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Saturday, 7 August 2010

Defra go on killing despite baby ducks and grebes everywhere

Last Tuesday, Defra (or Fera as they are now known) visited a private nature reserve with the intention of wiping out a family of Ruddy Ducks, as part of their ongoing disgrace - the UK Ruddy Duck Eradication Programme. Sadly, a serious error with the Hertfordshire Bird Club website, revealed the location of a breeding pair and within days, Defra were on the case.

Now, not content with shooting and killing at both the wintering and breeding location of Black-necked Grebe, this time they visited a nature reserve absolutely crammed full of breeding wildfowl and other waterbirds, including over 150 Gadwall, broods of both Tufted Duck and Pochard, numerous Little Grebes and nesting Common Terns. I am incensed that the governors of the reserve allowed them in to the reserve but they claim that they had no choice as the reserve is owned by the water company who ultimately have the last word.

WARNING

I must let it be known that EU LIFE-Nature Unit and Fera have extended the killing until 31 March 2011. This is being done within the original £5.4 million pound budget and reflects savings made earlier in the project. As a consequence, I plead with you all to make NO PUBLIC RECORD/ANNOUNCEMENT of any Ruddy Duck at a given location in the next eight months, particularly now that Defra are ACTIVELY TARGETING individual birds as and when they hear of their presence.

A total of 738 Ruddy Ducks were shot on 37 sites between 1 April 2009 and 30 June 2010 and controls took place on 16 sites for the first ever time during this period. Direct targeting is actually happening. In fact, since January 2010, Fera has culled a further 174 birds, the population as I write is now down to 200 birds.

Meanwhile, the population of Iberian White-headed Ducks goes from strength to strength, with hopefully more than 4,000 individuals to be found at the end of this current breeding season. Only two Ruddy Ducks have been recorded in Spain since January 2009, and no hybrids were recorded last summer. Two presumed vagrant North American Ruddy Ducks reached the Azores last October.