south and east of the country, but a quick peek at the species’ profile on BirdGuides shows that there’s quite a few sightings going on around the country at the moment, in places as far apart as Warwickshire, Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire, Conwy, and Cumbria. I suspect they may be a lot more common in years to come.

They’re brilliant little birds and well worth seeing – another of those I never expected to get on my list so easily!