Wildlife after Brexit
AT dawn, I was watching the rooks once more as they bowled across the sky like some dark dream, when, almost at my feet, a male yellowhammer left its roost on some barbed wire shrouded by bracken. It looked a cosy place to have spent the night. Once, the rook’s display and the appearance of this yellow bunting would have given a countryman the heebeegeebees: the yellowhammer was said to have a drop of the Devil’s blood on its tongue and the bird’s eggs, which are intricately marked with scribbles, were considered the Devil’s writing. Today, due to the loss of winter stubble, they, like other granivorous passerines and the grey partridge, have seen their numbers plummet and I have witnessed very few in my life.
They’re best known for their repetitive song ‘a-little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese’, which ornithologists regard as second only to the cuckoo as the best mnemonic for British birdsong and was a sound that once dominated the dusty lanes and areas of thick gorse in high summer.
The Brexit negotiations—especially the decisions that are made with regard to farming after we leave the Eu—will have consequences not only for the British population, but our wildlife, too. The future of the yellowhammer may depend on them. MH