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April 2015
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To the Editor:
newlsetters That was an interesting letter last month from Tony Brignull about our red kites. Last summer I took part in a lapwing and barn owl survey for the RSPB’s farming officers who monitor bird populations throughout the country. Since then they have contacted me on several occasions for updates.

However, one of their messages did ask us NOT to feed the kites (as I believe some people do, though not necessarily in our area). Feeding them has resulted in an unnatural population explosion with the result that the gene pool has been weakened and some kite chicks have been dying, presumably due to genetic problems.

I have never seen a kite take live prey although I have heard reports that they have been observed doing this, which is a great shame if this is the case. This will not endear the species to the human population, especially if they are starting to swoop down on people topping up their bird tables. Hunger is obviously what causes this sort of behaviour, because there are too many of them now. We should all take note and stop feeding them as requested and allow nature to balance out the kite population in keeping with their natural food supply.

Sandra Nuseibeh
Kings Ash


To the Editor:
I wonder whether any of your readers have any information about the jobs local people did in the 19th century?

My grandfather William Rutland was born in Swan Bottom and his parents and grand-parents all lived in the area. I believe they worked for the Liberty family and he went into the navy at a young age.

I have basic dates of births and marriages etc but would like to find out what their lives were like.

I hope maybe someone can help. My contact email address is pauline.potton@btinternet.com.

Pauline Potton
Hertfordshire


To the Editor:
Why does The Lee/Lee Gate sound like a battlefield in Syria or the Ukraine?

At the time of writing (mid-March) people have been shooting in the woods for the last six weeks. Shooting starts at 8:00 am – I set my watch by it – and finishes by 4:00 pm each day. The shots usually come in a salvo of three, which amounts to 300 per week or 1500 over six weeks. Either the shooter(s) are a very bad shot or he/she has killed all the animal life surrounding Lee Gate.

Who has given the shooter permission to make walkers ‘jump out of their skin’ as they pass in the area and disturb people in the neighbourhood, but more importantly kill the wildlife and disturb the balance of nature?

Peter Jordan
Lee Gate


newlsettersTo the Editor:
Driving down Leather Lane during February half-term I became aware of the sound of a very low-flying helicopter. As the sound remained constant I pulled in and stopped the car, as it seemed that the helicopter may have been in difficulty.

On closer inspection it became evident that the pilot was hovering over the electricity cables and pylon nearest the road. My first reaction was that it may have been doing an aerial survey for HS2 purposes (not for the first time, as we know to our cost). The pilot was extremely skilful and the helicopter hovered and hung in the air like the dragonflies that dominate the area above our pond.

I was then able to read the ‘National Grid’ logo on the side of the plane and so was able to resume my journey, more confident that the operation was for maintenance purposes after all.

Trish Swain
Kingswood

A National Grid spokesman writes: These helicopters use high definition photography and infra-red cameras to document the condition of the 21,000 pylons and 7,200 kilometres of overhead lines that make up the high-voltage transmission system in England and Wales. Since the mid-1980s helicopters have been the preferred method of inspection since this can be done much more quickly than by linesmen climbing the towers.

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