Tuesday, 13 October 2009

They’re back again and bumph about Mr Leach + Late edit

The safari has discovered that the big news is out. Three Long Eared Owls are present at Marton Mere nature reserve. We knew at least one was present on our visit last Sunday but didn’t go round to check it out as it was apparently very well hidden. Also, we didn’t want to draw attention to it as they are easily disturbed when they first arrive and there is a risk that if frightened out of their roost site shortly after they return from wherever it is they go they will move away to another roost site and maybe not come back. Anyone wanting to see them should contact the Rangers for the latest info on where to look from and which bush to look in. The Rangers will also be giving guided walks especially to see them on most weekends and occasional weekdays between now and early spring. Again contact the Rangers for full details.
You might have seen this pic before its from the archives and started life as a slide.If anyone hasn’t yet seen the best Leach’s Petrel picture ever I suggest you have a look at CB’s beyond-stunning in-flight portrait – Don’t anyone ever say they’re only little grey jobs!

From that infinitely useful site Wiki…

William Elford Leach FRS (2 February 179026 August 1836) was an English zoologist and marine biologist. (It seems he was almost my twin – just missed by a coupla days)
Leach was born in Plymouth, the son of a solicitor. At the age of twelve he went to school in Exeter, studying anatomy and chemistry. By this time he was already collecting marine samples from Plymouth Sound and along the Devon coast. At seventeen he began studying medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, finishing his qualification at the University of Edinburgh and the University of St Andrews.
In 1813 Leach returned to his zoological interests and was employed as assistant librarian in the Zoological Department at the British Museum. He set himself to sorting out the collections, many of which had been neglected since they had been left to the museum by Hans Sloane. During his time there he was made assistant keeper of the natural history department and became an expert on crustaceans and molluscs. He also worked on insects, mammals and birds.
Leach's nomenclature was a little eccentric - he named twenty-seven species after his friend John Cranch, who had collected the species in Africa and later died on HMS Congo. In 1818 he named nine genera after Caroline or anagrams of that name, possibly after his mistress.
In 1821 he suffered a nervous breakdown due to overwork and resigned from the museum in March 1822. His elder sister took him to continental Europe to convalesce, and they travelled through France, Italy and Greece. He died of cholera in the Palazzo San Sebastiano, near Tortona, north of Genoa.
The Leach's Storm-petrel was named after him by Coenraad Jacob Temminck (of quite a number of species’ fame, including a very-horribly-dipped Stint, Calidris temminkii, on my previous local patch & I used to keep Kissing gouramis Helostoma temminckii) in 1820, without him being aware that it had previously been described by Vieillot.(Never heard of this guy or anything named after him – French?) A specimen of this bird had been purchased by Leach on behalf of the British Museum for £5 15s in the sale of the collection of William Bullock in 1819. At the same sale he also bought a Great Auk and an egg for just over £16.
The Blue-winged Kookaburra Dacelo leachii was also named for him. (Well I never knew that - not been quite far enough north in WA to see one)

Nothing much doing at Patch 1, excitement almost knew no bounds yesterday when about 16 Long Tailed Tits bounced along the hedgerow accompanied as usual by a much smaller number of Blue and Great Tits. The late stroll round Patch 1 before retiring gave us a single Redwing ‘seeeep’. No Foxes this time. Saw two the other morning and Frank had a ‘moment’ when he dashed across the main road in hot pursuit of one he flushed from the roadside bushes. He’ll be totally restrained during the hours of darkness from now on, poor mutt!
An impromptu lie-in negated any chance of a morning visit which was unfortunate as a thin veil of cloud had covered last night’s starry sky before first light giving the possibility of dropping some migrants or at least providing some low level vis. To find out what we missed have a gander at news from Fleetwood Birder and Heysham Bird Observatory just to the north of us, assuming of course that there was something for them to see.
Sadly no chance to look at Patch 2 today either. As is often the case when we can’t get out conditions for viewing are better than ideal! Flat calm and a perfect ‘no-shadow’ grey.
Where to next? Anywhere will do at the moment – beginning to go stir k’razy and only had 2 days in doors…aaaaarrrrgggghhhh.
In the meantime let us know what the dogs are chasing in your outback.

But be warned anyone deliberately or recklessly letting their dogs disturb birds in certain designated conservation areas you are breaking the law…please desist forthwith you geeks. Even in none declared areas people shouldn’t be encouraging their dogs to disturb any birds, or even doing it themselves. Sadly many do – they think it’s ‘fun’! At this time of the year as day-length shortens and temperatures drop our feathered friends often need to eat their own body weight every day just to survive until the following morning. Anything that prevents them feeding or forces them to waste their energy is potentially life threatening.
Late edit- How many Redwings? Out for the final constitutional and counted over 100 passing fairly low overhead in quarter of an hour...and no Fox.


Monika said...

I totally agree with the sentiment - but the phrase "please desist forthwith you geeks" has me laughing!

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hi Monika - can't believe I said "please" to the geeks