Category Archives: Uncle Davey's Natural Selection

I love nature. This section contains everything that falls within that interest area.

Marine Aquarium at Warsaw Airport


Original YT playout date: 16 July 2009
Duration: 2:32

Just another little fishkeeper video. This is in the Business Shark lounge airside in the new terminal.
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Not the Alan Titchmarsh Show – with Bot Shots


Original YT playout date: 11 July 2009
Duration: 10:21

A rather interrupted look at my garden. I lost some of the stills I took for the end bit so I made them up with other bot (anical) shots I made earlier. The song is “Vecher na reyde”.
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A drive along the Vistula reservoir


Original YT playout date: 13 May 2009
Duration: 36:27

Between Wloclawek and Plock the Vistula broadens. We ride the road you can see on the map to the south of this lake. I keep up the usual running commentary.
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Scenes from Domestic Life


Original YT playout date: 2 May 2009
Duration: 8:24

Some images from the balcony before the plants start to recover from the winter.
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Office Aquarium


Original YT playout date: 16 April 2009
Duration: 6:08

A little look at my fishes, the collection as per 2009, that is. None of these are with me now in 2020, although I do have some that are 7 years old or so. The offspring of the Ancistrus might be still in the tank, but I took Ancistrus at different times so it is hard to say on that one. You’ll recognise some if not all of them from earlier videos.
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The truth about the Corvid-19 and what you need to know – part 8. The cheepy treepies


Since it appears that the pandemic is taking a long time to settle it has taken some of the urgency out of getting through the Corvid-19 series. In fact if I do it too fast I might have to make up the time with a Cervid-19 series and I am far from sure I can find things to talk about for 19 of the Cervidae. It is proving a challenge even for the Corvids and there are about 45 of those to select a representative 19 from.

This time we see a more exotic corvid which most Europeans or American readers won’t know at all, while given the fact it is not at all rare in South Asia, my readers from India and the surrounding countries will be very familiar with this bird.

As usual the information is being put together in a table for so as to allow an easier summary at the end of the series. I am still thinking about publishing a fine “Corvid 19” wall chart in time for the end of the pandemic.

CC BY-SA 4.0 with thanks to author Charles J Sharpe of https://www.sharpphotography.co.uk

 

Common Name Rufous treepie
Other names Indian treepie. A local name in India is taka chor, or “coin thief”.
German Wanderbaumelster
French Témia vagabonde
Russian Индийская древесная сорока
Polish Srokówka jasnoskrzydła
Scientific Name Dendrocitta vagabunda
Number of species in the genus 7
Number of subspecies in this species 7
Literal meaning of Scientific name Wandering tree jay. An earlier species name “rufa” as well as the common name “rufous” refers to the cinnamon red coloration of the mantle.
Described by English ornithologist John Latham in 1790
First attested in literature Not known in earlier Western literature.
Wingspan (cm) 17
Length bill to tail (cm) 37
Distribution Most of southern Asia, from Afghanistan to Southern Thailand, with subspecies of slightly differing appearance appearing in different parts of the range.
Remarks A fairly common, small bird which is conspicuous both because of its handsome red white and black plumage and also its loud musical calls, with a broad vocal range. There are a number of diffferent Dendrocitta species or treepies, effectively a treepie is a tree magpie, as pie is the original name for a magpie (see the note on the common magpie earlier in the series).
Migrations The migrations are not wide-ranging despite the name of wanderer, as the bird likes to cache food stores.
Sexual dimorphism Barely noticeable
Close relatives Six other Dendrocitta members, of which the most similar is the grey treepie D. formosae from Taiwan.
Not close relatives thought to be close The Dendrocitta are one of four genera in the Crypsirininae, which means “hidden nostrils”, and the other genera also contain birds called treepies, including the ratchet-tailed treepie, the racket tailed treepie (two completely different birds from different genera, Temnurus and Crypsirina respectively) as well as the black magpie, which is a treepie despite its name. Magpies proper are not closely related.
Cultural significance All the treepies got their name from the fact that they stay in the trees almost all the time, rarely coming down to the ground to feed, and therefore known to humans more though the calls which they have and also the flashes of rufous plumage that can be seen, on the white and yellow and black of the handsome white bellied and collared treepies. They mainly eat the fruits and leaves of trees, some have a particular affinity for certain trees or are adapted to eat the fruit of trees poisonous to most other birds and mammals, such as Tricosanthes tricuspida. It is loved by palm farmers as a natural predator on the palm weevils Rhynchophorus among other arboreal insects.

The rooks, the horse, the cat and the snowman


Original YT playout date: 3 March 2009
Duration: 14:18

The rooks come home to rest, and I take my kids to their horse therapy. Later on we see our balcony snowman and discuss how the comments of a few morons led to my needing to take down a successful film. Between these morons on the one hand and morons like Warners on the other, I am losing material these days almost as fast as I can put it up.
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On Not Meeting Konwicki


Original YT playout date: 19 February 2009
Duration: 15:26

This living legend of literature was signing his book right next to my office, and as a literary person I wanted to go along and meet this figurehead letterhead. Unfortunately, all the other budding literati had the same notion, and the crowds of cultural vulturals descended on Wiejska Street in such force that I could not get anywhere near the great man.
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In an Aquarist Store


Original YT playout date: 10 February 2009
Duration: 7:45

It’s Kakadu, formerly Anna Zoo, in Galeria Mokotow, Warsaw
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Sika deer in Ashridge


Original YT playout date: 10 February 2009
Duration: 39:12

“I can’t belive you you film this, let alone make other people watch it afterwards, REDICULOUS!” wrote one commentator. Nevertheless, I am enjoying watching it afterwards, as it has my parents on and little Sophie’s voice, which otherwise would be lost for ever as my parents are gone, zichro baruch, Sophie hi gdolah achshav, and this will never happen again. So even if someone doesn’t like it, I don’t really care too much. I like it. Yeah, it’s a pity that the video cam is blurred, but that’s what I had. Some people see the world like that anyway, because they don’t realise that they need glasses. Just as some commentators comment like that because they don’t realise they need more brains.
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The truth about the Corvid-19 and what you need to know – part 7. Some secrets never to be told


My delay in getting through the series of nineteen Corvidae members, also known as “the Corvid 19” is only dragging out the pandemic as initially it was supposed to be one a week, but there was also supposed to be vaccine by now so I am not the only one with a delay on their hands.

Today, however, we move to one of the best known and most iconic Corvids, the unmistakable Eurasian magpie. And we are going to be finding out some little-known facts about this well-known bird, including the fact that the name is actually highly sexist and chauvinistic, if you get into the etymology of it.

Thanks to Stefania.foto6 for this photo given a CC licence on wikicommons. https://www.flickr.com/photos/183980745@N04/

As usual the information is being put together in a table for so as to allow an easier summary at the end of the series. I am still thinking about publishing a fine “Corvid 19” wall chart in time for the end of the pandemic.

And if there is a second wave, I may need to do a Cervid-19 also, but I will pay deerly for such a project.

Common Name Magpie
Other names Pie (the original name, see below)
German Elster
French Pie bavarde
Russian Соро́ка
Polish Sroka zwyczajna
Scientific Name Pica pica
Number of species in the genus 7
Number of subspecies in this species 6
Literal meaning of Scientific name “Pica” is the Latin name of the Eurasian magpie, as attested in Latin literature. Greek has Karakaxa, which could have been selected, but wasn’t.
Described by Linnaeus 1758, but as Corvus Pica. The genus Pica was later posited by Mathurin Jacques in 1760. Previously Conrad Gessner had described the magpie in his 1555 work Historia animalium, a classic f renaissance zoology, but not in the binomial system, which it predates.
First attested in literature Well before Gessner there are mentions of magpies in the classical literature. It is part of the folklore of many countries and is the only one of the Corvid 19 to have had an opera written about it, La gazza ladra, the Thieving Magpie, by Rossini.
Wingspan (cm) 62
Length bill to tail (cm) 46 (long tail, half the length of the bird)
Distribution The species covers all of Europe and most of Asia in a band across Russia below the permafrost, except in Kamchatka, shich has its own subspecies. In total there are 6 subspecies, and these differ little between themselves
Remarks The magpie is consider the most intelligent bird given that it alone among the birds passes the “Mirror test” for self-recognition. It is known for its iconic black and white markings which gave rise to the term “pied” for other similar markings, like the pied wagtail of Hamelin. The actual term was just “pies” which the “mag” term from ‘Maggie Thatcher” referred to the resenblance of the vocalisations to those of a nagging woman. It is reather a chauvinistic name and this as well as being both black and white are likley to make this species endangered in a leftist world like this is, where sense is ended before it’s begun.
Migrations Only minor within the range of subspecies.
Sexual dimorphism Barely noticeable
Close relatives There are five other species in the Genus Pica, of which the Hudson magpie is very similar and also regarded as a spirit animal as the Eurasian one in ancient Germanic mythology, by the First Nations people. The yellow billed magpie and the Maghreb magpie are noticeably different, other than that, there is little to notice as difference between the species in the genus.
Not close relatives thought to be close Other birds called green magpies, one of which we looked at earlier, are not distant relatives. The  treepies as well, such as the black magpie we will be looking at next time, are all also corvids. The Australian magpie, on the other hand, is a completely unrelated bird and not a Corvid at all.  Most unrelated but sometimes confused is a small rabbit like mountain mammal called a Pika, whose Scientific name used to be Pika pika, which sounds the same even though spelt differently, this driving a change of that one to something I cannot rememeber beginning with O.
Cultural significance The Thieving Magpie overture by Rossini is a piece of music you would probably recongnise even if you do not know the name of it. It is La Gazza Ladra in Italian.  Magpies are disliked as thieves of shiny objects, and also for their predation on the eggs and young of smaller songbirds, and also are regarded in some cultures as mystical harbingers of various portents, as typifies in the rhyme references in the title. Nevertheless, there are many regional variations of the “one for sorrow, two for joy” rhyme (I even made one myself called “Fagpie” in which the noxious effects of smoking are listed. It was inspired by a meme of one Magpie holding a cigarette in its beak. If these things were actually true, they would probably be universally true and not have one meaning in one place and another meaning in another, but all we can gain is that this iconic corvid bird with its unique intelligence is very good at tapping into the human propensity for superstition.

 

 

 

Gdansk Zoo


Original YT playout date: 25 January 2009
Duration: 1:09:05

A winter visit to Gdansk Zoo. Visiting zoos in winter has some advantages as well as disadvantages. Some of the animals are sheltering out of view, but you have more space and resources to yourself and fewer interruptions for filming.
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