Marjory McKee from Horncliffe took this photo on a recent visit to the Farne Islands. She said: “I had seconds to get this picture before the egg was smashed and these gulls had a feed!”
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
MEALS DECISION LEAVES A BAD TASTE
I was upset and concerned to learn that Saltgreens residential home in Eyemouth would no longer be providing fresh, home-cooked meals on the premises.
As a regular visitor, the staff are highly praised for the meals they provide – this including home baking. Saltgreens is renowned for its high catering standards.
The decision to move to an external supplier, whether it results in frozen meals brought in or meals made seven miles or so away, is not in the best interest and well-being for the residents in Saltgreens.
Saltgreens is owned by Scottish Borders Council and care is provided by SB Cares. I would be interested to know if this decision had been open to public consultation.
If I was in the position of moving to Saltgeens residential home and paying the very high cost of living there, I would expect to have fresh, home-cooked meals.
So, August 12 has come and gone.
Sturdy men in tweed (averaging 85 kilos) sallied forth to gallantly blast hot lead through startled grouse wearing only feathers, and weighing in at a maximum of 850 grams.
Glorious? I suppose that’s just a matter of opinion.
Peter Glenser, of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, certainly has strong opinions on the matter – so strong indeed that in a letter published in the Berwickshire News on August 10 he characterised people holding opinions different from his own as “extremists”.
To me, and I imagine to most people, this term brings to mind the balaclava, the Isis flag, or neo-Nazi insignia – not law-abiding British citizens signing moderately-worded petitions or writing letters to local newspapers. Mr Glenser’s ill-advised use of hyperbole is shameful – his association should review his suitability to be its chairman.
As for the “myths and propaganda”, let’s examine those put forward by the aforementioned chairman, starting with the last, the inane statement that “grouse moors are internationally-protected habitats, rarer than rainforest”.
This rusty old cliche` is wheeled out regularly by commentators on both sides of the debate. I take it they mean that heather moorland managed for grouse-shooting covers a smaller area than rainforest.
So what. Let’s take another man-made habitat, albeit one that doesn’t involve intensive management of wildlife – the English water-meadow. Did you know they’re rarer than savannah?
Again, so what. Comparing totally-unrelated habitats is pointless – it only serves to demonstrate an ignorance of the bigger environmental picture.
Were moors currently managed for driven grouse-shooting to become unmanaged overnight, some species of wildlife would benefit. Some would be depleted, but not on a global scale. The landscape would change, but not necessarily for the worse.
However, the loss of the world’s rainforests will have an immediate, catastrophic impact on the global climate.
“Gamekeepers create outstanding habitat for many rare and endangered birds – such as lapwings,” Mr Glenser tells us.
Lapwings are predominantly birds of lowland pasture, threatened by the loss of habitat due to modern agricultural practices. The modest increases in lapwing numbers on managed grouse moors will do little, in the long term, to offset the loss of their primary habitat.
Mr Glenser, selective, as usual, with the facts, does not mention the long-term decline of dozens of managed-moorland species, from plants and invertebrates to apex predators.
Were he able, with hand on heart, to truthfully say “gamekeepers create outstanding habitat for endangered moorland species, such as hen harriers and golden eagles”, he would be almost deafened by applause from pragmatists, including the RSPB, critical of the practices inherent in the driven grouse-shooting industry.
This scenario would be dependant on a culture-shift in the grouse-shooting community – primarily an acceptance of lower bags as the norm with the experience of being out on the moor taking precedence over the magnitude of the slaughter. This would bring the shooters in line with deer stalkers and salmon anglers who already, on the whole, demonstrate admirable restraint.
Gamekeepers would need to be as qualified in respect to ecology and biodiversity as they presently are expert at disposing of diverse species of wildlife up to the very limit of what is allowed by law.
To round up, a few facts about the grouse, scientifically known as Lagopus lagopus. This species has a world population of around 40 million, distributed around the tundra region of the northern hemisphere from Ireland east to Labrador.
Its diet is varied – invertebrates, shoots, berries, etc. Its normal population density in suitable habitat is up to 10 per square km. The British red grouse, making up less than 1% of the global population, is merely a colour variant of the species, trapped south of the optimum latitudes by glacial retreat.
On moorland managed for grouse by burning, wildlife control and the supply of medicated grit, the population density can be 20 times higher than the unmanaged norm. This density results in problems with disease, but is deemed necessary to maintain the financial viability of the grouse-killing industry.
Shockingly, over 99% of the world’s grouse (Lagopus lagopus) get along just fine without assistance from gamekeepers.
IT’S NO LONGER FOR ENGLAND TO DECIDE
Graham Holford (“Blaming Westminster”, letters, August 17) chooses to accuse me of “plumbing the depths of hypocrisy”.
He then admits he did not see the letter from Paul Singleton which prompted my reply. This may explain the inconsistencies in his letter. The central point remains that Theresa May’s arrogant and divisive government, by continually ignoring the particular needs and opinions of all parts of “our precious United Kingdom of Great Britain”, is in danger of derailing the fragile peace which has existed in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement. With her hard-line attitude to Brexit, the Prime Minister also risks breaking up the very United Kingdom she professes to cherish so much.
I’m afraid any hypocrisy lies with Westminster.
To quote renowned author Andrew O’Hagan, in his ground-breaking lecture at the Edinburgh Book Festival recently: “Britain has mismanaged itself out of existence.”
Previously a committed supporter of the United Kingdom, he now realises that it is time for our country (Scotland) to take its rightful place in the world.
Mr Holford then goes on to wrongly assume that I speak for the SNP. I have already made it clear that I am not, have never been, and do not intend to become, a member of the SNP. What I do believe, however, is that this proud nation of Scotland deserves the opportunity to manage its own affairs, just like any other country, and to take on, and resolve, the many challenges our country faces, creating a fairer and more equal country in the process.
No doubt there will be problems, but they will be our own problems and we will solve them in the interests of all who live and work in this country of ours. The time is over when England decides what is best for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, while totally disregarding all our unique needs and differences.
With independence, we can at last have a government, whatever colour it may be, that we have voted for – not one imposed upon us.
I would also recommend Mr Holford reads chapter 11 from Anthony Barnett’s book, “The Lure of Greatness: England’s Brexit and America’s Trump”.
He writes (as an Englishman): “There is a simple way for us English to be free. Just ask the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish to take their fate into their own hands.”
In this way England can become a democracy for the English, with its own parliament, making its own laws and co-operating with its neighbours in a spirit of mutual respect.
I could not agree more.
A QUESTION THE SNP MUST ANSWER
Is the republican Scottish National Party prepared to publish an irrevocable letter of intent to the people of the United Kingdom on the monarchy remaining as head of state before Indyref2?
The above has been requested many times and until a reply has been received one can only conclude that an eventual republican state is envisaged. During the last general election campaign, two young ladies from the SNP asked for my vote.
My reply was: “Were they aware that they represented a republican party who wanted to rid us of the monarchy?”
They denied this, of course, and said they “would leave the SNP if it was a true fact, along with many others”. One consoling fact is that truth always prevails and it won’t be long before this happens.
If you believe in the monarchy, don’t vote SNP before the above has been clarified on TV and the media as it is our constitutional and democratic right to be honestly informed.
LEARNING FROM A CLASSROOM BAN
Borders Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne has urged the Scottish Government to overhaul its 2013 guidance on the use of mobile devices in schools.
Education has plummeted under the SNP-dominated administration which previously said it was “unreasonable and impractical to attempt to impose a ban on mobile devices in schools”.
New research by academics at the London School of Economics concluded that restricting mobile phones “subsequently experienced an improvement in test scores”.
Any responsible parent could have told them that, so why is the Scottish Government so complacent?
The majority of parents would welcome a ban, with only the usual suspects complaining that their child’s human rights were being breached.
Time for responsible parents to demand change.
COFFEE MORNING A GREAT SUCCESS
I would like to thank everyone who attended our recent coffee morning in the Mason’s Hall, Eyemouth, in aid of British Heart Foundation.
The fantastic sum of £491.40 was raised and a massive thank you goes to everyone who contributed or helped in any way.
ON THE RUN FOR CANCER RESEARCH
I would to thank everyone who kindly sponsored me for the Race for Life.
I took part in this – held on Sunday, June 25, at Holyrood Park in Edinburgh – and realised £406 for Cancer Research.
TAKING STEPS TO SHOW SUPPORT
Physical activity plays an important part in stacking the odds against a bowel cancer diagnosis and as a keen walker myself, I’m delighted to support Bowel Cancer UK’s Walk Together.
It’s for people of all ages and abilities.
Sign up to Walk Together in Edinburgh on Saturday, September 23, or to receive a fundraising pack with everything you need to hold your own memorable walk, visit bowelcanceruk.org.uk/walktogether
TV presenter and Bowel
Cancer UK patron