Monday, 2 February 2015

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Memorialising WW2

In this week when we are remembering some of the horrors of WW2, I would like to note a lovely and productive alliance between Germany and Russia.

Two young ornithologists - one Russian and one German - noticed that a charming little wading bird called the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is on the verge of extinction.   And they alerted the world. They kept on shouting until someone listened.  The S-bS lives and breeds in a remote, unpopulated part of Russia and its migration pattern includes both Myanmar and Bangladesh.

What seems to have happened is two-fold.

Firstly, it is the food of the poor, and probably always has been. But when the new nylon nets arrived, it was trapped on an unprecedented scale.  Secondly, the problem is the tragically usual one - loss of habitat.  There are now cheap and quick methods of reclaiming the sort of wetland and deltas that wading birds need.

A serious attempt is under way to save this little bird - one that provides poor bird-trappers with another way of eating and earning some money - and one that may save some of the beautiful productive delta land where the local people fish.  But whether it can be saved is uncertain.  It is now in captive breeding at Slimbridge, just in case. Not ideal for a migrating wader, I know, but I am so glad they are doing it.

It's a real Alice-through-the-Looking-Glass sort of bird.  The fluffy little chicks are enchanting. And what have we, the children of Adam, come to, that we are set on destroying them?

As I have said before, when our first parents made that terrible decision to cut themselves off from their Creator, their Source of life, they found they could not keep themselves alive, let alone run this beautiful and complex planet.

I know about the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and its plight because Captain Butterfly and I spent Saturday at the Annual Conference of the Sussex Ornithological Society at Haywards Heath.   A very good day out.  It was rounded off by supper at Jackie's - which was,er, roast chicken with all the trimmings... which seems so brutally insensitive in this context.

We have got everything in such a horrible mess.   The original Serpent is still in the garden - but not for much longer.

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