Sailors must make way for our feathered friends
Human interest stories are mostly about animals, as the late journalist James Cameron noted. And it’s true we are soft on animals. Often we show them more kindness than we do children and the elderly. People lavish serious money on vets, dog walkers, and dog sitters. Old spinsters leave their castles to cat’s homes. People drown in icy ponds every winter trying to save their pooches. We consider the Belgians barbarians because they eat their horses.
Yet children sleep rough on the streets of nearly every city in England, brutal ‘care’ homes treat old biddies with senile dementia like, er, well not like dogs anyway.
Which brings me to birdlife. There is a huge industry in creating nice places for birds to live. The RSPB is very powerful because it has massive funds from twitchers who would rather give cash to provide a single lesser-spotted Baffin Land grebe hundreds of acres of wetland in case it ever comes here, than help with inner city problems.
Against all this the poor old yachtie, himself not an anti when it comes to wildfowl, gets second best. As I write in the latest issue of Yachting Monthly there are serious concerns about the creation of Europe’s greatest wetland park being set up in the heart of the Thames Estuary. The RSPB who are behind it poo-poo the idea that this wetland will create shoal patches in the yachting rivers which border it even though powerful tides will drain off this area of imported sand and ballast twice a day forever.
But I was recently sailing in the South Channel of Tollesbury in Essex. We were trying to get out in a boat which draws little more than 18 inches at low water but could not. The ‘channel’ has the most unusual shoaling pattern I’ve ever seen: a sort of plateau of hard mud extending from one apparently steep-to bank to the buoyed low way.
It was only a week or so later while on a boat test in the same area that the skipper of the boat in question said: ‘Oh yes we know all about that. It’s all happened since they created a wildfowl area by allowing reclaimed land fall back into wetland useage.’
That’s what you call ‘anecdotal evidence.’ But you have been warned.