Monday, January 25, 2010

Graffiti alla tedesca

Lavatorial graffiti come in all varieties: political, sexual, scatalogical. And always, if they are good, impossible to share with your maiden aunt Mary. Here's a positively rabelaisian one from my German period,

In diesem Hause wohnt ein Geist,
Der, diesem der zu lange scheisst,
Mal kraeftig in die Nille beisst.
Mich, aber, hat er nicht gebissen -
Ich hab'ihm auf dem Kopf geschissen.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Exotic birds

My correspondent, Angit, sent me pictures of two birds and asked for identification. The first is a Golden Pheasant (above), an exotic bird that breeds sporadically in Britain in a couple of places (near Sandringham in Norfolk and Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour are the sites I know). Isn't he a handsome fellow? Of course, the female is drab, but she has good reason to be.
The second mystified me, so I asked my stalwart friend, Peter W, if he knew what it was. Which, of course, he did. It's a Formosan Blue Magpie (below), apparently the national bird, and the story of the photo is that the bird attacked a toy dog that had been put out by the photographer to provoke it. And that is all I know, or am every likely to know, about the Formosan Blue Magpie. But I will let you know if one turns up on my peanut feeder.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Western Screech Owl

If you live in the Cambridge area and see one of these on your washing line, do let me know. Her name is Jessie, and she has escaped from her aviary. While I have no problem with attractive young females who wish to be adventurous, I am concerned that Jessie might have a problem finding food. So, if you are in damsel-in-distress mode, throw her a mouse and give me a call. Cheers.
Yes, you are right, Western Screech Owls are North American; she has no business being here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What's about?

There are moments when I feel that I have lived too long. Or, to put it another way, that I was born too early. In the heyday of my birding activities, there was an abundance of species which are now at least uncommon, and in some cases almost rarities. One such is the Lesser Redpoll, a species that even a decade ago was still breeding in the local orchards. Now, it's sufficiently uncommon, at least in these parts, that I advised my friends that there was one (in fact, two, it turned out) on one of my garden feeders for a couple of days.
What I mean is, if I was only, say, 30, I wouldn't know what I had missed. Or is that too convoluted a thought for a dark fenland night in January?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Trellis emerges from the shadows

It's hard to believe that the Welsh dragon is still on the case. This just received from her poisoned pen:
Dear Mrs Ban Ki Moon, she writes, you are unbelievable! For weeks we hear nothing from you, and then when you do start up again, it's about RATS. Rats! Really! I have never taken to rodents, specially after the late Mr Trellis was so traumatised by that encounter with a gerbil, you remember? I told you about it, but maybe you haven't got much of a memory, or indeed a brain, left, you being a dog-eating Korean and all.
But I don't want to be grudging, so I will just say Croeso Back, Ban bach, and leave it at that.
By the way, don't eat any more dogs or I'll get the local druid to put a hex on you.

Drats! Rats!

There's one inevitable result of feeding your garden birds, particularly if, like me, you live next door to stables, and that is rats. I put out a nyjer seed feeder with tray for the Goldfinches, and, what do you know?, there's a rat crouching on the tray, feeding its face, while the birds sit on a nearby shrub thinking I know not what. But I know what I am thinking....
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the garden, I have put out a Pheasant feeder, because, Lord be praised, a cock Pheasant has taken to coming into my garden, thereby adding a splash of much-needed colour to these drab January days. And, what do you know?, there's a rat with its snout in the trough, noshing the seeds, while the Pheasant hesitates nearby, thinking, probably, the same thing as the Goldfinches.
I know brown rats are not the species that brought the Black Death to our shores, but I am still finding it hard to love them. Luckily for them, I am in lethargic mode at the moment.
Happy New Year, by the way!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Scooters and nannies

In my twenties, I had a Lambretta Li 150 scooter, much like the one in this photograph, except that mine was all blue. I was reminded of this when I saw a photograph on Bruninha's Facebook of the scooter she rode during her recent holiday in Argentina. Bruninha was my daughter's nanny the last time I was in San Diego, and a nicer, prettier and more interesting youngster you couldn't wish for.
In the gloom of the current Fenland winter, I don't know which memory pleases me more: Bruninha or the scooter. I was fond of them both, but, alas, they are now part of that cavernous mausoleum called The Past.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A good example of the single entendre!

À cause de la stérilité du mari, les Smith ne pouvaient pas avoir d'enfants et ils décidèrent un jour de faire appel à un père de substitution pour agrandir la famille.

Le jour où le père de substitution devait arriver, Monsieur Smith embrassa sa femme et dit : "Je m'en vais. Le type sera bientôt là et je préfère ne pas voir ça."

Une demi-heure plus tard, par hasard, un photographe de bébés faisant du porte-à-porte sonne à la porte en espérant pouvoir vendre ses services.

"Bonjour Madame, je viens pour ..."

"Oh non, pas besoin d'explication. Je vous attendais", l'interrompt Madame Smith.

"Vraiment?", demande le photographe, "Très bien. Vous savez donc que je suis un spécialiste des bébés?"

"C'est ce que mon mari et moi avons espéré. Entrez donc et prenez un siège."

Après un moment, rougissante, elle demande : "Eh bien, où commençons-nous?"

"Remettez-vous en à moi. Habituellement, j'essaye deux fois dans la baignoire, une sur le canapé et éventuellement deux sur le lit. Parfois, le sol du salon c'est sympa aussi."

"Vous pouvez vraiment faire ça n'importe où : baignoire, sol du salon? Pas étonnant que ça n'ait pas marché pour Harry et moi..."

"Madame, aucun de nous ne peut garantir un bon résultat à chaque fois. Mais si nous essayons plusieurs positions et que je prenne six ou sept angles, je suis certain que vous serez satisfaite des résultats."

"Mais ça fait beaucoup de... ", s'étrangla Madame Smith

"Madame, selon ma méthode, un homme doit prendre son temps. Je pourrais entrer et sortir en 5 minutes mais vous seriez déçue, j'en suis sûr."

"Je ne savais pas", dit tranquillement Madame Smith.

Le photographe ouvrit sa sacoche et sortit un album de photos de bébés.

"Celui-ci a été fait sur le toit d'un bus à Londres."

"Oh, mon Dieu!", s'exclama Madame Smith, triturant son mouchoir.

"Et pour ces jumeaux, ça s'est passé exceptionnellement bien quand vous considérez combien ça pu être difficile pour la mère."

"Elle a eu des difficultés?", demanda Madame Smith.

"J'en ai bien peur. J'ai finalement dû l'emmener à Hyde Park pour faire correctement le boulot. Les gens se sont agglutinés sur 4 ou 5 rangs, se poussant pour avoir la meilleure vue."

"4 ou 5 rangs?", demanda Madame Smith, les yeux écarquillés d'étonnement..

"Oui", répondit le photographe, "et pendant plus de 3 heures. La mère criait et hurlait sans arrêt. J'avais du mal à me concentrer. Quand il a commencé à faire sombre, j'ai pu enfin commencer. Et puis, quand les écureuils ont commencé à mordiller mon équipement, j'ai juste eu le temps de le remballer."

Madame Smith se pencha :

"Vous voulez dire que les écureuils mâchèrent votre... hum... équipement?"

"Exact. Bon, madame, si vous êtes prête, je vais installer mon trépied et nous pourrons commencer."


"Oh oui, j'ai besoin d'utiliser un trépied pour maintenir mon CANON. Il est vraiment trop gros pour que je puisse le tenir longtemps... Madame? Madame?
Oh mon Dieu, elle s'est évanouie