Tag Archives: Scotland

North Yorkshire Wallaby recaptured after 15 police officers and a specialist vet drafted in

An escaped wallaby forced the closure of a major road during rush-hour today.

Some 15 police officers were involved in the operation to retrieve the animal, which fled from Askham Bryan College in York yesterday.

Officers closed a section of the A1237 between Haxby and Strensall in North Yorkshire at around 6pm after the wallaby was spotted in the area.

A specialist vet was drafted in to help retrieve the creature, which was eventually cornered on an embankment near the North York Bypass, police said.

A tranquilliser dart was used to stop the wallaby, which is being returned to the college where an animal management course is run.

The road was reopened shortly before 8.30pm.

Inspector Richard Mallinson said:

“We detained the wallaby – without the use of handcuffs.

“The risk was, if the wallaby went across the road, it could have caused an accident. We have to look at the safety of the public first.

“It’s an animal not common in the UK so a specialist vet was brought in from Hull who used a tranquilliser dart.

“The experts advised we couldn’t use a Taser because it could kill the animal or make it wild.”

 Representatives from Askham Bryan College were in attendance during the rescue, police said.

While native to Australia, there are small colonies of wallabies in the Lake District and around Loch Lomond in Scotland. Last year a wallaby was seen around London’s Highgate cemetery.

Source – Northern Echo,  10 Oct 2014

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Rare harvest mouse found in County Durham

An endearing but rare animal for the North East has been found in one of its most northerly locations ever.

A dead Harvest Mouse was found near Bowburn in County Durham and reported to Durham Wildlife Trust.

Trust director Jim Cokill said: “We were alerted to this animal by a member of the public. It is a significant new record.”

The trust checked with the Environmental Records Information Centre (ERIC), based at the Great North Museum in Newcastle which collects information and sightings of wildlife in the region.

They have only 45 confirmed sightings for the region stretching back to 1974, so it’s a pretty rare creature,” said Mr Cokill.

Most of the records are in the south, around the Tees Valley, where there was a reintroduction project.

“There are no sightings from the area where this animal was found.

“Although this particular animal was dead, the report does raise hopes that there is a population living in that location and Durham Wildlife Trust will be trying to confirm that.”

The harvest mouse is the UK‘s smallest mouse and only weighs 6g.

It is mainly found from central Yorkshire southwards. Isolated records from Scotland and Wales probably result from the release of captive animals.

Katherine Pinnock, ERIC co-ordinator for the North East, said: “ This is a very exciting record because of the location. It improves our knowledge about this species.”

The find will be discussed at ERIC’s wildlife recording conference on October 11 at the Great North Museum, which is free and open to the public.

People can log any wildlife sightings on www.ericnortheast.org.uk

Harvest mice are extremely active climbers and feed in the stalk zone of long grasses and reeds, particularly around dusk and dawn.

Breeding nests are the most obvious sign indicating the presence of harvest mice.

The harvest mouse is the only British mammal to build nests of woven grass well above ground. Harvest mice have many predators, including weasels, stoats, foxes, cats, owls, hawks, crows, even pheasants and their average lifespan is 18 months.

Harvest mice usually have two or three litters a year in the wild. The young are abandoned after about 16 days.

Source –  Newcastle Journal,  26 Aug 2014

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‘Scotland’s dodo’ bone found at Scottish Seabird Centre dig

A bone from an extinct bird known as “Scotland’s dodo” has been uncovered following an archaeological dig in East Lothian.

The bone from the Great Auk, a species last seen in British waters on St Kilda in 1840, was recovered at the Kirk Ness site, now known as North Berwick.

It was unearthed during a dig at the Scottish Seabird Centre.

Archaeologists said the find sheds new lights on human habitation of the area in the Middle Ages.

The archaeological dig, by Edinburgh-based Addyman Archaeology, and supported by Historic Scotland, revealed bones of butchered seals, fish and seabirds, including the bone of the Great Auk.

The upper arm bone of the flightless bird was unearthed at the entrance area of an early building and has been radio carbon dated to the 5th to 7th Centuries.

The seabird was a favoured food source in medieval times as it was easy to catch.

Human predation led to the decline of the species, ensuring that by the middle of the 19th Century it had become persecuted and exploited into extinction.

The penguin-like bird was 1m tall and its range at one time extended from the north-eastern United States across the Atlantic to the British Isles, France and Northern Spain.

Tom Brock, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “The discovery of the Great Auk bone on site at the Scottish Seabird Centre is fascinating but also very sad.

“We are so fortunate in Scotland to have a rich variety of seabirds and we must use the extinction of the Great Auk as a warning to future generations to look after our wonderful wildlife and the marine environment as an absolute priority.

“There are both behavioural and environmental lessons that must be taken from this internationally-important finding, and as an educational and conservation charity we will remain dedicated to inspiring people to enjoy, protect and learn about wildlife and the natural environment.”

 

Tom Addyman, of Addyman Archaeology, said: “The discovery of the Great Auk bone at Kirk Ness is an illuminating find, as we seek to understand and document the importance of the area in the history of wildlife and human habitation in the Middle Ages.

“We hope that its discovery helps historians and conservation experts, such as the Scottish Seabird Centre, to educate future generations about the precious nature of our natural resources.”

Rod McCullagh, senior archaeology manager at Historic Scotland, said: “In the last two decades, there has been a renaissance in our understanding of the archaeology and history of early Medieval Scotland.

“The discovery of the remains of domestic buildings and the associated detritus of daily life at Kirk Ness gives us a glimpse of what ordinary life was like in East Lothian at this time.

“That ‘daily life’ involved the killing of such valuable birds as the Great Auk is no surprise but the discovery of this single bone perhaps attests to a time when hunting did not overwhelm such a vulnerable species.”

Source – BBC News    12 May 2014

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Ghost ship with cannibal rats may head to Scotland

An abandoned Russian ‘ghost ship’ infested with cannibal rats may be drifting towards the west coast of Scotland according to salvage experts.

The cruise liner Lyubov Orlova has been drifting across the Atlantic for almost a year after being cut adrift by the Canadian government and now a Belgian salvage company have asked Scots sailors to be on the lookout for the vessel which is worth £600,000 in scrap metal.

Built in Yugoslavia in 1976, the 300 foot ship was abandoned by its owners and crew at the port of St Johns in Newfoundland in September 2010 after they were unable to pay a $251,000 debt.

Two years later the Canadian authorities arranged to sell the hull for scrap to the Dominican Republic but en route the unlucky vessel broke its tow line one day out of port and began drifting towards oil platforms.

When Transport Canada regained control of the Lyubov Orlova, it was then decided to tow it into international waters and abandon the vessel rather than continue the voyage. At the time a statement said that the vessel: “no longer poses a threat to the safety of offshore oil installation, their personnel or the maritime environment. The vessel has drifted into international waters and given current patterns and predominant winds, it is very unlikely that the vessel will re-enter waters under Canadian jurisdiction”

Pim de Rhoodes, a Belgian salvage hunter, who has twice set off in search of the vessel only to return empty handed, said the only occupants now will be hundreds of rats forced to eat each other in order to survive, and that the vessel must still be drifting as not all of its lifeboat emergency beacons have been set off. Mr de Rhoodes said: “She is floating around out there somewhere. There will be a lot of rats and they eat each other. If I get aboard I’ll have to lace everywhere with poison.”

> Why ? If they’ve been drifting for so long, eating each other, all that must be left by now is one big fat rat. A marksman with a rifle sounds like a better option. 🙂

Kris Abelshausen, a logistics manager with Mr de Rhoodes company, Seatec, said the vessel could be drifting towards the Scottish coast: “If anyone spots it we’d like them to let us know.”

Under international maritime law a vessel abandoned at sea can become the property of those who find it, however the owners can attempt to ‘buy’ it back. The Seatec team may choose to either sell the vessel for its scrap value or keep the vessel. Mr Abelshausen said: “It is a huge vessel, larger than the current vessel we have and Mr de Rhoodes is keen to track it down.”

However another possible scenario is that the vessel has already sunk. Last February the Irish Coast Guard spotted that one of the vessel’s emergency position-indicating radio beacons (EPIRB) went off approximately 700 miles off the coast of County Kerry. However two trips by spotter planes failed to find the ship. Yesterday a spokesman for the Irish Coast Guard said the vessel could have sunk in such a manner that not all the remaining radio beacons would have been activated.

A spokesperson for the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency today said the vessel last came to their attention last year and there was doubt that it was still afloat: “We have received no reported sightings of the vessel since April last year – and there is no evidence to suggest it is still afloat.

“Any ‘ghost ship’ entering European waters is highly likely to be reported, due to the large number of vessels passing through the area. We would then act accordingly.”

Source –  The Scotsman, 24 Jan 2014

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Thatcher Dead – An Enemy Of The People

Probably one of the most telling comments about the nature of the late Thatcher came from one of her acolytes – Conservative MP Conor Burns, said to be a friend of hers, who was of the opinion that she would have been delighted by the spontaneous grassroots celebrations that have broken out nationwide since the news broke.

He continued –  “The hatred that burns in their hearts against Margaret Thatcher is actually an enourmous tribute to Margaret Thatcher, because she won.”

Really it just confirms what many of us already knew – that Thatcher regarded certain sections of the British public – the very people she as Prime Minister was supposed to be working for – as the enemy, to be beaten.

So she “won” did she ?  What did she win ?  Did she get satisfaction by crushing the very people she was supposed to be working for ?

Sadly, the answer is probably “yes”.  And that’s why people who remember her time in office, myself included, celebrate her death.

Tasteless ?  Perhaps… but then, her policies weren’t very tasteful either.

 

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Almanac – March 31

1596 – René Descartes born. French philosopher, mathematician, and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the ‘Father of Modern Philosophy‘, and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings.

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1878 – Jack Johnson born. American boxer. At the height of the Jim Crow era, Johnson became the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion (1908–1915).

In a documentary about his life, Ken Burns notes that “for more than thirteen years, Jack Johnson was the most famous and the most notorious African-American on Earth.”

Miles Davis‘s 1971 album entitled A Tribute to Jack Johnson was inspired by the boxer. The end of the record features the actor Brock Peters (as Johnson) saying:  “I’m Jack Johnson. Heavyweight champion of the world. I’m black. They never let me forget it. I’m black all right! I’ll never let them forget it!”

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1990 – 200,000 protestors took to the streets of London to protest against the newly introduced Poll Tax.

The Poll Tax Riots were a series of mass disturbances, or riots, in British towns and cities during protests against the Community Charge (commonly known as the poll tax), introduced by the Conservative government led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The London event was by far the largest.

The riot in central London, with the national opposition to the Community Charge (especially vehement in the North of England and Scotland) contributed to the downfall of Thatcher, who resigned as Prime Minister in November the same year, defending a tax which an opinion poll had found only 12% favoured. The next Prime Minister, John Major, announced it would be abolished.

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Almanac – January 25

BURNS NIGHT – celebrating the birth of Robert Burns in 1759.  Scottish poet and lyricist,  widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a light Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland. He also wrote in standard English, and in these his political or civil commentary is often at its bluntest.

He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, and after his death he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism, and a cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish Diaspora around the world. Celebration of his life and work became almost a national charismatic cult during the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature.

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1938 – Etta James born. American singer. Her style spanned a variety of music genres including blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, gospel and jazz

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1949 – John Cooper Clarke born. English performance poet who first became famous during the punk rock era of the late 1970s when he became known as a “punk poet“. He released several albums in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and continues to perform regularly.

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