What’s wrong with this picture?
Or how about this one?
Perhaps it has something to do with this?
These pictures were all taken last weekend close to where I live, in the fields which separate Monkseaton and Murton. What was disconcerting was the almost complete lack of invertebrate life, either on the tracks which bisect the fields or above the crop itself.
Both the venerable old crab apple and the swathes of yellow dandelions that line the track were devoid of life, despite the warm spring sunshine and the fact that these plants should act like beacons to insects at this time of year.
This isn’t the first time I have noticed the lack of biodiversity on my immediate doorstep but it was perhaps the first time the sterility of the local environment really sunk in.
That’s not to say that Murton Gap, as the fields are known, supports no wildlife: Skylark can still be heard over the fields, one or two farmland birds can be unearthed if you look hard enough, Curlew – Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List – sometimes form winter roosts here and foxes rove between Shiremoor and Monkseaton after dark.
But the farmland is a shadow of what it must once have been, of what it could be if it was managed with more sensitivity, or even left to its own devices.
This was the second time in three weeks that I have seen the field being sprayed. This may not have been insecticide but when a crop is often sprayed more than a dozen times with insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, one has to wonder about the effect on the environment.
The two large fields closest to Monkseaton form a large part of the area likely to be developed for housing under the North Tyneside Local Plan. Whilst it would be defamatory to suggest this area were being willfully damaged because of this, it is clear to see this farmland could be far better managed for wildlife than it currently is.
It pains me to look out onto green space that has been so needlessly degraded and whilst perversely, conversion to housing may eventually result in some recovery in biodiversity, by then so many species will have vanished from here forever.