I was honoured today to have my book, Wildlife and the Law, launched by Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for the Environment and Climate Change. The ‘unveiling’ of the book took place at the quarterly meeting of the PAW Executive Group at the Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh. This group, of which I was a member until I retired last year, is made up of the chairs of the various PAW sub-groups: Legislation and Regulation, Funding, Media, Training and Awareness, Poaching Priority, Raptor Persecution Priority and new group about to be formed, Forensics. Other members are the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Land and Estates, RSPB Scotland and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. I am indebted to PAW Scotland for the funding given towards the cost of the book, which enables it to be sold at a very reasonable £9.99. Log on to see the work of PAW Scotland at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/Wildlife-Habitats/paw-scotland/
Much more down to earth, I had a day chopping and stacking nearly two tons of logs for the wood burning stove yesterday. I started at 8.00 am and finished at 4.00 pm. What took the time was barrowing the chopped logs to the new stack round behind the current stack of logs. My back was sore by the end of the day but I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise. My daughter thought it was far too much for a 65 year-old, but I’m still here and fully recovered, so she must have been wrong!
During a very short break for a cup of tea I spied the elusive tree creeper in the wood. It was at its usual spot where I jam peanut butter into a narrow crack in the bark of a larch tree. My camera was to hand so I rushed out the door to try for the umpteenth time to get a photograph. I took a long-range photo just as I went out the door then tried to get closer. I took my eye off the bird to negotiate the steps of the conservatory and was momentarily confused by the to-ing and fro-ing of a number of birds, especially coal tits and blue tits, plus the fact that tree creepers’ camouflage makes them almost invisible anyway. In these few seconds distraction the bird had left the tree, but I eventually homed in on it on a nearby tree. It was climbing up the bark at head height and gradually making its way round the tree. I lifted the camera to aim at the bird – just as it disappeared round the back of the tree. I waited, motionless, to see if it would re-appear, but I’m afraid that’s the last I saw of it.
It was interesting to see the flock effect in action after my first (and only) photo. The myriad of birds prevented me from homing in immediately on my ‘quarry’, long enough for my ‘quarry’ to escape. This is exactly what happens when a predatory bird such as a sparrowhawk disturbs a cloud of small birds. Even with hundreds, or even dozens of birds, the predator is briefly confused and may catch none.
I’m lucky that we regularly have these lovely wee birds in the wood. They are bundles of energy, climbing up and around trees, probing into the bark with their long curved bill in their search for insects, and often resting on their stiff tail feathers. One year a pair nested in a gap between half a dozen pieces of interwoven fencing that I had stored at the back of the garage. I suppose that is a similar situation to their norm of nesting in a crevice in bark in an old tree. I only knew about their presence their when I moved the fencing in the winter time. I’m just glad it wasn’t when they were nesting.