Ryders Mere yesterday evening (17th June), three youths with a boat and the usual guy in his canoe put up all the gulls and terns off the island. I challenged the latter, pointing out that he was disturbing breeding birds and exposing their eggs and young to predators, but he said that he had permission off the landowner and had been rowing there for eight years. The youths put their boat amongst the bushes on the point on the sewage works side of the mere and covered it with branches – they seemed to leave because one of their oars broke, but obviously will return.
The only good point about this was that I was able to count over 300 adult Bh Gulls on the water or flying around (suggesting some 150 breeding pairs?) and at least 55 young, some of which could fly, but others on the water were being harassed by adult birds. At least a couple of young had drifted with the wind well down the Mere towards the other island and I don’t know if they were able to return – at least one certainly could not fly. Also, I saw one Common Tern chick on the island being fed by its parents.
This morning (18th June), other adult Common Terns were bringing food to the island, so at least one other pair has young. A drake Gadwall was present and a Cormorant flew northwards. Also, three GC Grebe and 20+ Tufted Duck (plus three on the Marsh) were counted. A Green Woodpecker was on the grassed mounds by Pelsall Road.
I have to be honest, I do believe in live and let live but the guy in the canoe is a serious pain in the fundament! He has no consideration for the welfare of wildlife as long as he can paddle his canoe aimlessly around for a while. It is hard to defend his activities in the winter when the birds are struggling to get enough energy to survive the winter nights but in my opinion, to do it during the breeding season verges on the criminal (If the Little Ringed Plover had been breeding on the island as they did on one occasion, it would have literally been criminal)!
As for the youths, what can you expect when a recent pole of sixteen year old's found that less than 10% of them felt that wildlife had any value at all?
Sorry but I feel that educationalists, the department of education in particular and yes, teachers too have a lot to answer for in this regard. I may be getting on a bit but an interest in and respect for wildlife was an essential element of my formative school years (anyone else take in things for the nature table?). I am confident that some Teachers do pass on this type of knowledge (when the dictated curriculum allows it) but it is self evident that many obviously don't (or if they do, they do it ineffectively).
We can only hope that eventually the economic situation will result in the local authority or someone responsible giving the area the level of protection that it deserves. Until then, I will keep posting these depressing reports whenever they arise.
Thanks to Kev for the information and the midweek update - Chaz