Goldcrests in the cemetery


Today, to the cemetery again.

Great tits. Blue tits. A robin sings.

Blackbirds. Jays. Wood pigeons. Magpies.

Then, in coniferous trees, a group of coldcrests.

This is a goldcrest video.

In the same tree as a goldcrest, a nuthatch climbs.

A bit later on the same tree, a short-toed treecreeper climbs.

As we walk back, house sparrows in their usual tree in a garden.

Turkish book censorship, a little less


This video is about a poem about the 1945 Hiroshima nuclear bomb, The little girl. The poem is by famous Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet.

According to Dutch NOS TV, the Turkish government has taken 450 books off the banned books list.

NOS TV says these are politically Leftist books, by authors like Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and John Steinbeck.

The Turkish banned books list contains works supposedly written by “enemies of the Turkish state”.

A bit strange that authors like Marx, Lenin, and Steinbeck are considered to be “enemies of the Turkish state”.

Karl Marx died long before the Turkish republic was founded on October 29, 1923. His writings contain kind words about the Turkish peasantry.

Lenin died shortly after the founding of the Turkish republic, in January 1924. In 1921, he had contributed to the Treaty of Kars between the Caucasian Soviet republics and Turkey, ending the First World War between the collapsed Ottoman and Czarist empires.

I am not aware that United States novelist John Steinbeck ever wrote anything about the Turkish state.

Turkish daily Hürriyet writes:

‘Of Mice and Men‘ gets taste of Turkish censor

The İzmir Education Directorate’s books commission is seeking to ban certain parts of John Steinbeck’s classic “Of Mice and Men” for several “immoral” passages, according to daily BirGün.

The book “contains immoral sections” and is “unfit for educational use,” according to the commission’s report.

Despite the call, Steinbeck’s classic is one of the Turkish Education Ministry’s “100 Fundamental Novels.”

January/02/2013

See also here.

NOS TV reports that though these 450 books by Marx, Lenin, Steinbeck and others are now off the censorship list, another about 5000 books are still on it.

So, a not really impressive measure by the Turkish government. It reminds me a bit of the most famous Turkish poet, Nazim Hikmet. Decades after Hikmet died, the Turkish government at last gave him back his Turkish nationality; and announced that Turks reading his poems would no longer be arrested. During the Cold War, the Turkish government, being a slavish NATO ally, had taken away the citizenship of Leftist Hikmet.

‘Extinct’ Australian echidna still living?


This video from Australia says about itself:

19 Oct 2010

Taronga has recently moved one of its two Long-beaked Echidnas into the Australian Nightlife nocturnal exhibit creating a world first for the zoo. This means that Taronga is now the only place in the world where people can see all three [?] species of monotreme together. A monotreme is actually a rare family of mammals unique to Australia, which lay eggs. They include the Platypus, the Long-beaked Echidna and the Short-beaked Echidna.

From Wildlife Extra:

Long-beaked echidna, thought extinct in Australia since Ice Age, may still cling on in Kimberley

Scientists discover Australian long-beaked echidna in London’s Natural History Museum

January 2013. The western long-beaked echidna, one of the world’s five egg-laying species of mammal, became extinct in Australia thousands of years ago…or did it? Smithsonian scientists and colleagues have found evidence suggesting that not only did these animals survive in Australia far longer than previously thought, but that they may very well still exist in parts of the country today.

Small, Critically Endangered, population survives on New Guinea

With a small and declining population confined to the Indonesian portion of the island of New Guinea, the western long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijnii) is listed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

Considered extinct in Australia since Ice Age – but……………

It is also considered extinct in Australia, where fossil remains from the Pleistocene epoch demonstrate that it did occur there tens of thousands of years ago. Ancient Aboriginal rock art also supports the species’ former presence in Australia. However, no modern record from Australia was known to exist until scientists took a closer look at one particular specimen stored in cabinets in the collections of the Natural History Museum in London. Previously overlooked, the specimen’s information showed that it was collected from the wild in north-western Australia in 1901-thousands of years after they were thought to have gone extinct there.

“Sometimes while working in museums, I find specimens that turn out to be previously undocumented species,” said Kristofer Helgen of the Smithsonian Institution, the lead author and the scientist to first report the significance of the echidna specimen. “But in many ways, finding a specimen like this, of such an iconic animal, with such clear documentation from such an unexpected place, is even more exciting.”

Egg-laying mammals

Long-beaked echidnas are known as monotremes-a small and primitive order of mammals that lay eggs rather than give birth to live young. The platypus, the short-beaked echidna, and the three species of long-beaked echidna (Western, Eastern and Sir David Attenborough’s) are the only monotremes that still exist. The platypus is found only in eastern Australia, the short-beaked echidna is found in Australia and New Guinea, and the long-beaked echidnas were previously known as living animals only from the island of New Guinea. Long-beaked echidnas, which grow to twice the size of the platypus or the short-beaked echidna, are beach-ball sized mammals covered in coarse blackish-brown hair and spines. They use their long, tubular snout to root for invertebrates in the forests and meadows of New Guinea. Among many peculiar attributes, reproduction is one of the most unique-females lay a single leathery egg directly into their pouch where it hatches in about 10 days.

Found in Kimberley in 1901

The re-examined specimen in London reveals that the species was reproducing in Australia at least until the early 20th century. It was collected in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia by naturalist John T. Tunney in 1901, on a collecting expedition for the private museum of Lord L. Walter Rothschild in England. Despite collecting many species of butterflies, birds and mammals (some new to science at the time), no full report on his specimens has ever been published. The collection, including the long-beaked echidna specimen, was then transferred to the Natural History Museum in London in 1939 after Rothschild’s death. It was another 70 years before Helgen visited the museum in London and came across the specimen with the original Tunney labels, which both challenged previous thinking about the species’ recent distribution and offered insight into where it may still occur.

“The discovery of the western long-beaked echidna in Australia is astonishing,” said Professor Tim Flannery of Macquarie University in Sydney, referring to the new study. “It highlights the importance of museum collections, and how much there is still to learn about Australia’s fauna.”

Search for live animals

Learning whether the western long-beaked echidna still exists in Australia today will take time. “The next step will be an expedition to search for this animal,” Helgen said. “We’ll need to look carefully in the right habitats to determine where it held on, and for how long, and if any are still out there.” To find it, Helgen hopes to draw on his experience with the species in New Guinea and to interview those who know the northern Australian bush best. “We believe there may be memories of this animal among Aboriginal communities, and we’d like to learn as much about that as we can,” he said.

With the species in danger of extinction, finding Australian survivors or understanding why and when they vanished is an important scientific goal. “We hold out hope that somewhere in Australia, long-beaked echidnas still lay their eggs,” said Helgen.

The team’s findings are published in the Dec. 28, 2012 issue of the journal ZooKeys.

One should hope that Big Oil and Big Mining, which threaten dinosaur tracks in the Kimberley region, will not also threaten western long-beaked echidnas, if they survive there.