Predatory birds

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Alastair Hunter’s effective reply to the speculative claims of Professor Thomson, J Densham and the RSPB on the effects of climate change on Scottish bird life (Letters, 14 May) deserves support.

Illustrating his precise statement on “the meteoric rise in predation by raptors”, one need only cite the changed menu of the common buzzard now that its time-hallowed diet of rabbit has largely disappeared: today’s specialité is the ground-nesting lapwing, curlew and oystercatcher and, miraculous to report, the wind-hovering kestrel, whose singular diet of field voles is now annually diminishing with the disappearance of grasslands.

The baffling web of interaction between predator and prey is far too complex to be explained away by the current doctrinaire nostrum of climate change.

What is alarmingly plain is that the immediate threat to our wide range of smaller birds is the largely unchecked rise in the number of corvidae (magpies, carrion crows and jackdaws) whose diet is silencing the dawn chorus.

In addition to these evidences, our lawmakers must listen to voices other than those of the monolithic RSPB and consider reducing the inflating numbers of the voracious gull family, precisely the herring and lesser black-backed of the species, which, landfill-fed in the winter, decimate the annual crop of our wonderful waterfowl in the spring.

Alastair Harper


by Dunfermline