In the Falkland Island town of Port Stanley everyone has a Landrover. They are all the old box-shaped 110's and they only come in two colours; green or white. I had a white one. No-one locks their car or house and the keys are often left in the ignition. Early one morning I drove off to birdwatch near the old slaughter-house where you could find caracaras, turkey vultures and stink-birds (giant petrels) all fighting over offal. I pulled up and reached behind me for my telescope only to find it wasn't there. Instead I found a baby seat. Fortunately there was no baby in it.
Birds, on the other hand, do interest me and I pay close attention to the minor differences between species. I'm less good at insects and flowers, but I make an effort to identify them. Once you have sorted out a species, you have a mental image of it, know it's field characteristics and so it is easier to find the next example. After a while, you just know what it is without being able to explain why. You just know.
While watching a gathering of four Norfolk Hawkers in the company of four or five enthusiasts, we were able to sort out scarce chasers, four-spotted chasers, black-tailed skimmers and southern hawkers, Then we started on damselflies, identifying common blues, blue-tailed, red-eyed, azure and variables, all in the same spot. I also saw a toad and two grass snakes.
You just need to get your eye in. Expert help is the best way to learn, but a good field guide will do the trick if you read it carefully. Then you need to follow up with more encounters to re-enforce your visual memory. It worked for me and I've finally got variable damselfly into my head.
|Impossible photo of a|
Norfolk Hawker in flight.
Badgers do not benefit bees. Have you noticed all the holes where bees nests have been dug up at night?
By the start of July you should be able to go on our new dragonfly watching platform. Now that we are happy with our pond-liner we have re-filled the pond from Heronry South lake. Already I have seen a smooth newt in it and plants are germinating around the edges. Hopefully dragonflies will lay eggs in it this summer. Water beetles, water boatmen and many other freshwater species will introduce themselves as they can fly between ponds. Some others will have come in through the pump.