Cooksbridge, Offham & Hamsey

CHURCH SERVICE: Sunday at St Peter’s Church, 10.15am Sunday School in the church hall, 10.30am Family Communion followed by coffee in the hall.

PARISH COUNCIL: East Chiltington PC were due to meet on July 11 at Plumpton Village Hall. As it would have been at the same time as everybody would have been watching football, it was cancelled and they met the following evening in the small.

DOG ATTACKS: In this month’s South East Farmer it is very sad to read about a farmer in Hampshire who tells of the dog worrying of his sheep and says why dog owners are to blame for attacks. With footpaths near almost every flock of sheep that the family run, they are very prone to attacks by dogs. He says that they cannot be everywhere, so a lot of it is down to what owners do with their dogs, and luck. Two years ago, they lost 160 sheep in a year in eight different attacks, since November there have been four attacks. There was one on Christmas Eve in which 1000 lambs were in some turnips and two had their throats ripped out. The rest were spread all over the place. He says that it is a massive problem, but there is not much you can do about it. He blames people who deliberately go for a walk, arrive at a field and let their dog off its lead. He states they couldn’t give a stuff. They see him coming and run to get the dog and put it back on the lad. They know damn well that they should not be doing it. Least if a dog physically attacks sheep and results can be seen, he says they can do something. But at tupping time, dogs can chase sheep and you don’t know anything about it. The sheep are so stressed that you can lose thousands of pounds worth of unborn lambs because they don’t take. It really is beyond the pale, people then just tie their dogs back up as if nothing has happened. He has had instances where a flock of 500 sheep has had a chronic lambing because they were chased by dogs. The cost between £15,000 and £20,000 and you can’t insure against it. The most successful thing he has ever done was t shoot a dog. It was all over the newspapers, but he did not have a problem for six months. He said he was hated by everybody, but actions speak louder than words. He happened to have a gun with him on that occasion, and at certain times of the year, he and his son will carry a gun in a case in their trucks, but he can’t let other members of staff have guns because of he risks involved. There will be many farmers, not just in Hampshire but around the whole countryside, who I am sure will have every sympathy with that farmer. Even with signs up on farms telling dog owners to keep their animals under control, some people take not notice whatsoever and just loose them off to run amok amongst livestock.

CONSERVATION COURSE: The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and BASIS Registration Ltd have designed a course for candidates to gain a professional qualification in farmland conservation. The three day course, which is being held at GWCT’s Allerton Project in Loddington, Leicestershire is designed for those advising on cross compliance, environmental management, conservation or stewardship options and shoot management.

CRIME PREVENTION: Sweet-scented security. A Crime Prevention Garden with crunchy gravel, dense privet hedges and thorny plants was on display at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

CUCKOOS: When they leave the UK for their winter grounds in Africa shortly, some cuckoos will be equipped with very special gear. In a bid to discover the reason the species is vanishing from our shores, down to 75 percent since 1993, the BTO has fitted 10 birds with satellite tags. Research has shown that the birds choose between two routes to get to Central Africa. Some go via Spain, some via Italy. The data has enabled the BTO to show that the survival of the cuckoos going via Spain was actually quite a lot, less than that of those going via Italy. It is hoped the the trackers will provide further clues to ascertain what’s causing the difference in mortality. It is known that the birds that migrate via Spain leave the UK about 10 days later than those that go via Italy. It is thought that they probably have to do a lot more preparation, and are more vulnerable to the deteriorating conditions here. Their main food source being big, juicy, hairy caterpillars; which are in decline in the UK, ‘particularly n the areas there the birds that migrate via Spain are found’. You can follow the birds progress at www.bto.org/cuckooscp. This year was the first time that I have heard the cuckoo around here for a number of years. It always caused some excitement in younger days if we heard the cuckoo for the first time. This year I have a lot of young goldfinches, greenfinches, yellowhammers and a lot of nuthatches visiting the bird feeders and a visitor recently was most excited to see several lesser spotted woodpeckers and green woodpeckers.