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Ive lived in Lanarkshire all of my 40 years, and in that time I have seen my local area change beyond all recognition, and definitely not for the better. From the appearance of massive identikit housing estates where rolling fields once rang to the song of yellowhammers, the inexorable process of urbanisation goes on as the local authorities undertake a concerted effort to eradicate every sign of nature- or so it seems. The nature- filled halcyon days of my childhood are a swiftly receding memory, replaced by the creeping horror of what is replacing them. Its important, I think, to highlight what we, as nature lovers in general and bird lovers in particular, still have, for the moment at least.
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No Place Like Home

Posted Tuesday 18th April 2017 at 17:35 by Green Sandpiper
I've often made a big deal about how Baron's Haugh RSPB is my local patch, and involves a 20 minute drive to get there. I've always felt it was worth it, to immerse myself in what was my first reserve visited, where the wonders of this unassuming place in industrial Motherwell were first laid open to me. I think of ten of the halcyon days of summers past, 6am visits on summer mornings to visit 'warbler corner' and later in the summer for ruff, blackwit, and on more than one occasion, Little Stint. But sadly, no more.

I lived in Lancaster for a year to complete my master's degree, and after 12 months, I returned home to find my room had been re-decorated (and cleaned...) and it was, effectively, no longer mine. There was no malice in my mother's decision to exchange my black walls for something less depressing and student- y. It didn't make the change any less jarring though. This memory came back to me a couple of weeks ago when I visited the Haugh. Having not been in a while, I was over- eager to get there. The treasures of Dalzell Woods (GSW and nuthatch) the possibility of warblers and sandpipers (green or otherwise) had me foaming at the mouth almost. Instead of this festival of viritas, however, I was struck by how lifeless things were. Blue tits and Great tits called feebly in Dalzell, but the trees and canopy were still and quiet. No nuthatch, no GSW either drumming or 'chacking.' A visit to the Hides was equally fruitless. A coldwind seemed to blow, even though the weather itself was fine. There was no wall of woodland noise to stand and savour. Instead, the stampede of dog walkers and cyclists made standing anywhere more than a little dangerous.

Undaunted by the crushing disappointment of this, I took my son there last Friday, hoping against hope that it would improve. Alas, another wasted journey, and another exercise in lifelessness. EVen my son, who is possibly the most optimistic person I know, looked defeated. This was no longer the home that I knew, no longer the happy place my mind wanders to during those boring hours at work when I imagine kicking my boots off and feeling the twigs, soil and leaves under my bare toes. I understand that there is a limit to what the RSPB can do, but years of benign neglect and failing to sell this place as a birding nirvana is now having an effect.
Total Comments 2


Sad but true. Not nearly enough attention is paid to this reserve, either to maintain it or to attract visitors.
Posted Wednesday 19th April 2017 at 16:43 by Jonathan Mitchell Jonathan Mitchell is offline
has always suffered in comparison with the attention lavished on Lochwinnoch, but seems to be worsening in the past year. I still have an emotional attachment to it, but will go birding there with low expectations.
Posted Thursday 27th April 2017 at 17:58 by Green Sandpiper Green Sandpiper is offline
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