insects

What’s have we here?

Perfect timing as the green fly appear an odd looking ladybird on the roses.

I go and look him up — how do you know he is male? I hear you ask.

This is how.

But his gender would not be given away by his colouring. This is one of the most variably marked species of ladybird — the harlequin ladybird Harmonia axyridis — it has many forms. The female (I hope I am not making a false assumption here) is f. succinea, orange or red with 20-22 black spots and a white pronotium, the plate over the thorax, with a black M on it — you can see that quite clearly. The male in f. spectabilis, black with four red spots and again 2 big white splodges on his otherwise black pronotium. There are completely red ones and black ones and all sorts of variations. The first thing you notice is that they are bigger than our native species.

And they are bad news for native species as they are very successful — not surprising. These have appeared first and, as you can see, are getting on with the job — very active and difficult to photograph as they would not stand still!

Native to eastern Asia they are voracious predators and were evidently introduced to control aphids on commercial crops here in Britain, Europe and also North America .

A threat to diversity but good news for the roses.

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Armageddon

Plea to broadcasters!

A quote from my letter today to the BBC ‘Not a complaint! The news is full of premonitions of biblical famine, not without cause, and mental health doom. During lock-down your organisation promoted fitness — good for mental health — bravo. How about a swift response to the news with items on planting vegetables — need experts (you have plenty) on popular magazine shows to tell us if it is not to late for spuds and what we can safely plant and how. You have such retail power that this will immediately be responded to by the supermarkets with seeds and compost. We all need a bit of a push to grow things and share our gluts with the food banks. Get a celeb who gardens to endorse it… Go on!’

Local urban front garden — you can do it too!
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Writing

The trouble with being a superhero

The trouble with being a superhero

Click on link above to read my article published recently in pulse. It is a confessional piece

but is resonating with younger members of my erstwhile profession — seems nothing changes!

Motivated by a desire to promote my book —

but now maybe opening another door — brace yourselves for a few more lifestyle articles.

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adventure, British history, Communication, Cornwall, Entertaining

Running the Helston Branch Line

Film by Bill Carr featuring his dad, my daughter’s partner, Pete. The project is part of Bill’s university course and takes ‘helping with the homework’ to a whole new level!

Seven minutes and well worth watching!

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Architecture, Birds, British history, History

We get more than we bargained for!

Stonehenge 10.04.2022

On our way to Cornwall we stopped off at Stonehenge — free for National Trust members so we thought we ought to get our money’s worth! Both of us had last visited more than half a century ago and were sure we would hate the modernisations.

You park miles away and take a shuttle bus — very quick and restful — especially as you can see all the walkers striding out on the horizon — forging their way across Salisbury Plain to the ancient monument.

Bill was slightly appeased for the loss of birding time by the receptionist at the monument:

Large rook meeting and greeting the shuttle bus.

But what is this — marching to meet us?

Is it a goose? ‘It’s a wild turkey’, an American lad informs me. Oh no it isn’t — it’s only one of the rarest bird in Britain!

Recently re-introduced to a secret location on Salisbury Plain nearly 200 years after the last British bird was shot in 1832. This one has been named Gertrude by Stonehenge staff and has been making personal appearances since 2016. Nobody had told us so we were surprised and delighted, no one more than Bill who travelled to Hungary in 2019 to see their bustards who were very shy and only to be viewed though high powered lenses!

And the 4-5 thousand year monument… Since we last visited you can no longer touch the stones and some of the stones have been re-erected giving a better idea of how it might once have been. The circulation of visitors has been changed so that you can get the full visual impact without people getting in your way.

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Hill Farming

Making a Mountain?

The little men in velvet jackets have been busy over winter and the sheep have eaten most of the grass and gone home to lamb.

So it’s time to get in the jolly giant to rake the molehills.

There, that’s better — that’ll soon grass over. Note the newly laid hedge!

One hour later!

Brand new molehill!

What is the point?

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Birds, weather

April Fool’s Birdwatch!

Just spotted a little ringed plover — suddenly the sky looks ominous over Rutland Water.

Here’s the little plover.

Little Ringed Plover
Then came the blizzard!

Batten down the hatches of the hide as the snow blasts in.

Peeping through the shutter our little ringed plover has disappeared — and can you blame it?
Considerable precipitation!

Ten minutes later:–

Don’t you just love British weather?
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Birds, Ecology

Housing Scheme for Fly Catchers

Our friends from the Species Habitat Protection Group have turned their attention to the sad lack of properly constituted tree holes in our woodland — a flaw underlined in our recent ecology survey.

Here they are erecting armoured, pecker-proof, nest boxes in the dingle.

They are particularly keen to promote the habitat of pied flycatchers which already nest in our deficient holes — the oak trees are just too young (unlike the humans involved) — not gnarly and creviced enough!

Here is one that nested 2 years ago

We have it on authority that the pied flycatchers are due back from Africa tomorrow so, as always on our land, there was an imperative! Jan, Jon and Roger arrived this morning with 12 new nest boxes and got them up in the nick of time.

Locations documented by satnav.

Ready for the arrival of our little avian orcas.

On their behalf I’d like to thank Jan, Jon and Roger and we look forward to more of these beautiful little birds nesting here in future.

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adventure

You don’t have to be a genius…

Anne and Clive at their bookshop in Llanidloes getting ready to be inundated with requests for my book.
Here I am, not at my glamorous, promotional best but, hell, at least I’m not locked down or being shelled!

You don’t have to be a genius.. Published by Clinical Press (Bristol UK) ISBN 978-1-85-457108-3

Get your copy signed by the author on Saturday 26th March, 10.30am — 12.30pm at the Great Oak Bookshop, Llanidloes, Powys, Wales.

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Medical, Writing

New Book out next month!

I chose this cover picture which shows me in the raw — not at all the way I feel today — the book recounts the reasons why — all the bizarre experiences and formative encounters. The dodgy characters and extraordinary situations proffered by a medical education in the sixties. How the world has changed!

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