Sunday, October 29, 2006

Halloween & Pumpkins

Impressive isn't it? My very own Jack-0-Lantern. And I carved it myself! Ok, ok, I admit, I cheated a little. I used a stencil. Still, it was hardwork. And the pumpkin flesh was used to make some soup, which was delicious.

Without a doubt the most recognizable symbol of Halloween is a pumpkin carved into a Jack-o-Lantern. But as I just found out, the origins of pumpkin carving came from the Irish. For most of the general population it is known as Halloween and is a night for dressing up, telling ghost stories, having spooky parties, trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving. What most people don't know is that Halloween is actually based on an ancient Celtic holiday known as Samhain (pronounced "sow wan"), which means "summer's end".

It was the end of the Celtic year, starting at sundown on October 31st and going through to sundown November 1st. It was a night to honor loved ones that had passed on since the veil between their realm and ours is at it's thinnest on that night. It is also called the Witches' New Year, and the Last Harvest, though the religious significance of it has passed for the general public.

Fact: Did you know that pumpkins are not a vegetable - they are a fruit! Pumpkins, like gourds, and other varieties of squash are all members of the Cucurbitacae family , which also includes cucumbers, gherkins, and melons.

So there you go, a little bit of knowlegdge sharing on my part. So come Oct 31st, go carve yourself a pumpkin and have some nice pumpkin soup! Trick or treat .....

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Yeah...go ahead and drool! Its a Yamaha TW 125. And its mine. I bought it. I know its not a Harley, but I'm slowly getting there. Its got a kickass rear tire with a good grip and plenty of rubber to burn. Unfortunately, I can't ride it yet as it can't start. I bought it second hand and the previous owner has left it in his garage for 2 years. So the battery is pretty weak and some parts of the bike still needs servicing. He also did some serious off-road riding with it and there's still some mud under the mud guard. Plus I need to get it taxed and buy some insurance before I can ride it on the road. Still I think its a real looker....and once I get my leather bike outfit, we'll both rock the world ! Watch out dude! Hear me come....and bite my dust!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Animal Encounters XII

Well, its been quite some time since the last encounter, which turned out to be a pretty wild and wet experience! Since I'm now back in the zoo, I shall be continuing the profiling of all the animals there. Hence, without further ado, our feathered guest this week is:


The Eagle Owl is a species of horned owl resident in much of Europe and Asia. It is a very large and powerful bird, but despite its name it is generally smaller than for instance the Golden Eagle. It is the largest species of owl with a wingspan of up to 2m. Adults can weigh in excess of 4 kg, in comparison the common Barn Owl weighs about 500 g. It mainly feeds on small mammals but will take prey up to the size of foxes and young deer. It will also take many other birds including other birds of prey.

Silent and stealthy flight

It is largely nocturnal and is found in mountains and forests with cliffs and rocky areas. It usually nests on cliff ledges. They live for around 20 years although like many other bird species in captivity they can live much longer, perhaps up to 60 years. The calls of the Eagle Owl is a deep resonant “ooh-hu” with emphasis on the first syllable for the male, and a more high-pitched uh-Hu for the female. A recent study has shown that these calls are easily individualized. It means that each member of an Eagle Owl population can be individually identified by means of its vocalizations.

Landing gear

The size, ear tufts and orange eyes make this a very distinctive species. It has a strong direct flight. The horned owls are a part of the larger grouping of owls known as the typical owls, Strigidae, which contains most species of owl. The other grouping is the barn owls, Tytonidae.
The Eagle Owl is not naturally resident in England, but (ref. a BBC TV program) a pair have been breeding for several years in a valley in Ministry of Defence land in North Yorkshire. There is some debate as to whether these birds are escapees or whether they have arrived naturally from the continent which would only be a relatively short journey. At the time the program was made, they had reared 20 young to independence, and they had 3 young in the nest. Nothing was known of what happened to those 20 young, except that one of them electrocuted itself on power lines in Shropshire.

Check out those cool ear tuffs!

The Eagle Owl's scientific name comes from its deep booming call. The word "bubo," based on the call, has referred to owls, particularly the Eagle Owl, since the dark ages, and is mentioned in Middle English bestiaries. The difference between the male and female is very recognisable as the male's ear tufts are more upright than the female's, while hers are usually drooping down.

Hey there sexy!

So thats it for today folks, join me next week for another interesting episode of Animal Encounters!