Humanity has wiped out 60% of Mammals, Birds, Fish and Reptiles since 1970

This is a worse crisis than Coronavirus or Global warming.

It comes as no surprise to me that this is the case. In my lifetime I have witnessed the crashes in population both here in the UK and abroad. As a biologist, and naturalist, I have found this incredibly distressing.

In the UK the creatures that were common in my childhood – the toads, frogs, newts, hedgehogs, slowworms, snakes and lizards – are now rare. The streams are devoid of life. The insects and butterflies are not buzzing around. The skies are not full of flocks of swallows and swifts.

In the Amazon the rainforest burns. In Africa, the chimps, bonobos and gorillas are being hunted to extinction. Everywhere I have travelled – Australia, Africa, South America, China, Phillipines, Borneo, Vietnam – it is the same story – deforestation and the destruction of habitat – a burgeoning human population – overfishing and hunting.

Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970. We are systematically destroying our planet.

massacre of wildlife is made in a major report produced by WWF and involving 59 scientists from across the globe.

Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF. “This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” he said. “This is actually now jeopardising the future of people. Nature is not a ‘nice to have’ – it is our life-support system.”

In the UK it is relentless – every tree cut down, hedgerow ripped up, stream culverted,  ponds filled in, is another nail in the coffin. The mowing of verges, the spraying of fields. It is almost as if we hate nature.

Abroad they are chopping rainforest for agriculture. There are no places left for the gorillas, the orangutan, elephants or tigers. If they dare to ‘encroach’ they are killed.

I am told that people have to eat, to feed their children. The truth is that there are too many children.

Nature is our lifeline. It provides our atmosphere. We are part of a complex web that feeds the soil, pollinates our crops, gives us the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat – yet we are destroying it.

In the process, we are releasing pandemics and herding ourselves into cities and plastic environments.

We are endangering our own survival on the planet!


To Nurture Nature! Or to die!

You are all most probably sick to death of me going on about the huge damage that was wreaked on the habitats near where I walk. They mowed the wide verges down the entire length of the road and completely destroyed the vestiges of wild habitat. The plants were in full flower and alive with insects. The seeds and insects provide the food for the hedgehogs, voles, owls, kestrels and kites.

I used to go on a walk eager to see what wonderful creatures I was going to find.

Since the destruction of all those acres of habitat, I haven’t seen anything.

The verges are now becoming green as the decimated plants regrow.

But they are devoid of flowers. It is too late now. The flowers have passed their season. There will be no seeds for the animals.

These verges are devoid of most insects. Countless multitudes of insects were destroyed. Those are the food for the birds, hedgehogs and shrews.

The birds and creatures will have another hungry winter.

Further down, on another lane, there were areas of verge which had not been mown.

It is easy to see the rich profusion of life – flowers, seeds, bees, butterflies and other insects

We are being urged to keep little wild patches in our gardens for the insects, for the wildlife, yet, for no apparent reason, acres of wild habitat are mown flat, wiping out whole communities of plants and animals.

If we want to have the beauty of nature around us we have to protect it!

If we do not look after the planet I fear we will have no future!

Destroying habitat – Irony!!

While walking up my hill – past the scenes of devastation where they have mown the wide verges, I saw a sign at the entrance to a field. So I went and had a look.

The ultimate in irony:

The sign was about how wonderfully they were managing the land and providing habitat for wildlife such as the grey partridge.

It says that the chicks need plenty of insects and seed.

To the left of the sign was the wide verge that had been mown flat – destroying all the habitat full of insects and seed.

To the right of it was the field freshly ploughed with no strips of wildland for the partridges, no stubble,  no seed, no insects.

Was this some kind of sick joke???

No wonder nature is taking such a battering!!

Poetry – The Plastic Jungle

The Plastic Jungle


The flies are disappearing

The beetles are all going.

There are few caterpillars for the birds

It’s a sterile world we’re sowing.


It took five billion years

To create this interlocking mesh.

But it only took a few thousand

For us to create this mess.


With libraries of books,

Knowledge and civilisation.

We still do not understand enough

To correct this situation.


We seem content to let them go

Without a second thought,

While cluttering the plastic jungle

With the rubbish that we’ve bought.


Opher – 27.7.2020

Poetry – We’re part of it.

We’re part of it.


There’s a small planet that we’re on

That provides everything we need;

An intricate interconnecting web

Of insect, fur and seed.


Some recognise that this delicate web

Took billions of years to evolve

And that we’re messing up a balance,

Creating problems we can’t solve.


It’s like cannibalising the life-support

That is keeping us alive

Instead of improving it –

Enabling us to thrive.


Too many people see nature

As a business, open to abuse.

I guess,

You either feel you’re part of it

Or it’s there for you to use.


Opher – 17.7.2020

The Destruction of Nature.

I’m still greatly infuriated at what has happened to the large expanses of natural habitat that has been wantonly destroyed.

We live in a world where nature is under attack. We are encouraged to set aside areas in our gardens for insects because their numbers have crashed, yet a huge expanse of rich habitat is just stupidly flattened. It does not make sense!

I think it has spoilt my summer. No more chances to see those wonderful animals – the stoats, kestrels, owls and kites. Without anywhere to live or food to it they will be elsewhere.

Here is a picture of what the hill looked like a short while ago:

Unfortunately, I did not take photos of the really wide verges where the stoats live.

This is how it looks now:

A wide, 5-metre verge, has been mown. All the wildflowers are gone. The undergrowth is gone. There will be no seeds, no insects and so no food for the birds, voles and mice, so no food for the stoats, owls and kestrels.

The litter is now scattered everywhere. It looks disgusting.

The above photo is taken from a similar place to one in the first batch.

These are narrow verges but they have been mown too. You can see on the right-hand side the height of the undergrowth and flowers. On the wider verges, this provided habitat for millions of insects and the creatures who feed off them. The loss of flowers is terrible.

Nature destroyed!

Just the day before yesterday I was ecstatic. I was on my daily walk up my hill into nature. I had seen the stoat, close up, carrying a rabbit it had killed, dragging it along the lane. I had watched a kestrel hovering, looking for a vole. I had delighted in the beautiful blue cornflowers that had appeared on the verges and felt good at the succession of wonderful wildflowers that had appeared on the wide verges.

Nature, during lockdown, was sustaining me.

Either side of that lane were wide verges – up to five metres wide and going the length of the lane. They were a nature reserve for herb and fur, for insect and bird. Those verges gave life and refuge to nature.

Heaven knows there is little of nature left. The insects have been decimated. The space for wildlife greatly reduced. Ponds have been filled, hedges grubbed up so that big farm machinery can operate more efficiently, streams are culverted, trees cut down and what is left is very little, and diminishing by the day.

When I was a boy there were meadows of long grass and wildflowers, alive with bees, butterflies, beetles and grasshoppers. The skies were full of swallows and swifts. There were frogs, newts and toads in the ponds, sticklebacks in the streams and caterpillars in hedges and trees. Even that was merely the rump of what had once been when Britain was one great forest, but it seemed rich and enriching.

Over the years I have seen that richness eroded. No longer the bees and butterflies, flocks of swifts are down to a few, no more hedgehogs flattened in the roads. Nature is greatly reduced.

My daily walks up the hill during lockdown has been delightful. I have seen so much living in that strip of nature.  It was a haven. Every day I would go up there not knowing what I might spot. It was a thrill in these barren times.

Looking out over the green fields one might be fooled into to thinking that nature is all around us. It isn’t. Those green fields are a barren desert, lethal to life. They are sprayed with pesticide and herbicide so that any ‘weed’ or ‘pest’ that dares to intrude is destroyed.

The verges and remaining hedgerows are the last refuges for nature and even they are threatened by the drift of those deadly sprays.

It was a shock. It felt like a punch. The whole of the five-metre verges, all the brambles and undergrowth, all the wildflowers and grasses, the habitat for millions of insects, the seeds to feed the birds, the homes and food for the voles and mice, had been destroyed, mown flat. It was vandalism on a huge scale.

What were the stoats going to feed on now? Where were the voles for the kestrel and barn owl? Where were the insects for the swift and swallow? All gone! Destroyed.

The whole nature reserve along the Wold Road was a barren desert, like the fields around it.

Seemingly there is neither use nor room for nature anymore. It is untidy, an inconvenience, even an irritation.

Unless we start to value it, make space for it and protect it, we will not have anything left for our grandchildren to thrill at. Surely it deserves to be given space to live? Surely enough of us care? We value the bird song and the sight of our wonderful wildlife, don’t we?

Was it just ignorance? Or was it malice? Did someone just want to make it look tidier? Or did someone want to be rid of all those creatures and plants?

What is the basis of this ignorant policy?

It makes me feel sad, angry and ashamed.

BLM – Ritchie Havens – What You Gonna Do About Me?

In this time of social change with a big surge of hope for greater equality as Black Lives Matter and George Floyd provides momentum this song from the late Ritchie Havens takes on greater poignancy.

My Favourite Protest Songs – Ritchie Havens – What You Gonna Do About Me?

This is another one for the environmental vandal Trump and in support of Black Lives Matter.

This is a song off the great album The Blind Degree.  I used to play this a lot.

When things are wrong it is incumbent on all right-minded people to stand up and protest. We cannot allow the greedy and selfish to trash the planet. We cannot allow inequality to poison our society.

It is time the environmental movement, the Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-fascist movements combined. We are all opposing the same greedy minority.

What you gonna do about us? We are gonna stick up for what we believe in and we’re prepared to be shot down.

What You Gonna Do About Me? – Ritchie Havens

You poison my sweet waters; you chop down my green trees
And the food you feed my children is the cause of that ill disease
My world is slowly falling down and the air is not fit to breathe
And those of us who care enough, we have to do something
Oh, what you gonna do about me
Oh, what you gonna do about me

Your newspapers – they just put you on
They never tell you the whole story
They just put your young ideas down
I was wondering if this was the end of their pride and glory?
Oh, what you gonna do about me
Oh, what you gonna do about me

I work in your factories and I study in your schools
I fill your penitentiaries and your military too
I can feel the future trembling as the word is passed around
If you stick up for what you do believe in, be prepared to be shot down
Oh, what you gonna do about me
Oh, what you gonna do about me

I feel just like a stranger in the land where I was born
And I live just like an outlaw; I’m always on the run
Always on the run, they got me always on the run

Oh, your soldiers smoke marijuana, you can’t put them behind your walls
Because most of what you taught them to do is against most of your laws
We’re all fugitives from injustice now but we’re going to be free
Because your rules and regulations don’t do the things for me
Oh, what you gonna do about me
Oh, what you gonna do about me

You may be the stronger now, but my time will come around
You keep adding to my numbers as you shoot my people down
I can feel the future trembling as the word is passed around
We are going to stick up for what we do believe in, and we’re prepared to be shot down
Oh, what you gonna do about me
Oh, what you gonna do about me

I feel just like a stranger in the land where I was born
And I live just like an outlaw; I’m always on the run
Always on the run, they got me always on the run

Today’s Country Walk – Yorkshire in Summer – Photos

Today it was bright and sunny so I chose to do a longish walk of around 12 kilometres to Lowthorpe.

Out of the village

Down the back lane.

Off onto the track

All very overgrown since Spring. Lots of tall grass and hedgerow plants. All buzzing with flies, hoverflies, gnats and midges – food for birds and their young.

Along the back lane, it was the time for dog-rose in the hedgerows and poppies in the fields.

The trees were now fully clothed in their Summer finery.

This house looks grand with its exact dimensions and precision.

Swallows on the wires and butterflies on the flowers.

Into the village of Lowthorpe.

Back out along the lane back to Nafferton.

More butterflies; more trees.

Two chaffinches singing on the wires

And home again! Sorely in need of a cup of tea!! A great walk on a superb sunny day!