This will be my last ‘jottings’ before Christmas and I wish everyone a Happy Christmas.  May you have a very jolly time and be able to get out into the countryside, or even your local Park.  Surprise, surprise, mine is Christchurch Park.  If you are able, then surely you will see the wonders of nature.  This, I hope, will offer you some peace. 

I have a Christmas wish list, which I suggest Santa will completely ignore.  Number one – please sort out the badger versus cattle problem.  In other words who gives who bTB.  This is dragging on far to long; surely the answer is to vaccinate all the cattle, and perhaps badgers as well, against this!  Number two – give our songbirds hope.  They need more protection for their habitat.  We simply cannot carry on destroying more and more wild areas.  Yes, we are building new reserves, but mainly for waterfowl and waders. Youngsters of today just have no idea of just how common our common birds once were.  In 1952, between February and April, I found nearly 400 hedgerow birds’ nests.  Do you think that I am exaggerating, not so.  Which brings me to corvids.  For far too long, crows, carrion crow, magpie, jay and jackdaw, have been allowed to breed freely at the expense of our songbirds.  Something needs to be done to protect our ever decreasing numbers of our favourite birds.  Number three – please may we have a really concerted effort to rid our country of mink, I mean really, really try to eradicate this alien species and then how about blitzing grey squirrels?  When will we wake up to the fact that our countryside and parks do not need these evasive and destructive tree rats.

And I go on with number four – try to encourage more of us to eat venison.  It is alarming just how many deer are roaming out there, not only in our countryside but in our parks as well.  Let’s face it, deer are beautiful and lovable animals but there are far too many, especially the munjac, which destroy the habitat of other creatures.  It is extraordinary that we even have muntjac in Christchurch Park.  Number five – let’s try and educate people about cats.  Why do cat owners sometimes let their cats out at night?  I simply cannot work that one out.  If you love your cat that much, then why let your little treasure out when it is dark?  It is simply bewildering.  I have friends who have cats, cats kill birds especially at dawn.  One friend told me that their cat has killed only four birds this year.  There are millions of cats in this country!  Number six – hen harriers.  For heaven’s sake, sort out the illegal persecution of this beautiful bird of prey.  We all know what is happening.  Hen harriers kill young grouse; grouse moor management teams kill hen harriers.  There must be something that can be done about this.

And I continue…  Number seven – I mention the egg collector who just last week was sentenced to a few days in prison after being found guilty of stealing hundreds of clutches of rare birds’ eggs, including those of nightjar, nightingale and stone curlew.  This man succeeded in doing irreparable damage to much of Norfolk’s rarer birds and yet he received just a short ‘holiday’ in prison.  Finally, number eight – Santa do something about fly-tipping.  Today friend Don found ‘stuff’ dumped in the lane that leads to his house in Rushmere – bike parts and three settees.  Now if fly-tipping is deposited by the roadside it is the Council’s responsibility to remove it.  However, this rubbish was two metres into his lane and therefore his responsibility to dispose of it.