Salmon, Kites, Trees and Defend Nature

Outdoors Again – 19 November 2015

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Salmon - Stephen Tomlinson

photo by Stephen Tomlinson

Salmon Jumping

Judith Fawcett from Jennyfields in Harrogate writes (22 October), “Enjoyed a few hours watching the salmon leaping up the weir on the Swale at Topcliffe Mill yesterday. There were some very large fish and apparently have been leaping most of the week. It was a first for me and saved a long drive to the Ribble near Settle. Not many birds on the feeders yet. Three Kite and a buzzard over Saltergate early week. My neighbour regularly sees deer near her bungalow. Had a Red Admiral in the house last week, it enjoyed feasting on half a pear and stayed until the sun came out then was out of the window and away. Not looking forward to the clocks going back so am making the most of the wonderful colours at the moment before the wind blows them off the trees.” Judith writes again on 11 November that she saw more salmon at Linton Weir and one at the weir in Otley. Clearly impressed, Judith enjoyed the sight so much she wrote this poem, ‘The long journey.’

Judith Fawcett - The Long Journey

It fascinates me that salmon breed in our waters and spend much of their life in the sea whilst eels and lampreys, (river and sea) breed in the sea and swim up our rivers as juveniles (ammocoetes) growing up in the mud of our rivers before returning to the sea to breed. Brook lampreys spend all their lives in our rivers. A totally opposite life cycle. Danny, my son, reckons this may be because eels and lampreys are very ancient creatures, a bit like I feel, and originally formed in the sea before there was any land. What do you think?

Red Kite - John Herrington

Red Kite – John Herrington

What A Lot of Kites

Alan Croucher asked me if I knew why there were so many red kites in the Woodlands area of Harrogate and Doug Simpson the ‘Red Kite Man’ reckons that as many as 51 have been seen near the Great Yorkshire Show Ground, probably roosting there.

Trees To Plant

Terry Knowles of Harrogate Rotary Club raises money for trees and then finds places to plant them in the Nidderdale AONB, as part of a carbon offset scheme. If you have a site in Nidderdale and want trees planting, British hardwoods, then let Terry know on If you want to help fund this wonderful initiative then again please support Terry. Terry has around 800 trees at the moment so this is a very generous opportunity.

State of Nature

The Critical State of Our Nature

In 2013 for the first time ever, 25 of the UK’s wildlife organisations have joined forces to undertake a health check of nature in the UK and its Overseas Territories. To quote Sir David Attenborough, “all is not well.” The key findings of the State of Nature report are:

  • 60% of the 3,148 species that were assessed had declined in the last 50 years, and 31% had declined strongly.

  • A new Watchlist Indicator assessing the state of 155 priority species showed that they had declined by 77% in the last 40 years. One in ten of the 6,000 species assessed using modern Red List criteria are thought to be at risk of extinction in the UK.

  • We know less about some taxonomic groups, such as non-insect invertebrates, fungi and many marine species. But if they are following the trends we know about, they are also likely to be suffering significant declines.

In October 2015 a further response was published entitled ‘The Response for Nature report for England.’ which outlines specific asks for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help save UK nature. To ensure its recovery, nature needs the UK Government, or devolved Government’s to undertake a number of important actions including halting species extinction, Deliver a network of special places for nature on land and at sea, connect with young people, provide incentives (or other financial measures) that work for nature and Fully implement and defend the laws that conserve nature – our most important laws that safeguard species and special places, including the European, Birds and Habitats Directives, which is under threat. We must resist attempts from Europe to weaken these directives and ensure their full implementation, thus helping to reduce pressures on nature.

Defend Nature?

This latter point needs Action now. In December European Governments will be discussing the Nature Directives and our Government is not one of the nine Governments committed to keeping the laws. This is despite Rory Stewart, our Environment Minister, saying the UK can lead the world in nature conservation. So can you write to Rory and your local MP seeking their support for the full, current Nature Directives. For more info, including appropriate addresses search Defend Nature and do it today before we suffer even more catastrophic losses to our wildlife, please.