There was no room in my last column reviewing the 2019 wildife year to include all the events I wanted to mention so here’s part two.

Two stories involving gulls made me laugh. In summer I warned readers about the authenticity of a tale about a “seagull” seizing and carrying off a puppy from a Cornish garden. This seemed nonsense from the start as even heavyweight Great Black-backed Gulls would struggle to grip and lift a puppy – especially with webbed feet. National newspapers fell for it though. The Daily Star as usual went a step further with a front page headline posing the question: “Dognapping Gull-Will a baby be next ?” Hilarious.

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Just as I expected the whole story was later revealed as a hoax.

My favourite wildlife headline of the year also concerned a gull. It was: “Is that the Police ? A gull has nicked my chips.” A guy had apparently rung police demanding they arrest a gull who stole chips from a bag in his hand.

News Shopper:

David Bellamy

Far more serious were extreme weather spells and our failure to deal with the aftermath which threatened wildlife nationwide in 2019. Early in the year devastating floods washed away ground nesting birds’ first breeding attempts. Later Kent lost its British high temperature record to Cambridgeshire which logged 38.7C (101.66F) on July 25.

Water birds who earlier saw nests destroyed by surplus water now couldn’t find any. Fish died as lakes, ponds and rivers dried to puddles making it difficult for Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Moorhens, Coots and ducks to locate food. Mallards waddled around seeking lost ponds with indignant quacks. Fires destroyed heaths and moorland further threatening ground nesting birds and rare adders.

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We have yet to get a grip on floods and drought so expect more in 2020.

Towards year end we said goodbye to naturalist David Bellamy. Bearded Bellamy’s lispy delivery with arms flailing like a Trumpton windmill attracted large television audiences. He became Britain’s second most imitated TV personality behind Tommy Cooper. But his refusal to recognise global warming saw him sidelined by the BBC and he sadly faded from our screens long before his death.