I have written much about the badger cull which has now been extended to about a dozen counties.  My anguish at the thought of thousands upon thousands of badgers being killed is tempered by the fact that this slaughter might just eliminate bTB in cattle.  We must endeavour to rid this country of this horrible disease and to achieve this end by culling the adorable badger might, just might, be the answer.  I still do not understand why vaccination is not considered to be a solution.  We no longer chase foxes with hounds (well, not legitimately) but we still shoot pheasants.  The Times’ headline of January 17 2019 was “abomination of pheasants dumped into pit by digger”.  This article reveals the dark side to Britain’s multi-million pound bird shooting business.  About 50 million birds are bred each year to be shot and customers pay for this ‘sport’.  Often, as in the case on my patch, the birds are released from pens a few days before the shoot and can be seen wandering around the roads in a bewildered state before they are blasted by ‘sportsmen’.  Two billion pounds, it is said, goes into the rural economy because of this.  Jerome Starkey of The Times complains that the majority of birds shot do not enter the food chain but are dumped.  Is it morally right just to breed birds to be shot?  Mind you, is it morally right for me to suggest that we ought to cull grey squirrels in Christchurch Park or for the RSPB to cull red deer on their Minsmere Reserve?  At least the venison from this wonderful Reserve enters the food chain.  Perhaps squirrel should likewise be offered as an alternative Sunday roast.

Two years ago I was on Hampstead Heath staring up into the leafless winter branches at the ring-necked parakeets sitting in every tree.  On January 18 this year there was a ring-necked parakeet sitting on the apple tree in my garden.  Four have been seen in Christchurch Park.  Yes, these green parrots have spread and they will continue to spread even further.  Just like grey squirrels they really have no place here.  An acquaintance of mine said that my views are totally wrong suggesting that as they are here we should accept and appreciate them but, unlike collared doves who migrated here from eastern Europe, the former species were introduced by man.  Actually, collared doves do little harm unlike these other unwanted guests.  Oh well, I suppose I have to respect other people’s points of view.

The full moon on 20 January travelled across the sky like a very large ball of Red Leicester cheese.  Actually it was termed as ‘blood-red moon’ but really it was a lump of red cheese.  However, with the full moon came extremely high tides and on that day the River Deben was very full.  It was a beautiful sunny, winter’s morning and the water was very calm as I strolled past the late Reverend John Waller’s reserve at Waldringfield.  Most of the vegetation in the river was covered by water allowing the observer to get super views of waders and ducks.  Widgeon and teal are beautiful birds but it was the River Deben itself that was the most glorious of all – I reckon John was smiling up there.

I spilled quite a large quantity of peanuts on my lawn and watched a wood pigeon eat 58 of them.  The following morning there was the remains of a pigeon on my lawn.  For the third time this week a sparrowhawk, I thought, had made a mess of my grass.  I also thought that the attacker must have been a large female hawk but then I noticed that one remaining wing had been ripped from the carcase and another was cut as though with a pair of scissors.  I had probably received yet another visit from a fox.  Yesterday, a redwing was another ‘spar’ victim.