June 21, 2009
My first encounter with the National Trust
professional approach to nature conservation came in the form of a bird watcher
from the village of Wraxall.
I met him when he began banging on my cottage door in the middle of May to
inform me that all the hedges and brambles for hundreds of yards have been
flailed to the ground taking the nesting birds with it.
I knew of the field that was described and also knew full well that the whole
area was full of black caps, white throats and the only Linnets on the estate
who were sitting on eggs. Displaying a concerned look I hurried with him to
inspect the damage, still eating lunch, thinking why me.
After surveying the devastation, I hurried to the property manager asking why
such things were going on and that it needs to stop immediately. The reply I got
was that the survey of the boundaries was unfortunately behind schedule and some
things are inevitably to suffer.
It was at this point I told her of the bird watcher and his disgust. She
asked me if I had justified the Trust actions to him. This was a phrase that was
to ring time and time again like a dodgy door bell playing Green sleeves.
By now the tractor was approaching one of the hedges in one of the gardener’s
houses. In the nick of time, the wife of the gardener ran out demanding they
stop as it housed some nests with chicks in. These were the only ones to survive
in thousands of yards of hedge that was flailed that year.
After my ranting and ravings I thought the penny might drop as to undertake
works at the appropriate times but no. Its seem that some managers had the same
I.Q as their shoe size and so it went ahead.
It was while the temporary car park was under construction I happened to see
a black bird darting in and out of brambles that were in line for bull dozing.
After I discovered the nest with four eggs in it, I informed the site agent who
cordoned off the area and said it was not really an inconvenience to let them be
for a week or so. Unfortunately the property manager got wind of this and
instructed the National Trust surveyor to go ahead and to inform me that it is
for the good of the project that they are bulldozed.
My reply to all on site was I will personally take the National Trust to
court for wilful disturbance of a wild bird nest and returned home to email all
involved a copy of the wild birds act regarding the law.
I was then summoned to the property manager’s office and told I had no
authority to interfere with contractors, and she was looking at getting a
licence from DEFRA to remove the nest.
AT the time the local papers were full of a story involving a garden centre
chain that had a robin shot under a DEFRA licence because it nested in one of
their buildings. I pointed out that the garden centre chain had suffered a
massive back lash from the public and their shares had dropped like a stone. How
would it look for a very large conservation organisation to do something
similar? The reply was on the lines of me not being a team player and I need to
come on board with the rest of them. I said unfortunately I never had likings
for the Nazi party either and would not act like one. Secretly I think she took
offence to this.
The following year we had a expert come to the estate to survey the area
around Tyntesfield House. I would talk to him on my way to work to keep in touch
with what we had nesting.
On the next staff catch up meeting it was revealed that some special
benefactors would be visiting the property and Fiona Reynolds herself would be
taking care of them.
It seemed for some that for them to walk around the estate and miss the youth
offenders clearing footpaths on the wider estate was not good enough for the
VIPs, so some ass decided to have them clearing around the house where the nest
surveys were going on, Stunning.
I objected as it was peak nesting season and the area is awash with warblers
on eggs. The response was that all precautions had been taken and it will go
Then came the day of flailing when Dame Fiona Reynolds proudly pointed out
the conservation in action by youth offenders, now re offending on the orders of
the offensive. I picked up a long tailed tits nest and handed it to the
organisers asking what they thought it was. Not one of them had a clue, but
thought it to be a fantastic construction and it was a shame it had to go.
Meanwhile, a wood warbler that had been watching its home destroyed gave up
and flew off with what I took to be a parting chirp. I can only imagine that it
headed to the central reservation of the M5 to nest again, knowing full well the
odds of survival are better than at Tyntesfield.
The following morning I came across the bird watcher commissioned by the
Trust surveying the devastation. What hooligans did this was the question he
asked? The ones in the oak leafs that sit on their bottoms behind computers.
He did write to the property manager and the head gardener. What a pity it
fell on deaf ears which is the norm with the National Trust. The slaughter still
went on and there seemed to be no let up.