Country Life Today: The seagull who flew off with a dog in its beak

A seagull has flown off with a chihuahua; the bright pink sheep causing consternation; a call to build on the green belt around London; the threat to Britain's Ribena supplies; and birthday wishes for Prince George.

Chihuaha snatched by seagull as he played in garden

No visitor to a British seaside town can fail to be shocked by the sheer chutzpah of seagulls swooping in to steal chips, ice creams and anything else they can scavenge — but a seagull in Paignton, Devon, has gone for larger prey. A seagull swooped down and made off with a four-year-old chihuahua as it played in its owner’s back garden.

The poor dog’s owner, Becca Hill, appealed via social media after the attack on Sunday afternoon since the seagull disappeared from view with Gizmo ‘in its beak’, according to a report in the Daily Mirror.

A full-grown chihuahua weighs around 1kg — light enough for a gull to carry in its beak

A full-grown chihuahua can weigh in at under 1kg — light enough for a gull to carry in its beak

‘My partner was in the garden putting the washing out at the time and suddenly he saw it swoop down,’ said Ms Hill.

‘It carried Gizmo a fair way as we couldn’t see him anymore. I have no idea if he was dropped or where he is now.’

The tale might sound far-fetched, but it isn’t: the biggest seagulls can have a wingspan of 5ft and carry weights of 1kg in their beaks. An adult chihuahua on the small side of the scale can stands just six inches high and can weigh as little as 900g.

But an RSPB spokesman told the Mirror that owners need not worry unduly since ‘these types of incidents are very rare and not typical gull behaviour.’

Full story (Daily Mirror)


Happy Birthday, Prince George!

The third-in-line to the throne is six today. Many happy returns!

Royal babies through the years (Country Life)


RHS chief urges parents and grandparents to turn their children into young gardeners

Father and two children watering potted plant in the garden

Forget tales of endangered water voles and wildcats, the Observer reported on Sunday: ‘The alarm bell is sounding over a rather more overlooked endangered species: green-fingered children.’

The paper interviewed Sue Biggs, head of the Royal Horticultural Society, who admits to being worried about where the next generation of young gardeners is coming from: ‘In a few years’ time, we won’t have enough gardeners to keep the 22 million gardens in this country going, and that will only make environmental issues worse,’ she told the paper.

Full story (The Observer via theguardian.com)


The threat to Britain’s crucial Ribena supplies

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Let's make #Ribena 😂 #Blackcurrant #InTheGarden

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Milder winters are being blamed for falling yields in British blackcurrant crops, according to a report in The Times. ‘The bushes need a cold spell to encourage them to break bud, flower and set fruit the next season,’ the paper explains. Warm winters since the 1990s have been ‘confusing the plants, which were flowering and fruiting later and more sporadically, making harvesting difficult, lowering yields and producing inferior-quality berries.’

Farmers are looking for new varieties — and lovers of Ribena will be hoping they manage to get something soon, since 90% of Britain’s blackcurrant crop is used by the makers of the cordial.

Full story (The Times – subscription required)


It’s time to build houses on the green belt, urges Jacob Rees-Mogg

Field and hedgerow, North Downs at Clandon, Surrey, United Kingdom.

Field and hedgerow on the North Downs at Clandon, Surrey, which sits within the green belt

The Times carries words from Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg suggesting that it’s time to loosen restrictions on building in the green belt — and adding that 1 million homes could be built around London alone, if derelict or previously built-upon green belt areas were declassified.

‘Some green belt is derelict, or has already been built on, but regulation ensures it cannot be reused for housing. Declassifying already built-on or derelict green belt would make it more attractive, not less,’ he wrote.

The CPRE’s Tom Fyans pointed out that things are rarely so simple since ‘redeveloping brownfield land within the green belt is that it often means building more roads and infrastructure on greenfield land in close proximity,’ something which he says ’causes irreversible harm to our countryside.’

Full story (The Times – subscription required)


And finally… the bright pink sheep at Latitude festival

The famous dyed sheep at the 2019 Latitude Festival.

The pink sheep at the Latitude Festival might seem like a bit of fun — but others don’t take it so lightly. An RSPCA spokesman said that ‘we want all animals treated with kindness and respect and would discourage people from painting or dying animals for novelty purposes,’ while the Tweet below from PETA went even further…

Full story (Daily Telegraph)