Monday, May 24, 2010

Evolved from the fishes

It's not hard to see how reptiles evolved from fish when looking at a full finned wild trout, through the perfect clarity of the Lathkil. It isn't hard to imagine it scuttling away.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Thiz Lobsters!

'Thiz lobsters Mr Slaney'

'Pardon', I replied

Mother explains, 'We've been past your house a couple of times lately in the hope of catching you in, he wanted to tell you himself, he says he caught a small lobster in your river'.

The 7 year old boy, wearing wellies and holding Mothers hand insists once again, 'Thiz lobsters!'
'What colour were they?' I ask.
'Red and Pink and this big' as he shows a good 12 inches between his outstretched grubby hands.
His Mother says 'I think he's been watching too much Trawler Men on the tele, say good-bye Tom'.

He looks up at me leaning on the yard gate and he knows I don't believe him, 'and it swimmed off backwards' he says as the two turn and walk off up the hill to the village.
I put the story to the back of my mind, with the other sights and sounds, myths and legends that I hear over this gate and eventually forget it.

Waiting for His Lordship this afternoon I jump into the river and begin to shift stones so that the holding capacity of this length can be increased by one lie and one trout. I move a rock and as the water clears a crayfish claw appears on the river bed. Bear in mind that the white clawed crayfish were wiped out in the early 90's, when I tell you this was a white claw.

Meeting over and I'm off downstream at a lick to a small bridge with a cobbley bottom; a place where if 'thiz lobsters' they will be there. Under the second likely stone I turn a crayfish, as black as your hat, dashes out and I miss with my cupped hands. The next stone is lifted and there on the bottom is the first crayfish I've seen in this river for 20 years. Melissa is called and she captures us both.
I'm not the first to see this welcome relic. Young Tom, giving them the only name he has for them has made them fit that name in his mind; 'Red, pink and foot-long'. It is possible this creatures recent ancestors survived the sweeping outbreak by living in the small side stream a few yards from the little bridge. You can just make out the culvert to the left of centre in the photo below.









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Derby Uni LL.B.yr4 Birmingham Uni (field lecturer)