Week Ending November 1st

Monday, October 27th.  What a glorious day!  Spent most of it working on the electric fencing at the NT’s Birling Gap in readiness for the ponies arriving thereat the end of the week.  Saw 3 swallows up towards Belle Tout lighthouse.

Tuesday, October 28th.  A milk-round of a day – lookering ponies in Ashdown area, Hastings and finally at Lullington Heath, where I closed up several compartments and drove the 9 ponies on to the heath area of the Reserve.

Wednesday, October 29th.  A drab, damp but mild day…  At precisely 4-44pm, there was an enormous bang whilst I was standing in the quiet of the garden making a phone call!  It would appear to have been the sonic boom from two RAF Typhoon fighter jets intercepting an ‘unidentified’ aircraft over Kent.  As it coincided with daylight beginning to fade, I’ve never heard in my life so many pheasants shouting at once!

Thursday, October 30th.  Another glorious day spent at Birling Gap queaking the electric fencing.  During the morning I should have been wearing shorts it was so warm!

Friday, October 31st.  The gathering in of Herd 1 didn’t go to plan!  Early afternoon and we eventually loaded just 11 ponies and transported them down to Birling Gap, which on arrival mid-afternoon, caused quite a bit of interest as a large cattle lorry pulled into the busy car park and then proceeded to reverse between the rows of parked cars to the unloading point.  A long day and certainly had far better days!

Saturday, November 1st.  While having an afternoon cup of tea in Tunbridge Wells, observed a magpie systematically working along the eaves of a oldish 2-storey building presumably feeding on spiders etc.  It was making full use of its long tail to peer down from the gutter and then using it woodpecker-fashion, to brace itself whilst on the vertical wall.

WWF Response to EU Climate Change Agreement


24 October 2014

Today the European Council agreed a 2030 climate and energy framework with the headline targets of at least 40% greenhouse reductions, at least 27% renewable energy and 27% energy savings. In doing so EU leaders have missed the opportunity to build a better future for European citizens, ignoring the significant gains to their well-being that greater ambition would yield. By slowing down the pace of EU action, the Council has also aimed well below what is expected of Europe internationally.

Leo Hickman, Chief Adviser, Climate Change, WWF-UK said:

“Our leaders have shown that they still lack the ambition to cut emissions at the very time when we should be fully embracing the many benefits that come from moving away from dirty fossil fuels. Bold investment and unswerving commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy are key to securing jobs, economic growth, energy security and clean air.

“While we recognise that the UK Government fought hard to secure as high an emissions reduction target as was deemed politically possible, scientists are clear that this package is insufficient to avoid dangerous climate change.

“A year out from the signing of a global climate deal, we needed meaningful ambition. Sadly, our leaders blinked.”

Jason Anderson, Head of EU climate and energy policy at WWF European Policy Office said:

“European leaders are sacrificing our futures on the altar of politics. Today’s result seems designed keep vested interests from the old economy happy, at the cost of the wellbeing of citizens and forward-looking industries. Large polluters will find these conclusions to their linking since they may escape a meaningful pollution price signal for at least another decade.

With renewable energy and efficiency targets barely above business as usual trends, a carbon market that will remain irrelevant for a decade and nothing to reign in coal power, Europe’s early efforts to combat climate change and advance clean energy have been set adrift by Council.

The coming months will be crucial to avoid the worst implications of this decision. The EU will need to review its target, as it is asking other countries in the UN to do. Those Member States who see the benefits of climate action will try to fill the void with domestic policy, but action will be fractured, and an EU policy response will be necessary.”

Samantha Smith, Leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative said:

“These targets are thoroughly inadequate. We are facing what is likely to be the warmest year ever, heat waves and flooding are already hitting Europe, and the developing world is experiencing even more dire impacts. European countries need to deliver targets that will drive a rapid and just transition out of fossil fuels and into renewables and energy efficiency. Until they have done so, they cannot continue to claim to be climate leaders.”

Next steps.

Several elements are necessary to prevent the Council’s decisions from blocking progress on EU climate and energy. In the UN climate talks, the EU is supporting as an assessment of the likely gap between planned reductions and those needed to stay below 2 degrees global warming. This will be used to push countries to deepen their commitments – making the EU itself a prime candidate to perform such a review in light of its own weak showing in Council.

Editor’s notes……

The Economics of Climate Change Policy in the UK – a report from Cambridge Econometrics in collaboration with Pr Paul Ekins of University College London – found that reducing the UK’s carbon emissions by around 60% by 2030 (as recommended by the Committee on Climate Change) would:

  • increase UK GDP by 1.1% in net terms
  • result in at least 190,000 additional jobs being created across the UK economy
  • Increase average annual household incomes by £565
  • Increase the Government’s revenues by £5.7bn per year
  • Reduce imports of oil and gas by £8.5bn per year, thereby improving the UK’s energy                                                         security

Week Ending October 25th

Sunday, 19th.  Incredibly mild over the weekend.  While driving south down the M23 at about 5-15pm ‘near’ Redhill, two flocks of perhaps 15 – 20 ring-necked parakeets flew west over the motorway.

Monday, 20th.  We managed today to erect most of the electric fencing at the National Trust’s Birling Gap in readiness for the arrival of 15 Exmoor ponies.  Whilst working – blustery but still mild, I notice that some centaury was still in flower as was a plant of burnet rose.

Tuesday, 21st.  This must be the silly week – had a second report today of a pony ill or dead, on different sites.  During the afternoon, I managed to drive the 9 ponies still on the RSPB’s Broadwater Warren into a restricted area in readiness for moving off on Friday.  Contractors commence work there on Thursday, felling another large swathe of conifers (and probably not shutting gates after themselves!).

Thursday, 23rd.  Whilst erecting fencing at Pippingford, we saw an all white stag with a fine set of antlers.  Some huge flocks of pigeons about at the moment.

Friday, 24th.  We gathered and moved out the 9 ponies at Broadwater.  8 ponies have gone down to Lullington Heath NNR for the winter.  The morning started off dry with even a glimpse of the sun.  By the time we were arriving at Lullington, high up on the South Downs, the weather had closed in – low cloud, a steady rain and, not a human sound to be heard.

Week Ending October 18th

Tuesday, 14th.  Though mainly grey and wet, the weather continues to be mild.  At Hastings Country Park situated on the coast of the English Channel, small groups of house martins were observed feeding as was the occasional easterly trickle of swallows on migration.  Work started here today on removing an area scrub to encourage the return of heathland.                                                              In the Ashdown forest area, bell heather, heath milkwort and ragwort are still to found in flower.  As our villages Parish Tree Warden, I was requested to inspect a large magnificent beech tree as to its safety; outwardly it appeared well.

Thursday, 16th.  Have now got approval to increase the Trust’s number of ponies by 10 to total 80 ponies!  Met with representatives of the National Trust and Eastbourne Borough Council this morning to discuss the finer points of this coming winter’s pony grazing at Birling Gap, Belle Tout and Beachy Head.  A glorious, mild sunny morning on this spectacular coastline.  (Yesterday, a German couple returned from the beach to the car park at the ‘Gap carrying a WW2 live shell, placing it behind their car and then informing the staff there.  The authorities when informed, nearly had kittens!).

Week Ending October 11th

The seasons march on…  September was the driest one on record; October however, also seems to be attempting to break a record but in the opposite direction, with periods of heavy rain accompanied with spells of sunshine and the odd clap of thunder.

Wednesday.  While driving along a trackway in the Ashdown Forest area, I had a really good sighting of a pair of ravens:  On approaching a solitary group of several scots pines, I became aware of a pair of ‘crows’ perched in the top of one of the trees.  As I was about to pass by, I realised they were a pair of ravens, which then launched into the brisk SW wind, I being able to appreciate their relative large size and also their slightly different flight profile.

Thursday.  A little south of our village is a large jackdaw roost of perhaps 300-400 birds.  Every morning, at a given point probably connected with the amount of daylight, they fly north – often over our house, all collectively ‘kyow’ (calling) to one another.  Sometimes, many of them drop into a large nearby oak for a few minutes as if to decide which feeding destination to head for.  Jackdaws with their pearl-grey eyes, have got to be one of my favourite common birds; they always seem so happy and would seem to be more benign than some of their cousins!  Tonight, I stood outside the door, watching them fly home to their roost, happily kyowing, powerfully flying almost into the SW wind with some carrying out joyful manoeuvres, playing with the wind.

Friday.  Having yesterday, driven the 15 ponies on the unfenced area of Chailey Common into a neighbouring farmers field, this morning we corralled them and then trailered them up the road to their winter quarters on Red House and Lane End Commons.  All went smoothly, with the ground conditions wet but still firm and helped by a brilliant band of volunteers.  Bought some organic pork and an amazing loaf from Townings Farm Shop!  Late afternoon and I saw a solitary swallow flying east near Upper Dicker.

Saturday.  At Pippingford Park today, a Spartan ‘Beast’ Race was held – a 25km run including wading through a river and ponds; carrying objects and climbing obstacles.  The ponies were unaffected and were probably looking on and thinking, ‘these humans are completely mad!’ 

More Money Required to Reach Global Wildlife Targets


More investment needed to reach international biodiversity targets by 2020

By Adrian Long, Thursday, 02/10/2014.

Targets to halt biodiversity loss can still be met, but governments need to do more to honour their commitments by turning their words into action and scaling up their investment in nature conservation. A new study published in the journal Science reveals that, despite some progress, more needs to be done to reach an internationally agreed set of biodiversity targets by 2020.

Ecosystems and the biodiversity that underpin them are vital for sustaining human life. Recognising this, in 2010, 193 nations agreed on a set of 20 biodiversity-related goals, known as Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

At this mid-way point to the 2020 deadline, a team of 51 experts from over 30 institutions including BirdLife International, have assessed progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and projected whether or not they will be met. They reveal that despite increasing management efforts and financial investment in protecting biodiversity, and a remarkable expansion in protected areas on land and at sea, accumulated and increasing pressures on the natural world mean it is unlikely that most of the targets will be met by 2020 if we remain on our current trajectory.

To assess progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, experts used a broad range of data on biodiversity and human indicators such as global bottom-trawl fishing pressure, efforts to manage invasive species, financial investment, and public understanding of biodiversity. They then projected these trends to assess the state of biodiversity in 2020.

“The Aichi Biodiversity Targets represent the most important international commitment towards preserving biodiversity,” says Derek Tittensor, Lead Author and Senior Marine Biodiversity Scientist at United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre and Adjunct Professor at Dalhousie University. “However, our projections show that the impact of current management and policy efforts is not enough to halt biodiversity declines and meet most of the targets by 2020.”

“The BirdLife Partnership’s data from birds underpin one-fifth of the indicators used to judge progress against the 20 Aichi targets”, said Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife International’s Head of Science and a co-author of the paper.

“These show that we are not on course to meet the Targets. Governments need to do more to honour their commitments by turning their words into action and scaling up their investment in nature conservation.”

As shown in the Science paper, increased pressures on biodiversity suggest that the situation is worsening. The consumption of natural resources is increasing. Decreasing wetland extent and declining coral cover reflect large-scale habitat loss. At current rates, Aichi Biodiversity Targets to halve the rate of natural habitat loss and sustainably harvest all fish stocks will not be achieved – but there remains sufficient time to change this outcome.

“The Aichi Biodiversity Targets are still within reach,” says Dr Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. “We have numerous examples of successful policy efforts to halt or slow biodiversity loss. This study acts as a wake-up call that these efforts should become more widespread.”

Substantial progress is being made on individual targets. Certification schemes for forests and fisheries are becoming more widespread. Policy interventions have resulted in reduced deforestation and led to better managed fisheries stocks in some regions. There is also growing public awareness of biodiversity. Financial resources are being made available to address the biodiversity crisis, but more investment is needed to fulfil all targets.

The results of this study feed into a global assessment of the status and trends of biodiversity – the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-4) – which is being released on 6 October during the upcoming meeting to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. During this meeting the necessary actions and novel solutions required to meet the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and preserve biodiversity will be discussed.


“A mid-term analysis of progress towards international biodiversity targets,” by D.P. Tittensor et al. was published online by the journal Science, at the Science Express website, on Thursday 2 October. See http://www.scienceexpress.org. More information can be found online at the Science press package at http://www.eurekalert.org/jrnls/sci. You will need a user ID and password to access this information.

Early Autumn Weather

Well, it’s early October and what prenominal weather we have had this past month!  The driest September since records started back in 1910; must have been I imagine, one of the warmest too?  Wood ants have been active still in the past few days.

Ponies have been enjoying the delay of autumn wind and rain.  At Broadwater, they have been browsing heavily on shoulder-high birch.  Elsewhere, they are still taking bracken a little – usually only during a few weeks in August.  Heather has possibly had a longer flowering season?  House martins are still in evidence either feeding or migrating through.

All change this weekend, with the jet stream moving south at last with a low accompanied by wind and rain sweeping down across the country.  Redwings, harbingers of the winter to come, have already arrived in a few places elsewhere in the country.