Who Mourns For the Landfill?
Landfill has had it's day. Most of us are recycling more and more, although it seems to have taken the constant barrage of ten years of media focus to get the changes ingrained. Pristinely clean Household Recovery Centres are now the order of the day with a skip for every conceivable type of 'waste' neatly colour coded around the spotless concrete.
It's a good thing right? I keep telling myself this, it's a good thing. Anyone who has lived adjacent to a landfill will testify to the windblown mess for miles downwind of a site despite the best attempts by the operators to prevent it.
The local landfill site near us in Northumberland at Ellington Road just north of Ashington has been covered over this summer. A few fences remain but what was the biggest fast food takeaway for gulls for miles is now sealed into it's methane producing hole for the next thousand years.
And there's the rub, Ellington Road used to be a fantastic place for birders or more specifically 'larophiles' (after the family latin name for gulls laridae) to go during the winter and observe hundreds and sometimes thousands of large gulls gathering to feed, argue, fight and generally hang about. It made for a fantastic spectacle when something spooked them, say a passing Peregrine as they would all rise into the air silently.
Of course gull watchers would be looking for some of the rarer gulls amongst the more familar Herring & Great Black-backed Gulls. The winter months bring a few 'white-winged' gulls from the Arctic such as the Glaucous Gull and the slightly smaller Iceland Gull.
In recent years with DNA analysis techniques many new species have been split creating new opportunities to find and identify hitherto unheard of vagrants such as Caspian Gull.
So whilst I understand and applaud the brave new world of clean and green, I'm now tasked with finding the increasingly rare 'landfill' habitat, if anyone knows of a good one please let me know. Who knows perhaps one day the RSPB will launch a 'save our landfill' campaign, I doubt it somehow.