Monday 24 August 2009

A tale of two Montys

You can probably all guess what I am talking about. If you can't, that is probably a good thing. Well, the first Monty is Monty Panesar, who won The Ashes for us. A true #11, he survived 11 overs to ensure a drawn test match in Cardiff about two months ago. Roll forward to the match at Headingly where we were beyond pathetic, and Australia would have retained The Ashes with an unassailable 2-1 lead, whatever the outcome at The Oval. As it was, we went in 1-1, and a stunning session with the up-until-that-point-feeble-with-the-ball Broad, and it was basically job done. Not that we as a country can ever feel like we are winning of course, we all believed Australia would pull off a miracle. Apart from Geoffrey of course, who said we would win. Sound man Geoffrey, I just wish he would say what he actually thinks more often. Unfortunately my Aussie friend's email server must be down, as I have not had any reply to my rather magnanimous email.

I listened to every ball, a benefit of no longer being sat in an office where serious stuff gets done. Where I worked we once had a guy who wanted to go watch the World Cup. He asked for unpaid leave for the entire tournament and was scoffed at, so he quit, and went to watch the World Cup. Top man, if rather arrogant, but there was a lot of that. Presumably he didn't have three children and a mortgage. Er, I am getting sidetracked, I meant to talk about Monties, which are interesting, not banking, which isn't.

Anyway, the second Monty was a belter of a Montagu's Harrier discovered by Andy, Phil, Dave et al at Rainham today. Only the third record for the site, I almost missed it. All three kiddos had eye appointments this afternoon, and we had just emerged from the NHS place on Wanstead High Street at about 4pm when Vince called. "Have you seen the news from Rainham?" "Er no, what is it?" Despite only having about 10ml of milk in the house, shopping plans were abandoned, and we raced over to discover a small gaggle of people on the sea wall with scopes pointing in. I don't usually take optics to medical appointments - something which I may need to reconsider - so hadn't bothered going home for bins or anything. No bother though, as Andy very kindly handed over his bins and let me have a look through his scope. Tick, as they say (NB for those of you counting, that is #195 for the arbitrary London circle). A full adult male, it was distant but unmistakable as it hunted along the edge of the reeds. Full marks to the gang for slogging it out day after interminable day at Rainham with scant reward, this is a London biggie. The kids played happily with grit and pebbles on the path whilst I had a bit of a natter. All of a sudden it was 5pm, we still had no milk, no food, and no cling-film (Mrs L put it on the list, I was ignorant of the state of our cling-film supply), and we were eight miles from home through rush-hour traffic. "Daddy, we're thirsty!" was heard shorty thereafter. Were there any beakers in the car? Not a good domestic performance.

So what else? Was back on the patch this morning, and decent birds were in short supply. Raptors were the highlight, with a Hobby, 3 Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk, and migratory interest was kept alive with a group of about 25 Swallows heading south, and 4 House Martins. This prompted an excellent discussion on the wheres and why-fors of spring and autumn avian pan-global movements, and for a brief moment I became omniscient super-dad. Then Muffin pointed out a butterfly on the ground that stumped me, and I became normal again. "Er, dunno, let's take a photo and look it up". Which we did - Small Copper. Also of interest were some kind of Hoverfly and a Common Field Grasshopper. Come on Autumn!

Final hot news is that the Waffle Moth has fallen. I went to a website called UK Moths which has photos of almost 2000 UK Moths. Honestly, some people are so dull. I went through them one by one. Click. Nope. Click. Nope. Skip a few.....Click...Number 1036 goes by the rather catchy name of Acleris forsskaleana. "This yellowish species has a distinctive reticulated pattern on the forewing, and a variably sized greyish suffusion across the centre". Quite. I emailed the lady in Belgium. - she was very pleased. "UGH" is flemish for "WOW" I think.

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