Nature notes from John Holt
How does it go, “what a difference a day makes”, month in this case and the water levels in the Dever are falling almost at summer levels now and the rain, what there is of it, constantly avoids us. Peter Clarke measured 81.5mm in Alresford, Clinton Henshaw 78mm in Sutton Scotney and Tim Finn-Kelcey in Stoke Charity, 59mm. Tim adds that the last 12 months has been the driest for 20 years with 146mm less than the average for that period over the years.
However, the plus for the river is the sighting of groups of small trout, something not witnessed for several years and the evidence, not sighting, of water vole activity east of Giddy Bridge – keep your eyes open, a sighting would be very welcome. Another plus was Alan Sherwood’s report on seeing Minnows at a secret location on the Dever – never seen in my 18 years living next to it! So I doubted his call, only to be proven happily wrong. Yes, minnows with all their stripes and cross bars, great news, one of my boyhood favourites.
With all this small fish activity I still have not seen or heard a Kingfisher, the vacancy notice still hangs on the bank beside my artificial nest.
Talking artificial nests, when asked by the family what would you like for your birthday, in a throw away gesture I said, a bird box would be nice, six or seven arrived, five of which are in place plus a dormouse box. Success rate on the bird boxes is about 50%, mostly Blue Tits and Great Tits with the exception of one wren and we have managed to photo them when they fledged – pictures hopefully later.
Flashback to Salisbury Plain, South Georgia and the whaling station of Grytviken, winding our way through the young fur seals and rock hopper penguins we made our way to the small graveyard above the station. The last resting place of Sir Ernest Shackleton and raised a welcome glass to this amazing man. Shackleton died here just short of his 49th birthday as he was setting out for his fourth expedition to Antarctica. In a more sombre note we also paused at the lone grave of an Argentinian Submariner Felix Arturo from the 1982 conflict – someone’s son, someone’s husband, two men from completely differently callings at rest on this amazing island cluster.
Back aboard and we round the southern end of South Georgia taking in the Drygalski Fjord a 1.6km wide, 14km long cleft in the Salvesen Range of mountains, amazing rock formations and colour contrast and absolute silence save for the quiet drum of the vessels diesels.
Image of Minnow from www.farnhamanglingsociety.com