Saturday, October 21, 2017

Alkborough bits - the good, the bad and the disgraceful

Lots of bearded tits erupting at the moment but good luck picking a still, sunny day. They seem to be very rare this year. And when you do strike lucky, you may incur a guided walk marching along, oblivious to their natural environment. They may as well walk up and down the High Street. And then there's the strollers that can see you obviously looking at a bird yet walk straight up to you and ask 'have you seen anything good?', totally unaware that they have flushed every bird infront of you. 

A couple of weeks ago the Pink Footed Geese arrived in big numbers, a fantastic sight to see and hear. The fields at Alkborough were teeming with them until the local sheep farmer drove constantly through them, scarring them off and then the wildfowlers arrived........and there were none. Geese are not stupid, once they have been shot out they find an alternative route where they are safe. Such a pity that an area managed for wildlife is so anti-wildlife. The Humber is surrounded by guns yet right in the middle is a massive roost site. We always thought it was a rule of Natural England not to allow wildfowling so close to a roost.....must be mistaken. 

When you walk down the path at Alkborough Flats, you will no doubt have seen this interpretive board. Have you ever read it? It goes on to describe the bottom fields, you know, the fields around you that resemble a New Zealand sheep farm. Wet grassland indeed!  Just look at that nice tufty grass on the board, the mud scrapes and the nesting redshank and then take a look around you. It doesn't resemble it does it, not in a million years.

This is the wet grassland, perfect for breeding waders. Look infront of you and all you will see are sheep, grazing the land to within an inch of it's life. The grass having already been sprayed with weed killing chemicals. And if that wasn't enough, the sheep farmer drives around these fields on his quad bike many times each day, totally flushing any birds that decide to feed or rest in the fields. If you thought this was an area of North Lincolnshire that was managed for wildlife,  then think again.  

Controlled grazing indeed, what it should say is grazed all year round and the field resembles a fine turf lawn.   

You could be mistaken into thinking you were in New Zealand. This grass is shorter than our lawn, and looking at how green it is, it contains more fertiliser and weed killer. 

This field is managed and grazed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust at Kilnsea. Although we will never agree on the visitor centre location, we think you have got this grazing just right. Not too many sheep, and lots of long tussocky grass. A short-eared owl was quartering so there is obviously a food source in here for it. A total contrast to the grazing at Alkborough. No-one drives round this field many times each day to check these sheep, so why do they do it at Alkborough? 

and then this monstrosity was put onto the public footpath, with the permission of North Lincs Council. It has been there for some considerable time, is totally trashed yet remains on the site. An absolute eyesore.  

But this is probably the worst case of 'clearing out' and heaven only knows why the council's volunteers decided to clear this piece of land. Cetti's warblers have been spreading north over the last few years and there are now many pairs at Alkborough Flats, they are usually heard with their explosive song, and very rarely seen. A male could always be heard as you parked your car,  calling from this small wood. Yet this cetti's warbler habitat has now been totally destroyed, all in the name of 'tidying'. Breeding habitat gone. Does anyone actually think this looks good?  Disgraceful.  I will get onto the rank reed beds  in a later post. 

1 comment:

Clare Gillatt said...

Time the rspb got involved here Karen, why not send this post to them it sums the site up well!