Archive for July, 2010


A game of cat and fox one morning in July in a neighbour's garden...

Throughout 2010 I am revisiting the little green nature book that accompanied my childhood and seeing if I can still spot the plants and animals featured in its monthly sketchbook pages.

The book is “Wild Life Through the Year” by Richard Morse and it was published in 1942. You can read about earlier months here.

While June was a very dry month, July has seen a (more…)

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The cute seagull chick that started it all - pictured on the building site behind my office...

I wasn’t expecting to write about seagulls. They are not my favourite birds and apart from the black-headed gull I have never been able to tell the various species apart and I have never really tried.

Cardiff has the second-biggest urban seagull population in the UK, a close second to Aberdeen with around 3,500 breeding pairs. They are (more…)

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The golden mask of Tutankhamun has become iconic – and I have seen it in the “flesh”... it is now back at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo

The mysterious Egyptian king Tutankhamun is back in the news this week as the archive of Howard Carter goes on line thanks to the work of Oxford University archaeologist Jaromir Malek.

Howard Carter spent years documenting the thousands of artefacts from the tomb he uncovered in the Valley of the Kings in 1922. At the time, after making a small hole in the door of the tomb and shining a candle light through, he was asked by his patron Lord Carnarvon if he could see anything. He famously said “Yes… wonderful things!”

On the fiftieth anniversary of this discovery, just 50 of the thousands of “wonderful things” from the tomb came to London to go on display at the British Museum. I was lucky enough to (more…)

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Blossom and fruit of the orange (Citrus aurantium), by Ellen Levy Finch

Although I am not going to takes sides in any debate on religion or politics or football, the word ORANGE seems a topical one, since it relates to the kit of the Netherlands football team who lost in the World Cup final and to the name of the protestant Orange Men of Northern Ireland during this the Protestant “marching season”.


The orange strip of the Netherlands football team in the 2010 World Cup Final, which they lost to Spain, 1-0 after extra time...

It’s the word “orange” itself that interests me. It is often (more…)

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As a child I thought I was being a natural scientist...

I think it’s time I apologised to all those creatures I accidentally killed or merely annoyed during my childhood explorations of nature in the countryside of my youth, during the 1960s. I was just being an amateur scientist, honest…

As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods.
They kill us for their sport.

That’s from Shakespeare’s King Lear, although I first saw the quote at the beginning of a 1967 scif-fi short story called Flies, by the superb Robert Silverberg .

But OK, I wasn’t a boy and I wasn’t wanton and I didn’t mean to hurt them – all those (more…)

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A young fledgling robin (Erithacus rubecula) in my garden in July last year...

It’s that time of year when the baby birds are growing their first proper feathers and the adults are looking very messy as they undergo their annual change of feathers, so it seems a good time to muse on the origins of the words FLEDGE and MOULT.

FLEDGE means (more…)

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