Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Postcard 76: Save my Seal (please)!

Mother and Pup, photographed near St Davids a year ago
This is the last call for any kind person to cast a vote for my seal poem (a Lilibonelle) about the Pembrokeshire coast. My poem has been submitted to the Writelink Grape and Grain Poetry Contest.

You can cast a vote here (and you will find other contending poems by following the link below my poem - 'show all poems'. You may prefer to vote for these instead - or as well). 

The polls close on 30 September, so the clock is ticking!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Postcard 76: Not quite Moby Dick...

Heading back to Greenwich on The Thames Clipper
from the O2
(May 2010)

It was only yesterday that I was blogging about my early visits as a baby and toddler to the squirrels in Greenwich Park. I have been back to Greenwich many times, and feel a strong connection with the area. I love to take the Thames Clipper from the London Eye, and approach Greenwich by water. You get a good view of the Naval College, the Maritime Museum and the Park, with its Meridian. Sadly the Cutty Sark is not on show at present, but restoration work is underway. However, the current headline story relating to Greenwich concerns not a small grey mammal but a Leviathan-sized skeleton.

Drawing out of Greenwich
on the Thames Clipper

The Moby Dick-like tale relates to Bay Wharf in Greenwich and the recent finding by archaeologists, working for Pre-Construct Archaeology Limited, of a colossal North Atlantic Right Whale from north Atlantic waters, probably in the areas between Spitzbergen and Greenland. I am grateful to the History Blog for alerting me to the sad, sad story of this 200 year old headless corpse of a creature that died at some point between the age of 50 and 100. The remaining skeleton weighs in at 60 tons and is a mere 52 (Imperial) feet long. It seems to have fallen foul of whalers and their harpoons. Whales were prized in the 17th and 18th centuries for their oil, and the word 'right' in the name indicates that whales of this species provided quality oil for lamps, soap-making and industry. Whale bone was used for corsets.

Can a sad story like this have any kind of happy ending? Please note, I have NO wish to endorse the killing of whales. Those who follow my blogs will know the immense pleasure I get from watching creatures like Basking Sharks in their natural habitats. However, this sad mammal is already well and truly dead. DNA tests on its skeleton will help scientists in their quest for knowledge about the genetic diversity of this particular Right Whale. It will also help to fuel our understanding of the negative impact of whaling in terms of the future survival or otherwise of a particular species. Perhaps the discovery of 'Moby' will challenge us all to reconsider the part we can play in protecting creatures at risk.

The London Eye,
where we caught the Thames Clipper

'Like the creature in Herman Melville's novel,
it was a giant whale of great age.'

David Keys,
The Independent

Monday, 6 September 2010

Postcard 75: Tantallon and Bass Rock

I had a 'double surprise' package last Friday. It contained the latest editions from Indigo Dreams Publishing of their magazines, Reach Poetry (issue 144) and The Dawntreader (issue 012).

Each publication contains one of my poems. 'Isabella Tiger Moth greets the Woolly Bear Caterpillar' appears in 'Reach Poetry' (editors Ronnie Goodyer and Dawn Bauling), and 'Tantallon' features in 'The Dawntreader' (editors Dawn Bauling and Ronnie Goodyer).

I have been keen to spot furry caterpillars this last year. I don't think I have actually seen a Woolly Bear. I wonder if others of you always used to look out for what we called Furry Mollies? It seems these creatures are affectionately known as Hairy Mollies. You can see my furry caterpillar page here on my nature blog, Wild and Wonderful.

looking out to Bass Rock

My Tantallon poem is about the view of the Gannets (short video-clip here) on Bass Rock from Tantallon Castle in Scotland. You can read about my visit to the castle in a previous post, here.

You can read about the history of the castle here. The staff of Historic Scotland do a great job in caring for the ruined castle site. It is sadly ironic in these days of decay to find the following quotation
on the Undiscovered Scotland site. The words were written to Henry VIII by an English Ambassador in November 1543:

"Temptallon is of such strength as I nede not feare the malice of myne enymeys..."

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this exposed spot. I wonder if you have been following Neil Oliver's (recent) second BBC series on 'A History of Scotland'.

Don't forget to let me know what you call the caterpillars! And do take a look t Crafty Green Poet's North Berwick post ... serendipity?