Dinosaur of the week: Indian Peafowl

peafowl

This male Pavo cristatus was at home on the grounds of Eggenberg Palace near Graz in Austria. The species originated on the Indian subcontinent but is spread worldwide now as ornamental birds in gardens or zoos. They are still being poached though for their meat and feathers.

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Dinosaur of the week: Hooded Crow

hooded crowThis Corvus cornix was looking for food on the banks of the Danube in Austria where I saw it a couple of years ago. The species used to be seen as part of Corvus corone (Carrion crow) but was given full species status in 2002. Danger to the birds comes from gamekeepers and similar numpties who hunt them.

Dinosaur of the week: Common Pochard

pochardDucks are brilliant, and this Aythya ferina which I saw on the Danube in Austria last spring is no exception. The species is classified as vulnerable.

Numbers are declining because of loss of breeding habitat (marshes) and bad water quality (too much fertilizer in the water because of bad agricultural management).

http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22680358/0

Austria, Sudan & Tibet – Suffering

70 Austria: Ingeborg Bachmann – Malina

What a weird book this was, yet also weirdly gripping. If you’re the kind of reader who likes books without an obvious story, this one is perfect for you. Cryptic descriptions of places, people and events left me rather flummoxed. But then, I enjoyed reading a book in German, and the snippets of Hungarian were translated by my colleague Laura.

71 Sudan: Tayeb Salih – Seasons of Migration to the North

A modern Arabic classic, and still off and on the banned-books list in some places. I found the interactions between the characters dramatic, and was intrigued how this mirrored the relationship between colonial power and colony. On top of that, it was shocking to read about the fate of the young widow. It is disturbing to think the author had some real-life model there, but unfortunately highly likely (looking at the news).

72 Tibet: Palden Gyatso – Fire under the Snow: Testimony of a Tibetan Prisoner

Another harrowing look into the human abyss. I had just finished reading this book when I went to a lecture about secular ethics by the 14th Dalai Lama. It was in stark contrast to how my students in China used to see him and Tibetans in general (also Uighurs) as monsters. Gyatso’s testimony, which he also told the UN, is written in an almost clinical style, e.g. when he talks about being tortured. Yet the reader can feel how his heart bled because of so much suffering of people, but also of the land.

Near Neusiedler See

A sunny Saturday, so where to go? This time we made our way to Austria, to Neusiedl am Neusiedler See. It’s apparently the second largest reed-area in Europe, after the estuary of the Danube. male mallardThe reeds are home to common sights like the mallard, but provide also a home to rare birds like the hen harrier. – Thanks again to @titodaking for helping with the ID! In hen harrierand around the wetland was a lot to be heard (e.g. coots), but kept well out if sight.

Human influence we saw everywhere: in the sky,

iron birdon the roofs,

plastic owland their pets on the ground. cat

Amphibians are coming out of hibernation: frogs

Starlings are back from their migration. starling

Old friends are still around (woodpigeon, Great spotted woodpecker, goldfinch and field sparrow).wood pigeon Woodpecker goldfinch field sparrow