Rivoli’s hummingbirds in Texas, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

6 September 2017

Four Rivoli’s Hummingbirds stopped by West Texas in under 5 minutes this morning! The two adult males, juvenile male, and female all sipped from the same port on the back left of the feeder, providing us with a great chance to compare plumages within the species. Check it out!

Adult males: Blackish, dark green bodies, brilliant teal gorget and purple crown

Immature male: scaled appearance, light green back, iridescent green splotch on throat

Adult female: bold white spot behind the eye, white-gray throat, gray flanks, green back

Watch live at http://allaboutbirds.org/texashummers for more information about hummingbirds and highlights from the feeders.

The West Texas Hummingbird Feeder Cam is nestled in the mountains outside Fort Davis, Texas, at an elevation of over 6200 feet. This site hosts a total of 24 Perky Pet Grand Master hummingbird feeders, and during peak migration can attract hundreds of hummingbirds from a dozen species that are migrating through the arid mountains.

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German extreme right against ‘degenerate’ art


This video from Gerrmany says about itself:

documenta 14 artist Olu Oguibe and The Obelisk

1 September 2017

By Sybille Fuchs in Germany:

Documenta 14 exhibition in Kassel, Germany: The censorship and defaming of art

6 September 2017

Two works of art dealing with the fate of refugees and exiles have become the focus for fierce attacks at this year’s documenta art exhibition in Kassel, in central Germany. …

The second controversy concerned an obelisk by the Nigerian artist Olu Oguibe, which was denounced as “degenerate art” by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. “Degenerate art” was the term used by the Nazis in the 1930s to justify banning and suppressing all progressive art. The obelisk evokes the tragedy of the Nigerian civil war. Its pedestal bears the biblical quotation: “I was a stranger and you cared for me” in four languages.

documenta 14 is one of Europe’s leading exhibitions of contemporary art and takes place every five years in the city of Kassel. This year’s exhibition stood out for the many artists addressing burning social problems such as war, immigration, oppression, the consequences of new walls and borders, and the destruction of nature and culture. The exhibition met with a mixed reaction, with many media outlets denouncing its political nature.

An additional source of controversy was the fact that this year’s documenta chose Athens as a second venue—recalling the country’s historic role as the cradle of democracy, now threatened by vicious European Union (EU)-International Monetary Fund (IMF) austerity diktats.

In contrast to the often hostile attitude of much of the media, the public has turned out in record numbers for documenta 14. The artists’ concerns have received a positive resonance, despite the individual weaknesses of their representations. A very diverse public appeared much more willing to engage with the questions and perspectives raised by the artists on culture and society than the media representatives. …

“Degenerate art”

Toward the end of the discussion, the curator of documenta 14, Hendrik Folkerts, drew attention to the other Kassel controversy: “In connection with Olu Oguibe’s obelisk, the AfD has used the concept of degenerate art,” he said. …

Kassel’s culture committee had discussed purchasing Oguibe’s obelisks, which had been erected in the city centre. One city councillor Thomas Materner, a member of the AfD, rejected any plans that the city retain the work of art and threatened to organise protests in front of the obelisk “every time a refugee commits an act of terror.”

Materner then denounced the obelisk in the jargon of the Nazis as “ideologically polarizing degenerate art,” claiming there was much public anger directed against the art work. In the style of the Nazis the term “degenerate” is used to conjure up imagery of sickness, abnormality—something unnatural.

To their credit, other factions on the council were in favour of purchasing the documenta art work. The final location is still unclear and the money required remains to be budgeted. Mayor Christian Geselle said there were no legal or technical reasons to prevent the art work from remaining in the city centre. A survey of over Kassel 5,000 citizens revealed that more than 60 percent favoured retaining the obelisk on the city’s Königsplatz.

The stance taken by the AfD against the obelisk has been criticized in the media, but the party’s open embrace of Nazi-style ideology and language indicates the most reactionary elements of society have been encouraged by the incessant and brutal policy of deportations of refugees combined with the attacks on freedom of expression.

Chickadees in North Carolina, USA


This video from North Carolina in the USA says about itself:

6 September 2017

Chickadees – just Chickadees for a change. A rare chance to have food to themselves except for one brief visitor. In the Great Smoky Mountains Black-capped and Carolina Chickadees ranges overlap and it can be a challenge to tell them apart. What type of Chickadees do you think these are?

Ancient Roman houses and Greek rock partridge


Glassware, 26 August 2017

On 26 August 2017, we went to the Casa Romana exhibition in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, the Netherlands. This photo shows glassware at the exhibition. Like the other photo in this blog post, it is a cell phone photo.

The exhibition is until 17 September. The museum writes about it:

Casa Romana provides a surprising introduction to the rich life of the residents of a fashionable Roman town villa. Visitors can look around the villa’s sumptuous interior, following the Romans’ everyday life from morning rituals to bedroom secrets. Countless objects from the museum collection have been incorporated into the rooms furnished for this exhibition, such as a dinner service, glassware, oil lamps, and portrait busts.

Mix of archaeology and modern design

In Casa Romana we see a blend of ancient archaeology and modern design by Studio Job, Tjep., and the garden architect Piet Oudolf, among others, as well as work by artists including Ruud van Empel, Gerd Rohling, Olivier van Herpt, and Teun van Staveren. There is also plenty to delight devotees of architecture. In total, over eight hundred objects are on display: dinner services, delicate glassware, mosaics, marble portrait busts and architectural fragments, jewellery, a silver table leg, roof tiles, children’s toys, and hundreds of small Roman oil lamps.

Interior of a Roman villa

The exhibition shows a sequence of twelve scenes from the private life of a couple from the highest echelons of Roman society and their family. You can follow their fascinating story in an audio tour, written by Brenda Meuleman, the author of the recent novel Het verraad van Julia (‘Julia’s betrayal’). The interiors that go with each stage of the story fully capture the lavishness of Roman villas, with their colourful frescoes and mosaic floors. They were composed using frescoes, film images, and art based on Roman antiquity.

Objects: a mix of items from the museum’s own collection and loans from elsewhere

Most of the Roman objects come from the National Museum of Antiquities’ own collection. They are joined by loans from numerous designers, artists, and antiquarians, as well as from the Royal Collections (The Hague), Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (Rotterdam), the Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo), and the Allard Pierson Museum (Amsterdam). The guest curators of this exhibition are the archaeologist and independent researcher Dr Gemma Jansen and Professor Eric M. Moormann and Dr Stephan T.A.M. Mols (the latter both of Radboud University, Nijmegen).

As we were in the museum anyway, we had a look at ancient Greek sculpture.

Rock partidge, 26 August 2017

Including this oil flask in the shape of a rock partridge, from Corinth, about 500-480 BCE.

Bringing back pink pigeons, parakeets in Mauritius


This 2009 video from Iowa in the USA is called Mauritius Pink Pigeon at the Blank Park Zoo.

From BirdLife:

5 Sep 2017

Reintroducing the pink pigeon and echo parakeet in Mauritius

By Jean Hugues Gardenne and Obaka Torto

Re-introducing birds to suitable habitats where species have gone extinct is often a very important and sometimes a last resort to sustain the survival of some threatened Mauritian bird species. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF), a BirdLife International Partner in Mauritius, has a long and successful track record of exploiting bird translocation opportunities at any given time.

In recent years, MWF has worked with other partners in the country like the National Parks and Conservation Service of the Ministry of Agro Industry, the CIEL Group, the United Nation’s Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme, HSBC, and Chester Zoo (UK), to translocate several Mauritian birds, including the Pink Pigeon, Echo Parakeet, Cuckoo Shrike and Paradise Flycatcher from the Black River Gorges National Park in the south west to the east of the island, in Ferney Valley (Bambous Mountains). This strategy has helped to create new subpopulations and increased the total population of some bird species, as it contributes to their distribution, saves them from extinction and loss of genetic diversity.

In the last couple of years, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation has worked tirelessly to increase the population of two rare species of birds found in the island nation and prevented them from extinction. The two species are the Echo Parakeet (Psittacula eques) and the Pink Pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri) that were already disappearing. Pink Pigeons are a distinctive species of birds with pale pink body, brown wings and a broad rusty-brown tail. They are known to form long-term pairs and are capable of breeding at any time of the year. These beautiful birds that feed on flowers, leaves and fruits of native and exotic trees are endemic to Mauritius. Recently, Mauritius was ranked by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as having the third most endangered flora in the world – and this poses a major threat to the already declining birds that largely depend on plants for survival. Just like the pink pigeon, the echo parakeet is a parrot endemic to Mauritius. It is the only surviving parrot of the Mascarene Islands as all others have become extinct.

In order to prevent the bird species from disappearing, MWF decided to translocate them. The translocation of the echo parakeet started in February 2015 and the pink pigeon in December 2016. By July 2017, 73 echo parakeets and 30 pink pigeons have been released. The birds are supported by close monitoring since all individuals are identifiable from colour and ID rings, supplementary feeding, predator control, disease control and habitat restoration.

MWF was confident that the birds would breed in future. However, it was amazing when a young un-ringed echo parakeet turned up at the release aviaries in the Ferney Valley in March 2017. Two months later in June 2017, an un-ringed young pink pigeon was sighted with his parents on the same valley. This is the first time that the two birds have bred in the Bambous Mountains in over a century. The confirmed breeding of birds is a yardstick of success and shows that the area is suitable for these birds and is favourably managed. With these young birds of the two species being seen in Ferney Valley, it is obvious that the translocations are a success and hopes are high that many more shall be sighted in the near future.