Random Ramblings

Random Ramblings: Personal observations on a wide variety of subjects. Photographs of creatures and things that are taken on seeing the unusual as well as everyday things.

To make your own scroll box for text

I thought that I would add this little post for those of you wanting to add a scroll box with text to your Blogs. Originally I was going to put this onto the previous post but I found that Blogger wouldn’t let me simply add the text so – I have now put it into a picture format so that it will display properly in the post.

how to make a scroll box

You can display any text that you need as long as you add it into the code portion where indicated above.

This is what your box will look like using the code above:

<a href="ADD YOUR OWN TEXT HERE"></a> <span style="font-weight: bold;"> </span>

Adding text into a scroll box or scroll bar

It often takes me a while to learn how to put new things onto my blog. I learnt quite a long time ago how to add links into photographs but when it came to trying to add my code into a scroll box and for only the code to show … that has taken me much, much longer.


<a href="http://kloggers-randomramblings.blogspot.com/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3123/3188155245_dd80a6319a_o.jpg"></a> <span style="font-weight: bold;"> <span style="color: rgb(255, 102, 0);"></span></span>

Ancient animal

I have always been fascinated by the size, shape and motion of the rhinoceros. Its name rather lets it down for it doesn’t make you think of the heavy pounding as its feet hit the ground so powerfully that it could crush you in an instant. Its rippling leathery form moving as smoothly as a well oiled machine. Its tiny eyes, piercing you from afar. Its horn or horns that are not really horns at all. They are the only horned animal to have keratin points these form above the creatures snout. The rhino, as it is affectionately known, is a vegetarian and unlike other plant eating animals has the ability to digest the most coarse vegetation.

There were three rhinos at West Midland Safari Park on the day I visited. Two of the rhinos had twisted horns!

White rhynoceros

 

Two horned rhinoceros White Rhinoceros

White rhynoceros - two

Ladybird larvae

Ladybirds are often held with much affection as they are usually the first experience a young child has with close contact to a wild creature. Placing a finger against a leaf or a branch and encouraging the small beetle to climb onto it and then circumnavigate a little arm is a thrill to most children.

Here is a picture of a ladybird that has just crawled out of its larvae stage. Sadly I wasn’t able to take a picture of the delightful little wingless creature (one of the early stages of life of a ladybird) with a fairly long pointed tail, six legs and a few red/orange spots on its back. I remember being quite intrigued to find out that ladybirds like butterflies have several stages of life before evolving into a beetle.

Ladybird just after it has come out of the lava stage

A very young ladybird

Garden pond

The other day whilst looking through some old photographs I came across one of our original pond. This was the very first pond we had in our garden … and if it can be said that you are able to fall in love with something that cannot give you love in return then perhaps ‘I fell in love with my garden pond.’ I found it to be beautiful, interesting and absorbing. It was also tranquil and when in its company I was lost in a magical world where dragonflies hovered, water boatmen lightly flitted across its surface, frogs croaked, birds twittered, fish twirled dipping down into the darkness and blowing bubbles that trickled like laughter.

We had decided to place a small amount of duckweed to grow in it so that there would be shade for the fish when the sun became torturously hot (not often in England but it was best to be prepared so that the fish would be safe).

Garden Pond 

Garden Pond

Garden Ox-Eye daisy

As gardens have evolved over the generations it has become apparent that there is one flower that should be added to a cottage garden border. It is the daisy. The most usual addition is the common garden ox-eye daisy. These are usually positioned at the back of the garden patch as they have a tendency to be slightly unruly in structure. The average flower balances on a long, fairly slender, but tough stem and although we like to think of them being upright and on duty like a soldier, this is rarely the case. The stems have a waywardness which means that many of them will support themselves partially along the ground or casually leaning against a fence or barrier. Some even prop themselves up against neighbouring bushes. They are wonderful when the flowers are fresh and new and it is claimed that when you look into the eye of a daisy it smiles back at you.

Garden Ox-Eye Daisy

Garden Ox-Eye Daisy - side view 

Garden Ox-Eye Daisy

This particular specimen was purchased at a local supermarket – currently it appears to be a dwarf variety … I shall wait until next year to see if it remains at its current height or whether it will grow to the usual 24 to 36 inches!

Solitude

 

‘Never wish for solitude – it comes to us all in one form or another, sooner or later.’

 

 

A grave seated in Bordesley Abbey, Redditch, Worcestershire

Branching out

The other day I decided to go on a stroll that I hadn’t been on for several years. It’s amazing how hedgerows alter in time. Even some of the pathways that were once familiar to me had become overgrown in places. Others had been changed beyond recognition – either chopped right back or with new wooden bridges and gates added. My little walk became somewhat of a mystery tour as I wondered at my surroundings.

At the top of one of the more hilly pathways I came across some wild apple trees (Crabb apples). These were unusual in the fact that the apples on some of the branches were tiny being the size of cherries, whilst on other branches they were more or less full grown. Although not all apples grow at the same pace I have never seen apples on the same tree with such a wide difference in size until now.

Two sizes of Crabb apples on the same tree 

Crabb apple tree

Wild Crabb apple tree

Two sizes of Crabb apples on the same tree

Friendship

“To take a hand -

  or offer advice;

Iron a frown -

give a smile, or nod.

Has anyone said

just how lovely you are -

My dearest of friends,

you open your heart.

The distance between us

although it is far -

Gives us strength to our friendship,

love with no bounds.

I will always be here for you -

and when my time comes

From this earth to depart,

I'll carry our friendship

For I know it is strong and

my love it will wrap you

With warmth when I'm gone."

                                         Kloggers

Butterflies on the Butterfly Bush

‘The difference between a man and a beast, besides the ability of being able to reason, is that man can write his language down so that others may learn from his knowledge.’ Kloggers

Weighty vegetarian

It has always been very puzzling to me how a four-legged vegetarian, unable to use its mouth to graze and plucks its food with a prehensile snout, can eat enough to grow to the size of an elephant. Added to this an elephant chews as slowly as an educated gentleman, walks hundreds of miles and can run up to speeds of 25 miles per hour or 40 kilometres per hour – but still it manages to grow in both height and girth.

Elephant walking towards the camera

Elephants - all three at WMS

There are a little herd of three African elephants at West Midland Safari Park - here is a clip showing two of the elephants playing the harmonica.

An elephant in the wild if not slaughtered for its tusks or its feet may live into old age. In fact, they have been known to live as long as a man. In Africa, that is up to seventy years and in Asia (a slightly smaller elephant easily identified by its small ears) up to eighty years.

Elephant playing with a stick at West Midland Safari Park

Elephant rolling in the mud

Elephants in the mud

These are very young elephants and are still in their teen years – their pictures were taken at WMS. 

Elephants can not only make the beautiful trumpeting sounds that man has listened to for thousands of years but they also have a very low pitch sound that is used as language. This sound is so low it travels through the ground for hundreds of miles and becomes something similar to a telephone system. If a herd is in trouble or wants to communicate news then it can advise herds many miles away. This is very useful as the wild herds split into genders. The females and younger members of the herd congregate together, feeding and visiting water holes whilst the male members go off in another group. They meet up occasionally and during these periods the older females are usually impregnated before the males depart once more taking with them any of the male calves that have reached maturity. A baby calf grown inside its mother’s womb for 22 months before being born. Elephant puberty is similar to that of humans and range from usually ten to fifteen years of age.

Whilst watching these beautiful animals one of them picked up a fairly thick stick and stomped off with it waving it backwards and forwards and onto its back. After a while the elephant put the stick against the ground still holding it tightly at the top with its trunk – it lifted one of its feet and pressed down onto the stick snapping it in half. The elephant then found a much lighter and slightly longer stick and pick it with its trunk (you can see the stick in the elephant’s truck on the first of the three pictures above) the stick was whisked this way and that, tossed up in the air, curled up in the elephants trunk then uncurled. The game went on for at least a further ten minutes before I left and even then the stick was still being manoeuvred about in this elephant game. This is the first time I have ever seen an African elephant playing – it was hypnotic to watch.

The Ashes

England has beaten Australia to gain The Ashes. This is the most prestigious battle in sport fought by the two nations that hold sportsmanship higher than the victory. Two teams carrying the highest accolades of mankind … each and every one of them hold the sportsmanship on a pedestal and that is why this particular game is the Gold Medal of all sporting events.

“Three cheers to all the cricketers who took part in this 2009 event … Hip, Hip, Hip Hooray! Well done to each and every one of you. You gave your all and we all appreciate the battle of events – bowl-by-bowl – bat-by-bat – run-by-run and wicket-by-wicket. Thank you for your skills and for giving us such dedicated entertainment!”

For all those who watched it shows where the expression first came from ‘it isn’t cricket.’ Only cricket being truly fair.

The Ashes Urn

The Ashes Urn 

The Ashes are the oldest international sports fixture for cricket and began in 1877 in Melbourne in the month of March, when Australia won the very first test series. Usually the test series is made up of five separate test matches.

This special urn it is said contains the ashes of the bales (the little wooden pieces that sit loose on top of the stumps). It is claimed that in 1882 when England lost to Australia for the first time at home – the bales were cremated and placed into a small wooden urn. The Ashes Urn then became the symbol of this sporting event between England and Australia. 

The words on the urn are as follows:

When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn;
Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return;
The welkin will ring loud,
The great crowd will feel proud,
Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn;
And the rest coming home with the urn.

I’ll leave you all to guess at what they mean – some, of course, are names!

Cricket, being both the ultimate test of sport and the total test of the sportsman or sportswoman, I have often wondered why the USA has never fully embraced this wonderful game.

“There is nothing quite like the sound of leather hitting willow. We should never forget that it’s not ever about the outcome but always the taking part that counts. I would sooner lose a thousand games played fairly than win just one by cheating.” Anon

Swan on her nest

Quite a few years ago, whilst out on a Sunday afternoon walk in early Summer we headed for one of the many large ponds in the area. This one was at the end of a long winding stream which fed another smaller pond before it finally reached its end flowing into a beautiful old, established pond that was untouched and tousled with plants dipping into it and scatterings of duck weed.

We had taken the camera which was quite fortunate as there behind a mass of small trees, bushes and waist high grasses we came across a swan’s nest. The nest was piled high with small sticks and rose well above the water line … it must have taken a very long time to build it. It was very neat with the pen sitting on top. Her gallant partner, the cob was swimming not far away dipping his beak down into the murky depths to pull out his supper.

Swan on her nest

A very old photograph of a swan on her nest

X Factor

What ever has happened to the ‘X Factor’ programme? It came back to our screens in a new format today and what did we get … view after view after view after view of the ‘judges’ making faces! Has no-one told them firstly that it’s rude to screw up your face and make unkind gestures with your mouth? Not to mention ‘IT IS NOT ENTERTAINMENT.’

Gone are the innocent simple auditions. Gone is the entertainment factor. Gone is the chance for the viewing audience to have a chance of making up their own minds on varying degrees of talent. Instead we are being bombarded with mouth curls, screwed up noses and a multitude of frowns and raised eyebrows. Lets lose this particular factor or are the audience supposed to be judging which of the judges pull the worst face on the night??

X Factor Logo

Testament

As soon as ordinary people learned how to read and write so the fashion of the testament first came to be. A testament is a letter, note or journal that is written to another in an appreciation of all that they have been granted in life. It was a way for a person without any means of their own to leave, perhaps the most wealthiest gift of all to another – their thoughts and feelings written down – a message from the heart of one human being to another. In time, this practise was almost lost as people began to leave wills which included testaments – thus: ‘my last will and testament.’

Thankfully they have established a new popularity as more and more people are penning down their precious thoughts. Words that are written in life to be read at one’s death thanking anyone they choose and meaning so very much to those who are left behind.

If choosing a letter or note format, then it is usual to place the finished paper into a sealed envelope and add the date in one of the corners. Thus further testaments may be added if and when desired.

testament copy

‘Sample of how simple testaments of love and thanks were once written’ 

Troops are often asked to compose ‘goodbye’ letters to their wives, sweethearts, and parents before going into battle … perhaps we all should consider giving this some thought – after all it costs nothing but our time and if we love someone surely - time is a little price to pay.

Update on the Leaf-cutter bees home

For the time being all appears to have calmed down around the Insect House that the Leaf-cutter bees have made their home. The bee that was guarding the small colony of young has not been seen since yesterday. The small cane that it was spending the night in has now been sealed up into another set of chambers.

Leaf-cutter bee - sleep chamber now finally sealed

Each female bee lives between six to eight weeks and in this time may lay, it is claimed in a very good year, between 30 to 40 eggs. Although having had these bees in my garden for the last three years I think this figure may be on the high side. Each single egg is placed into a separate compartment which is stuffed with pollen and nectar for the newly hatched egg to eat whilst it is in the grub stage. Although Honey bees collect pollen and carry it on their legs it is the abdomen that is heavily dusted with pollen on the Leaf-cutter bee and when it is inside a tube it will swirl and twist off the pollen to fall into the compartment so that it is ready to lay its egg before sealing the small self-contained independent unit.

Wonderful white, wild cats

There is something almost hypnotic about a member of the cat family. Even when motionless, they are always thinking. It is sometimes difficult to appreciate that an animal that is so magnificent with the softest downy fur on its chest is an efficient killing machine.

Wild cats do not kill for pleasure … they do not waste energy … every sinew, every muscle, every calorie they burn is solely for the purpose of obtaining food – catching their next meal. When they run, they are like poetry in motion. They do not carry an ounce of unwanted weight, they are awesome sculptures of perfection.

White lion - female

White lion - lone female

White lion - female queen

White lions - male and two females

White lions - two females

White lion - female on wooden stand

White lions  

 

White tiger

White tiger - front facing

White tiger

 

The wild white cats have the most beautiful blue eyes … you could get lost in their magnificence and depth.

These white members of the cat family may be found at WMS.

Anyone for scrumping?

England is full of wild fruit trees. They grow in woods, valleys, leas, down winding, leafy country lanes, church yards, by the tow-paths of canals, at the edges of rivers and brooks and on the odd village green, in fact almost everywhere. There is nothing quite like the bite of a wild fruit to children brought up in the countryside.

As a child living in country surroundings, I was never bored there was always too much to do. From the first crack of sunlight breaking through the sky at dawn until the bats danced above our heads in their skittish fashion, I lived in a world of magic. I like so many others went scrumping. This was a pastime that occupied many a school child during the Autumn. Boys stuffed their pockets with the tiny, tart crab apples and girls scooped up their skirts to form make-shift baskets to hold as many of the little fruits as it was possible to carry. Boys would often climb up the gnarled little trees and shake until several pounds worth of fruit bounced to the ground. When every apple that it was possible to shake off was lying on the ground everyone would stoop down and begin the job of picking them up.

Once at home the apples would be peeled and put into a large saucepan to which was added a large amount of sugar … they are very bitter apples. The jam produced, called crab apple jelly is truly delicious … it was added to porridge, rice pudding, generously dolloped onto sponge cake, hot buttered toast or pikelets. Added to fruitcake to make it rich and moist … or simply just spooned out of jars and eaten.

Crab apples - wild apple trees in England

Picture showing crab apples growing on wild fruit trees. Collecting the fruit off these trees (apples) is called scrumping.

Fruit trees for the larder

For anyone who has struggled with getting fruit trees to thrive in their garden then grow wild ones. These are much more hardy and on the whole produce many more pounds of fruit than standard fruit trees. They are usually free of disease and require no care or attention … the perfect tree for the lazy gardener! Soft fruits are, on the whole, small but beautifully succulent and extra sweet. Firmer fruits make for the perfect compote. If you are unable to purchase wild trees – then try the old fashioned method of simply pushing a pip into the soil where you would like the tree to sprout. When planting soft-fruit trees you do need to use the stone with all of the flesh of the fruit attached. Usually, this is just semi-buried ... place the fruit into the soil with just a small amount of the top flesh showing.

All fruit when grown from seed reverts back to its wild form.

Deer, oh dear, antelope

Deer or antelope of which there are around a hundred different species are one of the most beautiful wild mammals that can be seen.

Blackbuck male

Blackbuck - the male is much darker on the top than the female

A male blackbuck watching over his females

Blackbuck male at West Midland Safari Park - England

Eland buck (male) - the largest antelope species - African

Eland does (females) - African - Largest antelope species

Eland - group of does (females) - the largest antelope - African

Wildebeest or Brindled Gnu - African Antelope 

The first few pictures are of Blackbuck – the male being much darker than the female. The middle group are Eland, which are the largest antelopes in the world. Lastly is the beautiful African Wildebeest or Brindled Gnu. All photographs taken at WMSP.

Murder?

A few days ago I went to check on the bees in the little Insect House as I usually do most every day. As I approached it I could see that all of the chambers were exposed, unblocked, missing of the vital plug that keeps them safe from the elements and other hidden dangers.

Insect House - Bee chambers attacked - leaf-plugs have been winkled out.

I got closer and found many of the tiny leaf circles that are used to make up each individual plug scattered on the floor below …

Circular leaf cuttings from the Leaf-cutter bee - some have tiny holes in the centre

Looking closely at the circular leaf cuttings I noticed that some contained a tiny hole in the centre. What could have done this? A bird trying to get at the young grubs? Another insect? I am still unsure.

Two days later I found a solitary Leaf-cutter bee working itself almost to death trying its best to repair the damage. So exhausted after its efforts it was camping in one of the bamboo chambers and there it has remained night-after-night. It appears to be guarding the nest.

Solitary Leaf-cutter bee repairing exposed chambers to protect the grubs.

Leaf-cutter bee plugs that have been re-applied to seal up the chambers after plugs were removed in an attack on the hive

Water buffalo

I have always thought how magnificent a water buffalo bull looks as he stands surveying the herd … here is a picture that shows his off-spring:

 

Water buffalo - and mother with calf

Water buffalo calf

Water buffalo calf

Giraffe

The Giraffe is probably one of the most easily recognised but least known about mammals in the world. It is believed that there may be up to six different species that will not breed with each other in the wild but when kept in zoos will cross-breed readily. Each group is recognised by the type and colour of its spots. They may well have started off as one species initially but probably moved into isolated breeding groups around a million years ago.

They have two defences one is their extremely powerful hind legs equipped with tough hooves. The other, primarily used in combat with a rival, is their long heavy necks which they bash into each other with the ferocity of a closed fist.

Giraffes live from between five and thirty years. A vast difference compared to many other species. Although their long necks have proved to be an asset when it comes to spotting their enemies from a great distance and reaching juicy leaves on tall branches to eat, it is probable that it is their necks that will eventually cause their demise.

 

Giraffe standing tall

Giraffe x 2 

Giraffe on the move

Young giraffe

The Giraffes at West Midland Safari Park