‘On the Moor’ Postscripts

Some corrections, clarifications, afterthoughts, and related paraphernalia concerning my book On the Moor.

Chapter 5: Trig Point

Since I wrote this chapter, the Ordnance Survey has published an interesting blog post entitled A history of the trig pillar.

Chapter 9: Heather

The environmental impact of burning moorland heather to increase grouse numbers has recently become a political hot topic (no pun intended). For more on this subject, see the British Ornithologists’ Union’s blog post Impacts of driven shooting of Red Grouse.

Chapter 10: Identity Crisis

But do the Yorkshire folk kick up a fuss when the good people of Nottinghamshire claim the man in Lincoln green and his merrie men all for their own? And even name their airport after him?
Ironically, in a chapter about local identity, I committed something of a howler, here. Robin Hood Airport serves Doncaster and Sheffield, both of which were in South Yorkshire the last time I checked. Thanks to reader Richard Lord for pointing this out.

Chapter 15: Skull

Charles Darwin first met Richard Owen in October 1856, less than a month after Darwin’s return to Britain following his voyage around the world aboard H.M.S. Beagle .
1856 is a typo. It should, of course, read 1836. Thanks to both Rodger Clark and Johannes Riütta for pointing this out.

Chapter 17: Rooks

[K]estrels are no threat to rooks.
Not true, apparently. According to Mark Cocker’s A Claxton Diary, ‘kestrels can overwhelm anything from crows to bats to dragonflies’.

King Hal’s condemnation of choughs is another case of mistaken identity. He clearly means jackdaws.
Although Henry VIII was indeed almost certainly referring to what we now call jackdaws when he used the word ‘choughes’, Mark Cocker and Richard Mabey point out in their excellent Birds Britannica that the word ‘chough’, with various spellings, was used in medieval England to refer to the jackdaw.

I’ve pretty much convinced myself that each pair of rooks within a flock tends to keep its wing-beats synchronised. Not only do the birds in each pair fly closely together, but they flap their wings in unison.
It turns out my crazy hypothesis about pairs of rooks’ synchronised wing-beats might not be quite so crazy after all. In a Twitter exchange some time ago, authors and corvid experts Mark Cocker and Nathan Emery both said my hypothesis didn’t seem crazy to them. For more on this subject, including photographic support for my hypothesis, see the article I wrote entitled My bat-shit crazy hypothesis about rooks.

Chapter 18: Ice

Although he wasn’t the first to suggest it, Tyndall was describing what we now call the Greenhouse Effect.
Since I wrote the above, Tyndall’s biographer Roland Jackson has written an interesting blog post about the discovery of the Greenhouse Effect, giving priority to the American Eunice Foote.

See also:

Drax power station, Britain’s single largest emitter of carbon dioxide.
Although Drax still generates around 5% of the UK’s electricity, in recent years it has been largely converted to burning wood pellets instead of coal. Unfortunately, the wood pellets are shipped from plantations in the United States, undermining claims that the plant is now carbon-neutral. [Source: Charlie Pyne-Smith. Literary Review, July 2021, p.16]

Chapter 20: Sky

In other words, it looks as if vapour trails might indeed have a measurable effect on local diurnal temperature ranges.
The study of changes in diurnal temperatures due to the absence of vapour trails in the aftermath of the 2001 9/11 terrorist attacks was brought into question by a later study.