Manor Road is only a few metres from Christchurch Park and yet recently I counted over 30 deposits of dog poo in this small road.  Is this just one dog whose owner fails to reach the Park in time or is there more than one anti-social dog-owner in this area?  In Manchester, as instigated by Joan Bakewell, piles of offending dog poo are sprayed with fluorescent paint for two reasons.  The first is to emphasise just what deposits are left by dogs with irresponsible owners and the second to make the poo obvious to pedestrians who are liable to slip and slide in this horrible mess.  I may yet take it upon myself to spray with day-glow paint the unwelcome stuff left in Manor Road.  It is interesting to read that some Councils in London have limited the number of dogs per person to three for owners using their Parks or Commons.  The reason for this is simple.  There are growing numbers of professional dog-walkers and it is not unusual for a single person to be in charge of more than half a dozen free-running dogs going for ‘walkies’ (or should that be ‘pooies’?).  How can one person see what a pack of dogs is up to especially as many dog-walkers treat these events as social occasions and seem to be quite oblivious as to what their dogs are doing. What colour paint shall I use?

I have often advised as to what I think you should have on your bucket list with regard to wildlife.  I have another for you and probably the most exciting yet. A common bird is a starling.  We all know starlings – not the sort of bird any self-respecting birder would twitch.  Really?  The 1st February dawned bright and sunny with no clouds just the day for visiting RSPB Minsmere to see starlings, not one bird but about 40,000 of them!  A murmuration of starlings is not just unusual, it is just unbelievable.  By the time I arrived at Minsmere prior to dusk it was dull, grey, cold and raining.  Surely the starlings would not show up in this weather.  On the north wall of the reserve many people had gathered most with umbrellas.  It got darker, more windy and the rain increased.  Then they arrived,  a huge cloud of dots with more arriving by the minute.  This huge murmuration put on a fantastically breathtaking display.  The rounded shapes formed by these birds expanded and then contracted, the birds billowed high into the sky and then all swooped down almost to the ground.  The watching birders stood in silence so silent that, as the starlings banked closer, one could hear the vibration of the birds’ wings as they changed course.  This went on for some time (minutes actually) and then suddenly the whole murmuration dropped down into the reed bed.  Phew!  We were all soaked, but filled with amazement.  I wanted to applaud this performance but nobody did.  It is certainly a ‘must’ to see.

There is currently some controversy in our Park concerning the removal of the former dog-poo only bins.  The bin near the Westerfield Road entrance was replaced by a larger general purpose bin and, before a notice explaining the change was placed in the Park, dog-pooh bags were placed on the ground where the bin used to be.  The new notice clarifies that both human and animal rubbish may both be deposited in the new bin.  This is because, I understand, its contents will be incinerated at Great Blakenham.  An article in the EADT told of the stress that had been caused to many dog-walkers by the removal of the former dog poo bins.  One dog-walker was quoted as saying that without the dog poo bins they had had to carry their rubbish all round the Park until eventually finding a bin at the Park entrance.  How about taking the dog poo back home with you, I thought?