Monday, 3 December 2012

Penguins of the World

Penguins of the World
Digital art created using Artrage 3.5.4 Studio Pro, using original pencil illustrations first published on this blog in 2008
November to December 2012

I have been inactive on this blog of late. I am still creating artwork, as can be seen here. Here are the eighteen species of penguin in existence, ranging in size from the emperor to the little blue, and extending in distribution from the Equator to within a few degrees of the South Pole, and on four southern continents. I have blogged about the Spheniscidae in more detail some years back, with posts on all species as linked to below:

Emperor Penguin and King Penguin
Adélie Penguin and Chinstrap Penguin
Gentoo Penguin and Yellow-eyed Penguin
Northern Rockhopper Penguin and Southern Rockhopper Penguin
Erect-crested Penguin and Fiordland Crested Penguin
 Macaroni Penguin and Royal Penguin
Snares Crested Penguin and Little Blue Penguin
Jackass Penguin and Galapagos Penguin
Magellanic Penguin and Humboldt Penguin

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

What's that gosling?... revealed

It's a Hawaiian goose, or nene, gosling.

Hawaiian goose with gosling
Branta sandvicensis (Vigors, 1833)
Anatidae; Anseriformes; Aves; Chordata
London Wetland Centre
April 2012

The hint in the photo was the half-webbed, or semipalmate, feet. The goslings are growing fast and are as of yesterday almost the same size as their parents.

Why I'm NOT boycotting Eurovision 2012

I don’t normally make a habit of using this blog as a platform for my political opinion (in fact this might be the first time, I can’t remember), but since I feel quite strongly about human rights, LGBT rights, and camp pan-European song contests, I will make an exception to explain why I won’t be boycotting the 57th Eurovision Song Contest which takes place this Saturday in Baku.

Until I watched Panorama: Eurovision’s Dirty Secret, an excellent piece of investigative journalism by the BBC, last night, I was quite ignorant of the plight of the Azeri people, especially those who speak out against the corrupt government. Journalist Paul Kenyon interviewed several protesters who were horrifically treated and have had to seek exile in order to avoid even worse torture. Despite legalising homosexuality in 2001, same sex unions are still not recognised, and many Azeri people feel uncomfortable being openly gay due to the threat of persecution. Several European countries have officially boycotted the event: Armenia, a long time foe of the neighbouring Azerbaijan, has pulled out altogether, as has Poland. So why am I still watching?

Until I came out as gay two years ago, I never admitted to enjoying watching the song contest, as doing so would have most likely automatically outed me. I watch for several reasons:
  • guessing to whom each country will give twelve points/douze points and no points/nul points;
  • to laugh at the ridiculous costumes;
  • to make derisive tweets about the representatives each country chooses to give the vote results;
  • to laugh at Graham Norton’s comments on said representatives;
  • to root Turkey and the UK on;
  • and to have something to talk about for the next few weeks because even if you’re European and don’t watch it, you know someone who does and most likely have an opinion on it anyway. 
So why deprive myself of this multi-level enjoyment only to be heard by no-one? There are more productive ways to get heard: blogging about it is a start, as is signing a petition (such as here and here) to the Azeri government or to your own government, pleading to them to stop the unjust treatment of dissidents or the economic/ political support of a nation that allows this to happen.

Comments welcome as usual. Tell me, will you be watching this year?

Sunday, 29 April 2012

What's that gosling?

Hey readers, long time no blog I know... there should be some nice new material appearing on this patch of cyberspace in the next few months [if I can be arsed]. Well, for now, here's a photo of a cute ickle gosling. Anyone able to identify the species and/or breed? Comments here or via the social network site of your choice.

Bonus picture, here's a gorgeous lapwing.


Northern lapwing
Vanellus vanellus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Charadriidae; Charadriiformes; Aves; Chordata
London Wetland Centre
April 2012

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sapphire, 1996-2012

Digital painting created using ArtRage 3.0
January 2012

At ten past six in the evening on Wednesday 25th January, my darling Sapphire was euthanized at the age of 15 years and 8 months. In his last few months we’d noticed him becoming slower in his movements and that he’d been losing weight. In the last week, he seemed to have lost all feeling in his right hind leg. The vet, after detecting a lump in his abdomen which was causing him pain, decided his prognosis was poor due to his age and the likelihood that the lump was cancerous and most probably inoperable. He will always be remembered for his extreme affection, especially in his later years, and his funny ways. Here follows a biography I wrote about Sapphire back in 2008 on this blog:

“Sapphire is a big neutered male 12 year old shorthair cat we have had since he was 2 months old. Scarlett and Saff (as he is known for short, or Saffy) have never liked each other, and pretty much can't stand being in the same room together, except if it's a big room. He is the greediest of the three cats and eats more than his fair share.

He hasn't had as many misadventures in his life as Scarlett, for example, he's never been pregnant, but has had poor health over the last few years to with the bladder, and is slightly overweight so he is on a diet (less food less often). Once his collar got stuck in his mouth, and we thought he broke his jaw. The name comes from the fact that his eyes were once blue but turned greeny.

Saff's funny habits include preference for paper above plush carpet to sleep on, peeing in the bath, sleeping near the toilet, dribbling while he "kneads", sleeping with his head in people's slippers, sounds like ET when he's unhappy. His favourite human food is carrots, and likes playing ice hockey with carrot tops in the kitchen, and also likes food meant for other animals, such as algae-based catfish food.”

Since I wrote that, I also wrote this, which appeared in the “blook” I self-published a couple of years back:

“Sapphire is now a world-famous racecar driver, and has brought out a range of fragrances for men and women called Essence. He’s also become very affectionate of late, and will sit on anybody’s lap.”

Here are a few photographs from throughout Sapphire's life:

Sapphire sheltering from the rain under the barbecue

Sapphire lying on my newly-fitted bedroom carpet
c. 2000

Sapphire as a kitten

Sapphire letting us know he wants to come in!
c. 2000

Sapphire having a roll around in the garden

Sapphire lying in a basket
c. 2003

Sapphire as a kitten

Sapphire waiting for dinner

Sapphire resting on one of his favourite spots

Sapphire on my bed

Sapphire and Dolly on my bed

Sapphire under the delusion he can fit inside a shoe box

Sapphire up close and personal

Sapphire resting on a book

Sapphire sitting on my printer

Sapphire, 1996-2012

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Celebrity Plant Quiz - Answers

Sorry it’s taken a while, but here are the answers to the Celebrity Plant Quiz from two months ago:

1 K – Olive (Oyl) – photo of Olea europaea
2 E – Hazel (Blears) – photo of Corylus avellana
3 L – (Rose of) Sharon (Stone) – photo of Hypericum calycinum
4 S – (River) Phoenix (the genus of date palms) – photo of Phoenix dactylifera
5 H – Rosemary (Clooney) – photo of Rosmarinus officinalis
6 C – (Sweet) (Prince) William – photo of Dianthus barbatus
7 W – (Condoleezza) Rice – photo of Oryza sativa
8 B – (Black-eyed) Susan (Sarandon) – photo of Rudbeckia hirta
9 V – (Aloe) Vera (Lynn) – photo of Aloe vera
10 I – (Leslie) Ash – photo of Fraxinus excelsior
11 M – (Weeping) Willow (Rosenberg) – photo of Salix babylonica
12 U – Joshua (Tree) (Jackson) – photo of Yucca brevifolia
13 A – (Buddy) Holly – photo of Ilex aquifolius
14 X – Ginger (Rogers) – photo of Zingiber officinalis
15 O – Apple (Martin) – photo of Malus domesticus
16 D – Heather (Mills) – photo of Calluna vulgaris
17 F – Basil (Fawlty) – photo of Ocimum basilicum
18 Q – (Dog) Rose (Nylun) – photo of Rosa canina
19 G – Lavender (Brown) – photo of Lavandula angustifolia
20 P – (Neneh) Cherry – photo of Prunus subhirtella
21 J – (Princess) Jasmine – photo of Jasminum officinale
22 T – (African) Lily (Allen) – photo of Agapanthus africanus
23 N – (Common Dog) Violet (Beauregarde) – photo of Viola riviniana
24 R – Rowan (Atkinson) – photo of Sorbus aucuparia

Well done to Ed Gill for getting them all right.