An unfounded slight

Some of Mr. Torta’s workmates. Nice, eh?

Now, here’s an interesting, if slightly bizarre thing. For a while now, I’ve been chatting on twatter to a Brownhills lad exiled in San Antonio, all the way over in Texas, USA. He goes by the name of PorkTorta – which I think is probably a pseudonym (‘Hello Mrs. Torta, is your Pork playing out?’) – and he’s a very interesting, engaging chap with a fine sense of humour. PorkTorta is a biologist, a graphic design whizz and works in the latter capacity at San Antonio Zoo. How cool is that?

Now, being holed up in the sunshine over in Skank Antonio, as he’s wont to call it, isn’t all gravy. Between dodging tornados and arranging displays of animal poo, PorkTorta gets a wee bit homesick, which is understandable, really. To alleviate the pangs of loss and longing for Bank’s Mild, he reads the Brownhills Blog and chats to the locals on Twatter.

It was while reading the blog recently that PorkTorta spotted my report that the Chasewater terrapin may not be dead after all, the announcement of which, it has to be said,  had caused some consternation. I must confess, I thought the fellow to be lost, like most folk did, but it seems he has a fan club who are keeping the faith. Terrapin-related enquires flooded in, not least from YamYam supremo and latter-day Hackneyite Mark Blackstock, who always had a soft spot for the reptilian refugee.

Sadly, the terrapin’s survival was not welcomed in all quarters; Graham Evans of Chasewater Wildlife Group was very concerned that the hero in the half-shell may be living off newts and other important local species. It seems Graham need worry no more; our friend – should he still be with us – appears to be a veggie.

Over in Texas, it seems they know a thing or two about the turtle family, and PorkTorta checked with experts. Our chap is apparently a Yellow-Bellied Slider.

In short, he (or she) could live to be about 40, eats vegetation and the odd worm or two (but did like bugs and insects when young, but not as an adult), likes algae laden, slightly brackish [Thanks to Mick_P for the heads up: I didn’t mean brackish, I meant stagnant. I’ve misunderstood brackish for years. In a nutshell, they like it a bit gloomy and a bit smelly – Bob] water, and will probably be working to keep pond weed in check. If he is still with us, I think he must be living in the untouched pond next to the former Nine-Foot, which does answer that description, and is relatively undisturbed. Find out more about this species at Wikipedia.

Chasewater interloper and veggie.
Yellow-bellied Pond Slider
A colonial cousin in the wild, by Roy Brown Photography. Please click through to Roy’s gallery.

My heartfelt thanks to Porktorta, and I ask all Chasewater wildlife spotters to be on the lookout for our long-lost terrapin. I feel better now I know he’s not eating the newts, and I hope Graham can rest a bit easier, too. I’m quite fond of this curious bit of Brownhills absurdity, and it’s not like the poor fellow will ever get chance to breed.

This is a fantastic demonstration of how some questions on this blog can remain mysteries for years, and then someone with the right knowledge – in this case a Brownhillian miles from home – can wander in ad solve the problem. PorkTorta is a top chap, and I trust he’s looking forward to his holiday here later in the year.

I’ll keep a pint of Bank’s ready for you, old chap.

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  • PorkTorta

    Glad i could help untarnish the reputation of what is, most likely, the only wild yellow-bellied slider in Brownhills.

    Hopefully he’ll live a long and happy life. You’re bound to see more of him once the sun comes out and he gets to basking. I’d quite like to see him when I’m back in the summer!

    73 days and counting, until i get myself outside of a pint of Banks’s. Until then, thanks a million, sir, you’re doing a fantastic job of making me feel slightly less marooned!

  • pedro

    Be warned some of the Bank’s Pubs now have Marston’s signs, but the ale is still inside!

  • Something to look out for! On a side note I see the Chasewater Dam Blog has now closed.

  • PorkTorta

    Marston’s signs? Heresy.

  • How great is this ‘ere internet thingy, eh? Good work both. PorkTorta, try checking out the Swan Inn on the Pelsall Road just down from the Morris Miner roundabout – great beer, including Banks’s (been under new management for a year or so, the people who used to run the Prince of Wales on the Watling Street).
    Bob – isn’t the definition of ‘brackish’ slightly salty? In which case I suspect it doesn’t apply here. Anal? Me?

    • Sorry Mick, I was mistaken. I thought brackish meant stagnant. I’ve been labouring under that misconception for some years now! Note added to the text for clarity.



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