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SAND & SALT


Wildlife notes from Forest and Coast by Graeme Lamkin of Arum Design Tel: 645913


I was recently fortunate enough to spend two weeks on holiday in the Highlands of Scotland. While the topography of the landscape is very different (the New Forest being rather lacking in mountains and our lakes and rivers tending to be a lile less magnificent), I was struck also by the number of differences in the nave wildlife. However, upon closer consideraon, it seems that the bulk of Scotland’s unique wildlife is unique only today.


Long‐gone alpha predators such as the lynx and wolf were once found throughout Great Britain, and current Highland specialies such as wildcat and pine marten were also once found throughout both countries. Having a shared land border, the only real historic differences in wildlife were influenced by altude and Scotland’s greater proximity to the Arcc. Certainly animals such as arcc hares and reindeer probably never existed this far south, but the majority of other mammals were once nave throughout the UK. The reality of the situaon is simply, that in the more densely populated counes of England, any animal that found itself unwelcome was persecuted to exncon, whereas, in the vastness of Scotland such


creatures were oen able to evade the hunters and game‐ keepers.


Today things are gradually changing, and despite increasing urbanisaon, many wildlife species are well able to adapt ‐ providing they are not acvely persecuted. Prime examples are the red kite and the raven. While both are primarily scavengers, they were relentlessly shot to the point where they could be found only in the remotest of areas. Today, aer a long absence, both can be seen in and around the Forest, something that seemed hard to imagine 30‐40 years ago.


In parts of Scotland where sheep are farmed, the sea eagle has been accused of preying on lambs; although anyone who farms knows that sheep die at the slightest provocaon, so it is difficult to know whether the eagles are killing the lambs or merely eang carrion killed by foxes or harsh weather. However, here in the Forest there are few sheep, and sea eagles would have an abundant supply of sea‐fish and roadkill to sustain them.


One of the most impressive birds that I saw, was on the Isle of Skye. It was a sea eagle, and a truly enormous predator, seeming to belong only to such a remote and wild landscape. However, I then remembered that the tallest fir tree in Rhinefield was called the ‘Eagle Tree’. Amazingly, unl around 200 years ago, sea eagles were a regular breeding bird in the area, and the very last pair in England bred in the Isle of Wight!


Based upon the success of the Red kite, goshawk, marsh harrier and mammals such as pine marten and polecat, I am looking forward to the day when sea eagles can once more be seen soaring in the skies over the New Forest and Solent. With a wingspan of up to 2.5m (8 feet) they are quite unmistakeable, and a great tourist aracon to boot; the economy of the Scosh island of Mull was boosted to the tune of five million pounds per annum, by visitors wishing to see the newly reintroduced sea eagles, back in the nineteen‐ eighes.


In an age where impressive wildlife is at a premium for the majority of city‐dwellers, we who are fortunate to have it might be well advised to share it to our mutual benefit – both aesthec and financial.


Please menon The Village Voice when responding to adverts 51


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