Saturday, January 31, 2009

Camera Critters

Vir, Londo and Dr. Bunsen

Some of my hermit crabs enjoying a walk on the wall. From left to right: Dr Bunsen, Londo and Vir. Londo died a while ago during a molt (crabs shed their exoskeleton and it's a very stressful procedure for them), but the other two are still with me. Vir is about the size of a small apple and my guess is that he's about 30 years old.
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All land hermit crabs are wildcaught and there's no good way to tell their age, so it's just a guess. But there are two crabs who have lived for 30 years in captivity, they are bigger than Vir, and there are even bigger crabs known (the size of a small coconut), so it's safe to assume that they can grow much older than that. Most of my crabs are rescues, though, from people who couldn't or wouldn't keep them anymore.

They enjoy climbing (again, Dr Bunsen):
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shopping for new shells (Trinity)
Trinity goes shell shopping

and sometimes just sitting and staring into space (Horatio)
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or hiding in their shell (Bartleby, named after the Melville short story Bartleby the Scrivener because he'd prefer not to ... come out of his shell, walk around ect. - at least not when anyone's watching)
Bartleby

This is my crabitat, a terrarium 3x1.5x1.5 ft long, wide and high (roughly a 80g) that houses 16 crabs, they are very social and love company.
Crabitat May 2006, left side: the Jungle
left side - the jungle with hiding places, plants and fresh water
Crabitat May 2006, right side: the Beach
right side - the beach with saltwater and extra shells

If you want to learn more about land hermit crabs, check this website:
http://www.thecrabbagepatch.com/

and go over to the Camera Critters meme to see more critter photos!

Monday, January 26, 2009

MyWorld Tuesday

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I took a walk on the Ohlsdorf cemetery this Sunday and discovered the graves of British/Commonwealth soldiers who died during WWII in Germany and were buried here. Most of them were aviators and the graves in the picture are those of a flight crew who died together.

There are a few hundred graves and a small chapel where you can look up a list with all the names of the men buried here.
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The cemetery is the biggest non-military cemetery worldwide and you can walk there for hours. it's very park-like, with small lakes, lots of trees and a lot of wildlife. There are many old graves, the cemetery was opened in 1877, and many have really beautiful sculptures and gravemarkers. It's a bit like reading a history book - there are soldiers buried here from both world wars, people who died during the bombing of Hamburg (Operation Gomorrha), the victims of the big flood in 1962 ect. There's even a prehistoric burial mound, but you have to know that it's there or you'd walk right past it.

Travel round the world over at MyWorld Tuesday

Monday, January 12, 2009

MyWorld Tuesday

It's been pretty cold in Hamburg for a while now and even the Elbe is freezing over, that's a rare occurrence. The port is still pretty much navigable, but upstream icebreakers are already needed.
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The shore is full of ice washed up during the high tide. In the background, a container ship is towed into the port.

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Another container ship being loaded, you can see the ice on the water in the foreground. The water looks weird when it moves, viscous like honey. I had read about this, but never seen the effect myself.

While I was taking pictures, the ferry arrived and we decided to take it. It goes to Finkenwerder across the Elbe and back, taking about 45 minutes - it's always a nice trip and this time it was special. A cloudless sky, the moon almost full and very bright, the ice scraping the hull of the ship. The cold wind on our face and the lights of the busy port aglow in the dark.
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Travel arund the world with MyWorld Tuesday

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Today's Flowers

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a water lily, the photo was taken at the Conservatory of Flowers in San Fransisco - an amazing place.
See more beautiful flowers over at the Today's Flowers meme

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Camera Critters

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a village weaver, Ploceus cucullatus, at Hagenbecks Tierpark. Photos published with kind permission.
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They are extremely noisy and alwas busy with building their nests.

See more critters over at the Camera Critters meme

Monday, January 5, 2009

MyWorld Tuesday

2009 starts with snow and a really cold spell. Even the gulls down at the port don't want to move much and prefer to hunker down somewhere.
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I wanted to get a view across the port, but the weather had other idea. That's not fog, it's all snow.
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Here's a German New Year tradition: Dinner for One. It's a sketch and it's show every New Year's Eve on TV several times on different channels. Just about everyone in Germany know it and most of the people in (West) Germany have watched it year for year ever since it was shown for the first time in 1963.
Miss Sophie is celebrating her 90th birthday and has invited her four best friends. There's just the tiny little problem that they are all dead and have been for decades, but Miss Sophie and her butler James have found a solution for that. I have no idea if anyone outside Germany will find this funny and I always wondered about that - so let me know :)


Travel around the world over at the My World Tuesday meme!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Today's Flowers

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Lichen are a partnership between a fungus and a plant and they are an ancient group, the oldest fossil lichens found are about 400 milliuon years old. They are delicate and grow extremely slowly, only a few centimeters or even millimeters per year. At the same time they are very hardy and are often the first organisms to colonize a barren area, stabilizing the soil for plants to grow in.

If you come across a rock looking like this
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or this
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while hiking, try not to step on it and don't disturb it - it's not a funny-coloured rock, but a lichen that may well be a lot older than you are.
The first two photos are lichen growing on a handrail on a trail round the Fuerwigge water reservoir in the Sauerland, the last two were taken at the Hickson Petroglyph Area in Nevada. The yellow one is probably Xanthoria parietina, I have no idea about the others.

See more flowers over at the Today's Flowers meme

Friday, January 2, 2009

Camera Critters

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The zoo in Duisburg was the first zoo in Europe to keep and breed koalas and is still the only one in Germany. They are my favourite animals, ever since my parents gave me a stuffed toy koala for birthday when I was three years old.

They don't do a lot. They typical koala posture is like this
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But if you're lucky and patient, they do wake up now and then to get something to eat.
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The zoo offers five different eucalyptus species every day and the koalas are very picky about what they eat, choosing a leaf of that and a leaf of this. Otherwise they would poison themselves, eucalyptus contains a lot of toxins.
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Visit the Camera Critters meme for more cute animals!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Skywatch Friday

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Sunset in Hamburg Bergedorf. More skies form around the world over at Skywatch friday