Friday, 31 October 2014

Wardens ‘rendered’ in RSPB jobs bloodbath

As the RSPB’s many retail outlets gear up for the Christmas market, visiting birders will have noticed their stocks swelling, most notably the sudden increase in fat balls on offer.

These tasty treats are sold to help attract tits to suburban birders gardens, but behind their enticing putty-coloured facade lurks a darker secret. For some months now the RSPB has been disposing of ‘surplus’ wardens from their reserves under a top secret program known as the Reserves Strategic Review.

Arthur Balsam (not his real name), an older reserve warden from the north of England, said “It’s been horrific, not knowing when the knock on the door will come and you discover your time is up. I sit at home at night with my wife in terrified silence with the doors deadlocked, all the curtains closed and the lights off.

“During the day though, there’s nowhere to hide. They say it’s strategic, and that there will be jobs opening up elsewhere – that there’s a reshuffle going on. The dreadful reality is that they’re getting rid of the old guard, cutting out what they see as the dead wood, replacing them with young people with degrees and qualifications and, in some cases, even breasts.

“But the really awful bit is that nobody knows what happens to those old wardens once they’ve been removed. You hear things though, whispers traded on what remains of the grapevine. Stories of wardens being removed in unspeakable circumstances... People are calling it the Reserves Strategic Rendition. And when they say rendition, they’re not talking about some fluffy kidnap and overseas torture scenario, oh no...

“We’re talking about ex-wardens being boiled slowly down into tallow. Why else aren’t any of these recently axed wardens speaking out? You might think it's because they're the out-of-touch dinosaurs who don't use social media to announce their every bowel movement, let alone discuss in public their sacking...

"While we think it's because they’ve been turned into fat balls, and are being sold in their former reserves’ shops.

"It's so ironic it hurts".

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Impoverished north-east to replace lost heavy industry with Eastern Crowned Warblers

With the discovery of yet another Eastern Crowned Warbler today in north-east England, awkward questions are beginning to be asked of the provenance of these charming far eastern vagrants.

Tom Logan, a twitcher from west London, said “It’s a bit suspicious, frankly. Everyone knows that lightning doesn’t strike twice, except on Fair Isle, where it strikes repeatedly over and over again. So for Britain’s third Eastern Crowned Warbler to be found not a million miles away from the first, and a mere five years later, seems pretty fucking suspect to me. What’s going on in the north-east?”

The answer, it seems, lies in leaked email correspondence between the councils in the area. There is rumoured to be a plan afoot to use European funding to support a carefully orchestrated release program of far eastern vagrant birds along the north-east coastline in an attempt to ‘replace the lost economic benefit of the heavy industry Thatcher shafted with a thriving autumn birding scene that will, in time, come to supplant Shetland’.

The emails outline a plan to start with a succession of eye-catching Eastern Crowned Warblers, before in subsequent years stepping up the tempo with single Pale-legged and Sakhalin Leaf Warblers, and building to a crescendo in 2020 with the release of a Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler in Co.Durham.

For now, birders are left wondering whether to set their scruples to one side and believe these birds could repeatedly occur in such an unlikely location. Tom Logan concluded, “The first bird is staying on my list. For fuck’s sake, Red-headed Bunting has been on there for decades too, so I’m hardly going to scratch this one out, no matter how preposterous it might seem”.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Depressed Starlings turning to heroin

Researchers today revealed that Britain’s Starlings are suffering from a massive manic depressive episode, and are turning to drugs to alleviate their symptoms.

Arthur Balsam, a pharmacologist from Reading, said “We’ve long wondered why Starlings formed large flocks at this time of year. We even gave them a beautiful, evocative collective noun – we called them murmurations. When all along we should have been referring to them as downers.

“What we’re actually seeing is a huge self-help group of depressed Starlings gathering to try to talk about their suicidal, black feelings, and to help one another to deal with them. The timing’s significant too – these flocks form at precisely the time of year when the days shorten and it’s all getting a bit dark, miserable and depressing out there. Coincidence? I think not”.

Tom Logan, a bipolar Starling from Taunton, added “Black! Black! It’s all so black. They make me eat pins”.

Some Starlings have been finding a little relief from the black dog of depression in the form of Prozac-infused leatherjacket larvae. Arthur Balsam continued, “People are taking so much Prozac these days, the active compound is found at residual levels at sewage treatment works. Which means it gets into the invertebrates found there, so Starlings that hang out near sewage farms tend to be a lot more happy-go-lucky. They’re doped to the eyeballs on Prozac.

“Whereas other Starlings are turning to harder drugs to temporarily escape the desperate nihilism of their pointless existence. Heroin’s their drug of choice – they’re scoring it in the inner cities and shooting up in the countryside. The Somerset Levels are knee-deep in used needles at this time of year.

“Those Starlings are really putting the vulgar back into Sturnus vulgaris. The dirty skag-hounds”.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Natural yoghurt shortage hits Out Hebrides

The Out Hebrides today is suffering the effects of a sudden shortage of natural yoghurt, believed to have been caused by Hurricane Gonzalo.

Dr Tom McLogan, the GP for Stornoway, commented “We understand that the extreme weather conditions caused by the remains of Hurricane Gonzalo striking the west coast may have disrupted supplies of natural yoghurt to the islands.

“The dairy section shelves of the Co-op in Stornoway are empty, and I heard the rural shops ran out of yoghurt yesterday too. I'm told some of the white settlers may have limited supplies of natural goat yoghurt, but that’s not going to help us as the crisis develops.

“Because everyone knows that goat-derived dairy products are bogging, and only fit for hippies, druids and special, home-educated children”.

The effects of the yoghurt shortage are already being felt in the Hebrides, with the first reported cases of thrush coming to light in the past 24 hours on North Uist and Barra. Dr McLogan added “I’ll be candid with you. These are probably just the tip of a big thrush iceberg. For now, the first cases appear to be relatively mild, the easily treated Grey-cheeked and slightly more contagious Hermit strains of the disease. God help us all if the outbreak mutates and spreads...

“At the first sign of cases of Bicknell’s or Wood Thrush we’re going to have to seal ourselves off from the mainland, and stop all travel into the islands. It'll be for your own safety.

“In the meantime, I’d ask you all to pray for us. Things are getting pretty yeasty here in the hot-zone right now”.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Alarm as large extinct mammals to be released in British countryside

The debate continues to rage this week about the ethics of reintroducing endangered or entirely lost large mammals back into the British countryside.

Opinions remain divided. On the one hand, supporters of the principle argue that the reintroduction of iconic species will have a trickle-down benefit for wildlife of all shapes and sizes, and will encourage wildlife tourism in remote areas.

“The environmental benefits will be considerable,” said Arthur Balsam, professor of ecology at the University of St Ives. “But we shouldn’t underestimate the economic benefits that will also accrue. People will come a long way and pay good money to see an iconic large mammal that once graced our green and pleasant land but has been lost for some years.

“And let’s be frank, our large mammal fauna is seriously impoverished and imperilled these days. At the top of the food chain we still have David Attenborough, but for how long? Beneath him you’ve got Chris Packham, clearly the beta male aspiring for alpha dominance. And then what? Bill Oddie is evidently a spent force these days, and then there’s the rest of them all wittering away about the ‘most deadly’ this and that, and appearing on Strictly Come Dancing, for fuck’s sake.

“With a little imagination and some considerable scientific effort we could reintroduce some lost species. Imagine, if you will, a British countryside reinvigorated with Gerald Durrells and H.G.Alexanders. The passion for conservation, the dedication to the study of natural history... It’d be amazing to bring these big beasts back”.

Some however remain less than convinced by the concept. Enid Felcher, a keen rambler and committed Daily Mail reader, said “I’d not feel safe in the countryside with these large, dangerous mammals on the loose. Where would it all end?

“I’d be walking the North Downs way and would find myself confronted by Johnny Morris in a 1960s zookeeper’s uniform, carrying a bemused penguin, and doing strangulated anthropomorphic voices for the Kestrels and Field Mice.

“Which would be properly scary shit”.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Shetland about to go critical

Scientists today issued a stark warning that Shetland is likely to go critical over the course of the coming weekend.

Professor Arthur Balsam, currently studying the fabric of matter itself at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern, said “There’s a very real danger that things are going to get seriously fucked up this weekend on Shetland.

“It’s like the perfect storm – a conjunction of circumstances that may cause the archipelago to go critical. There’s a powerful south-easterly weather system due to strike Shetland over the weekend, potentially bringing with it a deluge of Siberian vagrant birds. Already present on the island are a number of serious birders – and I can’t stress this enough, they’re the worst kind of all.

“Normal birders are faintly nerdy. Serious birders on the other hand are much further up their own arses. The ones who go to Shetland are terrifyingly unstable – a combination of intense focus and dangerously laddish bravado. All this talk of ‘crews’ and ‘scoring’ is merely symptomatic of a syndrome we know as Avian Twattishness.

“All it could take is one hair-trigger causal event to set off an unstoppable chain of reactions that could signal the birth of a supermassive black hole that engulfs us all. Consider if you will the following scenario:

“A local who takes himself entirely too seriously as both a photographer and a finder of rare birds happens across a Siberian Accentor. He puts the news out to his ‘team’ first, and then to the local grapevine, and eventually the national news services. Serious birders converge on one point, all taking photographs of the accentor and posting them online in an orgy of self-indulgent proof that they were there.

“Meanwhile said local puts an article online ostensibly bigging up Shetland as a birding destination, but mainly lauding himself. He uses the phrase ‘find tackle’ to describe the act of chancing upon a rare bird. A nation’s birders simultaneously curls its toes and does that little wince you do when you eat a bad olive. All that concentrated embarrassment tears a little hole in the fabric of time and space, and before we know it we’re in deep trouble, going critical.

“Or as we prefer to say here at Cern, going Unst”.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

David Miliband declared a Marine Protected Area

Former leader of the Labour party David Miliband was today declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA) by the former inhabitants of the Chagos Islands.

Tomas Logasso, spokesman for the Chagossians, said “David Miliband’s pristine coral reefs and unique ecosystems will be preserved by the restrictions an MPA imposes on any activity in his vicinity”.

When it was pointed out to Mr Logasso that David Miliband’s marine fauna was in no way remarkable, and the decision to award him MPA status was lacking in both scientific credibility and diplomatic integrity, he shrugged dismissively.

“David Miliband completely ignored the advice of his civil servants and fisheries advisors when he rushed through an MPA covering 640,000 square kilometres of British Indian Ocean Territory before the last general election. So rushed was it that despite ensuring displaced Chagossians can never move back to their home islands, they somehow forgot to include Diego Garcia. Which, coincidentally, houses a notoriously shady US military base.

“It was almost as if that MPA was all about politics and nothing whatsoever to do with conservation or sound science”.

Arthur Balsam, professor of marine ecology at the University of St Ives, remarked “David Miliband’s new MPA status is going to stifle all activity for miles around him. I wonder if someone slapped an MPA on the entire Conservative party when they were elected in 2010 and forgot to mention it?

“There’s certainly been no positive environmental activity happening anywhere near them in the last four years”.