As cunning as a fox. How often have you heard that? These adorable animals are part of English folklore. They bring the countryside to life. They do though smell and give a nasty bite if cornered in the wild. But then, so do many animals. The fox is adaptable and shy, but it has to be relatively street wise to survive - hence, it is cunning.
For a few years a fox slept in the back yard at the Museum at Herstmonceux. Nobody invited it, it invited itself, a bit like the peacocks that invited themselves a few years before. The fox liked the peace and quiet and could sunbathe where once bonfires has been lit, among the concrete bases of the old generating machinery. We did not have the heart to disturb him, leaving him to his slumbers. He was though a bit old, and we have not seen him this year (2013), so, we must think the worst.
the common name for many species of alert omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small-to-medium-sized canids (slightly smaller than a medium-sized domestic
dog), with a flattened skull, upright triangular ears, a pointed, slightly upturned snout, and a long bushy tail (or brush).
In the wild, foxes can live for up to 10 years, but most foxes only live for 2 to 3 years due to hunting, road accidents and diseases. Foxes are generally smaller than other members of the family Canidae such as wolves, jackals, and domestic dogs. Male foxes are called Reynards, and weigh, on average, around 5.9 kilograms (13 lb) while female foxes, called vixens, weigh less, at around 5.2 kilograms (11.5 lb). Fox-like features typically include a distinctive muzzle (a "fox face") and bushy tail. Other physical characteristics vary according to habitat. For example, the fennec fox (and other species of fox adapted to life in the desert, such as the kit fox) has large ears and short fur, whereas the
Arctic fox has tiny ears and thick, insulating fur. Another example is the red fox which has a typical auburn pelt, the tail normally ending with white marking. Litter sizes can vary greatly according to species and environment – the Arctic fox, for example, has an average litter of four to five, with eleven as maximum.
A bespectacled ornithologist took the stand at Brighton Magistrates Court on Monday the 23rd of September 2013 and told District Judge Stephen Nicholls that lapwings were plentiful at Pevensey Levels in East Sussex. This is effect meant that he was reaffirming the scientific (SSSI) designation for the Pevensey area, when notified in 1977 and then again 1990.
Natural England had decided to prosecute a landowner who, it appears from a TV broadcast, had generated racial feelings of discontent in the Wartling locality due to his flamboyant style. The landowner had gained planning consent to improve a pond, which attracted ducks and other wildfowl. Cath Jackson and Sue Beale were sent in to investigate, but not to look at whether or not the SSSI was still valid, more to see if a technical conviction could be obtained to appease local rantings, by then supported by MP Greg Barker. The main issue in contention was to do with fencing, which Allan Drewitt claimed would affect the decision of lapwings to nest in the area. This is course presumes that lapwings do nest in this particular neck of the woods.
Barrister Jonathan Mitchell and solicitor Andrew Hopkin were employed by Natural England, despite the fact that they practiced well and truly outside the county - all adding to the potential costs. Mitchell questioned Drewitt in the absence of the landowner, who was not in a fit state to attend court. Despite this, Stephen Nicholls insisted on hearing the case, dismissing another case that was in a state of readiness and also granting another case where a defendant was ill, a stay. Our question here is: why allow one defendant a stay for sickness and not another? Another question would be: why dismiss a case that was ready, in preference for hearing a case where the defendant was not fit to attend court? The only answer that comes to mind is that Judge Nicholls was hell bent on ruling in the Natural England case. For otherwise it appears irrational, illogical or even perverse. This little twist adds to the racial element, by way of discrimination, where a court is duty bound to ensure a defendant receives a fair hearing.
One of our operatives is familiar with the area and knew that lapwing nesting had declined to very low levels. The decline is mainly due to the new fondness for the area (another story) of magpies and foxes, possibly with a little global warming thrown in for good measure. Both species thrive on eggs and the hatchlings of anything on the marshes. In the opinion of our local man, a lapwing would need to be suicidal, or otherwise desperate to consider this area as a winter home, when there are more hospitable areas in the west country - which is the more normal location for wintering plovers.
On examination by Judge Nicholls, Allan Drewitt admitted a decline in numbers from 6,000 in 1990 to 3,500 in 2008. Mr Drewitt, a short man of slight build, said there were no up to date bird figures that he could give the court. To our mind that was a cop out, where it is alleged that Natural England are no longer keeping figures up to date because they know the decline would declassify this area in terms of lapwings - which of course means that fences would no longer be an issue - hence no prosecution would be possible.
In any event it turned out the fencing was in response to uncontrolled flooding by the Environment Agency, the fencing to protect and control livestock that did not take kindly to wading and would flee potentially causing accidents. The flooding was of course ignored by Natural England, where they knew the marsh was drying up, and hoped to artificially keep the land attractive to waders. Thus the cause of at least one of the issues, appears to have been Natural England, for not prosecuting the agency causing the flooding.
If that is so and Natural England knew it, then the evidence that was tendered in Court, was not accurate, which may fall to be considered as a 'failure to advise', or in the case of a criminal prosecution such as this; could come under the heading of perjury or even fraud - as per Section 2,3 and 4 of the Fraud Act 2006.
Index to navigate Animal Kingdom:-
A heartwarming adventure: Pirate whalers V Conservationists,
with an environmental message.
For release as an e-book in 2013 with hopes for a film in 2015 TBA
(graphic design: Martin House)
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