BBC NEWS
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Science/Nature: Specials: Total Eclipse  
News Front Page
World
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
UK Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Total Eclipse Tuesday, 24 August, 1999, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Wildlife fooled by double dawn
eclipse
An event for humans and animals
By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby

Along the path of the total solar eclipse, many creatures reacted to the darkened skies entirely naturally - by settling down to sleep.

Hayle in Cornwall is home to a bird sanctuary, Paradise Park. It has a big parrot collection, and several other rare and exotic species.

One of the park's directors, Nick Reynolds, said the morning turned out very much as he had expected.

"All the birds settled down when the darkness came. It was very quiet for a time, with heads tucked under wings, and the flamingoes on one leg ready for sleep.

Gulls left behind

"When it got light there was a real dawn chorus, though perhaps not quite as loud as it would normally be.

owl
Not dark enough for owls
"The only surprise was that the owls didn't start hooting. They probably didn't have time to wake up.

"The gulls? They had no idea what was happening."

At Paignton zoo in Devon, the birds went back to their nests during the darkness. But there was no dawn chorus, except for a song from the Bali starling.

Kate Bankier, the zoo's press officer, said the gulls were the most confused of all.

"There was a large flock, flying out to sea and back again, obviously looking for somewhere to roost until they realised they didn't need to.

"The baboons got agitated in the dark, and then became very confused when the light quickly returned.

"The Sulawesi crested macaques (a species of monkey) and the Asiatic lions both split along gender lines.

"The females settled down to sleep with their young. The males just wandered around looking confused."

Bagpiper outdid birds

Andrew Lawson, head gardener at Tresco Abbey gardens on the Isles of Scilly, found it was a day to remember, but not because of the wildlife.

"There were about 70 yachts between us and the next island", he said.

"On one there was a bagpiper playing Amazing Grace, and another had a trumpeter on board, playing the Last Post.

"So I heard very little from the birds, except for the gulls. They didn't seem to know what was going on."

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds described the morning as "a bit of a non-event".

"The birds round here seemed to go about their business as usual", said Mike Everett, a press officer at the RSPB headquarters in Bedfordshire.

"We asked our wardens round the country to report anything unusual. But we haven't heard a dicky-bird from any of them."

Links to more Total Eclipse stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Total Eclipse stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
UK Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes