TN55 The Conference Calls 13 Aug 11


The one with guests David ‘The Urban Birder’ Lindo and Ceri Levy the driving force behind the ‘Ghosts of Gone Birds’. We talk about what mega-shorebird we’d each like to discover, we have a short pre-recorded interview with Dominic Price from Plantlife, and David talks about his new book ‘The Urban Birder’ and reads a poem he wrote specially for ‘Music and Migration’ (an ambient album compiled by Martin Holm). We also slam the slaughter of migrants in Malta as we discuss Ceri’s plans to join a BirdLife Malta Raptor Camp this autumn.

NB: All opinions and views expressed by an individual panel member and/or guest during a Conference Calls podcast are those of the individual speaker alone, and are not to be taken as being held by or representative of any other individual, organisation, or sponsor unless specifically identified as such during the recording of that podcast.

Advice: This podcast is sponsored by Pentax Sports Optics and their ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive’ conservation initiative. Go to for more details.



Show Notes

And your Panel today consists of…

  • Me, Charlie Moores, a freelance writer and podcaster (and now sadly intermittent birder) who either lives in a warm little cottage in north Wiltshire with his family or in a cold ‘podding shed’ editing an endless series of podcasts.
  • John Hague, a birding psychiatric nurse from Barnsley who now lives in Leicester where he’s a prominent member of the Leicester and Rutland Ornithological Society. John blogs extensively at The Drunkbirder where he rants “about the world and the absurdities of life“.


An explanation of conservation headlands from a previous blog post, and some common arable plants recorded at Great Chalfield ( – photos copyright Charlie Moores:

“…For example six metres of ‘conservation headland’ or buffer strips are left around field edges and between hedges, allowing tall stands of grasses and Teasels to grow and native arable plants like Round-leaved and Sharp-leaved Fluellen, Field Pansy, and Germander Speedwell to flourish. The headlands act as corridors, are superb for insects, give animals like Roe Deer and Foxes the chance to thrive, and are part of a habitat creation project to re-introduce the rapidly-declining Grey Partridge to the estate….”

common fluellen
Common Fluellen Kickxia spuria, Great Chalfield


field pansy
Field Pansy Viola arvensis, Great Chalfield


Veronica persica, great chalfield manor
Teasels Dipsacus fullonum, Great Chalfield


Veronica persica, great chalfield manor
Common Field Speedwell Veronica persica, Great Chalfield


field poppy, great chalfield manor
Corn or Field Poppy Papaver rhoeas, Great Chalfield


field poppy, great chalfield manor
Shepherd’s Purse Capsella bursa-pastoris, Great Chalfield


Achillea millefolium, great chalfield manor
Yarrow Achillea millefolium, Great Chalfield


Lotus corniculatus, great chalfield manor
Bird’s-foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus, Great Chalfield




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About the author

Passionate about animal welfare and conservation, veggie and dairy-free, I live in the Wiltshire (UK) countryside. I co-founded Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Birds Korea. Trustee of the League against Cruel Sports On Twitter @charliemoores


  1. Mark M. B says:

    Call it poetic license if you like. But just to let David Lindo know that the firing of bullets in Malta is reserved solely to firearm license holders, the armed forces and the police and only permitted on recognized controlled ranges. The use of anything but shotguns for hunting is strictly forbidden. And just to let you know, since it seems David’s knowledge of ballistics is as good as his Chinese, shotguns fire pellets.

    if indeed he envisages a shower of bullets in Malta as inspiration to write his poetry. My Visit to the UK in August on a splendid pigeon shoot, in what I presume you consider a civilized EU country, inspired me to write my own poetry which you might obligingly read in your next “conference call”

    Walked into Next to by myself some jeans
    and all I hear is a row and lots of sirens.
    I take a peep outside and see a lot of Brits.
    White, dark and funny coloured
    acting like perfect shits.

    And yet some fools are happy
    to come and save our birds
    when just outside their houses
    there live some violent turds.

    the only thing British that still matters
    is their abundance of wild game.
    Where anyone with dosh,
    could put their gun to the test
    as a legal paying guest.

    Being British, I thank you for offering 365 days of bird shooting to anyone who can afford to enjoy what the British can do any day without any bother from foreigners scrutinizing their deficiencies. According to RSPB statistics on wildlife crime in Britain, your moaning about Malta sounds even more pathetic.

    Indeed we do have a problem but what makes it any worse than what is officially recorded, what goes on behind your backs at home or the rabble that run loose on your high streets for that matter.

    Should we start sending outsiders to Britain to film and monitor the movement of shoppers or protect shop owners from possible death? Or would you rather we send Maltese hunters to count the millions of birds domestic cats in UK kill each year? The last I read this ran into the 55,000,000 figure. (It is thought that some 55 million birds are killed by cats in Britain every year) BTO Garden Birdwatch for your honoured BTO guest Nick Moran.

    So can David start thinking about a poem, possibly with the title “British Birds in Dustbins and Kittys on our Laps.” to sooth his poetic verve?

    Keep up the gibberish Charlie it definitely beats the “carry on’s” and serves as a good lesson in hypocrisy. And by the way I know you relish Maltese hunters listening in,. Believe you me there’s no better entertainment in sunny Malta other than shooting birds that British shooters are allowed to shoot. (legal ones that, is just in case you get carried away and rambleon for another hour with your good friends).

    Branding all the Maltese as murderers, using your same yardstick, I should be calling you all hooligans. Now would that be right?

  2. Charlie says:

    Hi Mark. Great to find that the FKNK have discovered – and are irritated by – Talking Naturally. It feels like a tradition is back in place after I left that other blog you guys loathed so much earlier this year.

    As usual, though, your arguments are the standard stuff of the schoolyard – excusing one bad behaviour by pointing sticky little fingers at another. You (and your good friends) have been trying to deflect international criticism for years by prattling on about cats and British hooligans as if the wrongs cancel each other out, but of course they don’t. Whatever you say, the fact is that hunters in Malta illegally kill migrant and breeding birds. That’s a fact under the laws of the EU (an institution from which Malta receives very generous support courtesy of EU taxpayers) and nothing going on anywhere else in the world excuses the criminality that takes place on Malta.

    Whilst much of what you write hardly merits comment of any sort (so David is not as au fait with guns as you and your ilk are – yawn), I am intrigued by your offer to send your hunters over here to count the number of birds killed by cats. The help would be welcomed, I’m sure, and wouldn’t it be wonderful for them to do something positive for wildlife for a change: you never know, they may even discover a spark of humanity still flickering beneath that veneer of snarling laddishness most of them affect, a spark most of us here would be happy to help ignite. Win-win all round (please do, though, remind them that the taking of firearms onto aircraft is forbidden under most circumstances: I appreciate that they’re not used to having to operate within the law but they may just find aircraft security a little more ‘robust’ than what they’re used to).

    Well, Mark, as I said what a pleasure it is to once again find myself an irritant to Malta’s illegal hunters. A very good start to the day I have to say…

  3. John Hague says:

    Hi Mark,

    First of all let me say it’s great to get up the noses of the illegal Maltese Hunters who are acting in flagrant breach of the EU Birds Directive. Your response might have go a bit more sympathy if it wasn’t for the fact that you seem to want to link licenced shoots in Britain (I know they are by no means perfect and the Police and RSPB are doing as much as they can to clamp down in illegal persecution of raptors) or the legal shooting of Woodpigeon that is proving an agricultural pest. I don’t necessarily agree with any form of hunting but I recognise that some control of species can be beneficial to the wider environment and as a meat-eater I can’t condemn shooting for food. I can condemn the illegal raptor persecution in the UK though.
    It seems that in Malta all the hunters want to do is just shoot birds… for no other reason that they enjoy killing, I hope that helps you feel more of a man? The problems with the illegal hunting in Malta and elsewhere is the scale and the fact that is clearly damaging the survival of species such as Turtle Dove that are already declining alarmingly. Does that make you happy?
    I don’t know whether you are British, ex pat British or Maltese but to try and somehow link your illegal hunting to our illegal riots and looting is risible. Disgruntled youths who riot and loot feel they, rightly or wrongly, are treated badly by the majority of society; it’s not a new phenomenon either. Are you suggesting that the mass slaughter of migrant birds in Malta is the result of 1000s of disenfranchised youths? I can only assume you are which just makes your argument seem even sillier.
    I’m pretty sure you’re not going to give up your ‘right’ to slaughter birds easily… well we’re not going to stop fighting you every step of the way. Thanks for the poem by-the-way, I love the latent racism, it really shows that in Malta you are more out of touch with modern society than I could have ever imagined.


  4. Nick Moran says:

    You’re absolutely right on two counts Mark: you do have a problem in Malta, and people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones (as you imply with your tangential references to rioters and domestic cat owners in Britain).

    Personally the only ‘birds’ I have ever shot were clay pigeons (with pellets from a shotgun I believe – though I’ll happily stand corrected – could’ve been peas from a pea-shooter for all I know about firearms), so I’m comfortable that my holding of and voicing an opinion on the illegal killing of wild birds – anywhere on the planet – is not being hypocritical.

    For the record I have never owned a cat, nor have I ever been involved in a riot (though I have ripped down illegal mist nets and dragged a trapper to the officials in Shanghai Botanic Gardens, which I suppose was a bit of a riot in one sense of the word). I do have opinions on domestic cats, riots, and for that matter, the legal hunting of wild animals in Britain and elsewhere, but they are all irrelevant to the issue in question.

    As you have attested, the fact is that Malta – along with a number of other countries – has a real problem with the illegal killing of large numbers of wild birds, including several migratory species whose populations are in serious decline. As Charlie and John have said, we’re going to exercise our right to continue to highlight the issue, whether you like it or not, because it is something about which we all deeply care.

    Thanks for admitting that there is a problem – definitely a positive move on your part. Now to do something about it?

    Nick (employed by BTO but giving my own opinions – BTO is a non-campaigning, data-gathering organisation hence does not comment on issues such as these)

  5. Tristan Reid says:

    Hi Mark,

    I am not usually known for my maturity; but having read your rather infantile comments I realise I must be more mature than I first thought!
    The facts are clear; illegal & merciless hunting of migratory birds does happen in Malta. You can use weak diversionary tactics all you like by trying to compare to UK issues (where there is clearly no comparison). Interesting that you do this; perhaps reading between the lines you do see that what you are condoning is clearly wrong!
    I assume you have heard about one of the last Northern Bald Ibis that was shot in Syria; the hunter responsible now helps the conservation effort by recording and photographing these birds as they migrate. Perhaps this would be a better use of your time?
    For the record, I’m fairly certain that no-one brands all Maltese residents as murderer’s; just those who partake in the blatant murder of birds in the name of ‘tradition’ or ‘sport’!

    Tristan Reid

  6. Mark M. B says:

    Hi Charlie
    Your being “an irritant to Malta’s illegal hunters.” is no problem to me or any other law abiding citizen. But do stop generalizing, as you most often do, and learn how to distinguish between the few that flout the law and the majority of Maltese hunters that are after legal quarry.

    As for killing “breeding birds” we do this legally, following an European Court ruling, under derogation from the Birds Directive in full respect of all conditions. Incidentally also under EU derogation and perfectly legal, wood pigeons, corvids and all pest species are shot in the UK as “breeding birds” including their nests and nestlings. I presume, considering you only refer to breeding birds being shot by us, you close both yes to this fact. Does your opinion on breeding birds differ when it comes to UK vermin?

    Comparisons are indeed odious, but before publicizing illegalities in Malta as anything outstanding, stop ignoring the few UK cases that get reported considering the thousands that are not. These are enough to shame and silence any critic or worry any EU taxpayer for that matter.

    One case that comes to mind is the discovery of a pit in Bedfordshire with over 20 rotting swans and a few other protected birds!

    I will not mention any more incidents for lack of time, but reading Defra’s reports makes me laugh especially when you openly state “nothing going on anywhere else in the world excuses the criminality that takes place on Malta.”

    Are you being serious?

  7. Charlie Moores says:

    Hey Mark

    Oh, take it as read I will continue to make myself a nuisance to you odious lawbreakers for a long time to come.

    Incidentally, perhaps you’d like to listen to the next Conference Calls where we’ll have a five minute interview with a young Maltese national who says far stronger things about the illegal, widespread, deliberate persecution of wildlife on Malta than I’ve done so far.

    I thought a heads-up to your mates might be in order as I assume you’ll need plenty of time to think up a different excuse for when you’re being attacked and denounced from within – or will you not bother and just tread the same very weary line as usual? I won’t be holding my breath…

    Oh, and all power to BirdLife Malta which more enlightened listeners/readers can find at

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