Ground nests that spell lunch for Red Kites

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From: RL Lofthouse, Forest Gate, Otley, Leeds.

I HAVE followed the letters between your columnist Jo Foster and the conservationists concerning Red Kites in Yorkshire with great interest.

What Jo says is true and having farmed in the Wharfe Valley all my life I would like to make a few points.

Two years ago, on a field just outside Otley, the lapwings reared 26 young birds to almost one month old and they were ringed by the local BTO ringer. The kites turned up and took the lot. There are now no pairs of plovers nesting on that field. This year I went to four sites where the hay meadows were being cut. On each occasion the same thing happened.

The kites saw the grass being cut and came for lunch.

On field one, between Otley and Burley, three clutches of curlews, a four, and six chicks were all taken. On field two, at Clifton, 13 kites arrived and took one clutch of curlew, one hen partridge with nine chicks and some pheasant poults.

In field three, at Menston, one clutch of curlew was taken, and in field four, pheasant poults. These people have let a big problem into the countryside and now have no answer to it. RIP the curlew and other ground nesting birds.

From: Linda Burrows, Addingham. West Yorkshire

Re Howard Frost’s article last week on ragwort. Our seven-year-old year old Dales Cross bought in Northumberland died from ragwort posioning.It was horrific.

We had a post mortem done and 80 per cent of the liver was damaged. This was three years ago.

I don’t know if we were one of the Defra statistics or not. Certainly no-one from Defra contacted me about it.

I asked the vet, having lost the £2,000 we paid, if it was possible to have a blood test done before purchase. ‘No’, was the reply.

I asked if it was only when pulled and left to dry or cut and dried in hay that the harm occurred.

He said a horse will eat anything if he’s hungry enough and if you don’t know how he has been kept before purchase, so many horses are now being grazed on verge sides by gypsies, and then sold on at sales as many of the cobs are quiet natured and good for nervous riders.

He also informed me that once ragwort is ingested and damage starts, even if they don’t eat any more. the damage to the liver increases as the horse ages.

The reason it is necessary to ‘pull’ ragwort at this time of year is to stop it seeding further.

I farm 80 acres in North Leeds and have just spent a morning walking thorough our fields hand pulling ragwort so that our haylage is ragwort free.

From: John Dunning, Cold Harbour Farm, Bishop Burton, Beverley.

For the past few days I have been afflicted with a mild irritating rash that has puzzled my young doctor.

Years ago when harvest was binders, stooks, horses in wagons and a yard full of stacks. men would often complain of being bitten by harvest bugs, particularly when stooking sheaves (shavs).

Could they be the cause of my rash and does anyone remember being similarly troubled?

From: Mr and Mrs Wardell, Malton Road, York.

We have been watching over the last few weeks Wildlife Patrol on ITV. I just do not see the point involving hundreds of police officers in this way.

We also have wildlife protection officers chasing after protected birds.

What a waste of time. Let’s see the RSPB do this, they could afford to spend the funds.

It’s a waste of time, a waste of taxpayers’ money and a waste of top-class policemen who could be fighting real crime on our streets instead of helping the farming community who are able enough to do the job for themselves.

Years ago gamekeepers had their own security and it worked.

I would suggest charging farmers for all police call-outs.