April 20, 2012

My Babies

Look, my babies are growing up :-)

They'll be out into the wide world very soon and hopefully one or two will be back to lay their own spawn in a year or two.

April 18, 2012

One day I found a big book buried deep in the ground, I opened it but all the pages were blank. Then to my surprise, it started writing itself........

This is the opening to the Bachelorette video by that beautiful, creative genius Bjork and it came to mind the other day when I was reading through some of my old diaries. I've kept angling diaries for many years. I've been writing them in long hand since 1979 and for several years before that I kept a running total of the fish I'd caught, one year as a youngster I even noted each species in a different coloured felt tip. They are full of my memories and are as important to me as the masses of old photo's that fill boxes and albums or, more latterly, on my hard drive.

I don't think that keeping a fishing diary is unusual my only surprise is that some people don't keep a record of their catches. None of us has an infallible memory and I was amazed at the number of incidents I had either forgotten or had filed under the wrong year or river.

Some of the books are particularly tatty due to them accompanying me to and from the water stuffed into my over-full tackle bag. These though contain many of the sharper memories as I would write them in 'real time' and the mood of the hour is transmitted through the text. Of course there are plenty of perfunctory entries scrawled by a dejected soul when all has not gone well but that is countered by the pre-season optimism, the goals and challenges set or achieved as well as those great days when the excitement leaps from the page.

The other day Neil and I were excitedly discussing our fast approaching French trip and I said "It's just empty pages in my diary at the moment". I'm looking forward to the words to start writing themselves.

April 01, 2012

Helping Hand

We've still not been to pick up the hedgehog, she's enjoying a bit of a lie in as the weather is expected to turn cold over the next week or so. But, in the mean time, we've been doing our bit to give some of the local wildlife a helping hand.

Since making a garden pond the local frogs have found it a place to lay spawn, not much, but I always feel a weird sort of 'parental responsibility' for any tadpoles that emerge and have been lacking in that responsibility over the last couple of years as the fish have made short work of the little wrigglers. You cannot blame the fish, all fish love tadpoles and I am sure that they gain great nourishment from them but the humble frog is becoming something of a rarity nowadays so this year I decided to get more involved. It is, of course, against the law to take frog spawn or to interfere with it but hey, sue me, I am doing this for the good of the species and not just dumping some in a jam jar to face an uncertain future.

We bought a small tank with a filter etc, filled it with pond water and placed a small dollop of the spawn in it. Within no time at all the tadpoles were moving about and hatching. Once out of their egg they digest the spawn and do very little for several days but soon, very soon in their case, there is movement and their heads form into that classic tadpole shape and the fins grow around the tail. Its years since I watched the development of juvenile frogs and the magic is as strong now as when I was a kid and we had some in school or at home.

Within a week our taddies had grown incredibly quickly seeming to double in weight day by day, when compared to those that were developing naturally in the weed at the edge of the pond, they had become monsters due no doubt to the warmer conditions and the regular meals of goldfish flake.

So there we have it, a bunch of strong, healthy tadpoles that have avoided the ravishes of greedy carp. Over the next week or two their little legs will develop then their tales will shrink until you have that most endearing of creatures, a frog in miniature. During their latter stages of development they will be returned to the pond where they will spread out and take their chances in the world and hopefully, in a year or two, we shall see more adults return and the process will continue.

Whilst I'm 'helping' the creatures of the world, here's one that we can all do but so many seem oblivious to it. Bumble bees, those great big, hairy beasties that buzz loudly and get stuck in my porch with monotonous regularity. At this time of the year they are emerging from their winter sleep to do what the birds and bees do best, the trouble is that due to their being cold blooded, the bumble bee regularly runs out of energy and becomes vulnerable, even die if it cannot get sustenance which is a shame.

Bumble bees are harmless and have no sting, sure they will buzz aggressively if you pick them up but that is all they can do. So, if you find one trapped in your house don't kill it, if it has plenty of energy then let it out of the window, pick it up if you have to. Trust me, this is not and April Fool, they have no sting (Google it if you don't believe me).

If you find one that is on the ground and is obviously lacking energy - again, don't stand on the poor thing, rescue it. I found one yesterday and simply put it onto the garden table (there was precious little sunlight yesterday) and gave it some food in the shape of a dollop of honey. Have a look at the picture, as soon as it found the honey its proboscis dipped in and it drank the lot! Suitable refreshed, another bee was saved and it is now pollenating the plants of Herefordshire, now isn't that better than squashing them?