Amazing critters

Earlier this month I posted a photograph of octopus eggs that fascinated me.  In response, a reader sent me the link to this video report on the critters, which is even more interesting. I’ve seen many octopii in the wild, during my youth in South Africa, but I never knew all that about them.  I’ll try not to think about it next time I’m eating calamari! Peter

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Oh, he just dropped in for a little swim .

A family in Botswana, Africa, found an unexpected guest in their swimming-pool a couple of days ago. Q:  How long do you allow a hippo to swim in your pool? A:  As long as he bloody well wants to! The Independent reports: Brent Reed, 47, said the giant male was discovered by a night watchman in the garden of his home in Maun, Botswana, in the early hours of 31 December. The safari director managed to capture pictures of his youngest son Troy, 11, and friend Kyle Steyn, 15, gazing down at the wild animal, which he said appeared completely at ease with

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Fascinating!

A friend sent me this photograph of octopus eggs, with the baby octopii clearly visible inside the egg sac.  I don’t know where it first appeared.  Click the image for a larger view. I’ve never seen so clear a view of those baby critters, although I’ve run (or swum) into them on the coast of South Africa many times.  One variety used to inhabit tidal rock pools, and if you stuck your foot in the water, clad in a tennis shoe, they’d zoom out from their hiding-places in crevices in the rocks and try to tackle your foot, thinking it

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Wolves, cattle, wilderness and control

I’m reminded, yet again, that in so many cases, government edicts or actions don’t necessarily have anything to do with the problem they claim to address.  Instead, they’re an attempt to impose greater control over part or all of the populace, so that bureaucrats and special interest groups can force their will upon them.  Gun control?  It’s about control, not guns.  Obamacare?  It’s about centralized control of health care and those who need it, not about medicine as such.  Draconian traffic rules and regulations?  It’s all too often about “revenue generation by cop”, rather than road safety. The latest example

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Heh

This meme over at Chief Nose Wetter’s place made me laugh. It particularly made me laugh because it reminded me of an Africa story. I belong to an e-mail list that, among other topics, sometimes discusses hunting in Africa.  I recall, some years ago, a member of the list talking about an upcoming hunting safari in Africa, his first.  He was an experienced mountaineer, and told us he planned to take his portaledge tent with him.  He normally hung it from a piton in a cliff face, to sleep in comfort;  so, in Africa, he planned to hang it from a tree branch for

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Saturday Snippet: more hazards on the trail

Following my recent heart attack, I’ve found my writing activities severely disrupted.  Part of it is the sheer amount of time I have to spend on cardiac rehabilitation classes, seeing doctors, and other related activities.  However, much of it is due to medication issues.  I’ve been put on one of the most recent anticoagulant/blood-thinner medications, which is doubtless very effective at what it does, but also plain whups my butt!  It leaves me breathless, dizzy (particularly when I stand up too quickly), and exhausted if I try to work too hard.  (That may be intentional, for all I know, to stop cantankerous

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Ornithology, not ecclesiology – thank heaven!

A news headline made me sit up in sudden concern last week: Cardinal with rare abnormality discovered in central Texas However, I needn’t have worried.  It didn’t refer to yet another sex scandal in the Catholic Church! According to the Inland Bird Banding Association, the bird shows apparent bilateral gynandromorphism, a rare abnormality that causes it to have female plumage on one side of its body, and male on the other. Phew . . . (wipes brow to remove beads of sweat) . . . a bird, rather than an ecclesiastical rank, and feathers, not vestments.  What a relief, considering my article last week! Peter

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Saturday Snippet: Elephants and their noses

Rudyard Kipling is famous for many books, but not too many people on this side of the Atlantic Ocean are aware of his “Just So Stories“. It’s a volume of a dozen stories for children, including many favorites such as “How the Camel got his Hump” and “The Cat that Walked by Himself”.  I grew up with them, and greatly enjoyed them (and still do). In order to introduce them to those who don’t know them, here’s one of the stories in full.  It’s titled “The Elephant’s Child”, and tells how the elephant got his trunk.  The cover illustration above

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Saturday Snippet: the perils of small game collecting in West Africa

In the 1950’s, naturalist Gerald Durrell went to what was then known as British Cameroon in West/Central Africa to collect animals for zoos in Britain.  He chose the region of Bafut for his collecting activities, and recruited local tribesmen to help him in his hunt for specimens.  In a moment of whimsy, he christened his hunters, collectively, The Bafut Beagles, which became the title of the book he wrote about his adventures.  It was an instant best-seller when it was released, and remains popular today. Here’s how Durrell and the Beagles hunted the rock hyrax, an animal well known to me in South Africa as the dassie.  The picture

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Heh

Received from friend, fellow author and blogger Cedar Sanderson via e-mail: BTW, the beaver really was regarded as fish under Canon Law for a very long time, because it swam like one and had a broad tail. Also, it might be the only food available during Lent. Pragmatism triumphs again! (Oh, yes – and I endorse the sentiment in the last entry. If you can take down a hippo, as far as I’m concerned, you can eat the damned thing whenever and wherever you like!) Peter

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