Monday 31 May 2010

Sunday 30 May 2010

New species at Chester Zoo

2010 is the year of the giants at Chester Zoo with Giant Anteaters and Giant Otters being added to the zoo’s stock. African Painted Dogs are another new species at the Zoo.

The Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is a South American carnivorous mammal. It is the longest member of the Mustelidae, or weasel family, a globally successful group of predators. The Giant Otter is a social species, with family groups typically supporting three to eight members. The groups are centered on a dominant breeding pair and are extremely cohesive and cooperative. The Giant Otter is diurnal, being active exclusively during daylight hours. It is the noisiest otter species and distinct vocalizations have been documented that indicate alarm, aggressiveness, and reassurance. The Giant Otter lives mostly in and along the Amazon River and in the Pantanal.

Friday 28 May 2010

Some Bee Facts

The latest National Trust magazine has an interesting article about bees. There has been a lot of talk lately about the reduction in the number of bees and the potential impact on terrestrial ecosystems. the article points out that Britain has 27 species of Bumblebee, 240 species of wild solitary bees and the honeybee (which may be wild or domesticated).

Man has collected honey from wild bees for at least 15,000 years and the value of bees as pollinators of commercial fruit and vegetables has been estimated at more than £200 million a year.

In 2007 a strange phenomenon, called Colony Collapse Disorder, which was first noted in the USA spread to Europe. It results in honeybees deserting their hives and leaving previously healthy hives empty.

Unlike the honeybee, some bees are extremely specialised – the female of the mining bee Macropis europaea only gathers pollen from one plant – the Yellow Loosestrife.

Around 40% of the food we eat depends on plants being pollinated by insects – including bees.

A bee would need to fly the equivalent of twice round the world to produce one jar of honey.

A bee can carry half its weight in pollen.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Wednesday Wildlife - Camouflage

Some of my favourite moths are not the brightly coloured ones but those which are brilliant at blending into the background. Here are a few examples.

Shuttle-shaped Dart

Did you spot it?

Powdered Quaker

Peppered Moth

Oak Hook-tip

Riband Wave

Brussels Lace

One of the Rustics (Square-spot Rustic?)

And best of them all - the Purple-shouldered Thorn.

Did you spot it?  Can you see it now?

Even this Lime Hawk-moth has colours and a pattern which forms a camouflage on the right background.

Monday 24 May 2010

Happy Monday

Eee when I were nowt but a lad, me mam would send me down t'corner shop wi' a shillin’, and I'd come back wi' five pounds O' taters, two loaves O' bread, three pints O' milk, a turkey, a pound O' cheese, a packet O' tea, an' 'alf a dozen eggs. Yer can't do that now..............................

Too many security cameras!

The Librarian

I'm reading my way through the Discworld series of Terry Pratchett at the moment. Every other page has soemthing quotable on it but this one has to be one of my favourites. For those who haven't read any Discworld books (shame on you) you should be aware that the Librarian is an Orangutan. He was human but got in the way of a wayward magic spell and has refused ever since to be changed back - he prefers it when the Meaning of Life is simply finding the next banana.

“The Librarian considered matters for a while. So... a dwarf and a troll. He preferred both species to humans. For one thing, neither of them were great readers. The Librarian was, of course, very much in favour of reading in general, but readers in particular got 0on his nerves. there was something, well, sacrilegious about the way they kept taking books off the shelves and wearing out the words by reading them. He liked people who loved and respected books, and the best way to do that, in the Librarian’s opinion, was to leave them on the shelves where Nature intended them to be.”
                                                                                       Terry Pratchett - “Men at arms”

Sunday 23 May 2010

The Wirral Way

It took me about half an hour to get my computer to start up this morning. It spent an age going through one of those gobbledegook sessions that presumably mean something so someone somewhere! I say ‘about half an hour’ because, as I mentioned yesterday, my clock has packed up and every so often I automatically glance up at the study wall only to end up thinking “Ah, that’s a nice nail!”

I took Shelah’s advice on Saturday and went out for a walk.

I got the bus to Neston and had a stroll around little Stanney Park which, small though it is, has a tinkling waterfall in it. I love the sound of running water and it’s something I really miss here on Wirral.

Then I walked along the Wirral Way as far as Parkgate. The Wirral Way is a former railway line that runs the length of the Wirral and is now a track for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

It was very hot – certainly the hottest day of the year so far – and even the horses were flat out in the fields.

Near Parkgate I came across a pill box (i.e. an anti-aircraft gun emplacement), a left-over from the Second World War. There used to be a lot of them along this coast and unless the land was subsequently used for building they have been left in place because they are so sturdily built it’s more trouble than it’s worth to knock them down.

On the roadside in Parkgate is a little railway trolley. Unfortunately I didn’t notice the commemorative plaque until I was sorting the photos so I’m not sure what it said.

At Parkgate I slurped my way through a Coconut Ice Cream before getting the bus home.

Saturday 22 May 2010

Socks, pickled onions and the meaning of life

One disadvantage of living with one’s 22 year old son is that he borrows one’s socks. I went to the wardrobe a couple of weeks ago and there wasn’t a single pair of socks there. Presumably they are all festering under his bed somewhere. So I went out and bought some new ones and am hiding them in the study!

Something else that goes missing on a regular basis are the salt cellars. There should be about four or five around the house but they are all in his den. Perhaps that is where the pickled onions end up. I buy them on a regular basis but whenever I fancy one with a cheese sandwich I find that the jar has disappeared. I wouldn’t mind if they had all been eaten and “Pickled Onions” had been added to the shopping list but I seem to be the only one who adds things to the list when they are running out.

This week the Internet has been 'down' for a lot of the time and my desktop computer has been having fits. And now, I’m sure it’s not 2 a.m. but that’s what the clock says it is! It’s a radio controlled clock and the battery is new. But since the sun is shining outside I’m convinced it lies. It makes me wonder how many clocks I’ve had over the years and how often they pack up. Compare that to Mum and Dad who had the same clock for all their married life and managed to survive into their nineties without a single computer between them.

All of this has had me wondering about the meaning of life this week. According to Douglas Adams it was 42. Perhaps he was right.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

I’m back.

I’m back. I shan’t bother telling you about the last few weeks except to say they’ve not been ones to write home about. My blogging silence has also partly been a result of computer problems.

However, the sun shone yesterday and I went out for a bus ride as far as Burton village where I ambled through the woods and fields and admired the thatched cottages.

Then I got the bus to Parkgate and had a walk along the Parade.

It’s amazing to think that in Mum and Dad’s lifetime Parkgate went from having a fishing fleet that sailed down the River Dee to being the silted up marsh we see today.

It is traditional to have an ice cream when visiting Parkgate but I settled for some chips instead.

If I had had an ice cream as well it would have meant missing the bus and waiting another hour.

I shall have to return soon because I can’t stop thinking about all the different flavours that were on offer. I think Cinder Toffee, Coconut and Mint Choc Chip are my favourites. What are yours?

On the way home I did some shopping and then made a hotpot which smelled wonderful. The stewing steak was melt in the mouth. The only problem was, despite the smell and the texture the thing was so bland it was yucky. I really do have a hit and miss approach to hotpots. I'll have to start measuring the quantities of the things I put in instead of taking pot luck.

The rest of the day was spent in the garden beginning to get it organised after a long period of neglect. There is a long way to go but at least I have begun. Today I managed another hour or so in the garden before the rain came.

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