Wednesday, 3 August 2011

I have to admit to being absolutely furious this evening, Holly, with some assistance from me, is trying very hard to get all our bird records straight, which is not easy at the best of times, especially with the work load we have at the moment and when dealing with a government department is made even less easy.

I am old enough to remember when bird registration first came in, in fact I have wished since 1979 that the falconers at the original meeting in Stoneleigh had said let’s have licensing of the falconers and owners, rather than the birds, but they didn't, which to this day I believe was a huge mistake. However the first bird to be ringed with a cable tie and registered was our Golden Eagle Sable, who removed the cable tie within ten minutes!! The government department was then called the Department of the Environment, or DOE, they are now called AHVLA don’t ask me what it stands for, (although I bet I could think something up!) we have all given up guessing as to what they are calling themselves these days.

My computer keeps wanting to call them HALVA, which personally I believe would be just as bloody accurate. They have gone through at least four name changes, all of which cost us the tax payer huge sums of money for a new logo (as if any of us give a damn about it) new name, new stationary, IT and so on. They used to do what they do for conservation reasons, now I see absolutely no conservation efforts on their parts whatsoever.

Now they have policemen on secondment who are convinced that any and everyone who has anything to do with keeping birds of prey must be a criminal, in fact I am surprised that the prejudice that we see is not held against them in any court cases. Now I am not saying that all falconers and bird of prey keepers are whiter than white, far from in, there are a fair number that I am disgusted with, however not all of us are out to break the law. Any more than we should judge all policemen by those who take bribes, or bend the law, or civil servants who leak important documents, or even become traitors to their own country. I don’t imply that all those who work in these fields are criminals and so similarly we should not be judged.

But today was just the bitter end. We applied to get what is called an Article 10 certificate for a wild disabled Hobby. Now let me explain that if we put any British birds of prey on display to the general public this is called commercial, the fact that they make little difference to our commercial success or failure apparently is neither here nor there. The fact that we take in and care for injured wild birds and the government does nothing apart from charge those who do for paperwork, is not taken into consideration. The fact that the idiots in CITES who changed the annexes and so put all European birds of prey at the same status, regardless of the fact that Black Kites are the most highly numeric birds of prey in the world, and yet Eleonora’s Falcons are rare and on the decline, did not seem to enter their tiny brains, so because of these idiots we have to run the gauntlet of paperwork and pay through the nose to do so.

However those facts aside, we applied for the bird and others with our cheques for £100, and were sent a letter asking yet more questions, some were about a Eurasian Griffon Vulture we bred this year, The questions about our education policy, the target audience (whoever walks through the bloody door!) the signage, how it pertains to the national curriculum (that is staggeringly full of vulture stuff of course) what conservation benefit will accrue to the species, etc etc, were not only endless, but if they don’t know that to get a zoo licence we have to fulfill criteria every bit as high as these questions if not higher, then they should be ashamed of themselves. Apparently they have no idea that the Centre is involved with the vulture project in India and Nepal, or any of the conservation work that we do, interestingly that supposes that English Nature doesn’t either, regardless of the fact that I have over the years sent them piles and I mean PILES of information on what we do, and they email me fairly regularly asking for advice!! Still we got all the bloody paperwork together which takes time and staff, and by the time it was all done the Hobby had very thoughtlessly died on us.

Robin who is our education officer thought it would be very useful to take its wings and dry them and use them to demonstrate to the visitors in our new education building the differences between a Hobby and a Kestrel, both of which are seen in the UK. So while I was on the phone checking that if we sent all the stuff up they would please keep it on file so that we would not have to do it again – which we are going to have to do because apparently the education stuff we do for the birds has to stipulate the individual species, otherwise we could be doing all the stuff for every bird on the place Except the Eurasian Griffon Vulture, my goodness to think I might have got that wrong. I then mentioned that the Hobby had died and I assumed that we would need an Article 10 to use the wings so could the wording on the application be changed from Live bird to Dead bird. NOPE! Not only did we lose the £25 for the Article 10 for the bird, which we never got, so that was £25 for no Article 10, but we would have to reapply with another £25 for the dead Hobby. Now I consider that to be extortion, it is disgraceful, it is nothing to do with conservation, it is downright greed and blindingly unhelpful to the people who are responsible for them having a damn job in the first place! So sadly the dead Hobby is going to go on the bonfire, what a criminal waste of what could have been a very useful educational tool and I would like to congratulate AHVLA, on your bird conservation, it is quite without par. Of course my MBE is for services to bird conservation, I wonder what services you could get one for?


Tom Morath said...


In a way it is so comforting to read your words about the AHVLA, and how infuriatingly difficult they can be in their extortion and ludicrosity.

I have just managed to get a wild rescue ketrels paperwork through after nearly 6 months of trying and having to wait for this to post there, that to be signed by the world and his wife, when really i am trying to do good, trying to help with conservation!

Now after a loss of nearly 5 months flying, i am happy to report that Boddie the Kestrel is flying remarkably well at his new home, i just wish i could say it was with thanks from the authorities. As i said, you words were comforting but shocking that these people do so little research into their cases (i.e. "Apparently they have no idea that the Centre is involved with the vulture project in India and Nepal, or any of the conservation work that we do")

Many thanks

Tom Morath

sue hyde said...

this is ridiculous mima, i feel your frustration!


I have to say that keeping a weblog can at times become compulsive and at other times a chore. Sometimes I am berrated for not keeping it up and sometimes I get wonderful comments from people who follow the news of the Centre.

It is fun to share the daily goings on here, some good and some bad, some funny and some sad, but all a part of our daily lives.
And as I said before its a pretty cool to be here and it is a great place to visit, you should try coming and watching the birds and meeting the staff and of course the dogs.

Blog Archive

An interesting video on Lead

An interesting video on Lead

I find it staggering that people who want to hunt don't see the value in changing their ammunition from lead to a safer product. We have stopped using lead in petrol, in paint, in our water pipes, but they still want to use lead - ah well, apparently eating it not only kills birds but leads to reduced intelligence in humans......................

NO ONE is asking you to stop legal and genuine hunting, they are just asking you to change your ammunition!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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