The Great Egg Strategy

Animals, 14 March 2020
Stink bug eggs

William Harvey (1578-1657) said "Every living animal comes from an egg".

Harvey didn't know about micro-organisms, because bacteria were not discovered until 1676 and protozoa even later than that. He was basically correct, though. Anything much larger than a bacterium starts life as an egg.



Rescuing stranded dolphins

Animals, 20 February 2020
Stranded dolphin

stranded (adj.): unable to go home.

Whales, dolphins and porpoises sometimes get stranded while they're still alive. You can't really help a 30-tonne whale, but it's often possible to help a healthy dolphin (150-300kg) or a porpoise (80kg) get back to sea.



What kind of naturalist are you?

English, 01 February 2020
Different kinds of naturalist

Naturalist (n.): An expert in or student of natural history.

Natural history (n.): Studying nature by observing it.

A naturalist is anybody who is interested in nature and knows something about it.

Nature's a huge subject, and naturalists come in all shapes and sizes:



Fresh air, fresh water

English, 04 July 2019
Woman enjoying fresh air on beach

A lot of European languages have words that sound like "fresh" (frais, fraîche, fresca, frio, frisch, fersk, etc) but they don't always mean exactly the same as the English word.

"Fresh" is not about low temperatures. It's about newness, about being new. Fresh bread, fresh ideas... It's also about being clean, about not being contaminated. Fresh air, fresh water...



There's something about blossom

Plants, 25 April 2019
Japanese cherry blossom

Everybody knows blossom. It's the thousands of little white or pink flowers that appear on fruit trees, to tell you that spring is really here.

There can be so many flowers on a cherry tree that it looks like a white or pink cloud.

Blossom is flowers, but not just any flowers.



Ponds full of life

Habitats, 21 April 2019
Lacs de Bastan, Néouvielle

A pond is basically a small lake. It's a small, shallow, body of fresh water. There are natural ponds everywhere, from mountain tops to the desert oasis. They are most common in wetland areas such as river deltas, and on tundra in summer.

A pond is an excellent thing to have in a park or garden, especially if you're a naturalist or a photographer.



Europe's biggest eagle

Birds, 15 April 2019
White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)

The white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) has many names. In Norway and Denmark it's the havørn, in Sweden it's the havsörn, in France the pygargue à queue blanche, in Germany the Seeadler, in Russia the орлан-белохвост, in China the 白尾海雕 and in Japan the オジロワシ.

I like the Gaelic name, "iolar sùil na grèine" or "eagle of the eye of the sun".



Day of the Dormouse

Animals, 11 April 2019
Hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius)

Dormice are nature's professional sleepers. A sleeping dormouse doesn't wake up for anything, not even if someone picks it up.

The name comes from the Latin word "dormire", to sleep. But on warm nights, they're the acrobats of the trees. They're good climbers that can go straight up a tree trunk or a stone wall.