Sunday, April 24, 2011

Joven Vencejo Común cortado en dos (Young Swift cut in two)

The next time someone tells you that wind turbines are no danger to wildlife, show them this, one amongst many examples of young Swifts being killed by wind turbines in  Aragon, Spain.

A finales de julio de 2003 comenzaron a aparecer cadáveres de Vencejo Común (Apus apus) accidentados en los parques eólicos de Aragón. Este ejemplar joven fue hallado en un parque del complejo eólico de La Muela (Zaragoza) y esta seccionado en dos mitades. Las causas de este aumento de la mortalidad se deben a la gran cantidad de vencejos jóvenes e inexpertos aún en el vuelo que llenan los cielos en estas fechas.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Guess whose day it is

Every Welshman knows St David's Day, every Scot St Andrew's and every Irishman St Patrick's, but for some reason, we English mostly don't know that April 23 is St George's Day, and if we do, we don't make any fuss about it.
There are a lot of pubs called George and Dragon, and I remember a cartoon of a man knocking on the door of one such. The door is opened by a sour-looking woman. The man says simply "Morning, missus, is George in?"
I know it's not much of a tribute to St G, but it's the best I can come up with on a blazing hot Saturday afternoon.

Kestrel box up!

We put this one as high as possible, partly because Kestrels seem to like them high, partly to make sure the box would be clear of any machinery being moved in and out of the barn. Kestrels are already being reported on eggs, so we have probably missed this breeding season. But it's a pound to a penny that Stock Doves will breed in it, and that's fine. They are an amber-listed species of conservation concern, and anyway they build up a nice substrate for the next occupants.
Anyway, the box is up, as is the white one, which we wedged in a tree to replace an old one that had disintegrated.
Happy Easter! Happy Pesach! May all your pleasures be egg-shaped.

Barn Owl box going up

As you can see, the Old Scrote's speciality is watching meaningfully while his colleague, Peter, does all the hard work. It's taken years of dedicated effort for me to get to this point.
We (I like that "we") put the box up as high as possible because this is a roadside barn much used by yahoos, as the obscene graffiti attest. Delicacy dictates that I should not show you an example, but, as befits illiterat testosterone-charged yobs, most of their scrawled words were four-letter ones.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happiness is box-shaped

It's Wednesday morning, and we are all ready to go out and bang up a few more boxes.

Number 1 is a reconditioned indoor Barn Owl box, still poo-encrusted for authenticity.
Number 2 is a new-style wide and shallow Kestrel Box, quite roomy.
Number 3 is a conventional style Kestrel box. The plywood was already painted on one side, so we shall have a WHITE Kestrel box, tucked away in the fork of a tree.
Number 4 is a new front for a crappy old indoor Barn Owl box. This is a temporary repair, because Stock Doves are breeding in the box at the moment, but in the winter we shall install a new box.
It's all go in the Fens these days!

Friday, April 08, 2011

In mourning. Briefly.

It is no more. It is deceased, deader than a Norwegian blue parrot. It has ceased to exist, it has gorn to join the choir invisibule, it has shuffled off the mortal coil, although I cannot swear that the coil was the source of the problem. Any road up, it is now an ex-Land Rover, mute, inert. I preferred it of course when it was noisy and ert, but I have to resign myself now to life without Disco.
She - no slur on the fair sex intended - chose her moment to breathe her last. I had loaded her to the gunwales with household and garden rubbish, all ready to take my leavings to the Landfill Site, as rubbish tips are now called. And she wouldn't go. A few sulky turns of the engine and then nothing. In the midst of life we are in death. She could have chosen a better moment, though.

Thursday, April 07, 2011


I realise now that I rushed to judgment, and for that I am heartily sorry (beats breast). While I was looking out over the garden just now, admiring my new-cut lawn, SHE arrived followed by FIVE males, she, whom I, in my callousness, had christened Irma.
I realised my error when I saw her running AWAY from them, all five in "hot pursuit" - I think that's the term for it. Now, would she run away if her interest was in multiple coupling? Maybe it's the coquettishness of the female, I don't know. All I will say is that I examined her face for signs of glee or smugness, and found, well, just a duck's face, bland and expressionless.
Now she is alone again with her faithful hubby, and I, for one, am pleased to interpret  this as a sign of connubial fidelity.
Hell's bells, I will even let them set up house again under my plum tree if that is their bag. Just as long as there's no more hankypanky.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Cautionary tale

Here is a conversation I had recently. I promise you I am not making this up.
My informant: My goddaughter and her two children are coming to stay.
Me: Oh.
Inf: She has two daughters.
Me; Oh.
Inf: Her partner is a woman.
Me: Oh.
(pause, then)
Me: So, how.....?
Inf: She got sperm samples from America.
(pause, then)
Inf: By mail order.

Don't you just love homophones?!
It turns out that our mother received nine samples, so she and her partner have another seven potential daughters in the freezer.
What really irks me, though, is that the samples had to be ordered from America.  What's wrong with putting the business the way of us British wankers? As Tony Hancock might have said, our sperm is really good quality: pure AngloSaxon with a dash of Viking.
All these years of self-abuse, and I never realised there was a living to be made from it. Makes you spit, doesn't it?