Top ten animals – #3, Ivory-billed Woodpecker

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Campephilus principalis, is a bird which any birder would be keen to see just because it’s big and spectacular-looking.

(Audubon painting of some ivorybills, from Wikipedia)

But, of course, that wouldn’t be enough to get it onto my list above other even more spectacular species like the Satyr Tragopan or the Victoria Crowned Pigeon.

No, it’s because it came back from the dead last year. For me, that was the happiest news story of 2005. Every time a species is rediscovered that was thought to be extinct, it raises a flicker of hope that all those others will turn up somewhere – a colony of Great Auks on an obscure island off Finland, perhaps. For a big, dramatic species to go unseen for decades in one of the most-birded countries on earth makes anything seem possible.

The ivorybill is known as the ‘Lord God bird’ – because of people’s reaction on seeing them, rather than in reference to Christ’s habit of banging his head against trees.


January Google search terms

just the usual monthly pick of searches people used to end up at this blog.

correlation fire female
how to make a death mask
bee eater sculptures
8. what is a narwhal?
cardboard tables and bookshelves

and, what might be my new all-time favourite:

looking to be an embalming apprentice in london

Culture Other

Shaolin Soccer

I watched Shaolin Soccer on DVD the other night. The box is covered in recommendations from the Sun, FHM, Nuts, and similarly blokish publications, which was a bit off-putting, but actually it was the most entertaining film I’ve seen in ages. It uses the classic structure of a ramshackle team of outsiders who finally have to beat the all-conquering professionals in a cup final. The pros are called ‘Team Evil’ which pretty much sets the tone for the whole film.

Culture Me Other

New Theme

I’ve come up with a new design for the site, as I think should be pretty obvious. If you prefer the calmer qualities of the old look, there’s now a theme switcher in the sidebar so you can pick your favourite. The scarab picture is used by kind permission of elina. Fab, innit?

The main problem with the new theme from a design POV is that it looks a bit peculiar if you’re looking at a single post which isn’t very long. But I can’t think of an easy answer to that one. It’s also a wee bit visually aggressive, but hey, that’s what the theme switcher is for – you can take your pick.


RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2006

If you’re in the UK, there’s still time to do the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2006 this weekend. Just watch your garden or local park for an hour, record all the bird species and what the maximum number you saw at one time was, and submit the results to the RSPB.

This year I saw:

blue tit – 6
great tit – 3
coal tit – 1

siskin – 3
chaffinch – 7
greenfinch – 5
goldfinch – 2

nuthatch – 1
wren – 1
dunnock – 1
goldcrest – 1
robin – 1

jay – 1
magpie – 1
carrion crow – 2

great spotted woodpecker – 2
ring-necked parakeet – 2
feral pigeon – 8

song thrush – 1
blackbird – 3

which isn’t bad. Marginally better than last year, though I’m interested to see I had three starlings last year, because there aren’t any around at the moment. Still no house sparrows, sadly. I’ve seen one about 5 minutes walk away, so perhaps in a year or two they’ll be back here.



Geoffrey Chaucer has a blog. It looks like posts only come along every few motnhs, but this made me laugh. Via Ancrene Wiseass.