Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Lord of the 'Ringers'

Based on information received overnight, this morning I made a B-line for Ferry Bridge hoping to meet John Dadds (RSPB Team Leader for the Little Tern Colony protection scheme) or any member of that team. I could see from the 'safety' of Ferry Bridge that the incumbent 'lookout' in the bivouac on Chesil Beach was Danny ? from the RSPB Visitor's Center at Radipole, and knew from our last encounter there would be no value in approaching him. On that occasion, through a tirade of verbal abuse he clench his fists at me offering physical violence (what price RSPB Public Relations given his position). However, as I took up my position close to the Little Tern colony, the watch was changed (Danny purposefully giving me a wide berth) his relief being Mr Dadds.

We had never met before, but not surprisingly he was aware of me, particularly through this Blog, where in recent days I had praised his efforts and success with the terns this year, but had also, it seems, wrongly maligned him in the past. As the Little Terns started to arrive this year I was pleased to note that all RSPB works at the colony were completed, but a couple of days later saw John within the perimeter fence moving shingle. I interpreted that as invasive, took a photograph and produce it through these pages. I took his point that long distant viewing can present an obscure picture, as he was filling a breach in the fence and offered a personal apology, which I would like to extend to a public apology here and now!

We talked for what must have been over a hour, both conceding that some things could have been handled a little differently in the past (an alien attitude for me as far as professional RSPB personnel are concerned) but my main thrush was to find out if my informants had been correct in saying that Little Tern chicks had been 'ringed' yesterday. There was a definite reluctance about his answer, but he finally confirmed that c5 had been 'banded' but, he was at pains to point out, not by the RSPB. It took just 30 minutes to find out who had ringed these chicks!

In the 'birding' world news like this spreads like wildfire, and (excluding John Dadds) everyone I met today with an interest wanted both to discuss it and condemn the actions of yesterday. As I pointed out to most of them, there was a term in the Royal Navy for those who would sit in the messdeck bemoaning everything and doing nothing to resolve matters. They were called 'Lower Deck Lawyers', but you don't have to be in the navy to be one of them!

Since trying to bring some sense to prevail within the RSPB structure in this Borough I have been surrounded by LDL's, who to my face agree with most of what I advocate,but not a single so called 'conservationist' or 'lover of wildlife' has been prepared to publicly support, what John Dadds rightly called, "my campaign".

At this time I really don't wish to voice any more of my opinions save to say there is an opportunity here for anyone to make just the slightest ripple. At the bottom of this post is a COMMENTS link, all you have to do is click it, in a single sentence state your view about the happenings at the Tern colony yesterday then click Post Comments. This is available for all to read and will be read by those who continue to rip the hearts out of our reserves, and don't forget

The RSPB define 'SILENCE' as Success

For those unfamiliar with the terminology and situation described above, this colony is now believed to be the only one on the South Coast of England and certainly the most vulnerable. For many years the Fleet Warden Don Moxom has worked tirelessly to deter both predation and human disturbance (some in the name of conservation) but slowly the colony depleted with less and less Little Terns returning each Spring from West Africa. Over the past 7 years the situation has become critical, with just 1 (known) chick being produced during that time, and no breeding taking place at all last year. I still maintain that failure in 2009, at least in part, was due to the RSPB still erecting signs and banging in fence posts until mid-May, long after the birds had returned.

Among the Little Terns there was a single Whimbrel, but otherwise the 'birding' was extremely quiet.

c2 Little Terns waiting for the RSPB to leave the colony last year so they could get a look in. By back-loading this photograph you should be able to access 'Properties' and see when it was taken.

Hedge Bindweed

More of Old Weymouth

The Boot Inn

the plaque tells the story.

Weymouth Old Town Hall

Ditto the plaque.


  1. First i would like to congratulate the RSPB staff and volunteers on the hard work and dedication on Dorset reserves .some tricky decisions may have had to be made in the short term but its all for the long term good of the reseves and its wildlife . Its great to hear tern chicks have hatched and the RSPB have allowed them to be ringed . Rimgig is such a vital conservation tool , the more information we can gain from marking these birds to asses fledging survial , adult mortality , recuritment in to the breeding population and threats in the wintering grounds the better we can conserve these wonderful birds we can only get this information from ringing . Ringing is carrried out with the highest welfare for the birds and carried out with minimal disturbance to the birds . Ringers are licensed and very experinced with years of training . Bird watchers , ringers and conservation staff are wanting the best for our reseves and wildlife . i find comments and veiws on this blog very short sighted and very unnessacary , only trying to cause a divide amongst bird watchers , ringers , conservation staff. when the opposite is true and only when all groups work together can we acheive want we all want . Wonderful nature reserves and heathly bird / wildlife populations for the future . i would like to appeal to other readers to condone these unhelpful views And congratulate all those people working hard and deticated to bird conservation work in dorset . Neil

  2. Thank you Neil for taking the time to post a Comment, your views are valuable to me! I spent many years monitoring this and the Common / Roseate Tern colonies before the Fleet Air Arm destroyed the later. You are assured of my dedication to wildlife despite our conflicting views.
    Thanks again