Category Archives: Birds and Mammals

The truth about the Corvid-19 and what you need to know – part 6 – the corvid that drives you nuts, or crackers at least.


Over the last few weeks I didn’t manage to make a Corvid-19 article in this series, which doesn’t bode well for coming quickly out of the crisis, as it won’t be finished until I get to the end of the series, but on the plus side we do have some positive news about treatments emerging in the USA and the UK.   Today we continue our review with another Corvus genus member, one of the less well known Corvids, the nutcracker. This is in fact three species from both the old and new world, and 9 subspecies, but we will be focusing on the one with the broadest distribution for our gang of 19 Corvids, namely the spotted nutcracker.

Thanks to Murray B Henson for placing this excellent image of a spotted nutcracker in the Morskie Oko National Park in Poland in the public domain.

We are presenting the info for each Corvid in a similar tabular form and there will be a publication available at the end of the series where you will be able to get hold of the combined table.

Common Name Spotted nutcracker
Other names
German Nussbrecher
French Cassenoix
Russian Кедровка
Polish Orzechówka
Scientific Name Nucifraga caryocatactes
Number of species in the genus 3
Number of subspecies in this species 9
Literal meaning of Scientific name  “Nut shatterer” in Latin and Greek respectively
Described by Linnaeus 1758
First attested in literature Not many references to the species are made in culture. The nutcracker suite by Tchaikovsky refers to the metal implement used to crack nuts. In 1693 the word appears in English in the translation of a German travel guide, the bird itself not being found in the UK, although a sister species, Clark’s nutcracker, is found in Western North America but William Clark, the explorer for whom it was named (not in Latin though – it is Nucifraga columbiana – described to science in 1811 based on Clark’s specimen by Scottish naturalist Alexander Wilson, dubbed the ‘father of American ornithology”) only discovered it in 1805.
Wingspan (cm) 53
Length bill to tail (cm) 38
Distribution Again this Eurasian species has a very broad range from Sweden and Poland in the West to the Pacific Coasts of Siberia and China as well as upland Japan. The Himalayan species of nutcracker, the large spotted nutcracker (N. multipunctata) is considered a distinct species. Despite its name it is not significantly larger than the spotted nutcracker.
Remarks They have a range of vocalisations and are social. Their diet is largely the seeds of pine cones and cedar nuts, giving rise to the Russian name of “Kedrovka”. They do not actually crack heavily shelled nuts with their beaks in the way the implement called a nutcracker does, with the exception of some local subspecies adapted for the cracking of hazlenuts. They store the seeds which they do not eat.
Migrations Some of the nine subspecies migrated slightly within the range.
Sexual dimorphism Barely noticeable. Pairs remain together for life and both partners feed the young.
Close relatives The nutcrackers are in a subfamily of Corvids on their own, in fact many people may not realise that they are corvids as they are not a typically crow-like bird. Nevertheless, they are more closely related to true Corvids in the standard cladograms than jays or magpies are.
Not close relatives thought to be close The overall shape of the body and beak could lead one to suspect that the bird is related to the very broad Starling family, including mynahs and a host of tropical birds from the old world, however the Sturnidae are not closely related.
Cultural significance One cannot find much about these birds in literature, poetry or song.

 

 

Animal Therapy – Horses, Cat, Monkey, Ant…


Original YT playout date: 10 January 2009
Duration: 5:29

This is pretty much what it says on the tin…
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The truth about the Corvid-19 and what you need to know – part 5 – a look at the rook.


Last week I didn’t manage to make a Corvid-19 article in ths series, which doesn’t bode well for coming quickly out of the crisis, but on the plus side we do have some positive news about treatments emerging in the USA and the UK.   Today we continue our review with another Corvus genus member, one of the better known old-world corvids, the rook.

A rook in England, thanks to Adrian Pingstone for placing this fine photo in the public domain.

We are presenting the info for each Corvid in a similar tabular form and there will be a publication available at the end of the series where you will be able to get hold of the combined table.

Common Name Rook
Other names None
German Saatkraehe
French Corbeau freux
Russian Грач
Polish Gawron
Scientific Name Corvus frugilegus
Number of species in the genus 45
Number of subspecies in this species 2
Literal meaning of Scientific name Fruit-gathering crow
Described by Linnaeus 1758
First attested in literature Known and written about from old times, in England referred to in a legal enactment by Henry VIII, who spells them “rokes”.
Wingspan (cm) 96
Length bill to tail (cm) 46
Distribution Distributed in all Europe and much of China, with a narrow belt going throug Russia in the middle. The western variant, C. f. frugilegis stretches over most of the range even as far as parts of China, but shares part of the range with C.f. pastinator.  They tend to live south of the 60 degrees parallel, especially in Winter, where those of more northerly ranges can fly further south for the worst of the winter, returning early in the spring while it is still snowing. The species tend to avoid territories preferred by ravens, so they prefer firelds to forests. They have been introduced to New Zealand where they are regarded as an invasive pest.
Remarks Most vegetarian than other crows. Less likely to exhibit high degrees of intelligence in interacting with humans. Their high nests in large company are known as “rookeries” and they probably have more collective ouns in English referring to groups of rooks than many other species do, and these include: ‘building’, ‘parliament’, ‘clamour’ and ‘storytelling’. They do not have as broad a range of vocalisations as other Corvus genus members, although there is some variety, but their signature rough call is what gives rise to their common name in English. In turn, their name has been applied to the chess piece and to an ungainly human novice or “rooky”.
Migrations Only the more northerly populations are migratory and only for the worst of the winter. The painting by Savrasov “the rooks’ return” shows returned rooks on a snowy backdrop, so they only flee the coldest snaps, not the temperate winter in and of itself. They have successfully urbanised in many large cities such as Moscow or Warsaw.
Sexual dimorphism Barely noticeable, other than a slight crest on some males, which are larger
Close relatives Other Corvus species may be closely related but hybridisation with rooks is rare.
Not close relatives thought to be close They remind one with their bald faces of coots, a water bird not at all closely related.
Cultural significance Although crows themselves have unpalatable flesh, the strictly vegetarian rook is more tasty, apparently – “rook pie” was a meal mentioned in the Pickwick Papers, however this is only palatable up to its maturity, and the season for shooting rooks for food is short. Already mentioned above, one of the finest paintings in my opinion in the world is “the rooks return” by Savrasov. In the main they have been regarded by humans as an agricultural pest, but despite this they remain quite a populous bird.

The Rooks Return, by Alexei Kondratyevich Savrasov, showing classic nesting behaviour and a return by rooks to a northerly location even before the thaw of the winter’s snow. Seen in Russia as a welcome harbinger of Spring on the way.

 

 

The truth about the Corvid-19 and what you need to know – part 4.


We continue our coverage of the real truth about the Corvid 19 with a move back home to Europe and a closer look at the bird most UK people will have in mind when they hear the word “crow”.

This is practically the type species of the Corvids, and so no Corvid-19 analysis worth its salt should overlook it without needing to eat it.

 

Photo of a Carrion crow scavenging in Dorset by Ian Kirk on CC 2.0 licence. Many thanks to the photographer.

We are presenting the info for each Corvid in a similar tabular form and there will be a publication available at the end of the series where you will be able to get hold of the combined table.

Common Name Carrion Crow
Other names Common crow
German Aaskraehe
French Corneille noire
Russian Чёрная ворона
Polish Czarnowron
Scientific Name Corvus corone
Number of species in the genus 45
Number of subspecies in this species 2 or 4 (see below)
Literal meaning of Scientific name Raven (Latin) crow (Greek)
Described by Linnaeus 1758
First attested in literature Known and written about from classical times.
Wingspan (cm) 100
Length bill to tail (cm) 52
Distribution Two distributions, one in Western Europe, the other in East Asia, with a large belt in between of the closely related hooded crow.
Remarks There are two subspecies of carrion crow and it is the most common crow in the UK, and this is what we would call it as I was growing up. One is the West European version and the other is the East Asian one. The bird which separates them is the hooded crow Corvus cornix which was previously considered a subpecies (or rather, four subspecies as itself has four subspecies). In Warsaw we never see fully black crows (ravens and rooks yes, but the crows per se are only hooded crows) and one rarely sees hooded crows in the UK. It is a loner and an omnivore including a penchant for carrion, hence the name.  The bird exhibits extraordinary intelligence and is able to mimic human vocalisations, close to the levels exhibited by ravens. They distinguish between different human and crow faces and hild grudges a long time against people or animals which disturb them. They tend to get into extensive conflicts with seagulls which prey on their nests.
Migrations Slightly migratory. Winter and summer areas are marbled on the map.
Sexual dimorphism Barely noticeable, other than a slight crest on some males, which are larger
Close relatives As mentioned above the carrion crow and the hooded crow are related and also they are known to be capable of fertile crosses but are apparently not to one another’s taste ( a phenomenon known as koinophilia)
Not close relatives thought to be close Confused with rooks, although they have white faces, and ravens which are much larger, but these birds are close relatives also, as is the very similar American black crow.
Cultural significance Countless cultural references exist, one that comes to mind is the “monstrous crow, as black as a tar barrel” in the Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee poem in Alice through the Looking Glass.

 

 

The truth about the Corvid-19 and what you need to know – part 3.


We continue our coverage of the real truth about the Corvid 19 with a move to the Indo-Chinese area, and more specifically in this case, Java.

We have looked at some well-known Corvids so far, but now we look at a little known one, uncharacteristically gaily coloured, so that one might think of a finch or other class of bird, but this is indeed a crow family member.

Unfortunately this particular one, the Javan green mapgpie, is highly endangered, with only 50 left in captivity, and none sighted of late in the wild.

 

Thanks for Vaclav Silha for this CC4.0 licensed image of the Corvid in Prague Zoo, part of an approved breeding programme aimed at keeping the species alive.

We are presenting the info for each Corvid in a similar tabular form and there will be a publication available at the end of the series where you will be able to get hold of the combined table.

Common Name Javan Green Magpie
Other names Ekek geling Jawa (local name)
German Gruenelster
French Pirolle à queue courte
Russian Цисса
Polish Kitta zielona jawańska
Scientific Name Cissa thalassina
Number of species in the genus 4
Number of subspecies in this species 0
Literal meaning of Scientific name Jay of the sea
Described by Temminck, 1826
First attested in literature Temminck, 1826
Wingspan (cm) 40
Length bill to tail (cm) 30
Distribution Very limited locations in Java, if at all.
Remarks This is one of four species of Cissa, or green magpies. As we saw in the case of the blue-jay, the word in Greek for jay was kitta, but another version ‘kissa’ also existed at certain periods of the language, and this is the form that gives this genus its name, although Polish retains the other Greek spelling for their version of the common name.  Unfortunately many of these beautiful birds are nearly extinct, and only 50 individuals of this bird at the most are thought to exist,  possibly none in the wild, with the remaining hope resting with breeding programs in captivity.  Their diet is fully carnivorous, with a large proportion of insects, and the protein lutein which gives them their green pigment cannot be produced if this element of their diet is missing, and the birds retain their initial blue plumage.
Migrations Not migratory
Sexual dimorphism Barley distinguishable. Juveniles have a more bluish tint and their beak only reddens on maturity.
Close relatives The other three Cissa species are Cissa chinensis, the common green magpie, with 5 subspecies, the Bornean green magpie (also known as the sort tailed green magpie) C. jeffreyi, and the Indochinese green magpie, C. hypoleuca, which is in fact blue rather than green,  but gets called “green magpie” because it is in the Green Magpie family, in much the same way as a person with the name “William Brown” would not need necessarily to wear or be that colour.
Not close relatives thought to be close It’s a rather disctinctive bird, so it is not really mistaken for unrelated species. Some confusion exists between this species and the short-tailed green magpie, which is closely related, but not a subspecies as first thought. In some sources the two species are still treated that way.
Cultural significance Despite their ornate and iconic appearance, little use has been made of these green magpies in terms of mascots and heraldry. The song of the Javan green magpie was considered one reason for its ravages into the pet trade, a main reason along with habitat destruction, for its current critically endangered status.

 

 

The truth about the Corvid-19 and what you need to know – part 2.


We continue our coverage of the real truth about the Corvid 19 with a move to the Eurasian continent.

You’ll be chuffed to know that another iconic corvid is the subject of today’s article, and which one it is, as well as the way of pronunciation, is hinted at in this very sentence.

In English the -ugh- cluster has a large number of pronunciations, from “ug” in the case of the exclamation “Ugh!”, to “af” in the case of “laughter”, “laughing”, or “uf” in “enough”, or “tough” or “of” in “cough”, just “ow” in “bough” or “o” in the topical “furlough” or “dough”, so it is well worth commenting on the actual pronunciation of this Corvid’s name.

Let it be enough to say that chough is spoken as “chuff” and tough on all the other alternatives.

And we are going to look at the more common of the two choughs, rather than the Alpine one, which you are less likely to see in the wild, but more likely to see in an aviary.

 

Attribution: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Dibyendu_Ash (CC 3.0)

We are presenting the info for each Corvid in a similar tabular form and there will be a publication available at the end of the series where you will be able to get hold of the combined table.

Common Name Chough
Other names Red-billed chough, Cornish chough
German Alpenkraeher (note Alpine chough is “Alpendohle” in German)
French Crave à bec rouge
Russian Клушица, Клуша
Polish Wrończyk
Scientific Name Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Number of species in the genus 2
Number of subspecies in this species 8
Literal meaning of Scientific name Flame-raven
Described by Linnaeus, 1758
First attested in literature Homer, Arthurian legend, many others
Wingspan (cm) 90
Length bill to tail (cm) 40
Distribution Especially cliffs and rocky areas from Ireland to China, absent in much of the range.
Remarks Feeds in flocks on grassland taking invertebrate prey. Therefore a useful bird for agriculture but was often regarded as a nuisance for thieving like magpies and also for setting light to houses (which obviously they could not do, but such was the superstition, not helped by the scientific name). Also not helped by modern farming methods, has become vulnerable in Europe, but gradually returning to South West England. The range of vocalisations is limited.
Migrations Not migratory
Sexual dimorphism Male slightly larger
Close relatives Alpine chough, P. graculus, a similar bird with a range restricted to high altitude areas, overlaps with the range of the red-billed chough but is much smaller and in different places without a continued representation. A fossil ancestor P. primigenius has been discovered in France.
Not close relatives thought to be close White winged chough of Australia (not a Corvid but a Corcoracid)
Cultural significance High in Europe and Central Asia since classical times, mentioned in the Odessey as a dweller in Calypso’s island. Also linked to St Thomas a Beckett. Due to the association with King Arthur, whose soul is supposed to have turned into one of them, is a common feature of Cornish folklore and heraldry.

 

The truth about the Corvid-19 and what you need to know – part 1.


A lot of nonsense is being spoken these days on the news about the Corvid-19

One could honestly describe it as a flurry of fake news.

In order to ensure my subscribers have a full and accurate Pica of what is really going on, and to ensure these fake journalists eat crow, I have decided to make a series of articles right here, on the Corvid 19, or 19 corvids you need to know the science about. You will learn how to recognise the symptoms – the images, the names in various languages, the cultural significance of each.

There are more than 120 species and possibly more than 400 subspecies of Corvids, which in themselves are among the most intelligent birds, with a brain to body mass ratio similar to humans and whales, and have adapted to nearly every climate and area of the world. This is, therefore, just a representative selection that should give you a feel for the family Corvidae. We will also mention related species to each chosen Corvid, and not more than one per genus will be chosen, as there are anyway 24 different genera so I have to leave out some from the line-up of 19. If Coronavirus comes back with a new strain in five years’ time, it will be an easier matter.

Anyway, for today’s Corvid, let’s kick off with a little fellow very well-known and popular with our American readership.

http://KenThomas.us courteously released this photo to the Public Domain

 

Here’s the info, which for each of the Corvids in this series will be presented in a similar tabular form.

Common Name Blue jay
Other names Jaybird, Bluebird
German Blauhaeher
French Geai bleu
Russian Голубая сойка
Polish Modrosójka błękitna
Scientific Name Cyanocitta cristata
Number of species in the genus 2
Number of subspecies in this species 4
Literal meaning of Scientific name Dark blue jay, crested.
Described by Linnaeus, 1758
First attested in literature 1731 by Mark Catesby
Wingspan (cm) 43
Length bill to tail (cm) 30
Distribution North America, especially eastern side
Remarks Aggressive to other birds, omnivorous, including catching insects on the wing. Like squirrels, can hide nuts for later use. Wide range of vocalisations including the mimicking of human speech.
Migrations Limited, in some populations
Sexual dimorphism Males and females similar in size and plumage
Close relatives Steller’s jay, of the Rocky Mountains
Not close relatives thought to be close Crested jay (not a Corvid but a Laniid)
Cultural significance High, in America. References in African American traditions and also because of its iconic appearance frequently adopted as a mascot. In Vera Lynne’s song @there’s ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover” the bird most likely to be envisaged by American listeners would be this bird, but neither this nor any other obvious candidate for the name “bluebird” actually lives in the UK.

Take This Walcz


Original YT playout date: 13 December 2008
Duration: 33:50

Walcz (pronounced “vouch”) is the name of a pleasant Pomeranian town derived from the Kashubian word Wolcz and once called Deutsch Krone.

From there, we drive on to observe some more of the idyll that is the golden Polish autumn in the rolling forest roads of Pomerania.

The precise co-ordinates of the lovely woodland restaurant shown here are as follows:

geo:lat=53.422141645164224
geo:lon=16.387996673583984

I definitely recommend it.
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Pushkin at Sixteen Months


Original YT playout date: 22 November 2008
Duration: 15:28

He’s not a kid anymore, but not a real grown-up either. He managed to fall off the end of the knwn world, and when we got him back he was most appreciative of being home again.
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About the names of living things


Rupricola peruvianus

Rupricola peruvianus, the Andean cock-of-the-rock, or, in Quechua, tunki.

I have heard it said that the oldest profession is prostitution, but this is not what the Holy Bible states. The first actual task, other than dressing and keeping the Garden of Eden, was that Adam had to give names to each of the Creations God made.

וַיִּצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים מִן־הָֽאֲדָמָה כָּל־חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה וְאֵת כָּל־עֹוף הַשָּׁמַיִם וַיָּבֵא אֶל־הָאָדָם לִרְאֹות מַה־יִּקְרָא־לֹו וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר
יִקְרָא־לֹו הָֽאָדָם נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה הוּא שְׁמֹֽו׃

“And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” (Genesis 2:19)

This is a beautiful image of the pre-fall state of Man, in fact at this point he was even doing this alone as Eve had not been formed. But here we have Man at the first profession as it really was, that of taxonomist, describing and naming all the wonderful things God had made, with God as the loving father bringing each of the Creations to Adam “to see what he would call them”.

We don’t have access to his language any more so we don’t know what he called them, how he used the perfect language God had given him to describe and name each one of the thousands of animals God had made and placed into the Garden, but we do know that God was pleased with Adam’s naming, and the names given were given the seal of divine approval as we see “whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof”

Taxonomy was also a part of the modern revival of knowledge and Linnaeus, who was far from a perfect unfallen human being but nevertheless an exceptional mind, starting from the 1758 work Systema Naturae began the work again of naming all living things systematically. Linnaeus to Adam in this respect being something not unakin to Nehemiah to Solomon with regard to the Temple.

Maybe I am just a pedant, but it would be really nice if journalists who write about science or nature could take the trouble to use the proper conventions when writing the names of plants and animals. These conventions where begun by Linnaeus rather than Adam as far as we know, but they are accepted as law within the corpus of documents and institutions which have authority with regard to the naming of things these days. Namely: the genus should be written always with a capital letter and the species name with a small letter.

When I see a journalist who doesn’t adhere to this convention, then I know immediately that I am wasting my time trying to learn something form someone who himself, or herself, has no more idea than Jon Snow about anything, but at least I can look at the photographs, I suppose.

Just to give you one example of how it is supposed to work. The lovely orange and black bird in the image I have taken for this post is called various things in common parlance. It is known to us by the common name of Andean cock-of-the rock (to distinguish it from a related species with a more northerly range not touching that of this bird – that one is orange all over without a black back and is called the Guianan cock-of-the-rock. The Andean one is also known internationally by its local name in Quechua, or “Tunki”, and of course in various languages there are names for this species, with such highlights visible in the left column of Wikipedia that is the go-to resource for this sort of thing as Andenfelsenhahn, Андский скальный петушок, Gallito de las rocas peruano, Skalikurek andyjski, Skalňák andský, Coq-de-roche péruvien and many many more. Even a Spanish Esperantist calling himself Kani managed to make an Esperanto one and played the role of Adamo very nicely in giving it the name “Anda montarkoko”.

Nevertheless, each of these pages, to the extent that they are up-to-date, contain the information that the name of the bird in question is “Rupicola peruvianus (Latham 1790)”. The genus is Rupicola and the species is peruvianus, and the name afterwards is the name of the person who was Adam for the species – in this case Latham 1790 refers to the gentleman pictured on the right, namely John Latham, the author of several works on the birds of remoter parts of the world especially Australia, but “Latham 1790” means his Index Ornithologica, in which about 80 species of birds are described to science for the first time.

Now the reason why there are brackets around the author and the description date is that in this case the son of Adam we are talking about was not the first Adam. In this taxonomical arena you get second Adams also, and unlike in the soteriological arena you also get third and fourth ones. Other people have been involved in the question of taxonomy, unlike in the Garden of Eden where even Eve had not yet been formed, modern taxonomy is a team game, and in the case of our handsome fowl Linnaeus himself had got in first with a name for the Guianan cousin, which he called Pipra rupricola, in 1766.

Now here is where it gets interesting. Linnaeus had concocted the genus Pipra a bit earlier (he got the word from Aristotle but nobody to this day knows what Aristotle had in mind when he used it for a bird, other than the fact that it was a bird) and he put in it a group of birds called manakins (from the Dutch word for a little man, but this is the English term and outside of the scientific system – I mention the etymology in passing). This is in a family called Pipridae again using Linnaeo-Aristotelian word. The genus Pipra still exists and contains three species, none of which was actually put there by Linnaeus because two of them where only discovered later by other scientists and one of them was known to Linnaeus but placed by him in the genus Parus (I’m now talking about Parus aureolus, the lovely crimson-hooded manakin. Another bird placed in Parus by Linnaeus also got replaced to Pseudopipra, and in fact scientist after scientist, whether Gould or Reichenbach in the era before people looked at genomes or a whole set of them in the twenty-first century, revisited the genus Pipra and usually ransacked species out of it and carted them off to other passerine genera or other families of bird altogether – well you can’t have species from different families sharing a single genus that’s clear. So already probably in the mid 19th Century we have Pipra rupricola and Pipra peruvianus getting shunted off into the Cotingidae family and in need of their own new genus.

Now the convention is to work with what you’ve got and to look at every scientific work that’s been published, peer-reviewed and accepted to date. In fact there was a French ornithologist called Mathurin Jacques Brisson who had as early as 1760 (two years only after Linnaeus placed the Guianan cock-of-the-rock in Pipra and well before Latham followed suit) stated right here in this book to the left, here, placed the coq de la roche (of which he only knew the Guianan species and was unaaware there was another one) in a genus called Rupricola. He wasn’t buying the idea of having tanagers, manakins and a whole selection of dissimilar birds in one genus but he took Linnaeus’ “rupicola” or “rock-dwelling” species name and turned it into a genus name. From that point you should have Rupicola rupicola and had Brisson been the first describer and not the second one for that species it would have instead of (Linnaeus 1766) Brisson 1760 without the brackets. The mystery is how it comes to be that Brisson decides the genus but Linnaeus, describing the bird in 1766, gets to be the describer mentioned after the name. This particular part of the mystery is beyond me and therefore if anyone knows you are more than welcome to tell me in the comments.

If someone turns out to have a got a bit wrong, but have been mainly right but first anyway, they get the honorable mention, but it gets put in brackets. If the name is still what the discovere said it was, then there aren’t any brackets.

But in fact you do not need to state that part in order to be perfectly in order. Just as you do not need, when talking about the Andean cock-of-the-rock, as a continuing good example, to mention any of the four subspecies that have been identified.  John Gould (he of gouldian finch fame) was in on this already in 1859 with his subspecies Rupricola peruvianus sanguinolentus Gould 1859, no brackets as he got it in the right genus, Brisson’s one, which bird he found at the Western end while a couple of Germans called Cabanis and Heine were scouring the trees of Bolivia to find a different subspecies, and both of these get a mention in Rupricola peruvianus saturatus Cabanis & Heine 1859. Not only were these gentlemen in competition as to who could get the most new bird species, they were also in competition as to who could grow the best potential nesting sites for these discoveries on their own chins. Another contender in both categories was a latecomer, Władek Taczanowski, who found Rupricola peruvianus aequatorialis Taczanowski 1889 and also got away with no brackets. He was one of Poland’s finest, having discovered about 40 species and 20 subspecies of birds as well as having about 8 other ones names after him, but of course nobody every talks about him and there’s never so much as a street names after him, not even in his native Lubin, which is a great pity. I would like to ask Rafal What’s his Name, the Mayor of Warsaw, to honour this unknown but influential Polish scientist with a street name when the next ones get built. If any of my readers has any influence with him, please use your leverage.

Anyway, I’ll close out on his image.

Uncle Davey’s Herts Content S2 E17 – Leighton Buzzard to Pitstone


Original YT playout date: 8 September 2008
Duration: 35:06

This is a canalside walk in two parts (which are also parts 17 and 18 respectively of the larger series from our holiday in the UK in the summer of 2008).

Towards the end of this episode a quite remarkable natural drama plays out before our eyes whereby a seagull attacks a canalside heron and gets seen off by a crow. The inland birds sticking up for each other against an intruder from the coast? Hopefully you will enjoy this walk though some of the natural beauty that has emerged around the man-made canal, and also enjoy the background music selected for your listening pleasure.
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Uncle Davey’s Herts Content S2 E16 – Horse Riding


Original YT playout date: 6 September 2008
Duration: 29:10

Sophie got some horse-riding in out of this holiday, something she likes to do very much.
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