29 July 2019

As I drove home along Height Road first thing, a sparrowhawk swooped across the wall and flew down the road in front of my car. I clocked it at 30mph, but it was hardly going flat-out.

A minute or so later, as I drove downhill past the Farm, a brilliant-white barn owl glided across the road on wide wings, just ten metres in front of me. It banked round one of the big sycamores and disappeared behind the farmhouse. That’s four times I’ve seen a barn owl near the Farm in recent months, having never seen one round here previously. I’m almost convinced it must have taken up residence in one of the out-buildings.

In the afternoon, a tweet from bee expert @DaveGoulson:

Why are there lots of honeybee hives stationed at RSPB Dungeness National Nature Reserve, a place renowned for rare bumblebees? There is plentiful evidence for competition and spread of disease from hives to wild bees.

Good grief, is this something else we need to start worrying about? I thought our delightful, newfound interest in all things apiculture was supposed to be helping nature—and us! But now I learn honeybees can be bad news for their wild cousins.

By a strange coincidence, only last week I noticed there seem to be far more honeybees and far fewer bumblebees on our lavender this summer. A neighbour recently took up beekeeping. I appreciate anecdotal evidence counts for nothing, but is there no apparently harmless human activity that doesn’t somehow adversely affect the natural world?

By Richard Carter

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Website · Facebook · Twitter · Newsletter · Book

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