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The weblog below is for naturalists to use to report interesting sightings, ask questions, report on field meetings and generally post pictures and any information or questions generally relevant in some way to the wildlife and geology of Essex. You will need to register and be logged-on to post to the forum, and you need to upload pictures first, for use in posts. Find out more

Fri 29th June 2012 11:47 by Michael Daniels
Adapting Capt. Manwaring's comment - You stupid bird
Adapting Captain Manwaring's comment - You stupid bird.

Earlier in the month I mentioned installing two ground bird feeders made from redundant fridge drawers, see photo accompanying that contribution.  These for sure have become considerable time wasters, both in respect of having to frequently replenish these fast food outlets and from watching the antics of the many avian visitors to the mesh baskets.  Principally it is the Blackbirds that cause most amusement, well obviously not for them, maybe we should additionally supply a course of medication to assist them in overcoming nervous exhaustion.

They just run around almost frantic trying to find a way in and some getting quite angry with others, spending time attempting to aggressively shoo off competitors, whilst more sensible types are plundering the other feeder.  From these observations I am ever more convinced that birds, and I mean all of them, including some that pet owners think are intelligent, are really pretty stupid and largely their minds are governed almost exclusively by instinct and not sensible thought.  Fact, they are zoologically not too far removed from reptiles, and of course they still have scaly legs, the ring of bones - sclerotic plates - around their eyes and other anatomical features found in lower types of vertebrate. Further, they lay eggs!

There is a well argued theory, with which I agree, that the Dinosaurs never really became extinct and the class Aves with which we are so familiar, are modern day members of this clade. But of course most of them are much prettier than dinosaurs, lizards, turtles crocodiles etc, and, quite a few taste good!

Having acquired reasonable experience dissecting the carcasses of birds, done in the need to secure avian skeletons to assist with identifying prehistoric discoveries, principally from Walton's Naze, I have handled many modern bird skulls.  This certainly impresses one with the great osteological diversity found in members of this Class.  Also, it becomes obvious that the crania largely have evolved to pay no great attention to the need for intelligent thought.  I marvel at say the skull of the Curlew, or the owl and those of the diving birds, all equipped for their special feeding habits.

Whatever, these most familiar creatures provide the greatest pleasure for a host of human admirers, whether our feathered friends are brainy or otherwise. 

And I should make it clear my skeletal collection of modern types is composed entirely of birds that have died from natural causes, exception being the turkey and chicken specimens.  One of the latter incidentally is of a Dorking Fowl that has, along with the Silkies, five toes.

Finally to briefly digress.

We visited my wife's niece in Hadleigh and admired a very attractive bush in her garden. This planted by her property's previous owner, so its name remained unknown. Assisted through the knowledge of another relative who examined my photograph, was told that it was a 'Yesterday, today and tomorrow ' plant - see various images on the Internet.  Our Hadleigh relative duly accessed this information source and was unconvinced that this was true for her shrub and indeed further enquiries led to its correct identity.  Recalling several recent contributions to the Forum, now interesting to report the bush is a variant, man imposed, of Sambucus, yes the Elder and it bears the common name Black Lace.  Not quite the best description because it has beautiful alternate light and darker mauve flower heads - very pretty as is the dark foliage.  A Hadleigh garden plant Copyright: Michael Daniels

Member's thoughts on all the above will be appreciated.



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