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Archive for November, 2011

Normally I laugh at my own superstitious belief that 13 is a unlucky number. I speak from experience. Once in Chennai I stood in sweltering heat in a long queue. Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones,- and I was so keen to see it that I was in my place five hours before the show. While cooling my heels I could relive the scenes from the book and in delicious anticipation waited for the ticket counter to open. I was the 13,- and Unlucky Me! The counter shut right in my face. I had the consolations the fellows from 14 till 112 were all unlucky. Why single out the number 13?
benny

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latin name
Ardea cinerea
Family
Bitterns and herons (Ardeidae)
Overview
Grey herons are unmistakeable: tall, with long legs, a long beak and grey, black and white feathering. They can stand with their neck stretched out, looking for food, or hunched down with their neck bent over their chest.
Where to see them
Around any kind of water – garden ponds, lakes, rivers and even on estuaries. Sometimes, grey herons circle high up into the sky and can be mistaken for large birds of prey.
When to see them
At any time of year – our grey herons do not migrate.
What they eat
Lots of fish, but also small birds such as ducklings, small mammals like voles, and amphibians. After harvesting, grey herons can sometimes be seen in fields, looking for rodents.
Estimated numbers
Europe UK breeding* UK wintering* UK passage*
– 14,200 nests – –
(ack: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide)
benny

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Latin name
Sterna sandvicensis
Family
Terns (Sternidae)
Overview
The Sandwich tern is a very white tern, with a black cap on its head, a long black bill with a yellow tip and short black legs. In flight it shows grey wedges on its wings tips and it has a short forked tail. In the UK, many of the important colonies survive because they are on nature reserves.
Where to see them
There are colonies of Sandwich terns scattered around the UK coasts including the North Norfolk coast; Minsmere, Suffolk; and Dungeness, Kent.
When to see them
From late March to September.
What they eat
Fish such as sandeels, sprats and whiting.
Estimated numbers
Europe UK breeding* UK wintering* UK passage*
– 12,490 pairs – –
(ack: /www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/)

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Young Midas even as the heir apparent loved wealth. The idea of making wealth make more wealth appealed to his rational mind. Anticipating all that wealth coming to him one day he made all the vassals of his father give him unlimited credit. They willingly obliged him and waited for the young prince come to the throne. Meanwhile Prince Midas made every servant in the palace work round the clock. His rational mind taught him a crust of bread chewed is better than a goblet of wine promised tomorrow. But hope gave the promise more appealing than bread that once eaten was nothing more than dung. Whenever they approached him for back wages he was sure to hint that he as a king would spread his hand out,’My liberality shall know no bounds. You want to enjoy my largesse?’ Of course he did not pay them for long.
One day Silenus called on him. He was a Satyr. He had come through a wild tempestuous cold night. He was so beat and he shivered as he sought his aid. Prince Midas looked at the ugly mug and said,’Hello, Paragon of Beauty, warm yourself by the fire. You look almost on your last legs.’ There was a blazing fire and the prince sent for viands and warm wine, of course on credit, and he set it before him. He said, ‘Eat and take ease.’ The Satyr a friend of god Dionysus ate and drank and was fortified. He asked why the prince was lost in thoughts. The host said,’fire is free but think how much firewood need for it? The royal forests are almost cut to keep the hearth warm.’ The guest cackled giving a toothless smile. Puckering his hideous face the Satyr suggested,’I could be of help.’
Suddenly he hit upon a happy thought. ‘Please give me this boon: whatever I touch must be turned to gold.’
Silenus clapped his hands in joy, ‘Done!’ As soon as I stand on the road to Olympus you shall receive the boon you have asked.’
Having taken ease Silenus went off.
Prince Midas felt a cold coming and he took to bed. He told his wife to sleep in the baby room.
Next morning he sat up with a sever sneeze and took his kerchief to wipe the snot. To his horror the kerchief was shining! And the snot was all gold! Such gobs of gold was pure and it came from within! With a laugh he stared at the kerchief and deposited his snot in the treasury. His rational mind knew it was not for anyone to lay hands on. Was it not 24 kt gold? He was hawk-eyed to keep his wealth to himself. Nothing of his was to be thrown away.
By the time he was cured of cold his treasury was burst to full.
A fortnight later the King died and the servants whispered it was due to some kind of flu that came with the arrival of the Satyr. Prince Midas exulted when he was told he should be crowned without delay. Soon after his private coronation his first royal order was to give a state funeral to the dead king. Before the priests and the council he made a show of sorrow and kissed his dead father. He stared at the corpse. It was 24 carat gold, every ounce of his sire’s lifeless body.
He ordered it to be placed in his treasury room. He excused,’I intend to worship him each day before I hold the council. His presence shall lead us to good governance.
Rest of the day was the hardest. He dared not accept the hand of his Queen. She cried a little and accused he had already found a mistress whose bed warmed him more than their marriage bed.
A month later’ when he was stretched in his bed his Queen brought the baby daughter and laid by his side. Shedding tears she murmured that she was going to make a hole in the Aegean Sea.
The King didn’t hear her leave.
Later King Midas got up,- and he was still drowsy, took the baby in order to put her back in the crib. To his horror saw her turning into a lump of gold!
Midas frantically sought out Dionysus and begged him to remove the spell. Dionysus told Midas how he could get rid of the gift. Midas washed his ‘golden touch’ away in the river Pactolus. Even now the soil along the riverbank has a golden gleam.
When he went back to his palace he knew he was cured off his gold fever. He walked with a happy tune to his chamber and he shrieked. The treasury was stinking!Wading through putrid rags stuffed in pigeon holes was was horrible. He glanced at his dead baby and father! Oh horror of horrors the cadavers rotted and oozed some horrible green bile that was corroding the iron stand on which the bier stood. Standing there unable to move and overcome with the pestilential air about him he knew the gold had left its deadly touch on him. He took to bed and died a horrible death, silently and unattended.
There is a statue erected by his subjects to perpetuate his memory. Only what is not known is the one ton of gold released from the royal treasury to make the statue went into the pocket of the Royal Chamberlain who paid out of it a handful of drachma to the sculptor. He was formerly an ironmonger who from the slag-heap laying in his yard cobbled up a life-statue of his royal master. It is coated with with fools gold to fool the eye. So far no one has found the difference.
benny

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male birds have plumage that earlier went into women’s collar Hence the name. It is also known as kemphaan.(Dutch)

Philomachus pugnax
Family
Sandpipers and allies (Scolopacidae)
Overview
The ruff is a medium-sized wading bird. It has a long neck, a small head, a rather short slightly droopy bill and medium-long orange or reddish leg. In flight it shows a faint wing-stripe and oval white patches either side of the tail. It breeds in a very few lowland sites in eastern England, and it appears that numbers are dropping. It is a migrant but in the UK some birds are present all year round. Many young birds from Scandinavia visit the UK in late summer, then migrating on to Africa.
Where to see them
Best looked for on passage in spring and autumn in suitable habitat, particularly on the east and south coasts of the UK. Some birds overwinter, generally near the coast. Try some of the RSPB coastal wetland reserves, where there are lagoons, such as Titchwell, Norfolk.
When to see them
All year round
What they eat
Insects, larvae, frogs, small fish, seeds
Estimated numbers
Europe UK breeding* UK wintering* UK passage*
– 37 males 700 individuals –
(Ack: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/r/ruff)
benny

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My mother took one look at me at birth and told my pop,’Here is Tom Cruise for you.’ Before he agreed to name me Tom Cruise he wondered, ‘I hope he can also act as he.’ Yes I acted as good as he till time came for me to find a job. It was Mission Impossible.’
benny

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