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The Madagascar experience!

Duncan raised our spirits on a sad day for England.
We went ahead with our planned Zoom meeting on Thursday, but it was with heavy hearts we welcomed Duncan Armour as a familiar presenter, as the sad news from Buckingham Palace began to sink in and we joined the nation in mourning the death of such an influential lady.

Duncan’s talk was about the flora, fauna and wildlife on the island of Madagascar, known as the “eighth continent” due to the nature of its geological evolution over time as a land mass, and the fact that 80% of the species found there exist nowhere else in the world today. Duncan skilfully led us into a very interesting world, where surviving species have evolved so very differently over time, where airline schedules are mad, and the scenery is spectacular. Through his own and his wife, Deborah’s, images we got a real feel for the place- its family life in brick built windowless buildings, together with the superstitions and celebrations that make this vibrant country what it is today.

Their images of tiny Chameleons, together with Giraffe Necked Beetles and giant Butterflies and Moths certainly raised our spirits and intrigued us, the like of which most of us had never seen before. It was the vast variety of the Lemur family, many of which are really rare, that impressed me the most. However, it was the mysterious, AyeAye , with its long middle fingers and unsettling features that was the most curious of the lemurs we saw. Originally deemed a squirrel, it is now known as Madagascar’s “woodpecker substitute” because it uses its long fingers like a Woodpecker uses its beak to gently tap the tree trunks to locate insects and grubs, and then extract them for a tasty meal.

We journeyed from the Rainforest to the drier, arid areas where Cacti and Euphorbias flourish alongside the variety of deciduous Baobab trees with their unusual barrel-like trunks and extraordinary longevity. Home to strange, carnivorous Geckos and colourful, three eyed Lizards, they really do appear to have been plucked from the earth and re-planted upside down, as legend would have it, by the Devil himself.

Duncan was warmly thanked at the end of an unique evening, in which emotions roller coasted, but his fascinating narrative transcended us to a place like nowhere else on earth. On a day when the whole world seemed to change, we were reminded that this is all part of the natural order of things evolutionary. On a photographic note, I applaud those who recorded the double rainbow over the Palace yesterday- strange times indeed!

Look out for us recording the Midsomer Norton Heritage Events in the coming week, and watch this space for the results of our September Open Competition being judged next Thursday

Jenny Short 09. 09.2022