Newt TechnologyWild West Yorkshire nature diary, Good Friday 2nd April 1999
WE SET UP a photographic studio on the patio table on the back lawn using two aquaria lit by twin flash guns. I soon catch a male and female Smooth Newt. One gentle trawl in the shallows nets around 50 juvenile Waterboatmen, miniature versions of the adults. There are Damselfly larvae and beetles.
When John focuses his camera he notices tiny grey thread-like worms in suspension. And that is in the tap water in the first aquarium.
The newts have a heraldic medieval character. The male has a spotted livery and a banner of a tail with crenulations along the edges. The female is gravid, pot-bellied with eggs which she will lay individually, attaching them to water plants.
We've at last remembered to re-fill the nut feeders and today Greenfinch and a pair of Siskin join the regular sparrows. The RSPB has sent us a small handful of wild bird seed. The greenfinch, which hasn't visited the table much this year, defends his portion of RSPB approved seed against all comers.
Our resident cock Blackbird adopts a crouching, tail splayed, wings mantled, beak agape stance, then does a little Groucho walk to and fro on the stones at the edge of the raised bed, where I saw it perform the same display yesterday. This particular male has a white feather in his upper tail. Going through his routine he looks like a blackcock at the lek. The female seems mildly intrigued by his efforts.