Saturday Surprise — Wildlife and … Crocodile Hunter Junior!

Good Saturday morn, and welcome to the …weekendI have two fun things planned for today.  First, this may come as a big surprise to you, but Filosofa is a big lover of critters!  Shocked, aren’t you?

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the largest wildlife photography competition in the world. It is an annual international wildlife photography competition owned by the Natural History Museum.  The first competition was held in 1964, with three categories and around 600 entries. By 2008, the competition had grown to over 32,000 entries from 3100 photographers in 82 countries!

There are far too many for me to post here, so I have picked only a few of my favourites this year, but your can see more of the winners at Bored Panda, if you’re interested.

This first one is the #1 winner, titled “The Moment”, and taken by Yongqing Bao of China. 

"The Moment" By Yongqing Bao, China, Behaviour: Mammals, Grand Title Winner

This Himalayan marmot was not long out of hibernation when it was surprised by a mother Tibetan fox with three hungry cubs to feed. With lightning-fast reactions, Yongqing captured the attack – the power of the predator baring her teeth, the terror of her prey, the intensity of life and death written on their faces.

“Bee Line” by Frank Deschandol of France

"Bee Line" By Frank Deschandol, France, Behaviour: Invertebrates, Highly Commended 2019

Bees buzzed in the long grass around the lake as evening fell. To Frank’s delight, they were settling down in little rows along the stems. These were solitary bees, probably males, gathering for the night in suitable resting places, while the females occupied nests they had built nearby.

“Land Of The Eagle” By Audun Rikardsen of Norway

"Land Of The Eagle" By Audun Rikardsen, Norway, Behaviour: Birds, Winner 2019

Audun carefully positioned this tree branch, hoping it would make a perfect lookout for a golden eagle. He set up a camera trap and occasionally left road-kill carrion nearby. Very gradually, over the next three years, this eagle started to use the branch to survey its coastal realm. Audun captured its power as it came in to land, talons outstretched.

“Lucky Break” By Jason Bantle of Canada

"Lucky Break" By Jason Bantle, Canada, Urban Wildlife, Highly Commended 2019

A raccoon poked her head out of an abandoned car and paused to assess her surroundings, allowing Jason just enough time to use a long exposure in the twilight. The back seat was an ideal den for the raccoon and her five cubs as the only entrance – through a blunt-edged hole in the glass – was large enough for her but too small for predators such as coyotes.

“Portrait Of A Mother” By Ingo Arndt, of Germany

"Portrait Of A Mother" By Ingo Arndt, Germany, Animal Portraits, Highly Commended 2019

When you are eye to eye with a wild puma,’ says Ingo, ‘excitement is guaranteed.’ Tracking these elusive cats on foot meant lugging heavy gear long distances, often in freezing temperatures and unrelenting winds. Mutual respect gradually earned him the trust of a female and her cubs, allowing him to capture this intimate family portrait.

“Cool Drink” By Diana Rebman of the U.S.

"Cool Drink" By Diana Rebman, USA, Behaviour: Birds, Highly Commended 2019

Despite the bitterly cold temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius, Diana spent hours mesmerised by what she described as the ‘well-choreographed dance’ of a group of long-tailed tits taking turns to peck at an icicle. With the fast movement of the birds and her fingers feeling like blocks of ice, capturing their behaviour was no easy task.

“If Penguins Could Fly” By Eduardo Del Álamo of Spain

"If Penguins Could Fly" By Eduardo Del Álamo, Spain, Behaviour: Mammals, Highly Commended 2019

A gentoo penguin flees for its life as a leopard seal bursts out of the water. Eduardo was expecting it. He had noticed the penguin resting on a fragment of broken ice and watched the seal swim back and forth. ‘Moments later, the seal flew out of the water, mouth open,’ he says.

“The Huddle” By Stefan Christmann of Germany

"The Huddle" By Stefan Christmann, Germany, Wildlife Photographer Portfolio Award, Winner 2019

More than 5,000 male emperor penguins huddle on the sea ice, backs to the wind, heads down, sharing body heat. ‘It was a calm day,’ says Stefan, ‘but when I took off my gloves to focus the lens, the cold felt like needles piercing my fingertips.’ Antarctic winters are fierce, with temperatures below minus 40 degrees Celsius.

“Big Cat And Dog Spat” By Peter Haygarth of the United Kingdom

"Big Cat And Dog Spat" By Peter Haygarth, UK, Behaviour: Mammals, Highly Commended 2019

In a rare encounter, a lone male cheetah is set upon by a pack of African wild dogs. At first the dogs were wary, but as the rest of their 12-strong pack arrived their confidence grew. They began to encircle and probe the big cat, chirping with excitement. It was all over a few minutes later, when the cheetah fled.

“Night Glow” By Cruz Erdmann of New Zealand (in the age 11-14 category)

"Night Glow" By Cruz Erdmann, New Zealand, 11-14 Years Old, Grand Title Winner

Cruz was on a night dive with his dad when he saw a pair of bigfin reef squid in the shallow water. One swam off but Cruz quickly adjusted his camera and strobe settings, knowing that the opportunity was too good to miss. He shot four frames of the remaining squid before it too disappeared into the inky blackness.

“Face Of Deception” By Ripan Biswas of India

"Face Of Deception" By Ripan Biswas, India, Animal Portraits, Winner 2019

Ripan was photographing a red weaver ant colony when he spotted this slightly strange individual. It may have the face of an ant but its eight legs give it away – on closer inspection Ripan discovered that it was an ant-mimicking crab spider. By reverse mounting his lens, Ripan converted it to a macro capable of taking extreme close-ups.

Some pretty awesome shots there, don’t you think?


And my second surprise … you all remember Steve Irwin, aka the Crocodile Hunter?  He hosted a television series that aired on Animal Planet, becoming the network’s highest-rated series at the time (1997-2004). 

Steve tragically died in Batt Reef, Australia, in 2006 when a stingray’s barb pierced his heart.  But, his children, Bindi and Robert, are both lovers of wildlife and conservationists. steve-irwin-kidsBindi is an Australian television personality and conservationist. When she was 9, she hosted Bindi the Jungle Girl, a children’s wildlife documentary TV series.  Son Robert is an Australian television personality and wildlife photographer. He hosts Robert’s Real Life Adventures, a program on his family’s zoo’s internal TV network. He co-hosted the Discovery Kids Channel TV series Wild But True and co-created the book series Robert Irwin: Dinosaur Hunter, and currently stars on the Animal Planet series Crikey! It’s the Irwins with his mother, Terri, and sister, Bindi.

In February 2017, young Robert, then age 13, made his late-night television debut when he appeared on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.  This clip will warm your heart, make you say “Awwwwww”, and make you laugh, all at once.  Who could ask for anything more?  And my youngest reader, Benjamin, will enjoy this, for one of his Hallowe’en costumes was the Crocodile Hunter!

And that’s all I’ve got for this morning, my friends!  Go forth and have a wonderful weekend!  Enjoy every minute … remember, Monday is lurking right ‘round the corner!

weekend

Saturday Surprise — B

Good morning, and welcome to the Weekend! You guys have big plans for the weekend?  We’re having a joint birthday party with our neighbors Maha & Ali and kids this evening, so I’ll be in the kitchen most of this day.  Daughter Chris’ birthday was last Saturday, and Maha’s was on Sunday, but we were all busy doing other things last weekend, so we’re celebrating together this weekend.  I was going to put a number of candles on the cake equal to their combined ages, but as Natasha pointed out, it would be a fire hazard, and anyway, can you imagine how long it would take me to light 93 candles???  Anyway … I had to go to Kroger for a few things yesterday … November 1st and let me tell you … Kroger did not waste a single second switching from Hallowe’en to Christmas!  Christmas nuts, Christmas candy, Christmas lunch cakes, napkins, paper plates, baking stuff … ay ay ay!!!  Could we please have a little break in between holidays … and anyway, what happened to Thanksgiving???


I had heard the term “Social media influencer” a few times recently, but paid no attention and gave it no further thought.  Until last night, that is, when while searching for something to enchant you this Saturday morning, I came across a very special little ‘influencer’, and thought I should at least figure out what was meant by the term.  Now sure, I know that an influencer would be somebody or something that has influence over another person or people, but these days, social media has a language all its own, so I did a bit of digging.

“An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience. An individual who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with.”

Okay, not much different than I would have thought, and it sounds like not much more than Marketing 101.  But, today’s Surprise is a very special influencer and her marketing efforts are for a very good cause – to raise money to save the bees.  Bees are the most important living thing on Earth, due to 70% of the world’s agriculture depending on them.  Frighteningly, bees are now an endangered species, with recent studies showing a dramatic decline in the insects’ numbers; almost 90% of the bee population has disappeared in the past few years.

Enter Fondation de France, an independent administrative agency established by the government for the purpose of saving the bees.  They have set up a charity, Bee Fund, and an Instagram account for the subject of today’s Surprise, an adorable little CGI (computer-generated imagery) bee called, appropriately, B.  B has more than 122,000 followers today, and B aims to save the world by generating ad revenue via social media and then donating everything to the Bee Fund charity.  Let’s take a look at a few of B’s pictures … I think you’ll enjoy her.  Please do take just a minute to visit Bee Fund’s site … I found a lot of information about the declining bee population there, as well as the things being done to try to save the bees … it’s well worth the visit.

B-1

“Yo guys! So, name a thing you love.
Chocolate? I make it.
Ice-cream? I make it. 
Coffee? Always me.
Broccoli? Me again.
Clothes? Still me. 
We are behind most of the things you use everyday! And 24% of bees are dying every year.This is bad for us, but terrible for you as well dear humans… Are you ready for a world without chocolate?”

B-2

“I love to read and reply to your comments on my posts from my bathtube! Ask me questions in the comments: I will answer to EVERYONE! (As long as water stays warm)”

B-3

“Je vois la vie en rose. Maybe I should think about painting my hive in pink.”

B-4

“I might not be in a museum, but I’m Mother Nature’s masterpiece.”

B-5

“It is essential to save the planet… And the bees too! Both are threatened and trust me, it would be terrible to live without bees. Thanks a lot for demonstrating today, it was really nice to see you all and let’s keep up the fight!”

B-6

“Afternoon at the Sacré-Coeur! Where should I go for my next painting?”

B-7

“I spend so much time in my bathroom every morning… Ladies what is your morning routine?”

B-9

“I am so happy to work on my next partnerships and I can’t wait to share it with you!”

B-10

“On my way to the Montmartre’s 2019 grape harvest festival! Did you know that without bees there would be no wine? We pollinate plants and flowers that are essential for vineyards’ health.”

B-12

“Watering my little plants! Tips for humans: always keep flowers on your balconies, we might stop by to say hi.”

B-14

“What a better place than your bed when it is rainy outside. Even though it’s very important for nature, I’m not very much into rain because it frizzes my hair!”

B-18

“Great game with my friends today! (Haha just kidding I went there just to take pictures for my Instagram.)”

B-20

“Heading into the weekend like..”

B-22

“I’m not like Pablo, but I try to do my best…”

B-23

“Trying to get a little tan before going back to work.”

B-24

“Are you ready for the Pride, Paris?? I can’t wait to march with you.”

B-25

“Check out that side bee…”

B-26

“If you love to eat, you have to celebrate World Food Day! My sisters and I are behind most of the food you eat everyday. Are you wondering which ones?”

B-28

“Finally back home and working late today but it’s worth it.”

B-30

“Today I visited @FondationdeFrance, together we are working on my upcoming partnerships. From this flower of their balcony, I feel more than motivated and thanks to you all, we will save the bees.”

Saturday Surprise — Birds’ Tongues!

A nice crisp, cool autumn weekend … at long last!  You guys have big plans?  I have no idea if we do or not … the girls usually decide what we’ll do on a Saturday, and I’m just along for the ride, the bank card, and the driver.  I can’t believe that October is already half over … seems like it only started yesterday!

A few days ago, a friend and I were having a conversation about whether birds have tongues, and if so, whether they have taste buds.  Of course … a perfectly normal conversation!  What?  You don’t discuss such things?  Anyway, naturally the question kept burning in my mind, keeping me awake far into the wee hours, and I simply had to satisfy my curiosity.  Well … turns out they do have tongues, and this ferruginous hawk just had to prove the point!ferruginous-hawkJust as birds come in all different shapes, sizes and varieties, so do their tongues — long tongues, short tongues, spiky tongues, curly tongues, forked tongues, frayed tongues, brush-like tongues.  Care to take a look at a few?

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This rainbow lorikeet has a brush-like tongue

These hummingbirds have forked tongues that are rolled up inside their beaks until submerged in liquid, at which time they partly unfurl.  As the hummingbird drinks, the forks of his tongue furl and unfurl, so it’s almost as if he is drinking through two straws.hummingbird-1

hummingbird-2Isn’t this guy pretty?  He’s a purple honeycreeper (looks blue to me) and has a very long tongue, to enable him to drink nectar from flowers (or the hummingbird feeder you have on the back porch).purple-honeycreeper.jpgWoodpeckers also have very long tongues that are also sharp and spiky … the better to get the bugs out of the holes in trees!  And here you thought they just liked waking you at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday!  This guy decided to take the easy way out, though, and drink from the hummingbird feeder.woodpeckerWhile we’ve established that birds do have tongues, what they don’t have is teeth, so birds of prey, such as fish-eating birds, have tongues with little rear-facing hooks or spikes to prevent a captured fish from slipping away from them.  Penguins have very spiky and partially keratinized tongues, meaning that parts of the tongue are made strong and stiff by keratin.

gentoo-penguin-chick

Gentoo penguin chick

Geese and ducks also have spiky tongues, as well as hairy tongues and tongues with hard flat surfaces that, from a distance, seem to resemble a human’s tongue.  However, they are really nothing like our tongues, for they are covered with hairs and spikes that act like a sieve, allowing the bird to filter food particles from the water.

Canada-geese

Canadian geese

Mallard-duck

Mallard duck

So, we’ve seen that birds have tongues, but do they have taste buds?  Now, this whole conversation started because my friend’s budgie had stopped liking one food that he was once very fond of, and nearly gobbled another that he never used to like at all.  Turns out that yes, birds do have taste buds, but not very many, and not on their tongues, but rather in their bills!fieldfareTaste buds in birds haven’t been the subject of much research, so not as much is known, but what is known is that birds have far fewer taste buds than we humans.  Depending on the species, birds may have fewer than 50 or up to roughly 500 taste buds, while humans have 9,000-10,000 taste buds. Birds can taste sweet, sour and bitter flavors, and they learn which of those tastes are the most suitable and nutritious food sources. The sensitivity to different tastes varies by species, but most birds use other senses—sight and hearing most prominently—to locate the best foods.

And now you know more than you ever thought you wanted to know about birds’ mouths!  Hope you enjoyed the pictures and the mini-lesson!  Now go forth and have a fun & wonderful weekend, my friends!

For more fun reading about birds and their mouths, here are the sources I used:

Let’s talk about bird tongues  (Research on Dark-eyed Juncos and why animals do what they do)

Bird Senses and How They Use Them  (The Spruce)

How Do Birds Taste Their Food?  (Audubon)

Saturday Surprised — Ingo & Poldi

Hey friends!  It’s finally here … it’s theweekend

The temps are 20° cooler here than they were a week ago, so I am happy.  In fact, it is predicted to drop to almost freezing in the coming week … I hope they bring the part for our furnace before then!  I stumbled, literally, across something this week that melted my heart, and … I think carries somewhat of a message, as well.  There seems to be a lot of people who think they shouldn’t associate with or care about another person because they look or act a little different than they do, but I think these two critters have a lot more smarts about them than many of those people.

Meet Ingo and Poldi …dog-owl-1

Ingo is a beautiful Belgian Shepherd and is rather large, and Poldi is, of course, a tiny owlet.  Professional animal photographer and artist Tanja Brandt from Germany took dozens of incredible pictures of Ingo and Poldi, putting their friendship on display.  Poldi is only one year old and the photographer describes their relationship as “protector-protected”.dog-owl-2

Ingo always wants to keep Poldi close by and always offers his love and protection. Poldi “doesn’t know how to live free”, according to Tanja.

Poldi is a bit more vulnerable than his brothers and sisters. He hatched two days later than his siblings and is quite tiny compared to other owls. In short, he needed more attention and care than others. That is in sharp contrast with Ingo, who has experience protecting others. The Belgian Shepherd comes from a family of police dogs and has definitely had his tough moments in life.dog-owl-3

Ingo might be the more protective of the two, but it’s absolutely clear in the photographs that owlet Poldi likes to take care of his loving four-legged friend as well. You can see that Poldi always snuggles up to Ingo and keeps him very close. Tanja captured some nice, playful and absolutely heartwarming moments of the two together and it’s an incredibly sweet sight to behold.dog-owl-4

Tanja regularly posts updates about Ingo, Poldi and their families on her website and Instagram account. All of the pictures are truly stunning and unique.dog-owl-7

Tanja took a photography workshop for beginners years ago and has always been a huge animal lover. She’s especially keen to canines and birds of prey. In other words, Ingo and Poldi aren’t only perfect for each other, but for Tanja as well.dog-owl-5

She also takes care of other birds such as hawks, falcons, and tons of other owls. Even though Tanja refers to the owlet as “Poldi”, it’s actually short for “Napoleon”.dog-owl-6

Of course, Ingo and Poldi both lead their separate lives, but the best friends regularly hang out together and Tanja is always close by to capture their beautiful moments on camera.

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Now, if that didn’t warm your heart, then you don’t have one!  I had hoped to post a video clip of the two, and I found a few, but none that called to me.  I hope that Ingo and Poldi brought a smile to your face this morning.  Now go forth and have a marvelous fall weekend!

Saturday Surprise — Critter Tales ‘N Stuff

Hey folks … it’s the weekend!  The last weekend in September, as it were, and fall is in the air, right?  Right?  Wait a minute … if fall is in the air, why is the air 92° F (33° C) outside?  Forecast to be above 90° through at least Tuesday.  Sheesh.  Well, anyway, fortunately my a/c finally … after 5 tries … did get fixed, for which I am thankful.  I am in critter-mode today … yeah, yeah, I know … what amn’t I in critter mode?  (And yes, I do know that ‘amn’t’ is not legit, but I liked it) Anyway, you’ll get a kick out of what I’ve found to start your weekend with a smile …


You all may have seen this story already, for it has been making the rounds on the Internet … I had seen he headline numerous times, but hadn’t actually read the story until last night when I was trolling the ‘Net looking for ideas for this post.  It’s about a couple and their dog, Katie, and I don’t know about you, but it brought tears to my eyes.katie-3Katie, a seven-year-old border collie, escaped from a hotel room in July during a trip to Montana with owners Carole and Verne King. Though she’s a social and friendly dog, she’s also skittish and the couple believes the pup was scared by thunder and fled the My Place Hotel while they were out for dinner.katie-1They searched the hotel grounds, calling for Katie until early morning. Nothing.  The next day, King continued her search, putting up fliers, knocking on doors and posting on social media. In total, King thinks she put up about 500 flyers in the town and surrounding area. She and her husband also brought game cameras and night-vision goggles to their search.

“It was devastating. I got sick to my stomach. I never gave up. I never lost hope.”

To continue her search, King even gave up her job as a postal worker. Complete strangers were keeping her spirit high, sending encouraging texts and crafting sincere Facebook posts.

“I think what I got out of this was the kindness of strangers.”

Early on Sunday morning, Sept. 15, King got a call from a man in the Country Estates neighborhood. He said there was a dog matching Katie’s description in his yard. Just the day before, King and her friend Jan Leland posted fliers in the same neighborhood. Once again, she called Leland for help and rushed out the door. By the time they arrived, however, the dog was already gone.katie-5The pair decided to take a walk in the neighborhood, scanning the area with binoculars. They encountered a couple walking and asked if they’d seen a runaway border collie. They hadn’t. But the man said he saw a black dog heading north. King gave the couple a flier and was about to continue on her way.

“As the lady was walking back, she points over to the tree where it’s real dark and says, ‘Is that your dog?’  And I turn and it’s Katie. I just bear-hugged her, I wasn’t going to let her go. Tears were flying, we were screaming, everybody is high-fiving, hugging each other. People are stopping in their vehicles, getting out and hugging us. I think the whole neighborhood knew that we found her.”

katie-2After taking Katie to a local emergency vet clinic to assess her condition, King learned that her pup had lost 12 pounds and was severely dehydrated and in starvation mode.

“The doctor walked up to her and she said, “Is this the famous Katie? And her eyes welled up with tears. That touched me.”

The 7-year-old pup received fluids and orders for a special diet of two tablespoons of food every two hours to help retrain her stomach. Even though she’s skin and bones, everyone’s in good spirits as she is expected to make a full recovery.

Now that’s what I call love!


Leave it to big box store Target to start trouble.  They have come out with a new Hallowe’en product, and I made the mistake of letting the Feral Five see it.  According to the ad …

“One of the most perfect ways to put your cat in the Halloween mood without putting them into uncomfortable outfits (that they most likely aren’t very big fans of) is to get them something spooky to party in! And Target has something just like that to offer.  These haunted cat houses are a perfect treat for a cat (or other small critter) and are here just in time for Halloween.”

cathouse-3And then … as I was scrolling through looking at the pictures, I saw Tiger Lily looking over my shoulder with some strange look in her eye.  She must have called to the rest in that way of silently communicating that they have, for within 30 seconds, I had Oliver in my lap, Boo atop my desk, Pandora on the arm of my chair, and Tiger on the back of my chair.  I was scared, let me tell you.  No, Izzy didn’t come out of hiding … actually, I think at that time she was in the kitchen taking advantage of a fresh bowl of kibble. cathouse-4I’ve got to admit that it is pretty cute.  The ‘Haunted Mansion Cat Scratcher’ combines a cat’s favorite thing in the world – a cardboard box – with black and orange Halloween elements of a scary house riddled with cobwebs and ghosts.  It comes with a two-floor design that includes a perch pad on top and features a scratcher floor on both levels for “endless entertainment”.

“No, guys … just no.  The thing probably costs $50 and I can’t afford it!”

But, I sometimes forget that Boo is quite capable of reading for himself, and he opened his mouth, let out a hiss, and said …

“Gwammie … you lyin’ to us … lookie dere … it only costed $16.99 … dat’s not a wot of money, Gwammie.  Can we … pwease, pwease, pwease???”  😺😺😺😺😺

cathouseSigh.  I will be making a trip to Target tomorrow.


Take a look at this lemon …lemon-cakeBut it’s really …lemon-cakeA cake!!!

And here are a few others …Doritos-cakeeggs-cakelatte-cakepack-cakePretty cool, yes?


Well, folks, that’s a wrap for today … oh … can’t forget the cute animal video now, can I?  This is an alpaca named Capudo.  Capudo was born on a farm into a herd of about 8 alpacas, but sadly his mum died when he was only a few days old, so the farmer took him home to let his daughter tend to him for six months until he could be weaned from the bottle and returned to the herd.  But, turns out Capudo loved the family and especially the family’s dogs so much that, while he visits the herd several times a week, he always seems to want to return to the farmhouse at the end of the day.  Watch … you’ll fall in love with him!


Have a great weekend, my friends!weekend

Saturday Surprise — Environmentally Fun!

Welcome and Happy Saturday, my friends!  Big plans for the weekend?  Not me.  Chris is drumming this morning at the Walk for Prostate Cancer, and the rest of the weekend will likely be spent just trying not to roast, as our air-conditioning is still, after a new heat pump, new thermostat, and new condensing unit, not working!  And, of course Mother Nature picked this time to send temps to record highs in the 90s for a ten-day streak.

Today’s two stories are both eco-friendly … they pertain in one way or another to conservation … but they’re fun, too!


I am not a fan of McDonald’s … at least not the food.  Many years ago, when Miss Goose was little, we made it a once-a-week destination, but fortunately her palate matured, and she has moved on to other favourite restaurants.  But, today I must give two thumbs up to McDonalds for their environmental conscience!

Most of us are aware of the bee crisis.  It is estimated that in the U.S., 44% of the bee colonies died out in 2016 alone, and since bees pollinate some 80% of the food we eat, this has serious implications for life on this planet.  McDonald’s in Sweden has begun trying to save the bees in the most charming ways!

It started out with planting bee-friendly flowers around the restaurants, and hosting beehives on their roofs.  But then, a few months ago, McDonald’s commissioned a professional carpenter to make the ‘smallest ever McDonald’s,” which is, in fact, a fully functioning beehive featuring a McDonald’s sign, drive-through, an outside seating area and even little advertisements on the windows!McDonalds-1

McDonalds-2

McDonalds-4

McDonalds-5Take a look …

But it doesn’t end there!  Now, they are at it again by creating small ‘bee hotels’ on the back of their billboards.  30% of wild bees in Sweden are threatened, mainly because they do not have enough resting areas, so the company teamed up with outdoor advertising firm JCDecaux to turn the backs of its billboards into tiny “hotels.”McDonalds-3Granted, these are all small things, likely only to save a few thousand bees, but hey!  It’s a start, right?


This week celebrated the 5th year of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, and as you might guess from the name, some of these animal pictures are quite funny!  If you’re looking for your daily dose of cuteness, you’ve come to the right place!

1

Family Disagreement

2

Holly Jolly Snowy

3

Oh My!

4

Laid Back

5

Deer?  What Deer?

7

Excuse me

9

Squirrel Wishes

10

Hi

11

Warning:  Territory Marking.  Follow At Your Own Risk

13

Monday Morning Blues

15

Hello

16

Laughing Zebra

19

Spaceman

20

Dancing … Yeah

21

Who Would Like A Peanut?

23

Indecent Proposal

26

To Be Or Not To Be?

33

Sea Otter Tickle Fight

34

Snarling Snappin In The Slow Lane

38

Hip Hop

Tom Sullum and Paul Joynson-Hicks are the founders of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, and in addition to having fun with it all, they have a serious purpose as well …

“Remember, we are all about conservation. We want you to take up our banner of wildlife conservation, bang the drum, beat the cymbal and make some noise, we need to spread the word – wildlife, as we know it,  is in danger, all over the world and we need to do something to help save it. You can start by going and having a look at what the Born Free Foundation are doing at www.bornfree.org.uk


And finally, it wouldn’t be Saturday Surprise without a funny animal video, now would it?


Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise … Just For Fun

Okay, folks … it’s the WEEKEND!  Time to shed those stifling work uniforms and kick up your heels just a bit.  And, after a brief hiatus, Saturday Surprise is back!  Except for the Feral Five, I rarely show personal pictures, but today I have a few that I just must share.  This spring, we planted our usual array of flowers, our favourites being sunflowers.  Well, to say that we planted them would be a fib … Miss Goose actually did all the planting.  We … she … waited a bit late, and so, while they sprouted quickly enough, we have been waiting all summer long for most of them to bloom.  The cosmos came up and bloomed quickly, but everything else has been just rather a jungle, devoid of colourful blooms.  But, in the past week, the sunflowers have bloomed!

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This was a couple of days ago — there are more now, but since it’s dark, I can’t take another pic

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The cosmos

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This tiny little sunflower, only about 6″ tall, sprouted up among the 5′ giants!

Now, every year, our tiny garden is visited by a pair of beautiful yellow birds, but we hadn’t seen the birds yet this year.  On Thursday morning when I had just come in from watering the jungle, I looked out the front window and …

I still haven’t seen his partner … I hope he or she (I haven’t yet determined their genders, for they don’t allow me to get close enough) … is okay, and hopefully now that the sunflowers are in full bloom, they will both come ‘round to visit more often!

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Oliver says “Hi”


I have no particular direction today, but just went looking for fun things to start this weekend out on the right foot.


And speaking of feet … the holidays aren’t all that far away, y’know, so it’s time to start shopping for those fun things for your friends and family.  I came across the perfect thing!  Chicken Leg socks!  Look!

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They are available on Amazon, in case you’re interested, for $5.99 and up!  Might want to order several pair for those quirky family members … don’t deny you have them … we all do!


I’ve seen some … um, shall we say “different” hair-do’s in my day, but … these take the cake!

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What do you bet he’s from Texas?


A few funny pictures …

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A couple of jokes …

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And I wrap it all up with an adorable animal video about a baby pig named Debby and a giant dog named George …


And that, my friends, is all I’ve got for today.  Have a safe and fun weekend!!!weekend

Saturday Something … er, Surprise — Birds ‘N Critters!

Good morning, friends, and happy weekend!!!  I bet you’re all tired from this past week … I know I am, and I don’t have a job to go to every day!  I realized last night that it’s been a while since I’ve done a Saturday Surprise that focuses exclusively on unique animals.  Those are always so much fun, and we learn something, too.  One of these days, though, I will likely run out of unique animals … perhaps then I’ll have to replay the old ones.  But for today, I was able to find some new ones for us to enjoy.

But before the unique animals … I found a cute feature over on Bored Panda of some birds being ornery that I thought you would get a kick out of …


I’ve seen woodpeckers damage a tree before, but never like this!woodpecker.jpgPoor tree!  That had to hurt.  Apparently this guy didn’t much care for being in a cage …bird-cage

Ever hear of an Australian Firehawk?  Apparently they are quite the firestarters.  Sometimes working alone, other times in groups, they spread wildfires intentionally via single-occasion or repeated transport of burning sticks in talons or beaks. After successfully spreading the fire, the “firehawks” are able to pick out fleeing prey or munch on the charred remains of those critters who didn’t make it out in time.Australian-firehawks

I don’t know the story behind this one, but those choppers don’t belong to that pigeon, and somebody is in a panic looking for their teeth right about now …pigeon-dentures

This next one brings to mind a funny story.  Years ago, when I worked for a mid-size publishing company, one year a family of geese settled in the grassy area next to our parking lot.  After their eggs hatched, they became very protective and would, at first, attack anybody who came near.  We all learned not to park our cars in that section of the lot.  As time went by, though, they got even more aggressive, and one day, our receptionist got a call from a visitor saying he was parked out front, but there was a goose that wouldn’t let him get out of his car!  Another time, one of the geese attacked a new maintenance man, and he resigned after only a few days on the job … said he didn’t take the job to fight off killer birds!  Eventually, the geese flew south for the winter and peace was restored.goose

Uh-oh …uh-oh

I think this bird might just have bitten off more than he can chew …bird-cat

Ouch!ouch

This hawk is about to learn a lesson about stealing beehives …hawk-beehive

Where to park your peacock …peacock

I sense a fight about to happen and feathers are gonna fly!cat-bird

He just wanted a little bite of the ice cream …gull-ice-cream


And now for just a few of those unique critters that we don’t see around every day.

This guy is a Pink Fairy Armadillo, also known as the Pichiciego, and is the smallest species of armadillo known.  This unique animal resides in the dry grasslands and sandy plains of central Argentina. This sandy environment works well for the pink fairy armadillo since they are excellent diggers. In fact, they have the ability to completely bury themselves in a matter of seconds if threatened.pink-fairy-armadillo


Meet the Dumbo Octopus, so named because of the two large fins on either side that look somewhat like elephant ears.  Dumbo octopuses live at extreme depths in oceans around the world—up to 13,000 feet below the surface—and are the deepest-living octopuses known. They feed on snails, worms, and other creatures they hoover up from the ocean floor.  Don’t you just love the way he’s sticking his little tongue out?dumbo-octopus


Isn’t this Sunda Colugo just adorable?  He’s closely related to flying lemurs, and are found in Southeast Asia and are endemic to Indochina and Sundaland, spending their entire lives in tropical rainforests.  Sunda flying lemurs have bold patches of color that look similar to lichen on a tree, which aid in camouflage. While Sunda flying lemurs cannot fly, a membrane of skin called a patagium allows them to glide.Sunda-Colugo-1

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This is a Sally Lightfoot Crab, aka grapsus grapsus.  We don’t typically think of crabs as being beautiful, but Sally certainly is colourful!  The origin of the sally lightfoot crab’s name is still debated. Some people say that the sally lightfoot crab was named after a Caribbean dancer.  The sally lightfoot crab can run very fast, leap, jump, and seemingly fly to avoid predators.Sally-1Sally-2


This guy looks like something from a science-fiction movie, don’t you think?  He is a Marine Iguana, is found only in the Galapagos Islands and actually forages for food underwater which is unique for any kind of iguana. The Marine Iguana can actually dive in the water up to depths of 9m and can be found in practically all of the rocky shores of the islands. Various colours of the iguana exist – some are bright green and orange, while others have a beautiful red undertone.marine-iguana


And finally, because I thought the Pink Fairy Armadillo was so cute, I found this video about them, and other armadillos!

Now go have yourselves a great weekend!

Saturday Surprise — Quoth The Raven, Nevermore!

Good morning and welcome to the …weekendI missed Saturday Surprise … was it last week, or the week before?  Anyway, I am told by Gem that young Benjamin was disappointed, and I cannot let down my youngest reader, so I have something special in mind for today that I think all of you, from youngest to oldest will enjoy!  Our friend David told me something last week that I had to confirm via Google.  I think David was a bit miffed with me when I told him I thought he was pulling my leg (not that he would ever do such a thing!), but it turns out he was right.  He told me that ravens guard the Tower of London!  Well, not only was he right, but the stories surrounding the ravens are fun and fascinating!

The legend of the Tower ravens

It is said that the Kingdom and the Tower of London will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the fortress. There are seven ravens at the Tower today — the required six, plus one spare!

Charles II (reigned 1660–85) is thought to have been the first to insist that the ravens of the Tower be protected after he was warned that the crown and the Tower itself would fall if they left.

The King’s order was given against the wishes of his astronomer, John Flamsteed, who complained the ravens impeded the business of his observatory in the White Tower.

There are numerous variations of the legend, but we’ll stick with this one, for I’m writing a post, not a book, and there are other fun things.  This is the earliest depiction of the ravens in a drawing from 1883 titled Ravens in the Tower of London.Ravens-Tower-London.pngNow, you might wonder what keeps the ravens in the tower grounds.  Well, from the book by Boria Sax, City of Ravens: The Extraordinary History of London, the Tower and its Famous Ravens

“The ravens are now treated almost like royalty. Like the Royals, the ravens live in a palace and are waited on by servants. They are kept at public expense, but in return they must show themselves to the public in settings of great splendour. So long as they abide by certain basic rules …”

And it was just those “certain basic rules” that got one Raven, George, exiled for his bad behaviour.

George had a very good assignment, for a raven in the 1970s. Living at the Tower of London, he was fed better than any raven would have been in the wild—a steady diet of raw meat and blood-soaked biscuits. He lived alongside a small corps of other ravens, where visitors streamed by each day. The one restriction on his life was movement: With one wing clipped, he was confined to the Tower grounds.

raven-2That captivity chafed, though, and George would not abide it. George figured out how to climb a fire escape, perch high up on a wall, and glide down safely. Finally, in 1981, he went AWOL. Apprehended at a pub, he was forced to return to duty at the Tower. But still, he could not uphold the standards demanded of his station. Five years after, the Tower announced:

“On Saturday 13th September 1986, Raven George, enlisted 1975, was posted to the Welsh Mountain Zoo. Conduct unsatisfactory, service therefore no longer required.”

His final offense? He had destroyed five TV antennas in just one week.  In 1996, two more ravens fell out of favour and were dismissed from the Tower for “conduct unbecoming Tower residents.”  In 1981, Grog the raven decided to leave the surroundings of the Tower for those of a pub, after 21 years of faithful service to the Crown.  In contrast, a raven named Mabel was kidnapped from the Tower soon after World War II, a mystery that has never been solved.

raven-3And then there’s the tale of two ravens named James Crow and Edgar Sopper.  James Crow, who was a much-loved and long-lived raven, had died. After noticing the commotion surrounding the other raven’s death, Edgar Sopper decided he could “play dead” in order to bring more attention to himself. His trick was so convincing that the ravenmaster fully believed that Edgar Sopper had died. When the ravenmaster picked up the “corpse”, Edgar bit the man’s finger and “flapped off croaking huge raven laughs”.

In April, 4 raven chicks were born to Huginn and Muninn … take a look at proud ravenmaster Chris Skaife tell the tale …

It is the first time in 30 years that new raven chicks have been hatched in the Tower of London, so needless to say, there was much joy!  Only one of the chicks will be staying at the Tower of London once they’ve all matured. Depending on which one gets to stay, it will be named George or Georgina, in honor of its birthday on April 23, also known as St. George’s Day. The other three will be sent to a breeding specialist in Somerset.raven-trash-dutyIn addition to Muninn and Huggin, and eventually little George or Georgina, the other ravens at the Tower of London include females Erin, Poppy, and Merlina, and males Jubilee, Harris, Gripp, and Rocky.  Jubilee was presented to the Queen to mark the Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and later released in the Tower, bringing the total number to eight.

Jubilee and Munin Ravens

Jubilee and Muninn

For everything you always wanted to know about the tower ravens, watch ravenmaster Chris Skaife answer all those questions you didn’t even know you had!

And on that note, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  Keep safe and do something fun!raven-on-watch

Saturday Surprise — Critters ‘N Creatures

I missed Saturday Surprise last week, partly because I didn’t realize it was Saturday until it already was, and it was too late to pull together a post, and partly because a ‘thing’ happened that interfered with my good humour.  So, I made a ‘note to self’ to be sure to try to make this Saturday’s Surprise extra special.  Now, you know that in my lingo, “extra special” is going to involve some critters, right?


Wee ones …

I happened upon some pictures from a photography contest called #Small2019.  Take a look at a few of the ones I found most fascinating …

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Best Friends

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Hungry

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The snail kisses the frog

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Sleepy Hedgehog

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Transparent

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Roommates

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Purple Love

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Gentle

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Catch Up

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Three Hungry Chicks

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Going Home

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Team Work

 


Now where is that darned …

Saurabh Desai is a wildlife photographer.  Desai recently posted a photo he had taken in the Spiti Valley of Northern India that’s left internet users scratching their heads. At a glance, it appears to be a simple landscape shot of a snow-covered crag — but there’s more to the image than first meets the eye.

Turns out, Desai was actually there photographing a snow leopard, an elusive big cat native to the region, whose perfectly camouflaged coat makes him blend into his landscape to a breathtaking degree.

Can you find him?

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I’ll show you where he is …

Hmmmm … maybe not.  Heh heh … I’ll show you at the end of this post, fair ‘nuff?


Lucas …

I found the cutest little guy quite by accident a few days ago, and I saved him to show you.  His name is Lucas and he’s a spider … but don’t worry … I think even those who suffer arachnophobia will fall in love with Lucas!


Budi …

And lastly, what would life be without a cute animal video?  This one is about a baby orangutan named Budi who was rescued after spending his first year locked up in a chicken cage because someone wanted to keep him as a pet.  In this video, he’s learning how to be wild!


As promised, here is the great reveal of the location of the snow leopard … did you find it?leopard-2

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And now, let’s all go find ways to relax and enjoy our weekend, for Monday will return before you know it!  Have a terrific weekend, my friends!