Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Invisibility Cloak

Early Birds: Many

Worms: None noted

Water Vole: .5

Mouse: .5

Rabbits: Many, some whole

Groundbreaking, Innovative, Maverick are just some of the (printable) words used to describe the work being done here at Walthamstow to unravel the mystery of migration.

The Schrodinger’s Kite theorem has unfortunately suffered from premature publication by pseudo-avian boffins across the Bamboo curtain in Wanstead.


But the good news is that results from our latest research can now be revealed, We are calling this phenomena ‘The Invisibility Cloak.’ After years of painstaking research, it appears that no birds can be seen at night on the patch. At the moment we are keeping all the details secret for obvious reasons but can tell you that it is connected to light, or to be more accurate the lack of light.

We "see" an object because light waves hit it and scatter off - some bouncing into our eyes, making the object visible. The experimental invisibility cloak at Walthamstow works by bending light - like water around an object in a stream. Because light from the object doesn't bounce back and hit our eyes, you get the illusion of invisibility. For some reason this phenomena seems to work best at night but there are some days that it is manifested during daylight hours too.

I have been experimenting for years by going birding at a sensible hour and have seen various numbers of species. It has been determined that the optimum number of species to see at Walthamstow in a day is 54, anything more is categorised as a ‘good day’ and likewise any less is usually deemed, in scientific terms, ‘rubbish.’

As promised yesterday, I determined to carry out the final control experiment in this long series by getting up early for a change to see if more, or as theorized, less birds were seen.

I started off at shortly after 06:00 and walked across the Lammas Fields, there were disconcertingly many birds singing, there were also Rabbits. I was rather pleased to see the latter as they seem to do the opposite to birds and disappear during the day (this is perhaps the counter part to the invisibility cloak, the anti-cloak if you will, further research reveal the truth) anyway just as I was enjoying watching Bugs a rather large Dog raced towards me/it. Neither of us were happy Bunnies I can tell you. Two more giant Hounds appeared. Their owner was mysteriously absent, though I could hear him behind the bushes directing the affair, sadly I left them all to this urban coursing and strolled speedily on, past the ‘Murder - Reward for help’ posters attached to the Trees, it was a year ago this week that someone was shot in the park. Past the ‘Hoodies’ still partying from last night over by the changing rooms. I kept my eyes forward and wondered who could have been behind the killing, my money’s not on the Rabbit.

Crossing the bridge by the Eurostar sidings I heard an unusual tacking call, I tacked back and it answered, I did it again and it responded, I mused for some minutes what this stranger would prove to be. Have you ever heard a train cooling down? Be advised don’t waste as much time as me finding out!

The Golf Course was quiet, which after the Park was a relief to be honest, but birdwise it was quiet too. On to the marsh and precious few additional species crept into the notebook, metaphorically speaking. It’s a metaphorical notebook as well come to think of it.

As I got up to the Rowing Club I heard a plop, much as I did a week or so ago, again I was sure it was a Water Vole and stood and waited, after a while I saw the top half (the bottom half was no doubt connected but underwater) of a swimming Water Vole was coming towards me, I edged my camera phone out of my pocket but too late as the inevitable Dog and handler arrived on the scene, probably setting up some sort of Vole Coursing event.

With few extra species added, save for a Green Sandpiper in the overflow channel, I looped back alongside the Riding Stables, just in time to see the back half of a Mouse going down the front half of a Little Owl. A Snipe was the best that the Waterworks could offer, and then it was time to go back home, don the white coat, lick the pencil and tot up the stats. 52 species seen, none calculated to get the adrenalin going, no year or patch ticks!

So it’s official, going out early results in seeing fewer birds. In fact extrapolating from these figures one could deduce that at about 00:30 no birds at all would be seen. I bet no one saw that stunning result coming. Just another example of the Stirling service we perform on your behalf here at Walthamstow Labs.

What of the future I hear you say? Well work has already started on proving the accuracy of a premise we are calling ‘Ockham’s Razorbill’ Just because something is black and white, sitting on a cliff and smells a bit fishy is it really just an Auk? Time will tell.

On this date: 17 04 82 Male Scaup on High Maynard with Gadwall and the more usual Shoveler, Pochard & Tufted Duck. Fieldfares, Lapwing and Snipe still present but more summer arrivals including, Willow Warbler, Sand Martin, Yellow Wagtail & Tree Pipits.


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