Monday, August 01, 2005

Strewth, Cumbria is a long way from here - 320 miles in the event. Charles' wedding was a nice affair and everyone seemed to have a good time. However, the unexpected highlight of the weekend turned out to be a visit to Leighton Moss wildlife reserve in Silverdale just across the bay (Morecombe - no cocklepickin' jokes please) from where we were staying for the wedding.

I saw my first Marsh Harrier, aswell as some Red Deer stags making their way through the reed beds, a Water Rail juvenile, Buzzards, Grey Herons, and a host of ducks etc. Sadly no Bearded Reedlings, or the very rare Bitterns which live there. But the Marsh Harrier was the highlight, and made several appearances, so we were able to get a good idea of size, hunting technique, colour and so on.

It turns out we were lucky, since the Harriers leave in early August and head South for the Winter. The trick for them then, of course, beyond the usual climatic and feeding issues, is to avoid being shot by some ignorant Spaniard or Maltese who thinks they have a 'right' to kill migrating birds. Quite why they 'need' to hunt is a mystery - they don't eat their kills. They should hunt each other, it would be a more even contest, and add greatly to the experience for both parties.

But I am grateful to have had the chance to see the Harriers. They are bigger than I had expected, around as large as a Buzzard or maybe a tad larger. They skim across the top of the reed beds in a graceful, very purposeful way that really is poetry although I doubt that their prey species would describe it thus.

I see the US Energy Bill has cruised through the Senate, and is the expected catastrophe. Naturally they dropped the bit requiring better SUV mpg and a requirement to cut motor fuel consumption. They also droppped the permission to drill in the Arctic reserve, but that is now expected to be snuck in through the forthcoming spending bill. The whole thing is a massive wasted opportunity, but I guess when the world is looked at through the greed lenses that the Americans seem to constantly wear such issues are invisible.

I think that the Bush administration is probably the best ever recruiter for anti-Americanism, bar none. I'm bloody glad I'm not an American; it would be so shaming.


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