Look, we have to talk about this feeding the birds lark. I know the RSPB tell you to do it, and the WWT make it a tourist attraction in itself. But neither of them would have any truck with feeding white bread to ducks. Continue reading Enough with feeding the ducks.
A friend bought me ‘A Year in the Woods: The Diary of a Forest Ranger‘, by Colin Elford. I picked up the book with a certain apprehension – the second-hand bookshops’ natural history shelves are stuffed with glossy tomes under that kind of title; giving accounts either uncomfortably twee or tediously focussed on shooting, fishing, horses or birds. The cover gave me some hope, being a gentle New Naturalist-style linocut rather than a breathless photo of some generic deer in the leaves.
Once I began to read, my concerns evaporated within a few paragraphs. For this is a direct book. Colin Elford writes succinctly, writing as much as he needs to and no more. The reader can almost feel and smell the forest and its hidden life as Elford’s measured voice describes it with the kind of understated eloquence that one might be more accustomed to hearing from David Attenborough. Continue reading Book review: A Year in the Woods, Colin Elford
Through The Ranger’s inbox this week came an appeal from a visitor to Southsea Beach, Hampshire. A gentleman was on the beach with his granddaughter when the young lady found a curious pebble.
Startling news from just across the water in Lymington, where six water buffalo have been stolen.
Police have warned people not to approach [them] as “they are able to spray dung across large distances”. A police spokesman said members of the public should not approach the buffalo from behind.
Now the Ranger has little experience of livestock generally, and none at all of water buffalo. But somehow this hitherto unremarked talent of the buffalo seems worthy of note. No other reference to this ability can be found on the web, although there are plenty of items to be found about the essentially similar trick of the bombardier beetle. So the Ranger’s theory is that this is a variation on the proverbial trick of marking a carton of milk ‘biology experiment’ in an attempt to deter thieves. All cattle have an enviable ability to express themselves with dung – a necessary skill to avoid covering their legs with the stuff. Perhaps water buffalo have refined the art slightly, and, mindful of this, the bereft owner of the buffalo in question decided to draw attention to this ability in the hope that the rustlers, terrified of getting high-pressure dung hosed into their faces, might bring the poor buffalo home. Or maybe not. Anyone else got any corroboration for the buffalo-dung weapon of mass destruction? EDIT: Yes, it worked! Apparently the beasts were back in their field the same day.