Swallow 2013.06.23.-10-Wesenberg-Rauchschwalbe

I blogged about this a few weeks back and since then the whole issue of the use of netting to stop birds from nesting has gone viral (NOT because of my blog I hasten to add!). Kate Blincoe (@Kateblincoe) and High Ash Farm (@HighAshFarm) should take much of the credit for this (at least as far as I can tell). Subsequently the RSPB, primarily through Jeff Knott and colleagues in the Eastern Region, took up the cudgel and liaised with the Tesco store at Harford Bridge. But this was only the beginning, for several weeks my Twitter feed has been full of tweets about this issue – just check the Twitter hashtags – #netsdownfornature or #nestsnotnets

The issue of using nets to prevent birds from nesting has really engaged the public. Posts on social media have come from far and wide, showing whole trees netted, hedgerows wrapped and even cliff faces covered. Isn’t is fantastic to see so many people taking a stand for our struggling wildlife?

A UK Government petition has garnered more signatures (305,819) than any other conservation related issue (although happy to be corrected on this). Well done Margaret Moran.

Netting petitionA Google pin map has been set up so people can report locations where they see netting being used. The map was set up by @HedgeMowse and has been championed by Stewart Abbott (@birdman1066).

In my initial blog post I thought this was a great example of how people have become detached from the natural world. I should probably suggest that this issue has become a great example of how individuals can make a positive difference for the natural world.

At the corporate level, Tesco seem to have borne the brunt of public angst, no doubt some people just like blaming Tesco for all the world’s problems, and sometimes they certainly don’t do themselves any favours. Now I’m not a Tesco basher – indeed in the interests of transparency I should state that I have a small number of shares in Tesco. And today, I should be happy as Tesco announced an increase in profitability, and as a shareholder I will benefit from an increase in the dividend payout. Last year the Giant Tesco made pre-tax profits of £1.7 billion – the Swallows, well I guess they are collateral damage in the search for ever increasing corporate profits. Would it undermine Tesco’s profitability to make their stores more welcoming to wildlife? I’m convinced that a little bit of creativity by Tescos could turn the ‘problem’ of Swallows and other birds nesting on their properties into a positive public engagement exercise. “Mummy, mummy. Can we shop at Tescos again to see the Swallows?” – thanks @SandyHillock for this.

The combination of Swallows and dividends makes me feel just a little uncomfortable today.


Photo credit: Barn Swallow taken in Germany by Andreas Eichler via Wikicommons