Sunday, 16 August 2015

One Fine Day

Sunday August 16

After spending much of yesterday emptying the Robinson MV moth trap, then, working on identifying the new ones and doing odd gardening jobs, I felt like some birding. Such a lovely looking day too, after a period of changeable and overcast weather. 
Downloading a new version of its operating system for my IPhone took forever - then it aborted itself. Frustration.
As a result, it was 11.30 before we were walking out to Daukes at Cley. With room to sit in the hide, I set up my scope and scanned both Daukes and Pat's Pools. Dozens of Ruff, mainly males in all the variations of Autumn plumage with a few clean and fresh looking Reeves. Even more Black-tailed Godwits in the same variety of dis-array, a few Redshank, Lapwing, Avocets and eclipse Ducks. The Gulls in front of Pat's were too distant and hunkered down amongst the lush growth to ID. With careful scanning, we were able to pick out four Curlew Sandpiper, two still red

Very distant phonescoped Curlew Sandpiper
one Common and one Wood Sandpiper with one Green Sandpiper which soon flew behind the most distant island - and stayed there. Lovely. 
I tried some phone scoping again with variable success. I must stick to closer and more stationary birds I think. The videos are excellent but I don't know how to post them.
The walk back was enhanced by the Red Darters patrolling the boardwalk and the few golden and, more frequent, metallic green flies on the pink flower heads of the Hemp Agrimony.

Some of last Friday night's moths.

Yellow-barred Brindle

Yellow Shell

Saturday, 8 August 2015

First of the Month - Getting Later

Friday August 7

After a busy week, it was 7 a.m before we set off, on an overcast morning. We hit all the work traffic to-day, I was relieved to get to Sculthorpe Mill and some peace.
Long needed new windows are being installed in some of the rooms, a definite improvement to the exterior look. 
Nothing around the car park nor on the river. I walked round to the other side of the house to stand near the fire escape, from which there is a good view of the gardens. It wasn't long before a family of Spotted Flycatchers appeared in a cherry tree, soon to be overwhelmed by a party of 20+ Long-tailed Tits. Delightful.
Valley Farm Lane was a picture of Norfolk late Summer. Harvested wheat fields with Hares and Red-legged Partridges,

burgeoning hedgerows and busy farm traffic. Tree Sparrows have left their nesting site but are still around. We disturbed a Buzzard at our turning place.
Another sign of approaching Autumn, sad in one way but thanks for coming.

Abbey Farm was overgrown, lacked water and, unsurprisingly, birds. Greylags, Moorhens, Jackdaws and Wood Pigeons did not keep us long.
Fishing out our Snettisham Permit, I noticed that it had expired on July 27. I renewed it at the end of August last year and the man in the centre back-dated it ! We exchanged it for another on the way back.
High tide was at midnight, we were happy to see the water coming in. The ebb and flow here is so fast that one can watch it engulfing the mud, moving on the thousands of waders present, starting at the chalet end. 

Still too distant to identify all the species massed in lines, the nearer birds can be scoped. Mostly Red Knot (aptly named at the moment) both Godwits, Redshank, and Dunlin. 

Sepia tones under a grey sky.

A few Turnstones, one Ringed Plover and a small flock of black - aproned Golden Plover. 
The Oystercatcher eggs from the nest near the path have hatched, two fluffy chicks trotting amongst the samphire.
On to view the pits, easier to-day as there was no sun. Lapwings, Cormorants, Little Egrets, Sandwich and Common Terns, Egyptian Geese and a Greylag perched on a stone which I just had to photograph. It's easy for me to ignore the common birds.

Same goes for a Grey Heron at the far side of the pit.

I could have stayed all day........
Nowhere to pull in along Hunstanton cliffs, on to Holme to eat our Brunch. Tufted Duck and Coot were the only additions. I do wish that the NOA's boardwalks and hides were better kept. I'll take a dustpan and brush next time. As I entered  the car park hide, two moths fluttered into view. Pam photographed them and later identified both as Mouse moth.
We were home at 3.45, in time to watch England only just fail to bowl out the Aussies on Day 2 of the fourth test. Bad light took it into another day. As I'm writing this on Saturday.....I know that they were bowled out before lunch for us to take an unassailable 3-1 lead. Another innings win.
We've just watched Man U beat Spurs 1-0 at home in the opening match of the season. Not a scintillating performance and it was an own goal under pressure from Rooney but, 3 points are important.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Wareham and Monkey World

 Saturday August 1

The four and a half hour journey to Wareham took us nearly eight hours. The first stop - and a dash for the facilities - was not until  over five hours of very slow, bumper to bumper, progress on the M25 and M3. Note to self. Do not ever again drive to the west country on an August weekend.
Springfield Country House Hotel is advertised on Monkey World's newsletter back page with the offer of an extra night free for animal sponsors. Pam booked it as a birthday treat. The Hotel looked lovely. Its entrance is through gardens containing a very large and bridged pond with Koi Carp. The patio in front of the building was studded with enormous pots containing Acers and flowering shrubs. Our bedroom was on the top floor -there was a lift - with great views over the extensive grounds. It looked like a park, with many mature trees, and well looked after grass stretching as far as I could see. The outdoor swimming pool could just be seen. 
The room was adequate in size and well furnished with tea and coffee making facilities and a flat screen wall mounted TV. Only one chair though.
We did not sleep well as the beds are plank-like, not good for oldies with hip and back problems! 

Sunday August 2

We woke to a lovely sunny day with a slight breeze. Perfect for a visit to Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre. We've been supporters since watching the first TV series made here.
Set amongst the woodland of Dorset, it has  65 acres of sanctuary for over 250 primates. Monkey World was set up in 1987 by American Jim Cronin and Jeremy Keeling from Howlett's Zoo,  to provide abused Spanish beach chimps with a permanent, stable home. Today Monkey World works in conjunction with foreign governments from all over the world to stop the illegal smuggling of apes out of Africa and Asia. Visitors can now see over 250 primates of more than 20 different species.

There are currently 59 chimpanzees at Monkey World, in 4 different social groups. Monkey World has rescued chimpanzees from Spain, Greece, France, England, Austria, The Netherlands, Israel, Cyprus, Dubai, Mexico and Taiwan where they were being used and/or abused in laboratories, as exotic pets, as photographer’s props, or as circus animals. Their exact histories vary, but the majority of them share part of the same story. Born in Africa, chimpanzees are taken from their family groups as youngsters. Poaching expeditions for bush meat and the capture of young animals results in the slaughter of adults as they try and defend their babies and extended family. It is estimated that the removal of one infant will result in the death of up to ten other chimpanzees. The young animals are smuggled out of Africa and then sold illegally abroad.

In the case of Spanish beach chimps, they are dressed up in human clothes and worked in tourist resorts, often for 16 hours per day as a photographer’s prop. When the chimpanzees reach 4 or 5 years of age they become uncontrollable and are usually killed in order to be replaced with a new baby chimp. Some photographers will try and control their chimps by beating them and pulling their teeth out and/or putting them on drugs.  Many of the chimps arrive addicted to drugs. Recovery and rehabilitation is a lengthy process with many of the animals suffering from malnutrition and anaemia.
The chimpanzees are split into large social groups but  the females are on birth control. There are still many chimpanzees that need rescuing and, for this reason, the animals are not allowed to breed in order that there is the space and funding to rescue others. There are mistakes.......My adoptee, Rodders, is one. His mother's coil failed ten years ago and he was born on August 3rd, my birthday. Pam adopted him for me.

My favourite group is the Orang-utans. They share 96% of their DNA with mankind and I find the babies irresistible. The newest babies are still not on general viewing, one arriving from Germany as MW is the leading authority on breeding and raising this endangered ape.
They are also part of the breeding programme for Golden-cheeked Gibbons, my second favourite primate. This golden female was putting on a show, the males are black. Their young of both sexes, start off golden. 

Female Golden-cheeked Gibbon

Photography here is not easy. All the animals have an enormous area in which to roam. The Chimps and Orang-utans in elaborate man made enclosures like this, up-dated and re-furbished annually.

Enclosures are designed to allow the primates to move as they would in the wild, and all  are provided with appropriate sleeping sites and nesting material. They are not 'locked out' from their indoor area so the enclosure could be empty at times. It's not a zoo and the animals come first.
All the enclosures are surrounded by wire mesh, all have one glass window viewing area, usually crowded with finger marked and reflective glass. Children.....The animals are often distant or curled up asleep inside giant pipes, you have to accept this. Tuan, one of the two adult male Orangs was in contemplative mood. 

 He was found, rampaging and distressed, in a Taiwan city urban area having escaped his owners,  before travelling to Wareham. One of his females is the notoriously grumpy and disdainful Amy, raised by Jeremy at Howlett's and allowed to accompany him when he left. They have shared many experiences together including a very bad road accident. She is the mother of the other male, Gordon, born at the park and now leader of his own females.

Grumpy Amy
 The group of young Orangs has the adult Oshine as surrogate mother. Oshine was raised by a South African woman who treated her as she would her own child. She went for drives strapped into the front seat, had open access to the house, ate human food and could open the fridge and help herself. As a consequence she was grossly overweight and walked on her hind legs. When she inevitably became too difficult to handle, she was offered to Monkey World. She still walks upright, which I find very disconcerting, but is now normal weight after 5 years of controlled diet - and exercise from going after the young ones. She was unable to climb nor run when she arrived.

Oshine, not the loveliest of ladies.

Sally's group was the Nursery Group - until they grew up. She is an excellent surrogate mother and has nurtured many young Chimps, most went on to join other adult groups. She and the one armed Lulu rule this group which also contains my Rodders. His introduction to the male Bachelor Group did not go well so, back he came.

Two elderly ladies. Lulu inspecting her feet, Sally keeping an eye on her,
For the smaller monkeys, perching, branching, and nest boxes are changed regularly so that their environment is always evolving.Their enclosures are amongst very tall mature deciduous trees with rope  connecting walkways. We didn't see any Spider monkeys. The Woolly Monkeys have a system of overhead tunnels through which they can move from one site to another.

Woolly Monkey
About two years ago the Centre took in 80 Capuchin Monkeys from a Chile laboratory. Agreeing to take 40 of the younger and more able animals, plans had to be changed when they learned that the others would be destroyed. All the animals survived the journey, even though many were both ancient and crippled by years in small individual cages. These looked pretty good by now and I saw two able to climb onto the trees and walk the branches - they couldn't do any of that when they arrived.

The Chile Capuchins
Monkey World is also working in Asia with the Pingtung Rescue Centre for Endangered Wild Animals, to try to stop the smuggling of gibbons and orang-utans from the wild. They  carry out undercover surveys of the illegal pet trade in South East Asia as well.

For many years Monkey World has been rescuing monkeys from the LEGAL pet trade in Britain.  These unfortunate monkeys  often arrive in terrible physical and mental condition having been kept in tiny, indoor cages, in solitary confinement.  Some of the worst conditions they ever rescued primates from have been in the UK.  This trade is legal, however, and as long as the monkeys are born in captivity breeders are able to sell the offspring at high prices asking up to £1300 for a marmoset, £2700 for a squirrel monkey and up to £4000 for a capuchin monkey.
Sadly there is little in the way of legislation protecting the welfare of these wild animals.  Breeders often sell monkeys, telling unknowing buyers that the animals do not have any special needs and that they will only live for a couple of years.  Both statements are untrue, but without any legal standards of care the monkeys are left to suffer in terrible conditions.  Betty-Boo, a marmoset who lived in a birdcage for years in a Southampton sitting room, and Gismo the capuchin that lived in an Ipswich garden shed and due to poor conditions amputated part of his own tail are two such victims. 
Long may they carry on their invaluable work. Jim Cronin, who's dream this was, has died from cancer. His wife Alison carries on the work, still aided by the invaluable Jeremy, who is no spring chicken. He is loved by the animals and still makes the transport cages, fetches the rescue animals and designs the enclosures. Monkey Life series 4 is being transmitted on 'Pick' (11 on terrestrial) at 6-7 every day at he moment. Nine series have been made so far.
We had a lovely day, had a drive around the countryside and then back to the Hotel for a very nice evening meal in the restaurant. I had Lamb Shank and Pam had Scampi.

August 3rd
After opening my presents and lovely cards - thanks everyone - we breakfasted and had a discussion. To-day's plan was to go to see Butterflies at several reserves I had researched. It was raining when I got up, there was heavy overcast and a very strong and blustery wind. All poor conditions for butterflies. What to do? 
We packed and drove home. A much better journey and home by 5.10 having shopped in Thetford Sainsbury's. Time to put the moth trap out.