Saturday, 31 July 2010

RSPB Meeting Part I

I will admit to having been crestfallen yesterday, with no energy to go into detail about my meeting with the RSPB et al but now 'another day, another dollar'!

Early days yet, but I await the answers to a number of questions posed to Dante Munn RSPB and while trying hard not to be negative feel they will, if forthcoming at all, be ineffectual. The first of those questions related to the qualifications and professional 'managerial' attributes of Nick Tomlinson, the Manager of RSPB reserves in Weymouth. Both RSPB and NE responded by saying that prospective candidates are not necessarily selected by certificated credential but an overall feeling of competence for the job. Here I would reiterate Nick Tomlinson's own assessment of himself to the Out & About Forum a Web-site mainly for like-minded 'birders'. "While I freely accept that many, probably nearly all, of those on this forum have a far greater knowledge of birds and birding than I do, I pride myself that I have at least a MODERATE UNDERSTANDING of issues relating to how to manage a nature reserve. It was at this point that John Snellin the Dorset Police Wildlife Officer interjected by informing us that there are members of the Constabulary who have no certificated qualifications. I find this statement a little difficult to believe, but given the crime detection rate it may well follow. Fortunately, I have a dear friend an ex-Chief Inspector who I have spoken to at length reference the post of Wildlife Crime Officer and will look forward to seeking his view on this. Finally on this subject, it should be made clear that Nick does have some experience as he was, for a period of time, the Manager of the RSPB bookshop at Radipole Lake Visitor's Center, but you know I cannot for the life of me clear the word nepotism from the forefront of my mind.

Next on the agenda came Strimming and the destruction of plant life on the Weymouth reserves. I asked why, what seems like the continuous, cutting of the verges is necessary and what purpose it serves, especially as Orchids are being destroyed in the process. John Stobard NE described how he/his organisation write to dissuade various local councils from indiscriminately cutting public roadside verges for the same reason, then went on to say that on the reserves the Orchids will not tolerate much of the high vegetation around them. He disagreed that the process there is indiscriminate and that searches and surveys are carried out before proceeding. Why then was I able to produce 3 stalks of Bee Orchid to Nick Quintrell the reserves Warden last year which he or his cohorts had chopped down. John also disagreed that the colony of Lizard Orchids close to Farmer Palmers at Wareham was destroyed by strimming, as he quite rightly said colonies do die of natural causes. However, it is a fact that the council did cut these verges over a number of years, never allowing these plants to attain maturity which undoubtedly could have contributed to the destruction of yet another fragile site. Personal replies from councils have informed me that verge cutting goes to tender and is done on a rotational basis and pinpoint timing is not cost effective.

On the subject of the destruction of the colony of Southern Marsh Orchids during the refurbishment of the dikes at Radipole, both Dante and John NE were in agreement saying "once you let contractors loose there's no knowing what damage they might do". I readily admitted know little, if anything about watercourse and water-flow, but await particularly for Dante's answer to my question as to why the colony had to be grubbed out to provide a spur channel at this exact spot. I still maintain it could just as easily have been dug a few feet either north or south, but my own theories are either RSPB didn't know the Orchids were there, or they simply wanted to remove access to the waters edge to deter anglers. But hey much easier to blame the Contractor!!!

Finally on this subject and what I find most disturbing are some of the statements made about these precious plants. "No need to worry, there are plenty more of those on the reserve" attributed to both Nick Quintrell RSPB Warden and Dee Stevens of Natural England. "It is not a concern (the strimming) as they will grow again" John Stobard NE.

As there is much more to say, but other things to do, I will continue via tomorrows post and continue with far more serious matter

It was about this time that John Snellin once again offered a comment that in most of my submissions thus far the name of Nick Tomlinson recurred time and time again. Not surprising as he is the Manager and singularly responsible for everything that happens on our reserves, but he further claimed that I was making it personal. I had preempted such an inane suggestion might be made, and produced my passport to show Nick as, after my daughter, to be the second point of contact in the event of an emergency, proving how close we have been. This adequately endorsed my dilemma of challenging not only a personal friend but also a friend of my family, and his inability to contain these matters on a one to one basis. The sole reason for continuation of what has been dubbed 'my campaign' stems from the behaviour of Nick, in my house, when he stated "when I decide (and not RSPB higher authority) that the Sand Martin wall will be built in April, it will be built in April" (a position that Dante Munn assured me yesterday was patently untrue) for when I encounter the BIGOT there is no surrender, a point I made to Nick before I required him to leave my house.

I have two comments on your notes of yesterday’s (30th) meeting. Please see below.

RE: Dante did agree to investigate a number of my concerns (well documented in this Blog) and so I await his findings……

Comment: The meeting attendees presumably knew of your specific concerns a long time before the meeting, so to say that ‘they will investigate a number of (your) concerns' suggest to me that they did not plan for the meeting, despite knowing the main agenda items in ample time. Such behaviour would be considered unacceptable in modern business good practice and says a lot about the organisations the attendees represented and suggests that you were onto a loser even before you started.

RE: The final issue discussed was the Little Tern colony at Ferry Bridge, and while I requested to look at the documentation allowing both 'ringing' and 'disturbance' no fewer than 4 times I never did get to read them. I had Paul,

to agree (wholeheartedly) that success at the colony was most welcome, but will at some stage write to The British Trust for Ornithology to confirm that all forms of disturbance (photography particularly) are covered by these documents.

Comment: Naturally I agree with the second part of this paragraph and commend those who contributed to the successful outcome at the colony. Concerning the documentation you wished to see I see no reason why the attendees should not allow you to see the Schedule 1 licence for the Little Tern ringing and/or photography; I can only assume that as any Schedule 1 licence is issued in the name of an individual then the licensee would be in possession of the appropriate documentation and that it would not be immediately available to the meeting. Nevertheless, once again it would appear to indicate a lack of planning on the attendees part. (For your information, any BTO ringer would be required to obtain such a licence before embarking on a Little Tern pullus ringing programme and other participants would be covered by the same licence so long as the licence holder was present.)

I hope these comments are useful.

Kind regards,