Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Solstice beckons

As the days grow ever shorter we huddle round our fires and wildlife tends to be furthest from our thoughts. However, here are some reminders about what is going on out there - and some suggestions about how you might help.
First, there's a petition to be signed...especially as Derbyshire has a particularly dismal record when it comes to raptor persecution. An e-petition submitted to the department of the environment has recently been accepted by the government and added to the official list of e-Petitions website. If 100,000 people sign the petition, the issue of 'Vicarious Liability' will be debated in the House of Commons.
The petition, as you will see, requires the owners of land, not just their employees (such as gamekeepers) to be liable to prosecution if birds of prey are illegally killed on their property or if employees are found in possession of the illegal chemicals that are used to poison them.
Please visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/23089 to sign up. It only takes a few seconds.
Many thanks.
Second, December is a good month to join your local wildlife trust or give membership as a gift. You can do this through the national website www.wildlifetrusts.org/ or, in the case of Derbyshire, via their recently re-vamped website at www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org. Incidentally, the website does have links to this project (under 'projects' and also to the
'wildlife diary' that a certain someone writes for the Trust each week and which mentions the peregrines at regular intervals.....)
Thirdly, you could make a donation to a wildlife charity of your choice perhaps, instead of asking for a present you don't really need. The peregrine project or a wildlife trust are obvious candidates....as is (for me) Birdlife Malta (www.birdlifemalta.org), a dedicated group trying to counter the appalling shooting of migrant birds (from swallows to eagles) passing over that island. There are many more very worthwhile wildlife charities out there of course so do plump for your favourite ones.
The bid for a grant to sustain this project is nearing completion and should be handed in to the Heritage Lottery Fund before the end of the month.
A big thank you to everyone who took the trouble to send in their comments and tributes to the project. These have helped us enormously to show the level of support for our work and to indicate just what an effect the birds have had on so many of you.
The artwork accompanying this post is by Noel Cusa (top) and Mike Warren. Noel worked in industry all his life with painting as an occasional hobby. When he retired he started to paint in earnest and you can see the level of his achievement. His mentor was the great Charles Tunnicliffe. Charles' book The Peregrine Sketchbook, contains many wonderful paintings of peregrines on the cliffs of Anglesey where he lived (available on Amazon for £9).
Mike Warren lives in Nottinghamshire and has been a wildlife artist for many years, starting out in graphic design. These field sketches are from a calendar he produced many years ago.
I think you'll agree that both artists in their different styles capture the character of the bird to perfection.
Finally, the peregrine 'bible', written by the late Derek Ratcliffe (The Peregrine, Poyser Books) is also available online, though for rather more money unless you can pick one up second hand.....

Nick B (DWT)
Ps, Finally finally, The DVD on The Peregrines of Derby is also still available via the DWT website...I almost forgot to mention that!