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Friday, August 31, 2007

Hogwatch

Between 2005 & 2006 20,000 put their sightings and non-sightings to Hogwatch and the results are in and it isn't good.

Sadly the report shows that the numbers have fallen by 20% and in some instances 50%. The report also shows a clear east west divide with more sightings in the east BUT the east is where numbers have fallen most.

A distribution map shows that although still widespread there is no longer an abundance of numbers.

There is more info on the Telegraph website.

Thanks Mate

A number of roads have been resurfaced on my way to work. I was toodling along this morning on one of them this morning when some idiot came flying along the other way. And as you can guess a stone flew up and I now have a chipped windscreen.

Inconsiderate burk.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's a dog's life

Hotelier and real estate billionaire Leona Helmsley has left $12 million to her pet dog Trouble. The dog received the largest bequest from the will.

The will also says that when Trouble dies, she is to be buried alongside Mrs Helmsley, who died last week, and her late husband in their mausoleum. Mrs Helmsley set aside $3 million for the upkeet of the mauseleum.

Two of Mrs Helmsley's four grandchildren where cut out of the will whilst two others receive $5 million provided they visit there fathers grave once a year. (if they find this task too onerous let me know and I'll do it!).

The money for Trouble's upkeep is the responsibility of Mrs Helmsley's brother receives $10 million.

Proceeds from the sale of Mrs Helmsley's residences and belongings will go to a charitable trust. Mrs Helmsley once said "only little people pay taxes" (I dont' think I like her much!) and sued the cemetery where her husband is buried (or is it was, oh read the story).

I'm not sure who gets the $12 million dollars when Trouble dies. Do dogs have wills?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

For Kate

London Train Announcements

The following are a list of actual announcements that London Tube train drivers have made to their passengers...

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I do apologise for the delay to your service. I know you're all dying to get home, unless, of course, you happen to be married to my ex-wife, in which case you'll want to cross over to the Westbound and go in the opposite direction".

"Your delay this evening is caused by the line controller suffering from E & B syndrome, not knowing his elbow from his backside. I'll let you know any further information as soon as I'm given any."

"Do you want the good news first or the bad news?The good news is that last Friday was my birthday and I hit the town and had a great time. The bad news is that there is a points failure somewhere between Stratford and East Ham, which means we probably won't reach our destination."

"Ladies and gentlemen, we apologise for the delay, but there is a security alert at Victoria station and we are therefore stuck here for the foreseeable future, so let's take our minds off it and pass some time together. All together now....'Ten green bottles, hanging on a wall.....'".

"We are now travelling through Baker Street, as you can see Baker Street is closed.It would have been nice if they had actually told me, so I could tell you earlier, but no, they don't think about things like that".

"Beggars are operating on this train, please do NOT encourage these professional beggars, if you have any spare change, please give it to a registered charity, failing that, give it to me."

During an extremely hot rush hour on the Central Line, the driver announced in a West Indian drawl: "step right this way for the sauna, ladies and gentleman... unfortunately towels are not provided".

"Let the passengers off the train FIRST!" (Pause...) "Oh go on then, stuff yourselves in like sardines, see if I care - I'm going home...."

"Please allow the doors to close.Try not to confuse this with 'Please hold the doors open'.The two are distinct and separate instructions." "Please note that the beeping noise coming from the doors means that the doors are about to close. It does not mean throw yourself or your bags into the doors."

"We can't move off because some idiot has their f****ng hand stuck in the door"

"To the gentleman wearing the long grey coat trying to get on the second carriage - what part of 'stand clear of the doors' don't you understand?"

"Please move all baggage away from the doors (Pause..) Please move ALL belongings away from the doors (Pause...) This is a personal message to the man in the brown suit wearing glasses at the rear of the train - put the pie down, four-eyes, and move your bloody golf clubs away from the door before I come down here and shove
them up your a**e sideways"

"May I remind all passengers that there is strictly no smoking allowed on any part of the Underground. However, if you are smoking a joint, it's only fair that you pass it round the rest of the carriage".

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Anyone for dinner

It's an old story but since twitchi-birder is posting "odd" links at the mo I thought this might amuse.

There is a restuarant in Beijing that specialises in ..... Penises. Apparently it the only one in China.

You can have Dog, Snake, Ox etc.

Excuse me I think I'll eat a salad.

Hedgehops and House Sparrows at risk

Hedgehog and House Sparrows have been included on an updated list of species and habitats which need protection.

The new Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) has seen an increase in the listed species from 577 to 1,149 species being in need of conservation and greater protection. 59 species of bird are included which is 1 in 5 of all species regularly occuring in the UK.

A separate study also highlighted the decline in the UK's hedgehog population. The study by the University of London for the People's Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society listed tidier gardens and urbanisation as key factors affecting the fall in the number of the small mammals.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Tale of Two Churches

I said to a fellow birder and church crawler the other day that I wanted to break 700 churches next year. Given that for the past 4 years I've averaged 30 per year and that as of yesterday I was on 629 and had visited only 22 this year I decided I ought to get my finger out.

So up and off to Kent. Its my neigbouring county but that M25 puts me off but it has 23 churches I still have to tick.

I stopped off at St Lawrence Mereworth (630). It has a fine baroque tower and trompe l'oeil decoration. The old church was knocked down in the 18th century but some monuments from the old church survive. There was a flower festival on and lots of locals about. The church was looking good and the locals were friendly.











Next on my list was St Mary's Nettlestead (631) which contains some really old glass.












It was early and Igtham Mote is unusual for a National Trust property the Garden opens at 10 and the house at 10:30!!

Igtham is old but owes it survival to an American Charles Robinson. Robinson first saw it as a young man in 1917. In 1953 whilst in America Robinson saw the house was for sale and bought it. He left it to the National Trust.


















This Moorhen picked a nice spot.



So on to St Mary Cobham (632). It contains the largest collection of Brasses in England and a fine Renaissance Tomb.














I was happily snapping away when a lady approached me and muttered about taking photos in the church, "not policy", and that she hoped there would be a sizeable donation. Well she got the standard £1, next time I'm in the area I'll wander down to Mereworth and stick some more money in their box.

Releasing Grey Squirrels

Sometime a go I posted about "Aberdeen council's decision to cull Grey Squirrels (they will be "dispatched humanely with a quick blow to the head.")". I said that surely they could be moved and someone commented "Because Grey Squirrels are an introduced species, it's illegal to release them. That includes if you trap one from the wild - you can't let it out again."

Well this months BBC Wildlife features an article on rehabing wildlife. Apparently
under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is an offense to release rehabilitated animals on the schedule 9 list (such as Grey Squirrels) back into the wild without a licence.

As very few licences were issued for the purposes of rehabilitation, the RSPCA ended up putting down every Grey Squirrel brought into them regardless of the the animal's condition, to comply with the law.

Now though, Natural England* will grant licences in certain circumstances, allowing the release of some non-native species. This will make a huge difference to the rehabilitation of some grey squirrels and muntjacs. Rehabbed greys can now be released in "acceptable" areas (i.e. where there are no Red Squirrels).


* yes I know Aberdeen is in Scotland

Text lifted from the excellent BBC Wildlife magazine go buy it. The above view seems quite sensible I understand why you can't release a Grey Squirrel in say Cumbria but it makes no sense not to release it in say Essex. This of course also raises the question of what is "non-native". Rabbits were introduced so are they non-native or was there release sufficiently long ago.

I do think the Grey Squirrel gets a bad press, yes I know it has caused great damage to the native Red but it is hardly its fault that some idiot released them. Nowadays they are so widespread we will not be able to remove them so we have to be smart to protect the Red.

While mentioning BBC Wildlife I should say they are promoting a new magazine BBC Countryfile looks like it will have a similar mix to the TV program it is spun off from so may be worth a look.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Sunday

Well think this is a Ruddy Darter




Two Migrant Hawkers !











I think this is a tatty Speckled Wood.




Painted Lady.






Another Roesel's Bush Cricket