Category Archives: Birds and Mammals

It’s Never Too Late to Coypulate (PV#33)

 

Original YT playout date: 9 June 2010
Duration: 17:21

We continue this HD visit to Prague zoo, the definitive Prague Zoo experience on Youtube.
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Emerald Eyes (PV#32)

Original YT playout date: 7 June 2010
Duration: 15:01

Here we have the second part of the Prague zoo expedition. Some of this is quite pretty so I have reduced the film lengths and gone for HD coding.
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Why are there so many Polish immigrants in the UK? Why is Poland such a bad country to live in?

First of all, if Poland were a bad country to live in, I wouldn’t live here. I am, after all, British. And there are a lot of British people living here, some in cities, some in more rural locations. As well as more and more other foreigners.

The reason you see a lot of Polish people is that this country has the same population as all the countries Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia combined. Percentagewise, more Lithuanians have emigrated than Poles, but that doesn’t mean that Lithuania is a bad country either.  However, because there are thirty Poles in the world to every Lithuanian, you’re still not going to run into them as often.

 

Polish Exploration – the example of Mikołaj Przewalski

Poles are more adventurous than most peoples. They have had more than their share of explorers and discoverers. They were not by any means always looking for an easy life, but simply highly interested in the whole world and what is in it. One example I can easily give is a wild horse species, now endangered, which lives over in Mongolia. This was discovered by a Polish guy called Przewalski and is to this day called “Przewalski’s horse”.  He also has a Przewalski’s gazelle, which is less known, and was the first to describe to science te wild Bactrian camel, although clearly that was well-known from time immemorial. What was not known, though, was that this wild Bactrian camel was a separate species to the domestic Bactrian camel. This by the way I very much doubt would stand up to genetic analysis, because people are saying that dogs are basically the same species as wolves, but apparently what domestic Bactrian camels evolved from was really a different thing entirely, so there you go.

Mikołaj Przewalski (or as he was known in Russian Николай Михайлович Пржевальский),  was born in Smolensk, a perennial favorite haunt of Poles, in the Spring of 1839, and died in a place called Karakol (yes, I know, Turkish for “police station” but this is I think an actual town in Kirgizia which bore the name Pzhevask in his honour for a while before the Turkic police stations, the black arm gang, took over, and exploration and zoology put on the back-burner) in 1888, a good ten years after the birth of Stalin, not sayin’ anything, but you have to admit the moustache has a certain familiar look…

This chap was a Russian citizen, as at that time Poland was not even on the map, and Poles were either Prussian citizens, Russian citizens or Austro-Hungarian citizens. He used his “nash chelovek” status to explore all over Central Asia wherever the Russians went. He was so adventurous, that some people even reckon that he was Stalin’s real dad, but that’s probably just an urban legend.

These days some criticism is levelled at him for being quite high-handed towards the native peoples of the places he went to, which just goes to show that it was not just the British and other West Europeans that took an Imperialist stance it was everyone, and if we had been on the receiving end instead of the dishing-out end, it is highly unlikely to have been better.

Here you can penetrate anywhere, only not with the Gospels under your arm, but with money in your pocket, a carbine in one hand and a whip in the other. Europeans must use these to come and bear away in the name of civilisation all these dregs of the human race. A thousand of our soldiers would be enough to subdue all Asia from Lake Baykal to the Himalayas….Here the exploits of Cortez can still be repeated.

(N. M. Przewalski on Asia)

 

But above all for him it was exploration, science, nature, collecting specimens of unknown plants, insects and higher life which really got him his Vega medal.

How Przewalski's gazelle appears in Sclater's "The Book of Antelopes", a seminal work on these Bovidae from 1894.

Philip Sclater, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons The_book_of_antelopes (1894) Procapra przewalskii.

This is the same spirit that sends people to the UK. They believe that it will improve their English, which in turn will enable them to communicate on a world-wide scale and they want a nice classy English (unfortunately on building sites they tend to pick up something less than classy, but of course they don’t know that, and proceed with their h-dropping and “effing and blinding” when they get back and are trying to use English for the purposes of international tax consulting, or something equally august). They want to experience something different to their own country and culture, but which is still relatively friendly. The pay of course doesn’t hurt either, but for many it is not the prime consideration.

 

Some will stay in the UK, appreciating the education system as the grass is always greener on the other side, and wanting good UK universities and qualifications for their kids. Some are merely saving money and will use it to buy back in Poland in lush countryside a bigger mansion than any of their work colleagues in the UK will ever have.
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Sophie’s Class visit the European Bison

20 December 2021

Original YT playout date: 29 May 2010
Duration: 49:29

This is a first ever on my channel – Sophie had a school trip to see European bison, deer, wolves, lynxes, wild boar and wild horses that there are in the Bialowiezska forest, which is the border between Poland and Belarus. It is the only place that the wisent, or European bison survives in its wild state, although some of them are in enclosures so that the public can look at them.

Sophie asked to take my old video camera with her and this is what she did, with no help from anybody. Even the postproduction I simply sat and took her instructions on the font for the titles, the colours, the choice of background music. could we have a film-maker in the making?
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Angry Psycho Ginger Kitten

Original YT playout date: 15 May 2010
Duration: 8:19

We got a visit from an angry ginger psycho kitty. As if ginger tomcats didn’t have a reputation for bad temper at the best of times, this one’s just been castrated, and the testosterone hasn’t worn off yet, but he knows something’s amiss. So Pushkin gets a close look at this angry kitten and wonders whether to play, but thinks better of it. In fact, Pushkin is the only one to come out of this video with any dignity intact.
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Bring It, Pusher!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Original YT playout date: 1 May 2010
Duration: 7:32

We start off with the last blast of this winter – the snow in the evening that started falling just as I was leaving the office and was several inches deep in a few minutes. Then we look at good old Pushkin and his fights with my wife and his retrieving balls, etc.
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Russian Cat Fun

Original YT playout date: 21 March 2010
Duration: 6:06

The Russian idea of a cat is something that can catch enormous rats and is a fearless fighter, so as we don’t have any rats and I don’t approve of buying them from the petshop for the purpose, that basically leaves other cats in the neighborhood for Pushkin to fight (the supply seems to be rapidly depleting) or Irina. Pushkin, like his poetic namesake, seems to enjoys his duels, and when he’s had enough “Russian fun” then he walks away. Sophie sometimes wants the scrap to continue when Pushkin is already tired of it, but I have to stop her natural part-Russian inclinations and allow the cat to live in peace.
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Fear of Felines

Original YT playout date: 7 March 2010
Duration: 4:06

In answer to PerChristensen’s recent comment on a Prague blog liking the effect used, I did this whole video in it. Here we can see our piano teacher’s daughter being help over her fear of cats at the start, although Irina putting Pushkin through his attack paces may not have been totally reassuring to that little girl. That’s Russians for you, I suppose.
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Sunset with migrating starlings and the beginnings of a tornado

Original YT playout date: 16 January 2010
Duration: 5:49

This interesting sky was filmed on my drive home last year one November evening. The song is a composition of mine which doesn’t have words yet, but I am thinking about plum trees with white blossom on, seen across the plain of a river in spring flood. If anyone wants to turn that into a lyric, be my guest. After that we have a fairly random scene where Sophie starts to do one of her extemporaneous “stories” while we are waiting for our takeaway to be ready. I’m not sure that what you see in the sky is really the beginning of a tornado, but at first glance it sort of looked like one. Not sure how else something like that would be there just on its own like that …
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Teaching the Bengal Cat a taste for human blood

Original YT playout date: 27 December 2009
Duration: 2:24

They will play fight with Pushkin even when he’s not in the mood, and that’s when he shows them who’s boss…

Good for him, I say. Not an ounce of sympathy from me if a cat scratches you!
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Cat eating spider

Original YT playout date: 19 September 2009
Duration: 6:20

Have you ever seen a cat eating spider? Now’s your chance.

Don’t miss the cute pics at the end of my wife with her daubs of cream when recovering from chickenpox a couple of months back!

I’m afraid I screwed up on the exposure in the middle bit, but I left it in anyway as it shows part of the ongoing saga of my terrace…
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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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