The very fickle finger of blame.

I’ve got to admit it. I have to write this down. I’ve got to get it off my chest. My tongue is bleeding I’ve been biting on it for so long. OK, here goes.

Here in the west of the Cairngorms, our local newspaper attracts regular correspondence on a whole range of wildlife issues from a variety of perspectives and agendas. No surprise there, but just recently something caught my eye and if I’m honest, raised my hackles. A doctor (not sure of what to be fair) had noticed a decline in local garden birds. Now given that science is likely to form the basis of much of the good doctor’s thinking, I’d have thought a bit of research might have been in order – you know, to see if ‘the problem’ was seasonal or localised perhaps? No research or detective work necessary apparently – his less-than-scientific conclusion (and I quote): ” I have no doubt that rooks are responsible.”

Before going further I need to tell you that I’m not a bobbledy-hat rook lover, but to jump to such an ill-informed conclusion with no scientific evidence to back up his assertion is to my mind, irresponsible at the very least. People listen to ‘doctors’ after all.

The following week it got worse. Another doctor (same village) was keen to add her tenpenneth to the verbal assassination of corvids. In her opinion it wasn’t rooks that had decimated garden birds, it was jackdaws. And her proof? “They are noisy, greedy things.”

So what to do? Well the original doctor had a well conceived scientific strategy: “I feel an organised cull is the only solution to restore finches, tits and sparrows.” So doctor(s), this cull – how many birds need to be killed to solve ‘the problem’? 10? 100? 1000? And is it rooks or is it jackdaws? Or doesn’t it really matter – they are after all just noisy, greedy, troublesome black birds – not the sort of things that a quiet Highland village should have to put up with.

I welcome most things that benefit biodiversity (and that may or may not involve controlling corvids) but surely such ill-informed, anecdotal outpourings are outdated, unhelpful and unwelcome. Assuming one or both of the correspondents are doctors of medicine, GPs even, I’d suggest you don’t go to see them – especially if you’re an overweight, talkative Afro-Carribean.