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.

Advertisements

Oran – The Library

Slowly, but bit by bit, we’re getting to know more of our new home. Today, we had the vague plan to spend the day excursing. We ended up figuring out how to use the local tram, and bought an enormous scratching post for our felines. However, we also managed to visit the library. Actually, according to my guidebook, The City Library.

Waving down a taxi was easy, but telling the driver in my limited French we wanted to go to La bibliotheque (not la librairie – that’d be bookshop) was a wee bit trickier. He understood the words, but didn’t seem to know the place. So I resorted to pointing to the picture in my guidebook: oui, la cath├ędrale!entranceThe building used to be a cathedral, and it’s actually also not that old. So we got there, and then we were a bit uncertain if we’d be allowed to sneak a view and maybe a photo of the interior. No problem at all!

As you can see, it is a bit different. Although it was very unlike what I had imagined, after a few minutes in there I could see the charming side of the place. Some people were reading, some had a look around like us, some were just chatting and having a good time.

The books were an extremely intriguing and eclectic collection. Mr Feynman’s collected lectures on quantum physics were totally unexpected, especially with the low-tech filing system at hand.

I felt it was half an hour well-spent. This library (I don’t know if there are others) is quite out-of-the-way for us, but if I lived anywhere close by, I’d visit there regularly. And for those among you who can read Arabic, here’s a bit more information.history

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!

Dinosaur of the week: Atlantic Puffin

I saw my first Fratercula arctica back in 2002, and I fell in love with them! The ones pictured here were making home on the Faroe Islands, in 2006. Unfortunately, the species is classified as vulnerable – hunting, loss of food because of pollution and climate change, and tourists all causing problems.