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The Birds Strike Back

If you are a regular visitor to the Little Peckers Blog, you will have read all about the ongoing debate regarding the construction of new wind farms in Scotland. Whilst renewable energy is laudable, wind turbines can represent a serious threat to birds. The RSPB has been arguing that the locations of the new wind farms would seriously impact threatened species. But now, ironically, birds have caused construction to cease at one of the sites.

Gold Plovers Delay Construction

In spite of the fact that bird scarers were erected by the construction company, two birds have managed to halt development at a substation by nesting at the site. The ground-nesting golden plovers have taken up residence at the Tom Nan Clach wind farm development on the Cawdor Estate.

Golden plovers are a protected species and so work must cease until they leave the site. The birds have established a nest and two chicks have hatched so it may be some time before they decide to leave!

The birds built their nest just 30ft from a brightly coloured bird scarer which revolves in the wind. Clearly this wasn’t scary at all!

Poetic Justice for the RSPB

Development of the wind farm had been blocked by the Highland Council and opposed by the RSPB but it was approved by the Scottish Government. The developers say that they are a responsible organisation and are committed to protecting the local wildlife. They were aware that golden plovers were in the area. The RSPB has repeated its objection to the scheme stating that the location of the wind farm has one of the one of the highest densities of golden plover ever recorded in the UK.

Golden plovers tend to return to breed in the same area each year and so the RSPB are not surprised that the birds are causing an issue.

The Guinness Book of Records

The Golden plover’s main claim to fame is that it helped to inspire the Guinness Book of Records. In 1951, the brewery’s boss Sir Hugh Beaver was out with a shooting party in Ireland. He missed a shot at a plover and became involved in an argument over which was the fastest game bird in Europe, the plover or red grouse.

The argument could not be resolved and so High Beaver couldn’t help thinking about how this sort of question often arose. But there were few reference works which could provide any answers. He decided that a book featuring records would be popular. He wasn’t wrong!

Athlete Chris Chataway, who was working for Guinness at the time, recommended that Beaver talk to Norris and Ross McWhirter. The twins were running a fact-finding agency in London at the time. The first book was published in 1954 and it wasn’t long before the Guinness Book of Records became a best-seller and starting setting records of its own.

The Guinness book of records may have settled a few arguments in its time but the debate over the wind farms in Scotland continues.


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