Friday 28 June 2024


I spent a few days in Glasgow at the end of last year.  Glasgow, is the most populous city in Scotland and the third-most populous city in the United Kingdom. Glasgow is located on the banks of the River Clyde, in West Central Scotland, with a latitude similar to that of Moscow! 

Like many cities, Glasgow had a rather grim industrial past, but is now a popular visitor destination.

These are a few of the pictures I took during my brief stay.

The grand building is the City Hall - they really don't do civic building like that any more.  The grander of this building may be due to the fact that it was considered the Second City of the British Empire for most of Victorian and Edwardian periods.

The horse statue shows the Duke of Wellington on his favourite horse Copenhagen - since about the 1980s it has become 'traditional' that the Duke wears a traffic cone as a hat. The cone is regularly removed, and just as regularly replaced!

I am not fan of big towns and cities, but I enjoyed Glasgow.  SM

Wednesday 26 June 2024

Wild Bird Wednesday 622 - Brent Goose.

The Brent (or Brant) Goose (Branta bernicla) is a small, dark goose - of similar size to a Mallard. It has a black head and neck and grey-brown back, with either a pale or dark belly, depending on the sub-species. Brent Geese with dark bellies can be found around Eastern England, while those with pale bellies can be found in the North East England.

The geese in these picture are the dark bellied subspecies, meaning they come from the Russian Dark-bellied population.

This species is a winter visitor to the UK, and is essentially absent at all other times.  During the writing of this post I discovered that the loose flock formation of birds shown in the first picture is characteristic of this species - it does not fly in the tight-knit formations of other geese species.

As ever, to join in with WBW, click on the link below.  SM

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Monday 24 June 2024

Mammals on Monday 3 - Short-beaked Echidna

The Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) - often just called the Echidna - is one of the most widespread mammals in Australia.  And in world terms it's also one the most unusual.

The Echidna is a Monotreme - which means it is an egg laying mammal.  There are very few species of monotreme extant today: The Long- beaked Echidna in Papua New Guinea (there are 3 species) and Platypus.

Echidnas have a coat that includes sharp quills.  Its diet consists mainly of ant and termites, which it 'laps' up with its tongue.  This combination of features and behaviour leads to it sometimes being called The Spiny Anteater.  Its scientific name also draws on its behaviour and features, with Tachyglossus meaning 'quick tongue' and aculeatus referring to its spines.

The female Echidna lays a single, leathery egg. Only 0.16 cm long, this tiny egg is incubated in her pouch for about 10 days until the egg is about the size of a jelly bean. When the egg reaches this size the young echidna – called a  puggle – hatches from the egg. The juggle is scarred in the females pouch for about three months, where it suckles on her mammary glands.  When the puggle starts to grow spines it leaves the pouch - action which probably pleases the mother!

Echidnas are very timid. When frightened, they attempt to partially bury themselves and curl into a ball similar to a hedgehog. Strong front arms allow echidnas to dig in and hold fast against a predator pulling them from the hole.  

They are a remarkable animal.


Friday 21 June 2024

On the Road in Cuba.

Last year I too a wonderful trip to Cuba.  Its not a place I ever really expected to visit, but I'm glad I did.  The primary reason for the visit was (surprise, surprise) birdwatching.

But Cuba is justly famous for its vintage American cars. But there were other forms of transport as well.

The vintage American cars date from before the revolution, and were maintained because no other cars were available at the time.  Next came a wave of boxy eastern European cars, and finally there are now cars from largely (so it seems) South Korea.

One of the pictures below shows all 3 generations.  There are also some Chinese cars, which are too put it bluntly, odd.  I have no idea how the red Citroen (?) coffee van managed to get to Cuba!

And there are still horses.

Cheers:  SM

Wednesday 19 June 2024

Wild Bird Wednesday 621 - Downy Woodpecker

People may have noticed that I have a fondness for woodpeckers.  Unfortunately I now live on the side of the Wallace Line from which they are absent.  I have to saw that Marsupials and Lyrebirds are a decent replacement, but I do miss woodpeckers.

So, on last years trip to Canada I was pleased to reacquaint myself with some of these delightful birds.

The Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) is the smallest woodpecker in North America, and I saw them on a number of occasions in Canada.  It sports the black and white plumage that is emblematic of woodpeckers (in my opinion), but this my be the result of growing up with the black and white Greater Spotted Woodpeckers rather than any real science!

Down Woodpeckers are rather small ranging from 14 to 18 cm in length, with a weight 20 to 33 g. They primarily live in forested areas, and can often bee seen on artificial feeders.

The birds with red on the head are males, and those without red are female.

As ever, click on the link to join in with WBW.  Cheers  SM

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Sunday 16 June 2024

Mammals on Monday 2 - Eastern Grey Kangaroo

 The Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) is the default Kangaroo in my part of Australia.  This species is found in most of the eastern states of Australia, including Tasmania.  Generally they are found in areas where the annual rainfall is more than 250mm. They can also be found in subalpine areas. AS a habitat, they tend to favour denser scrubs and forests.

These individuals were photographed at Wilsons Promontory National Park (on the same day as last week's Wombats), in an area where their 'chosen' rainfall preference is clear, although I would not really describe the areas where I saw them as dense scrub or forest.

Oh well.

Being called Grey is pretty accurate: Their fur is a light grey colour except the face which is a little darker. They also have a dark tip to their tails. The males have a body length to about 1.3m and a extra 1m of tail! The females are generally a little smaller.

You can't really see the difference between their massively strong hind legs, and their much smaller front legs - which I cant help but think of as arm.  But you can see that the 'arms' are well adapted for scratching!