Cretan Blog – November 2011

Hello again from a pleasantly mild Crete. With Autumn arriving we do get the odd shower or heavier burst of rain now and again but overall the WX remains good. This good WX often runs on up until Christmas despite it getting cooler. Two years ago, the last week in October was one of the wettest on record but the following month was just like June, warm and sunny.

SV9 Autumn bird watch

Now that the cooler weather is with us and we have had the odd shower of rain, we have a second ‘Spring’ with flowers blooming again and spurts of growth everywhere. We even have sparrows raising young again above our air-con unit that sits over the back balcony.

Mention of sparrows leads me on to the other birds seen recently now that the weather is a few degrees cooler. With the heat of summer, many birds seem to hide away during the day only venturing out in the early mornings or during twilight. These include Blackbirds, Greenfinches, and Goldfinches and the complete range of Tits, from Blue to Long-Tailed, including the Sullen or Sombre Tit, as well as the odd Hoopoe.

The bird most commonly seen during the summer months are the Buzzards that soar over the hills behind us and are great to watch, especially when teaching their young some flying skills. We also get the occasional Griffon Vulture but not as many here as we used to see over Kritsa.

We also get migrants flying through. These include the usual Swallows and Swifts but also Bee Eaters and Spotted Fly Catchers.

None of the birds mentioned above like, or venture into, Olive trees, unless of course being chased by something bigger! It would seem that they do not like the taste of any bugs found on the Olive. The Fly Catchers will not even use it as a perch for diving down on flies or midges but would rather sit in an Almond tree or on a fence post.

However, there are a couple of birds that love it. One is the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. A cute thing with light brown upper parts and a pale fawn almost yellowish underside. At this time of year he can be seen ‘running’ up and down the Olive picking off all the bugs and stuff that the other birds do not want. With all he seems to eat, we are surprised he is not twice the size that he is!

The other is the Olive Tree Warbler. This is a slightly bigger bird and seems ungainly as it crashes about in an Olive tree looking for bugs. Actually, this is its ‘modus operandi’ as by crashing about in the tree it disturbs the things hiding there, most of which it eats!

We also have two night birds that we know of. One we have seen, and one we haven’t.

The one we have seen is a Scops Owl. These are small owls and have a funny call, half-way between a hoot and a squawk, which is repeated every 4 or 5 seconds. The one that lives in an old windmill just outside the village likes to sit on our chimney some evenings and give his call over and over again. Why our chimney? Well, it has a metal cowl on the top and this makes his call sound much louder than it is. This ‘perch’ was also used by the male sparrow that nested on the front air-con unit this past Spring. It also made his call sound louder and so attract the females; that was until he fell down inside the chimney into the boiler room below and was unable to get out. RIP.

The night bird we have not seen is the Nightjar. They do not frequent the olive groves but a copse of Carob trees about a mile or so away. We have heard them but have yet to venture up the old track to the top of the hill to try and catch a glimpse.

Radio 4 LW

I hear that Radio 4 on Long Wave will shut down for good when the last of the valves used to keep the old transmitter working, finally pack up. Gather that the valves are no longer available and that to build a solid state version would bankrupt the ol’ Beeb, so when the last valve dies of an open-circuit heater or Cathode poisoning, that will be the end of the BBC on Long Wave. Of course this will also mean the end to some of the auto-switching ‘Off Peak’ storage (and Gas) heating which often used a pulsed signal from Radio 4 Long Wave to turn themselves on and off at certain times.   [more info from the Beeb here – Ed]


10m Delta Loop

Good to see 10m showing signs of life again. Put up a 10m Delta Loop which seems to be working OK. Trying to have a couple of ‘proper’ QSOs each day but often get caught by the “599 PSE QSL” merchants. Still, working JA most mornings is very pleasing.



Over the past few weeks there have been a myriad of emails circulating about the RSGBs future and the Board make up etc. I have seen some of these and they remind me of the old days on Packet where people would just pick holes in an argument without anything constructive being said. Conversely there have been some well thought out arguments, mostly by the ‘No’ campaign, many of which are far more erudite than I could ever write. Some of their revelations about those seeking to remain in power in Bedford and showing up their ineptitude, are frightening.

Yes, the RSGB are in a mess. Apart from their total financial mismanagement, they have allowed the Amateur Radio Service to be dumbed down so much that it is almost a Licence in a cereal packet in the vain hope that membership numbers would increase, and thus income.

Yes, it is easy for people, me included, to knock the RSGB, especially from where I sit, but I am certain that there are some very good people out there who could run the organisation in a far more efficient, open and honest manner than it has been done over the past few years (or should that be decade?), and who are not members of ‘The Old Boy Freemason Network’. However, any new blood will never get a chance to change things as from what I can see ‘The Old Boy Network’ are trying to keep themselves in power at all costs.

Personally, I do not think the RSGB have been ‘open and honest’ with the Membership in many areas, not just the Bletchley Park fiasco but in dealings with Ofcom, their selling off of the Museum and other equipment, the waste of money that GB4FUN is, as well as their failure to publish the recommendations of the Advisory Committee in full and only giving us a cut down ‘précis’ version of what they want us, the Members, to know.

If you read the Editorial in Nov RadCom you will see on page 6, second paragraph, that David Wilson, the President of the Society states that membership is in slow decline. He should know as he is the Head Man. The Advisory Group, who must have access to the same information as the President, or they would not be able to advise him, say on page 15, paragraph seven, that membership is increasing.

Who do we believe?

If they cannot be ‘open and honest’ between themselves about something as crucial as membership numbers, how can they be ‘open and honest’ about other things?

These ramblings will appear before the outcome of the EGM on 19th November so I will comment no further. Suffice it to say that: If you are a member of the RSGB and do not vote, you cannot complain about what is being done.

If you are not a Member, fair enough, but please think about joining even if it is for only one year. This way you can see (or get involved with) the Society, and who knows, even help change it for the better. It cannot get much worse . . .

I understand that some of my recent ramblings and my take on things have been read by some people associated with the office in Bedford as well as further afield. As these readers probably do not subscribe to the LEFARS Newsletter [An excellent publication – Ed], I will state here what I put in a recent edition so as there is no confusion: –


“These are my opinions and only my opinions, unless you share them as well, which would make them our opinions, but I am not of the opinion that I can express your opinion as my opinion without your prior expression of said opinion, and then my re-utterance of that opinion would, in my opinion, be foolish unless I were expressing agreement to your opinion, and then it wouldn’t be my opinion but your opinion, to which I only agree.”




Dick. ‘XBN.   (Email:

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