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November 2006

Treasuring Bambi

By Heather 13 years ago

Today Richard is Guest Blogger on the Wiggly Blog

As I stared through my kitchen window this morning, mug of tea in hand, gusts of wind forced ‘flocks’ of leaves to hurtles past, accompanied by the odd heavy rain drop ‘dinking’ on the glass. In the paddock below I could just make out the silhouettes of seven fallow deer. Wind, I find, often makes animals excitable including humans. As I focussed in I marvelled at how the herd of does interacted and played with one another in the stiff breeze. One would charge forward and throw its self into a 90 degree loop bucking head down as if to challenge one of its companions, but being apparently ignored. Occasionally the group would bolt across the pasture, stop, look, listen, consider all around them and begin to graze.

We are very lucky in many respects to have such large mammals surviving to such a healthy extent despite human activity. There does seem to be a consensus amongst land managers (not all!) that deer are simply tools of destruction and should be treated with nothing other than contempt. Whilst it’s true that deer nibble at under storey growth and reduce the regeneration of unprotected coppice, it’s also true that patches of rare grasses and flowers proliferate in woodland glades where deer graze. Its also true that unprotected gardens may suffer the ravages of deer predation, however imagine being in the privileged situation of being able to observe such a gentle, discerning and unassuming creature at close quarters. Deer in gardens are not is a problem if those fortunate enough to live in a setting where deer can be found, are considerate enough to afford there patch a little extra protection.

We have a situation in Herefordshire which may well be mirrored in other counties, in that even land management co-ordinators affiliated with Natural England and the Wildlife Trusts have an ingrained instinct to dwell on the perceived difficulties of healthy dear populations rather than revel in their inherent beauty.

Some of the best techniques to preserve diverse flora and fauna that exists in long established meadows are to use stock to graze. This often requires that land parcels should be fenced in. In many places such as North America, where populations of white tailed deer for example are numerous, their presence is taken into consideration. Normal stock proof fencing is done in a manner that allows fawns to get out and larger animals to get over. Established deer routes are cut off, but fencing in these spots accommodates the passage of the native life. This uncomplicated bit of extra thought is something rarely adopted in ‘our neck of the woods’. Far to infrequently I have witnessed deer hanging by one of their back legs from a hideous strand of barbed wire, injured deer (many die), lucky enough to have survived by pulling out of their ill conceived snare can occasionally be seen limping across the countryside. The irony here is often that these animals despite their tenacity and amazing ability to live through this torment are often targeted by stalkers in an effort to remove the weak or the sickly. This of course is a sound animal management strategy in some respects, but imagine having lived through pulling your leg off, only to be shot 6 months later!

I have seen fallows at close quarters many times. I have heard them communicate with each other through quiet whistles and mews. I have seen a mother stand over the twisted corps of her infant, killed by a speeding motorist, deeply stressed by the loss of the life that she has carried for several months, to the hands of an individual that would complain about the dent in the bonnet of something that is comparatively meaningless and that the compulsory insurance will invariably remunerate him for.

I do think a balance is essential. Given humans have long since seen to extermination of any natural predators in the UK, it is our responsibility to maintain deer numbers. To create a market place for venison is shrewd, to maintain a balance between mature bucks and does is canny, but to dismiss such a fabulous beast because it’s ‘inconvenient’ is crass to say the least. A little more thought and attention to detail is all it takes to make the most of a species which continues to be successful despite human activity, in contrast to many other species.

Absolutely Bonkers, Incredibly Informative!

By Heather 13 years ago

Thats the latest review up on The Wiggly Podcast iTunes from Vicky C
5 stars

Vicky says:
"I'm hooked. Monday's have acquired a new perspective as I wait for the Wiggly Podcast to download.
Full of interesting hints and facts delivered in a hilarious and entertaining manner - most of their recommended books are now on my christmas list. I think the 'rants' are great and the arguments more or less balanced - usually!
Its like meeting up with good friends and learning all about how to live alongside nature - and enjoy it! Keep 'em coming!"

Thank you Vicky.

There's 27 up there now:
Out of those 25 are 5 star reviews, 1 is a 4 star review, and 1 is a 1 star review (anonymous says we are in the wrong category - which is a really good point but we dont know where else to go!)

Anyway if you have missed having a listen and a laugh, because you cant download iTunes or some other really complicated reason, now is your chance. Our Podcast Archive department has all the podcasts listed now. Just listen in or download for later from the site.

Several good old Rows this week at WW

By Heather 13 years ago

Ricardo is back in the office this week after his 6 week convalesence period post falling off his perch. To listen to the sorry (but very funny) story in detail have a listen to podcast 52

As usual we have had some enthusiastic debate in the office ranging from Heston Blumenthal's Fish and Chips, through cutting down on Air Travel, Climate Change, and to cap it all a very heated argument on the pro's and con's of domestic cats! This corker was recorded on air on the Wiggly Sofa and so to listen in you'll have to wait for Podcast 60.

However the point is that Ricardo is not a big cat lover (well he probably does like lions and tigers) its just cats like my cat Noah that he has it in for.

OK, there's no doubt about it Cats kill birds. However look at this from the RSPB:

"Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK wide. This may be surprising, but many millions of birds die naturally every year, mainly through starvation, disease, or other forms of predation. There is evidence that cats tend to take weak or sickly birds." For the complete RSPB article read more here.

And not to forget that cats are great at controlling some less desirable pests as well as giving a lot of folk a lot of pleasure.

So what can we do about these issues;
Keep cats inside more, especially early in the morning when most birds are taking the most essential meal of their day.
Feed the birds where they are inaccessible for the cat and also where the cat has no cover from which to pounce.
Feed the birds. Feeding the birds will boost populations. Full Stop. Having a cat is no reason to stop feeding our feathered friends, we just have to think harder on how to ensure we have implemented good deterrents.

Podcastcon was the Biz

By Heather 13 years ago

This year as podcasting has moved on so to did Podcastcon

I was invited by Alex of SmallBizPod on the panel with Tom from Lonely Planet.

I enjoyed his talk about podcasting and Alison says she has listened to a couple of the shows and they made her want to go to the destination! Howt about that for a measurement. Guilluame du Gardier explained how the sticking point for large companies when discussing implementing podcasting is... measurement/ROI and sales.
Just the jolly job me thinks.
If you are a small business with a good story and an enthusiasm to want to share it - podcasting is a great tool. Even better bigger business finds difficult to understand and invest in.
Small business gets it (well lots did at Podcastcon).
I think if you have a conversation at your workplace that is worthwhile to all the parties involved why not put it out as a podcast so other folk can enjoy it. If its good, and they like it they will become more involved with you as a company (for all corporates reading this I expect one calls it Brand Building!) If that listener becomes more involved they are more likely to buy off your business and stay loyal. That's the measurement, the ROI and the sales sorted. That was the gist of the day last Saturday, as proved by many fellow podcasters.
For more Wiggly mentions and more about Podcastcon try here:

We're a case study in Prowess' latest report which was launched at the Houses of Parliament last Wednesday with Margaret Hodge.
which then made an article about Rural Women in Business in the FT
Lastly, enjoy this Book Review - I did.

Sparkling spindle

By Heather 13 years ago

Ricardo's Weekly Waffle

"The only real way to understand nature is to experience it, to watch and listen and smell and experience. The best naturalists are the best listeners, those that have an uncanny knack at knowing what a particular bird is by one particular movement, having unconsciously seen it a thousand times, observation is the key to a naturalist’s knowledge.
A recent collage of books about wildlife gardening published over the last few years will tell any body what to do to encourage wildlife to their garden. Each book will say that the now (I hope) ubiquitous log pile, fishless pond, neglected grassy patch, butterfly friendly plants, bug box, wildlife friendly hedge etc etc, all make for a friendly diverse habitat for all sorts of ‘beneficial’ bugs and beasties (Subjective word beneficial; beneficial to whom and to what?) Well of course this is true, but what about quantities, situation, size?
The key to the success of being able to support a multitude of what matters is observation, the ability to appreciate what you have around you and how it behaves. Only when you have watched a tiny parasitic wasp lay its eggs with a hypodermic type movement of its abdomen into a caterpillar of a cabbage white, an ant protect its brood of aphids from a ladybird who wishes to dine on them, as well as the sparrow hawk that has gunned its way through the garden in an attempt to take your blackbird (the one with the white patch under its eye) back to its plucking post, will you really start to empathise with the dramas that unfold in the environment in which you are attempting to be symbiotic.
I love hedges, those fortunate enough to listen to our podcasts might know this by now! I spent days looking into them as a child looking for birds nests, looking for the places where hares or rabbits ran through or a suitable place for me to clamber over! The life a well managed hedge can support is astonishing, unsurpassed even, food, shelter a place to breed, a place to hibernate, a platform to sing from, a corridor to run along, a sight to behold. There are several species of hedging plant that accommodate many species but for me spindle is seen far too infrequently. If asked I would always say that spindle berries are a robins delight. I know this because I read it somewhere. At the edge of the wooded limestone quarry to the west of the house there are spindle bushes one particular specimen is probably 40 years old, a tree really. I frequently gaze into this bush from my ‘convalescing office’ and our bay window downstairs. Plucking orange berries from the pettaled pink husks I have seen robins and blackcaps. They aren’t always here though, and they seem selective over which berries they eat. This makes me think that those orange orbs are tastier at various stages of ripeness. Of course I have no case study evidence to back this up but I know this is so because I have experienced it!"

Podcast 58 - Show Notes

By Heather 13 years ago

Charge your iPod's battery; it's the longest Wiggly Podcast so far!
Heather's interview with the LEAF chief executive, Caroline Drummond, spans two countries as they fly from Edinburgh to Birmingham. Then there's lots of feedback from around the world, including an accronym poser for Richard to unravel. Finally, Alison produces another Plant of the Week and is considerably more excited by the old stockman's tradition of 'Luck Money' than Farmer Phil ever was.

0.00 Intro from the Wiggly Sofa
2.14 Heather interviews Caroline Drummond CEO of LEAF
10.02 Feedback from Peter from Brisbane and Anna Farmery from the Engaging Brand and Podchef - Neal Foley and Barbara Heys
and Chris England and Randy in France. There's lots and a question on composting and Bokashi
22.00 WW enters the Shell Springboard award to attempt to encourage Bokashi within the work/office environment.
23.49 Part Two of the Caroline Drummond interview in the baggage department. She explains the LEAF Marque
29.25 Alison comes in with Plant of the Week Wood Anenome
33.42 Alison's rant. We find out about Al's Swartbles Sheep and Luck Money.
40.36 Farmer Phil's comment on Luck Money
43.30 This week's OUTTAKES...

Catch up on any editions you may have missed in our Podcast Archive
Contact us - website www.wigglywigglers.co.uk, telephone +44 1981 500391, email us on heather@wigglywigglers.co.uk or richard@wigglywigglers.co.uk and have your say by adding comments here at the Wiggly Blog.You can also contact Farmer Phil on pwg@lowerblakemere.co.uk