Sunday, May 20, 2007

More Nige Birds

Having shouldered my way across London through hordes of Chelsea fans (are they the fattest in the land, or are all soccer fans similarly lardy?), I travelled (by train, of course) into Bucks and Oxon, into territory where the red kite flies. The word 'spectacular' is bandied about too freely, but these birds really live up to it. Except on the wild tops of the Chilterns, they are completely, shockingly out of scale with their environment - huge in fact. They seem like some fierce raptor that's strayed from a wholly alien landscape - the Egyptian desert, say. In fact, as attentive readers of Shakespeare will know, they were common enough in Elizabethan London, where they were useful all-purpose scavengers and rubbish-eaters. They've surely got a bright future then, as one of the results of the impending 'recycling' crackdown will be that much of the country will become one huge illicit rubbish dump. The kites will have to rediscover a bit of urban attitude though - at present they spend most of their time being harried, humiliated and seen off by birds much smaller than themselves. Yesterday I even saw a house martin, of all things, effortlessly shooing a kite away.

Meanwhile, here's a very fine news story from Spain, where even quadriplegics have cojones.

By the way, when I mention red kites above, I mean of course goldfinches - no, ostriches - no, African elephants...


  1. I've a very powerful intuitive understanding of the ways of the universe, Nige, & by any chance did the wonderful creature you were admiring look something like this

  2. Actually, Andrew, that creature bears an uncanny resemblance to Me, give or take a few details. How did you know? Has my cover been penetrated at last?

  3. Your similarity to Struthiomimus, Nige, was wholly unknown to my conscious mind. My relationship with the ether seems to be on a need to know basis. A few details of this beautiful and elegant creature that might enhance your life and self-awareness of:

    "Struthiomimus was a long-legged, ostrich-like dinosaur of the family ornithomimidae, which lived during the late Cretaceous Period, approximately 75 million years ago. Its generic name is derived from the Greek στρουθιον/strouthion meaning 'ostrich' and μιμος/mimos meaning 'mimic' or 'imitator'. The specific name altus is from Latin, meaning 'lofty' or 'noble'.
    Its neck was slender and ended in a small, toothless, beaked skull, with relatively large eyes. The 'arms' of Struthiomimus were long and comparatively strong; the fore limbs were more powerful and the claws were more strongly hooked than in Ornithomimus. There are similarities to modern-day sloths. It also had the typical characteristics of most ornithomimids: a long, stiff tail and a toothless beak.
    It is possible that Struthiomimus had feathers, like many of its relatives.
    There has been much discussion about the feeding habits of Struthiomimus.[3] Due to its straight-edged beak, Struthiomimus is thought most likely to have been either an omnivore or herbivore.
    The legs (hind limbs) of Struthiomimus were long, powerful and seemingly well-suited to rapid running, much like an ostrich. The supposed speed of Struthiomimus was, in fact, its only defence from predators. It is estimated to have been able to run at speeds between 50 to 80 km/h (30 to 50 mph).

  4. Your story about the spanish man reminds me of the time I asked a boy (handsome, but , a boy) in my local supermarket where "sus huevos " were. He smirked, paused, then said "Si- los huevos" and took me to the corner where the eggs were tucked away. I think I may have asked him something very personal....

  5. bloody hell, it's bill oddie!