Category: Natural history


Johan and I spotted a good barbel in the river the other day and I couldn´t resist the temptation to have another crack at it yesterday. When Johan and I we came across it on Tuesday this was one of three fish holding in fast flowing shallows just below a broad pool. In fast skinny water like this fish are difficult at the best of times. Continue reading

Today, for the first time, I caught a gypsy barbel on a streamer. It was a very handsome fish and I don´t think it would have been any less than four pounds in weight. The streamer was being used because I had intended to fish for black bass but the bass were not very interested today and, while I managed to catch a few, they were small fish. Interestingly, the same streamer was taken by two carp, both unseen before they were hooked and both taken as I was fishing close to the steep shoreline. Continue reading

I was walking the dogs this morning and we came across an interesting sight. There were huge numbers of woodlice marching down a hill in a continuous and steady stream. I have never seen this before and so we ditched our plans to have a long walk through the campo so that I could return home to grab my camera and record the spectacle. Continue reading

The gypsy barbel in my local river are predominantly bottom feeders and they are well adapted to finding invertebrates in the mud and in and around the stones. I suspect that when they are in muddy stretches that it is senses other than eyesight that direct them towards their dinners. Because of this I nearly always use smallish nymphs to target them, generally tied on a size 14 hook and usually with a small tungsten bead. Continue reading

I went and bought three new hens on Tuesday because a bastard campo dog managed to dig into the enclosure and take all my hens a couple of weeks ago. Between that sad event and the purchasing of the new hens I planned to greatly increase the security of the enclosure. I had intended to install a moat, a trip wire that activated remotely operated machine guns, bury land mines and to install a bunch of battle-hardened mercenaries in a series of watch towers each night equipped with state of the art night vision goggles. However when calculations were done I realised that the budget for these security measures would be similar to that for constructing Trump´s idiotic border wall with Mexico. To break even I would have to have each of my three hens lay an egg each per day for the next 487 million years. Continue reading

It looks like there is a crocodile on the loose! Recent sightings, including one made by a police officer, seem to confirm there is a nile crocodile swimming around in the Río Pisuerga close to the town of Simancas in central Spain. The story first came out a couple of days ago and there seem to be some inconsistencies between the different versions I have seen. The croc is claimed to be found in two different rivers (the Duero and the Pisuerga) and various estimates of its size have been offered ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 metres. Continue reading

Talk to anyone about keeping poultry and you will get a familiar sad tale. These stories (and I have heard quite a few now) follow the same course and it is only the details that differ. Let me give you the general story, although you almost certainly know it already. The alternative points of detail have been put into brackets as an indication of how individual accounts vary one from the other, but the basic story is ALWAYS the same.

Here´s how it goes:

“Once I used to keep a load of (hens/ducks/geese or some combination thereof). Then one night a (fox/wild dog/leopard/alligator/boa constrictor) broke into the enclosure AND KILLED EVERY GODDAM SINGLE ONE OF THEM.” Continue reading

The other day I was walking along a quiet road in the campo with my two dogs when we came across a snake. This was at around nine in the morning and the snake was sunning itself on the road. At first I thought it was a stick because it was lying quite still. As I got a little closer the “stick” transformed itself, developing a scaly skin and and a narrow flickering tongue. Continue reading

I have been isolated in my little finca in Andalucía since the 14th of March and during this time my wife has been staying with her father in London. They tell us to social distance from one another and recommend 2 metres but we have managed to extend that by over 1000 miles! Continue reading

I have a particular soft spot for Mediterranean barbel which is one of our endemic species here in Spain and one that Paul Reddish and I have been chasing in Valencia, most recently at the end of February. Continue reading