Friday, 17 January 2014

Close Encounters of the Clawed Kind . . .

The LadySteps Damhead by Blaydon Tennis Club has made great viewing over the years in the autumn when the salmon and sea-trout are jumping, or as a stop-off any time of year there's always either a dipper, grey wag or kingfisher to keep you entertained (or even an otter on a couple of occasions).
I also once saw a lamprey climbing up the slope in the nearside shallows, I say climbing rather than swimming as it was using its sucker like a tool to inch its way up the slope against the strong current like a mountaineer would use an axe to make footholds up a mountain (well possibly not but you get my drift).
Anyhow it was fascinating to watch but unfortunately it was one of those days when I didn't have my camera, unlike the following occasion when I had my one and only encounter (to date) with a signal crayfish.

The water level was quite low this day (in October 2010) when I leaned over the fence and spotted what I at first thought was an escaped(?) lobster (honest it was massive) but of course it soon clicked that a lobster wouldn't survive in fresh water (ask Jimmy Somerville of Communards fame, d'oh!) and it must be a crayfish, though I really didn't expect to see one this size.   

Anyway it entertained me for some time and I caught the whole event on camera, so here are the brief photographic highlights. :

I first spotted it in the shallows in shadow of the wall
below the fence 

It must've taken offence at me taking photos as it started gesticulating
in my direction with its claws at the base of the wall . . .

. . . and started to climb out of the water towards me
up the sheer vertical wall !?!

Luckily for me its anger only got it so far up then it
fell backwards into the weir . . .

. . .where it picked itself up, dusted itself down, but had more
sense than to start all over again.

And after taking a few steps it stopped and snacked on a dead leaf,
where it remained up 'til the point I had to leave. 

So there it was, an interesting little scene, and for all the nastiness associated with this invasive predatory species it was still a memorable sighting, though as a dragonhunter I sometimes wonder what effect they have on numbers of banded demoiselle larvae in the river (though not much judging by the numbers seen last summer :)

So all that remains to ask is, was it Ronnie or Reggie?


  1. Another stunning 'toon. You wouldn't think they were in Spandau Ballet ! The one on the right has been in Eastenders i hear.
    I met a gentleman removing them (you need a licence to handle them) at Belasis Bridge and i couldn't believe the size of them !!! They can cross sodden fields apparently to move to other rivers !!!

  2. Cross sodden fields and climb bloody walls by the looks of it :)
    Cheers John.