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

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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.