Wroclaw – The Gnomes

Wroclaw is full of big and small surprises, and the smallest, but one of the best in my travel book, are the gnomegnome1s. There are several hundred of them all over the place, but most are hidden in plain sight in the Old Town.

They seem to be a mix of political statement and advertisement, a bit tacky at times, but mostly great fun to look out for. gnome2 gnome3 gnome4 gnome5 gnome6 gnome7 gnome8

Dinosaur of the week: Rufus-collared Sparrow

rufus-collared-sparrowIt’s a slightly odd picture of a Zonotrichia capensis, but unfortunately I didn’t have much time. When we were in Tierra del Fuego, we only spent a few minutes at a lovely lake bordering Argentina and Chile in the National Park near Ushuaia. So I’m very glad I saw at least the sparrow’s back.

Dinosaur of the week: Pond Heron

pond-heron

We are entering the murky waters of Khao Lak in Thailand and the even murkier ones of heron taxonomy. This is a member of the Ardeola species, but apparently it is almost impossible to distuguish Ardeola speciosa (Javan pond heron) from Ardeola bacchus (Chinese pond heron) outside the breeding season. Their non-breeding ranges overlap, so take your pick.

WorldBookProject – Andorra, St Kitts and Nevis, and the US Virgin Islands

95 Andorra: Michèle Gazier – Die Blaumerle

I’m not sure this book has actually been translated into English – if not, it’s a great loss. ‘The Blue Rock Thrush’ is, however, not the main feature of the book. This place is taken by an elderly French lady, her ornithologist husband, and a young man who turns out to be a refugee from somewhere in North Africa. I greatly enjoyed reading about how their lives intertwined. The story not only touches on loneliness in old age, hypocrisy and family matters, but there’s also a lot about how our identities are being shaped and changed.

96 Saint Kitts & Nevis: Tiphanie Yanique – Land of Love and Drowning

Firstly, many thanks to my parents for this remarkable Christmas present. In some ways, this book reminded me of Isabel Allende’s ‘The House of Spirits’, in particular in that it tells the story of three generations of a family who have to deal with economical and political upheaval. On top of that, ghost and the supernatural featured heavily too. Nevertheless, it has its very own character. The parts of the story where Kittsian figures are being confronted with racism from US-Americans were those I found especially strong.

97 US Virgin Islands: Caryl Phillips – A State of Independence

This was another short but intriguing book about a small place in the Caribbean. Family issues, jealousy, corruption and much more were touched upon. I particularly liked how the author managed to form three-dimensional characters within a few sentences.

I found all three books worth reading. If you have a recommendation for a country or territory which I haven’t covered yet, please say so in the comments, especially for any Pacific Nations and the Gulf States. Thanks.

Dinosaur of the week: Brown-hooded Kingfisher

brown-hooded-kingfisherHere we have a Halcyon albiventris. We found him/her perched on a tree in Kruger Park. There are lots of different species around the world, many of which are forest species and under threat from humans. However, this particular species is still classified in the group Least Concern.