I'm veering off the scientific trail this week. Actually thinking about it I'm not, because I'm in zoological mode, with a small measure of synchronicity thrown in to the mix.
A couple of days ago I was walking along the promenade overlooking the sea. The sea on my left and the ornamental public gardens on my right. Glancing into the gardens I noticed a seagull looking down at the grass and trampling very hard and fast with his orange webbed feet. I dug spouse in the ribs and pointed to this scene. 'What's all that about?' I wondered. 'Worms,' said spouse. 'Worms?' says I. 'Yes, Worms. He's drumming up his dinner.' I looked at spouse and wondered if he'd had too much seaside winter sun. 'Oh, like the worm pops his head out when the seagull comes knocking at his door. As if ...' Really, did I look as if I was that gullible? Well my dear reader, it turns out that I am just a seagull ignoramus. 'All that stamping makes the worm think it's raining and that's when they come up to the surface and hey presto, seagull dinner is served!' says spouse. Pull my other leg it's got bells on thinks I, but when I returned home and put the question to the RSPB via my computer I found spouse was right.
And here's where the zoological synchronicity comes in. Gosh, I never thought to type those two words together! But here goes ... a trip around unusual bird behaviour. I was listening to the BBC Radio 4's programme, The Infinite Monkey Cage, the day after the seagull incident and they were discussing present and historical methods of research into animal and bird behaviour. Professor Rory Wilson explained the unusual fishing method adopted by the Wandering Albatross. When they are feeding their young, one of their fishing methods is to fly off for six days to stock up on squid to bring home to the chicks. Now squid are not just floating about on the surface waiting for some old albatross to come and get them, they are swimming away underneath the ocean. So clever old albatross starts a spinning routine that creates a large circle of light, (the light given off by some of the florescent fish already in the water and he just spreads it about a lot more). And then, the squid are drawn up to the light and our albatross does a somersault and gobbles them up. As a post script to this I have just looked up information about the Wandering Albatross and apparently if they follow a ship in the hope of feeding of its rubbish, they can eat so much they can't fly and just have to float there for a while! Yes dear reader, ponder that image.
Staying with the zoological theme, Lucy Cook, a guest on The Infinite Monkey Cage programme also related the historical research into the mystery of fertilisation to create a new adult of a species. This is just the best one ever. Through dissection it was known that there were eggs and there were sperm, but it was not known how the new adult came about. A chap called Lazno Spanzali spent a lot of time observing frog behaviour. He saw the male frog clinging on to the female's back but didn't know what happened next. So he made a pair of underpants from waxed taffeta and fitted them on to the frog!!!! Yes, I love it too. The trouble was the frog could jump out of them, leaving Spanzali non the wiser. So, he fitted braces on to the underpants - how good is that? Problem solved and the mystery of what went on between Mr and Mrs Frog could be investigated further.
Well, there we are. I can say no more. Enjoy your Sunday my dear reader and may the image of frogs in their tighty-whities and braces bring a little smile to your day. It certainly has to mine.