Dinosaur of the week: Ruddy Shelduck

Tadorna ferruginea is a rather special bird. In Buddhism, it’s sacred. The species is also nocturnal.

I saw this specimen at the Farmoor reservoir near Oxford – that’s really unusual. It’s quite likely the bird has gone feral, because the main area ranges from south-east Europe to Asia. The European population is in decline, mainly because of hunting.

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Oran – On the Edge

Oran is the second biggest city in Algeria. It’s also a major port with ferry connections to Spain and France. Apart from the harbour area, the coastline is formed by a rather high cliff where gulls and falcons can be seen sailing past.

Absolutely lovely. On the other hand, the cliff area is also used as a rubbish tip. Which is disgusting. And I leave it to your imagination what it might be that’s flowing out of that pipe.

Environmental awareness seems to be quite low, judging by the plastic bags everywhere. They can be found even in the trees in the scrubland behind our home.

On the bright side, the locals use this place as a spot for recreation, and we’re happy to join the crowd. People go for a run, play football, or just come to enjoy the view.

And this is the garden area behind the school. I’ve been told it’s possible to take the students out here. How about that for a classroom!

Oran – Our New Garden

We have moved! Our new home, hopefully for a substantial period of time, is in Oran, Algeria. Our employer has provided us (me, husband, two cats) with accommodation in a huge villa which we share with another teacher. Our villa comes with a lovely garden. There’s an orchard with a fig tree, a pear tree, something I failed to identify, and a tree that bears either lemons or oranges. We’ll find out in a few weeks.

On the other side of the house, there’s the flower garden with roses, lots of climbing plants and this:

If you know what species this is, please leave a comment. Also, if you’re interested in anything in particular about life in Algeria, let me know.

Dinosaur of the week: Rose-ringed Parakeet

Psittacula krameri is also known as ring-necked parakeet, Kingston parakeet or Twickenham parakeet. The last two names signify that these birds not only live in tropical Africa and Asia, but also in London. I saw this one at Kew Gardens. It’s tricky to spot the birds among the foliage, but their calls can be heard even when the planes are flying over.