A little local trouble
Saturday 23 March 1996
Hail to Thee, blithe Spirit!/ Bird thou never wert..." So begins Shelley's "To a Skylark". Sadly, were the poet writing in 1996 he might have continued: "Nor never more shall be." Apparently, Britain's Skylark population has gone into freefall over the past 20 years, dropping at a rate of 335 birds a day, something the RSPB this week set up a campaign to stop. The main culprits seem to be pesticides, which have destroyed the caterpillers and other bugs that skylark chicks need. Herbicides have cut down the amount of seeds from weeds that the adult birds need. Even fields that have been "set aside", as part of crop rotation schemes, tend to be sprayed before the young birds can fledge.
"If set-aside land could be left alone during May and June, the skylarks could bring off two broods a year," Chris Mead of the British Trust for Ornithology said. "But the present system has been set up to increase agriculture production rather than help the birds." He was keen to add, however, that, "it is not the fault of the farmers - they are under economic pressure." Adieu to thee...
Finally, despite all the column inches devoted to this week's Mad Human Disease revelations, one question remains: if the Government does decide to have the nation's entire cattle herd put down, what will happen to Britain's most famous bovine, Ellie May, from The Archers?
Ellie's life has not exactly been a bed of roses recently. Only the other month listeners heard how terribly lonely she had become, stuck in field on her own. But surely they can't let her go to the knacker's yard in Borchester "Let's just say," says Vanessa Whitburn, the programme's editor, "we are looking at the whole BSE situation on a daily basis."
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
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