Author Archives: drdaveexeter

Messing about on the River, 2016

Our dipping was carried out by a small but gallant band who ignored the morning clouds but were ultimately deterred by an afternoon shower. With fewer hands, and less time, our haul was a little lighter than when we have previously dipped in better weather:

2013: https://minorityattack.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/messing-about-on-the-river-wildlife-in-the-river-tale-escot/
2014: https://minorityattack.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/river-dipping-again-messing-about-on-the-river-2014/
[2015: Rained off]

I was greeted by damselflies, the beautiful and banded demoiselles which I’ve learned to call Calopteryx virgo and Calopteryx splendens. Peering into the shallows, I spotted a small flotilla of whirligig beetles (Gyrinus natator).

When we settled with our nets and bowls, a Golden-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) came to inspect us early on and made occasional supervisory visits through the day.

The youngsters yearned mostly for fish: sticklebacks and minnows in the shallows, bullheads and stone loach among the stones, and a large minnow with unusual colouring — I usually look for a stripe on a minnow,
but this was evenly coloured in woodland tones. A cry went up, ‘we’ve found an eel!’ — but closer inspection showed the specimen to be a pale slug… Yet later on, a baby eel did turn up.

Among the invertebrate finds were the larvae of mayflies and stoneflies; maggots and bloodworms and other fly larvae; gammarid shrimps all sizes.

I didn’t spend any time on the banks looking for bugs, but several made an unscheduled stop in the river, doubtless knocked from the bushes. One of the first finds was a caddis fly — male? — with huge antennae, and later in the day we found two of the larvae, trundling around in their cases of stones. We rescued a scarlet weevil, a metallic blue leaf beetle and a metallic green leaf beetle so full of eggs that her wingcases would no longer fit. I noticed we were passed by some white butterflies and a giant queen bumble bee. Baddest terrestrial beast of the day was a good-sized juvenile bug which looked like a trainee assassin, coloured in straw and moss, with a curved beak like a scimitar.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Market research explained (from Yes, Minister)

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do you think there is lack of discipline and vigorous training in our Comprehensive Schools?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do you think young people welcome some structure and leadership in their lives?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do they respond to a challenge?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Might you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?
Bernard Woolley: Er, I might be.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes or no?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Of course, after all you’ve said you can’t say no to that. On the other hand, the surveys can reach opposite conclusions.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Are you unhappy about the growth of armaments?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do you think there’s a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do you think it’s wrong to force people to take arms against their will?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Would you oppose the reintroduction of conscription?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
[does a double-take]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: There you are, Bernard. The perfectly balanced sample.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized