Urban Wildlife

20140112_124358It isn’t the greatest wildlife photo in the world; not wishing to loose the opportunity, I used my mobile phone rather than run and search for a proper camera.

We often see foxes at night.

This is our first full daylight fox. He (or she?) was quite relaxed and in apparently good condition, enjoying the cold wind and a good look around the alley way and back gardens.

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Cavia Porcellus Update

c-and-pI just realised that I have two almost identical photos of myself with Castor (bottom) and Pollux (top), how nice.

You might know that Pollux died in January. Still makes me sad when I see him, he was such a beauty. (And one greedy little gourmand, too!)

I shall team up with the W7 in-house photography department for a similar set of photos once the little General and Castor move back into the great outdoors. They still enjoy their winter holidays in the relative warmth and comfort of our hall, and the little General isn’t little at all any more.


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Within The Den

DSC_1449I am reading Lack London’s arctic novels right now. The Call Of The Wild at first, and it’s companion, White Fang, right now. When I read these books first, many years ago as a teenager, I didn’t understand much beyond the adventure, but I now appreciate the superb story-telling and writing Jack’s done. He wrote this stuff around 1900, give or take a few years.

There was no David Attenborough to explain it all, and neither Heinz Sielmann or Professor Grzimek were born at the time (Professor Grzimek was close, being born in 1909, but he wasn’t born as a professor or a natural world TV presenter). There were no tiny or remote controlled cameras to be send inside a wolf’s den in Jack’s days. Watching modern wildlife documentaries makes us think that all this knowledge is only just emerging thanks to modern technology and brave cameramen, but if you think this is so, you should read Jack’s books.

The description of events inside the den and the details of the wolves’ awareness show a great deal of knowledge, imagination and “educated guessing” on Jack’s part. It’s quite something.

The most revolutionary part, in my opinion, is the fact that he never humanizes the animals. He describes them as beings aware of their surroundings, as beings with intelligence, decision-making facility, the capability to learn and that of a consciousness, but he never presents a dog’s or wolves’ thoughts in human terms. There is no trivializing here at all, and a great deal more of realism, and a great deal less of adventure than what I remembered from my youth.

I got Jack London’s Complete Works on my Kindle now. The biggest e-Book I have, cause he was a short-lived yet prolific writer, and I am in love with his work.


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DSC_0009Many of you will know about the considerable difficulties administering a pill to a cat (for those who don’t, here’s the classic tale of How to Give A Cat A Pill). Many of you will know about the ease of wrapping a pill into bacon for administering a pill to a dog, but how do you give antibiotics to a Guinea Pig?


Grab it under the front arms and lift it. The little bugger will squeak, thus open its mouth. Squirt the medicine into the mouth using a small syringe, and your furry friend goes Nom nom nom food!

Pollox cut his ear somehow, so I took him to the vet to have the dangling bits of ear trimmed off, and to get some antibiotics for him. Great stuff from the vet by the way: rung 9:06 AM on New Year’s Eve, saw the good doctor at 9:30, back home 9:56. Brilliant short-notice service! (http://www.ardenhousevets.co.uk/)

Happy New Year!


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Castor & Pollux

Castor (bottom) and Pollux (top)Meet Castor and Pollux, the Gemini twins, who have now taken up residence in my study while I am building their outdoors pen. Two Guinea Pig boys. Castor is a mostly black British Shorthair with a white curl right on top of his head, Pollux is a salt-and-pepper Abyssinian with big curls, making his hair stand up straight where the curls meet. Both are very lovely, but only Pollux is immortal. 

The boys settle in really well. They quickly learned to associate my voice with food; now we are learning about trust and about being held. One little step at the time, but the speed of progress is very nice. I buy their sympathies with food, of course. Regrettably, they don’t like celery greens very much, of which we have an abundance in the garden.

Dandelions and Sow Thistle are already a thing of the past in our garden. I have now taken to roaming the streets…

Oh, and fighting also seems to be a thing of the past. They fought heavily for little over an hour (with breaks and loud squeals) and appear to have established a hierarchy now. Not sure if the last word is said on that already, as the dominant one, Pollux (shown on top as is fit for his rank), is more shy than the more inquisitive Castor.

More pictures are right here.


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To Soar Like an Eagle

Neither eagle, chicken nor turkey. An Emu.

Welcome back. You come at the right time, because I have an important question for your:

It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys, they say, and I guess it is true. But, does it apply to chickens, too?

Chickens kept for meat or egg production have some of their wing feathers clipped. Subject to the clipping, this prevents take-off, or makes flight very lopsided, thus preventing flight. Now, what if you don’t clip the wing feathers? Like, a chicken might escape, find a like-minded cockerel, lay fertilised eggs, and then what? Would the offspring learn to fly and soar like an eagle?

Chickens are pretty large birds with pretty small wings, so I guess it wouldn’t be a very elegant sight, maybe more a turkey-style flapping up into the nearest tree, and a slowed-down gliding type of fall back to the ground in the morning.

(And no, I haven’t been watching too much Chicken Run, but I have been looking after the neighbours chickens.)


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Chickens (street decoration in Bornheim, Pfalz) I know. It is impolite to spy on others. Therefore, I don’t.

But, if something moves in the corner of anyone’s vision, anyone will refocus briefly, and take a quick look. As it happens in my case, the neighbour’s chicken cage (bought from a company sensibly called Omlet) sits right in the left bottom corner of my field of vision, as I stare at a computer screen full of boring data.

The perfect distraction!

We have now donated a cabbage from our garden (the caterpillars had already eaten half of it), and I am now fascinated to see how enthusiastic the birds get through a whole half cabbage. You’d think there’s nothing else to a chicken’s life than food.

Assuming that chickens also break wind (do they?), I can only hope that Greenpeace isn’t going to put a siege on our street due to excessive methane emissions.


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Alle Viere

alleViere I couldn’t just leave it at that, could I?

So, here are four suggestions to chose from, but again, I am happy to learn about your wildest boar thoughts.

So, here we have a cool Sau on holidays (Mallorca Sau?), a Swiss Sau (in the Animal Farm production of Wilhem Tell), a victorious Sau, and a cocktail Sau.

The swiss and the victorious ones are my favorites, with the swiss being ahead in the race for sympathy ever so slightly.

It’s your say now.

(Click the thumbnail for a larger version)


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My Versatile Sau

halali Today’s post is for everyone to see and comment of course, but it is dedicated to The Sister. Rather obvious, I find. Will phone later.

Here’s another one of those ArtRage sketches. While I try to figure out what to do with die Sau, one of you might be able to tell me how to spell Halali! correctly. Suggestions regarding the Sau are also most welcome.

It could just stand there as far as I am concerned; I like the greenish fur. I am not opposed to more radical ideas though. The Sau could be part of piece of party finger food (Wildschweinspiesschen) – I think I like that, too. Cherry on top and all that. Or it could be in an Animal Farm production of Wilhelm Tell (apple on top). Or it could be a price-winning Sau, with a collar and crown from laurel and oak.

The more I think about it, the more I like it, my versatile Sau.

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