Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 12/10/2012

A Whisker Away

Emperor Tamarin, originally uploaded by

It’s currently 20:47, to use military time notation, and I have the TV switched on but with the sound off, Crocodile Dundee is flickering away on the screen as I type this but I’ve just had my attention drawn away to the screen by an advert. Incredulously, there’s an advert for a well known “chocolate egg and a toy” treat (really… a treat? (okay I still like them!)) at this time of night, when all kids should be tucked up in bed asleep… just who are these adverts aimed at.. oh hang on, that’ll be me!

I’m confused, Dear Reader, I know it doesn’t take much but really I am. I have, for a number of years, followed the plight of the humble british bee with some concern, with their apparent numbers in decline however I read an article on the web (has to be true!) that bee numbers could actually be too high. Of course, the media loves to use headlines that grabs your attention but where the facts are not quite as clear cut as the journalist would like you to think (a bit like this blog then!). It would appear that there has been an increase in the number of apiarists in London, probably in light of the various programs that have been on TV about the decline in numbers of these special insects, an increase to the point where there are now more bees than flowers. I’m hoping, when the bees get bored with living in the city, they make their way out to the more rural areas near our great capital – there’s certainly been a reduction in the number of bees (bumble, carder or honey) to the flowers outside the front of our house.

More confusing than this story was an article about the death of a number of penguins from malaria. What many people don’t realise is that not all penguins live in the colder climes, I’ve been up close (but not personal) with two species when we visited the South Island of New Zealand during our “World Tour” ten years ago – a place that is cold but not so cold you need to wear tennis shoes on your feet all year round. I have, for a while, wanted to visit South Africa where Black-Footed Penguins can be seen basking in the warmer weather of the African beaches. The headline had me thinking that there had been an epidemic in the Southern Hemisphere of this mosquito borne disease, however the penguins who contracted malaria and died lived not in the warmer locations of the globe but in London, in London Zoo to be precise. Before those of you who live in the UK start to panic, it’s an avian version of Malaria that cannot be contracted by humans – not that will comfort those birds who are left.


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