In my leisure time, I enjoy reading Victorian natural history reports; I assume everyone does. During my reading yesterday I came across a wonderful account that I thought would be worth sharing on the blog.

The following quote comes from the Proceedings of the Royal Physical Society of Edinburgh, 22nd December 1858:

The stomach of a large pike was exhibited, which contained a water hen, Gallinula chloropus, and a water ouzel, Cinclus aquaticus, both apparently swallowed very shortly before the fish was captured. The pike weighed 30 lbs., and measured 4 feet 4 inches in length. It was taken on the estate of the Duke of Atholl, in Perthshire, and is now preserved in the valuable Anatomical Museum of the University.’

If I had gone for a walk in East Yorkshire and had only seen a dipper and a moorhen during that time, I’d count that as a decent bit of birding (Dipper being very thin on the ground there).  So that pike ate essentially the equivalent of a decent bit of East Yorkshire birding. Well done.

Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin.

They dance on the surface among the flies.

 

Or move, stunned by their own grandeur,

Over a bed of emerald, silhouette

Of submarine delicacy and horror.

A hundred feet long in their world.

I also found this video which our readers may like. Or hate. We seem to be very keen on the ‘ducklings being eaten’ side of things at the moment. 

In ponds, under the heat-struck lily pads-

Gloom of their stillness:

Logged on last year’s black leaves, watching upwards.

Or hung in an amber cavern of weeds

 

The jaws’ hooked clamp and fangs

Not to be changed at this date:

A life subdued to its instrument;

The gills kneading quietly, and the pectorals.

 

And here’s a video for all you Ted Hughes fans out there:

With a sag belly and the grin it was born with.

And indeed they spare nobody.

Two, six pounds each, over two feet long

High and dry and dead in the willow-herb-

 

One jammed past its gills down the other’s gullet:

The outside eye stared: as a vice locks-

The same iron in this eye

Though its film shrank in death.

 

-          Extracts of poetry are from Ted Hughes’ ‘Pike’. Blame him for the pretension in today’s post.

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