Filed under natural history

An Irreplaceable Artefact

This is another piece by Frank Cottrell-Boyce on the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford: In the corner was a glass case with a curtain. I pulled the curtain aside and found a vast red and yellow cloak, an ‘ahu ‘ula made in the 1830s for Queen Kekauluoki of Lahina in Hawaii,of hundreds of thousands of … Continue reading

Teazel House

Teazel House

Trowbridge was for centuries a major centre for the wool trade.I think its last weaving factory closed about 1980, and many former mills have been converted to other uses, with one being engulfed into the shopping centre as part of the local history museum. But when I was told about this one, called Handle House, … Continue reading

Shrunken Heads

I have seen a number of these, especially the collection in Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum, but though vaguely aware they served some ritual function, never really pursued what they were about. No images are included as it is not possible to photogrph such human remains. This is from the i paper, by Frank Cottrell-Boyce: The … Continue reading

Winter Sleep

Here’s a question that someone raised with me – did our ancestors sleep longer in winter? He said he’d been told that our bodies are not meant to sleep for the full winter night, that in Tudor times people would get up in the middle of the night and do their accounts or some housework … Continue reading

Leprosy in Red Squirrels

Here’s an odd story from last week’s i paper: “Red squirrels in the UK and Ireland carry strains of leprosy similar to those that have afflicted disability and disfigurement on humans for centuries, a study has shown. Experts stress the chances of catching the disease from a squirrel are extremely low. Scientists tested DNA samples … Continue reading

Tireless Swifts

Tireless Swifts

Swifts are fascinating animals.I used to  go to a patch of open parkland where the birds would swoop down from the trees and dart across the grass catching insects. I loved lying on my back and watching them streak past a few feet above me. Here’s an article on recent discoveries from Thursday’s i paper: … Continue reading

Autumn

Autumn

What is it about autumn that is so appealing? We all love the summer, but it’s a time of disruption – people away on holidays, the streets crammed with kids and tourists, it can be a bit much. Autumn feels like a return to normality, to sanity. The students are back, it’s time to slow … Continue reading

Albatrosses Running in Circles

Albatrosses Running in Circles

Since albatrosses are in the same family as seagulls who stamp on the ground to imitate rain, which draws their favourite food, worms, to the surface, this article fits with their family behaviour. This is by Tom Bawden in the i paper: Albatrosses secure much of their food using an extraordinary technique which involves furiously … Continue reading

Cormorants

Cormorants

These are my favourite birds – maybe along with starlings, but they always seem to be alone, which is why this group of 6 seem so startling – all lined up on their concrete – what are they? podiums? Like dudes in tuxedoes, they don’t care who’s watching them posing. I love the different poses … Continue reading