Thursday, December 31, 2009

Camera Critters: Winter Birds

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a redwing (Turdus iliacus), a bird that migrates through Germany in search of warmer regions

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a pair of blackbirds (Turdus merula), the female in the front. These days, many blackbirds are all year-long residents and in cities, you can see big groups of twenty or thirty birds foraging together. In smaller towns and in the country, there's usually a pair that defends its territory against all other blackbirds.

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a European robin (Erithacus rubecula)

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a Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla) - they are tiny and very well camouflaged against the bark. But once you have seen one, they are great to watch because they will spiral down a tree, looking for insects, and then fly up into the next tree and spiral down again.

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a pair of Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus)
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a Great Tit (Parus major), probably a female because of the small black stripe down the front, it's larger with males

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a male Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Except for the redwing, these are birds you will probably see when you put up a feeder in Germany. To see more animal photos, visit the Camera Critters meme

MyWorld Tuesday: Botanical Garden

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Going to the Botanical Garden in the middle of winter? Most people think there's nothing to see, but there is.
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We met about five other people, which was fine by me. I enjoyed the quiet and the sound of the snow when we walked.
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After two hours, I was freezing and glad to see the little hut where we sat and drank some hot tea. It's a replica of a shelter woodcutters in Finland use and it warms up pretty fast even with only two people in it.

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a tea crabapple tree - the apples are edible, but apparently don't taste really good. The redwings (Turdus iliacus) didn't mind and hung out in that tree in a group of about 40 birds.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

MyWorld Tuesday: Museum fuer Kunst und Gewerbe part 1

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The Museum fuer Kunst und Gewerbe is one of my favourite museums in Hamburg. They have an amazing, huge collection of such things as porcellain, jewellery, textiles, musical instruments from ancient Greek to modern times. At the moment they're renovating and some collections are closed, but there's still a lot to see.
Let's start in ancient Greece and Egypt.
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a statue of Eros, from around 400 BC

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click to see a bigger version - the painting on the vase shows Athena, who was born by jumping from her father Zeus's skull, marching towards life along Zeus' arm. The vase dates to 460 BC.

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a demon fighting warriors (600-575 BC), from Corinth

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this is a kantharos - a piece of pottery used for drinking, they came in a great variety of shapes (460 BC)

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a silenus (silenoi?) is carrying a girl while playing a game of Ephedrimos (300 BC)

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a mummy mask, 100-200 AD

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a mummy portrait of a young woman from the Fayum oasis. These portraits are very realistic and give us an excellent idea of how people looked, what they wore ect.

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a hydria, a vase found in a grave in Apulia. It was never meant to be used in daily life, but purely as a burial object
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a figurine of a boy riding on a pig - I like his face (300 BC)

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Some caricatures of people from the lower classes. The details of their faces are amazing.
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an actor wearing a comedy mask, 100 BC

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my favourite piece in that section, a figurine of a little reading girl from Greece, 300 BC.

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an earring. Again, click for a bigger version and you can see a tiny woman who is playing a game of Astragaloi (knucklebones). You take five goat knucklebones, throw them up and then try to catch all of them on the back of your hand. Below the earing are two decorative pieces in the form of knucklebones. The whole piece of about 1.5 inches long. 300 BC.

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There's also a small collection of Roman busts and I was fascinated by the detailed, lifelike faces. Some are known (the first one is Livia, the wife of emperor Augustus), but most are anonymus. it makes you wonder who they were and what kind life they lived. They date from around 50-100 AD.
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to be continued (we're going to Asia next time)!

Travel around the world with MyWorld Tuesday

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Camera Critters:More Squirrells!

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Two squirrels were making a meal out of some seeds in the trees in my friend's backyard. So much for squirrels being terrtorial, like I wrote last week. I did read that they sometimes shared a nest and a territory even outside the mating season, but that it was unusual.

Didn't matter for the other pair we saw near my home (that's a canoe it's sitting on)
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Doesn't it look like someone just forgot his stuffed toy on the lawn?


More animals over at Camera Critters

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

ABC Wednesday: V is for Venus Flytrap

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The trap has caught a fly, digested it an opened up again. Along came a Daddy Longlegs and tried to make a meal of the fly leftovers. Not such a brilliant idea.
What else does V stand for? Find out at ABC Wednesday

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Camera Critters: Squirrel on a Train

I just found some photos that reminded me of the squirrel I met on the train home about a year ago.
I was taking the suburban train and was just reading and listening to some music when something red, small and fast jumped in through the closing doors. It was a squirrel that had probably tried to cross the station platform and now it was frantic, running all over the wagon.
With the help of some other people I managed to trap it with my leather jacket and then took it home (I had to get off at that station anyway), thinking that I would set it free in my backyard. But then I remembered about squirrels being territorial and that it had probably already begun to gather food for the winter. So I managed to get it into a kritter keeper at home and then took it back to where it came from.
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See the hair tufts on the ears? They only have those in winter, to keep the ears warm, and the feet get hairy, too. It was a quite well-behaved squirrel, it didn't bite me, didn't pee on my jacket and it was pretty calm (or more likely scared stiff) once I had it in the box.

See the Camera Critters meme for more critters!

Monday, December 7, 2009

ABC Wednesday: U is for U-Boot

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This is the German WWII submarine U995, now a museum ship at Laboe near Kiel. I've always been fascinated by submarines, I think I have seen the movie Das Boot for the first time when I was 12 or so and many times since. U995 was the first real u-boat I've seen. By now I've seen quite a few, mostly German WWII subs all over Europe, but also the modern Russian submarine in Hamburg and the USS Pampanito in San Francisco.
They have a beauty and elegance that makes it easy to forget that they are deadly - both for the ships they hunt and for their own crew. The u-boats were called Iron Coffins in WWII and with good reason, only 1/4 of all men who served on them ever made it back and many of them were barely out of their teens.

What else does U stand for? Find out with ABC Wednesday

MyWorld Tuesday: First Frost

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Last Wednesday, winter came by for a short visit. But apparently, Hamburg didn't agree with him and we're back to rain and grey skies. Which is not unusual for Hamburg, there's only very little snow during the winter.

Travel the world with MyWorld Tuesday

Friday, December 4, 2009

Camera Critters: Arche Warder

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a Bentheim Black Pied pig at the Arche Warder, a zoo for rare breeds of domesticated animals. They keep about 1000 animals, many breeds have only a few hundred individuals left worldwide. The Bentheim Black Pied has only about 100 registered breeding animals left. They are huge, weighing around 200 kilos, boars up to 250. Don't call him Babe.

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a Konik - they are genetically pretty close to the Tarpan, the extinct European wild horse and the breed is a result of trying to breed back the Tarpan.

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a Jacob's Sheep - this one doesn't just have four horns, but also different eyes. They can even have six horns!

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a White Park

See more animals at the Camera Critters meme