The cartoon was an unfavourable comment on the RSPB’s guardianship of an English grouse moor. Inevitably, birds of prey came into it.
The RSPB complained privately, saying they were all meant to be working together to find a balance between grouse and raptor – and the trust took a huff saying it was none of the RSPB’s business what they sold to raise funds.
I think thereafter everyone tiptoed away and tried again. Anyway, that must have been a year ago because it’s auction time again and, try as I might, I can’t see any lot this time that is likely to cause offence. Which is a shame. Still.
The Heather Trust is meant to represent anyone who uses moorland – not just the grouse-shooting fraternity, but the mountain bikers and ramblers as well as the conservationists, which is rather a tall order. The breadth of their auction lots, however, suitably reflects the divergent interests of members and supporters.
For novelty value it is hard to beat the Master of Forbes’ generous offer of a green burial plot, even with a starting price of £450 and a spot in the shadow of a recumbent stone circle on a hill on Donside. While a perfectly good offer, it has that slightly eccentric quality not dissimilar to another lot from the same county of Aberdeenshire a few years ago when a neighbouring Donside laird auctioned the irresistible opportunity to share his combine cab for a day during harvest. (My wife was keen but was mercifully outbid).
Perhaps surprisingly, the auction is not all shooting and fishing although there is a good deal of that. Balmoral has offered a guided Land Rover safari around the estate; Alastair Howman, the fly tier from Pitlochry is offering his salmon flies tied as brooches including a Golden Camilla, originally a suck up to the duchess from the Atlantic Salmon Trust.
Sigrid Rausing, of the Tetra Pak family, offers the services of Roy Dennis, the ornithologist and naturalist, to lead a wildlife exploration of her Coignafearn estate in Invernessshire. Now that is interesting because they do manage to get grouse and raptors to live side by side. Well, not quite, but on the same turf along with every other bird, mammal and creepy crawly that ever lived north of Perth. It is a very “eco” spot.
If you are into golf, there is always a round on the Earl of Rosebery’s course on Dalmeny Estate. Apparently the Firth of Forth forms part of one of the holes, so take your wellies.