Category: Natural history


December has just started and I realise I have never written, as I had planned, about the way another month ended. That month is not the November that has just slipped by but the October that preceded it. The last couple of hours of daylight were, for me, the highlight of the whole month. Continue reading

There are nine species of barbel in Spain which makes it something of a European hotspot. The UK by contrast has only one (Barbus barbus) which is not found in Spain at all. John Langridge and I have fished for my local gypsy barbel on many several occasions on my local river, the Guadalhorce, and his book Fishing for Spanish Barbel is the definitive guide on the subject of Spanish barbel. Continue reading

Paul Reddish and I went out to see if we could catch an enigmatic little fish on our recent adventure in Valencia. This is a nase which has a distribution limited to a couple of regions in this area. To the best of my knowledge it doesn´t have a common English name and scientists pin it down with a binomial that seems much more substantial than a little fish like this deserves: Parachondrostoma turiense. Continue reading

Brian Jones and I headed to the river on Friday evening. In the back of the car we had our fishing gear but also an assortment of fine mesh nets, trays, magnifying glasses, forceps and droppers because we thought it might be interesting to take a few kick samples to see what kind of bugs there were at the bottom of the river. Continue reading

Every now and then you feel as though you are invited by nature to observe an event or a behaviour which normally goes unobserved and it invariably comes as an unexpected treat. This happened to me on the river about three weeks ago when the gypsy barbel were so preoccupied with feeding in broad daylight that, when silently approached, I was permitted to see them from very close. I made a film of them but for reasons I do not fully understand, I am unable to load it up on to the blog. Continue reading

Brian Jones keeps a fishing diary and he was kind enough to show me what he had written about our fishing last Saturday. I thought it was very interesting, detailed and well-written and so I twisted his arm and asked him if I could reproduce it here. Being the gentleman that he is he gave me the thumbs up and so, without further ado, here it is: Continue reading

Everybody I have fished with on my local river returns the fish they catch. They might have asked if the fish are edible but that was no more than curiosity. They have also treated the fish with care and taken pleasure from seeing the fish swim away strongly after a quick photograph or two or a moment of appreciation. It is difficult to resist that moment even when you know it is high time for the fish to be on its way again. The gypsy barbel are strikingly handsome fish and, particularly in bright sunlight, it is always a pleasure to admire the profile of these fish and the striking contrast between their olive backs and golden bellies. Continue reading

Yesterday evening I found myself looking out over the Mediterranean from a viewing point at the end of a walking trail. I was with Paul Reddish. Beneath us was Marbella and cutting through the haze beyond the still waters of the sea were the tops of some of the mountains of Morocco. This is far from the narrowest part of the Mediterranean but, even from here, Africa looks pretty close. If you travel further west, at its narrowest point at the Strait of Gibraltar the distance shrinks to 8 miles or so and it can feel as though you could almost skim a stone and have it bounce across the water and rattle up among the pebbles of a different continent. Continue reading

I´m no expert on the fish of Loch Lomond but I am more of an expert than I was this time last week after having made a trip up to the Loch and to stare, for the first time, into its dark, peat-stained water. Continue reading

I got no change out of the fish yesterday evening when I tried to sucker them into ingesting a little nymph and so the gypsy barbel of the Guadalhorce enjoyed a relaxed, uneventful evening. To be honest I should have had one when I lifted into a dip of my yarn indicator but without any real conviction. I thought I had snagged on the bottom and, by the time I realised that the bottom had drifted across the river a couple of metres, everything went slack again and the fish was gone. Continue reading