Death of the Ducklings…It Must be Packham’s Fault!

Posted on May 3, 2019

When I go on a dog walk with my friend Simon, we start at Cliddesden Pond. Just under a fortnight ago, there were 11 ducklings happy following their mother around.

Now there are three. Those three have a perilous fortnight ahead of them as they can not live independently without their mother for around 28 days. If two of them survive, it will be a job well done by the mother. With every passing day, their chances increase.

The ducklings die for numerous reasons. One being the fact that like the organisms they will go on to eat, they themselves are also food. Herons, foxes and pike (not the one from Dad’s Army) love a bit of duckling for breakfast. They are also great fluffy toys for cats.

Survival of the Fittest

That’s why the mother has 11 chicks. The ‘survival of the fittest’ results in the survival of just one or two ducklings. If this process didn’t take place, we would be up to our necks in ducks.

This got me to thinking about the process of natural selection. In particular ongoing row between Chris Packham and landowners backed up by right-wing newspapers, in particular, The Daily Telegraph.

Then there were three: The Cliddesden ducklings

Now, if I needed information about birdlife and the ecological system, the first thing I would do is check what Chris Packham has to say. The last thing I would do is read an article by a newspaper owned by tax dodging landowners with a vested interest in slaughtering indigenous birds.

The Crow Family

The row has centred around the crow family (Corvidae) and Chris Packham’s concerns that some (not all, I must add) gamekeepers shoot them just for the sheer crack of it. Knowing that a local gamekeeper walked into a pub with a dead barn owl he had shot, I understand Packham’s concerns.

I also recall the tale of Richard Benyon MP, the owner of huge pheasant and partridge shoots. He tried to pass a bill through parliament to cull indigenous birds. This was because kites and buzzards were allegedly attacking some of the 30 million non indigenous pheasants that are released every September. Never has there been an MP who has tried to administer something so outrageously self-serving (he failed).

Can you see what I am getting at here? The Telegraph and its land owning supporters want to slaughter natural species to protect unnatural farming practices and pheasant/partridge shoots. That’s why when I see a stray pheasant on the road, I keep going. They are a menace and not part of the natural ecological system. they are out of control.

Responsible Culling

Some gamekeepers slaughter animals under the banner of The Countryside Alliance. This is a name created to make themselves look like responsible members of rural Britain. Let’s be honest, in many cases, they clearly are not responsible at all. Of course control of species needs to be exercised by farmers; to deny that would be churlish. I also accept that aggressive buying tactics by supermarkets can force farmers into practices they are not content with, merely to survive.

However, the fact that many of them lie about culling and fabricate outrageous tales about carrion (birds that feed of dead or injured animals) proves that their practices are often dubious. It is also unfair on decent farmers and landowners who work hard to maintain the ecological system, rather than destroying it.

As big softies, Simon and I have been saddened to see the demise of the ducklings. However, the fact is that it is just nature taking its course, so we need to get over ourselves. No one is to blame and by interfering with the process and rescuing ducklings, you are playing with nature.

That said, if you asked The Daily Telegraph and aggressive gamekeepers who was to blame for the death of ducklings, you know who it would be. It would be the fault of Chris Packham and the crow family.

Have a lovely weekend.

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