Duckling report

I’m pleased to report that all nine of Honey’s ducklings survived the night, though it’s still big tsouris to feed the males and Honey and her brood, as, on land, Frank and his pal tend to drive Honey away from the corn. On the water it’s easy to give Honey and her brood good proteinaceous mealworms, as the male ducks spurn them. So everyone got breakfast.

It’s raining this morning, but I’m hoping Landscaping will still show up to do the Pond Improvements they promised yesterday.

Below: Frank drives Honey away from the corn (she got plenty, though, as well as mealworms). You can see part of the brood; repeated counting shows all nine are still there.

Anna had the bright idea of crushing some of the mealworms so the ducklings could handle them. That seems to work, and the family got a good breakfast on the pond (I’ve ordered three more bags ).You can see the rain splashing in the pond.

Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Mark Sturtevant has returned with a series of insect pictures that he sent on March 28. His notes are indented, and be sure to note the instances of mimicry and the weird mantidfly in the last two photos.

Here are some insect photos for WEIT. The first picture is a nice wood nymph butterfly (Cercyonis pegala). Various species are common in the local woods, but they are usually hard to approach. However, on this day it was overcast and somewhat chilly after a heavy rain, so this one was content to let me come in for pictures.

Next is a large mayfly that I had found on my car, so I transferred it to a nearby tree for pictures. It is one of the burrowing mayflies (Hexagenia), and is probably the most common species, H. limbata. As aquatic larvae, burrowing mayflies will get down out of sight into the silt and mud.

Everyone here should be fond of mimicry. One of my personal goals has been to find nymphs of a broad-headed bug since the nymphs are excellent ant mimics. Each species has a strong resemblance to a particular species of large ant, right down to very small details. So I was very happy to one day come across one such insect in a community garden, as shown in the next picture. This species looks to be in the genus Alydus, and I suspect it is mimicking the Eastern black carpenter ant—by far the most common large ant around here [Michigan]. Mimicking an ant is presumably done to avoid predation since ants taste very bad and not many things will eat them. Broad headed bugs are seed feeders, and they especially like to feed on seeds of legumes. So if I could find the preferred host of these critters I should be able to find more! This one was running fast through a strawberry patch (a feature of ant mimics is that they behave like ants), and so this heavily cropped picture is the only decent one that I have. The nymphs are good mimics, but the adults are rather ordinary looking as shown in this picture at another site.

A local nature center that strongly caters to school field trips recently built a native butterfly house, and I definitely wanted to visit that! The next two pictures shows one of the residents, which is the American lady butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis). This species is often mistaken for the more common painted lady (I had made that mistake as well!) So here is a handy key to tell the difference.

What do you suppose is the weird insect shown in the next picture? It took me a moment to figure out the order, and later on the family. This is a kind of wasp-mimicking longhorn beetle with very short front wings. The species is probably Necydalis mellita. I could only take two pictures before this nervous and alert insect took off.

I have a friend and colleague (we teach in the same department) who also very much enjoys doing insect macrophotography, and we often go out together to local parks. One thing that happens is that we compete a bit over who has the best ‘find’ for the day. My friend (Gary) wins this competition more often than not, but one day I saw a strange V-shaped thing sitting on a leaf. Could it be? Yes, it was a mantidfly!!! This one was a female, and we soon figured that there was little chance she would fly off since she was quite heavy with eggs. Mantidflies and praying mantises clearly show convergent evolution, but they are from completely different insect orders. Mantidflies are members of the order Neuroptera, and their familiar relatives include lacewings and antlions. The front limbs are usually held in the odd position seen here, cocked back farther than would be seen in a mantis, and they are not used for walking since they lack foot pads.  This species (Climaciella brunnea) uses bright warning colors and a wasp-like shape to mimic a paper wasp. But the mimicry is a complete ruse since this predatory insect of course does not sting. We both agreed that this was “it” this time  —  the best find of the day.

Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Good morning on Monday, May 21, 2018: National Strawberries and Cream Day. It’s also St. Helena Day, celebrating the discovery in 1502 of the most remote island in the world (and the one on which Napoleon died).

On this day in 1904, the famous Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, was founded in Paris. Exactly two decades later, two very bright University of Chicago students, Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr., murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks, a Hyde Park resident, just because they were confident that their planning and intelligence would lead them to get away with it.  They didn’t: Leopold left his glasses at the crime scene, and was traced readily since the style was unusual. Tried and convicted, the pair was spared the death penalty because Clarence Darrow, their lawyer (also a Hyde Park resident), talked for 12 hours in a desperate attempt to save their lives. It worked; they were sentenced to life in prison. Loeb was murdered in jail, and Leopold was released after 33 years, moved to Puerto Rico, and died in 1971. Here’s a 17-minute movie about the incident (you might look up some excerpts of Darrow’s brilliant speech):

Two aviation firsts for May 21. It was on this day in 1927 that Charles Lindbergh completed the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic, landing at Le Bourget field in Paris.  Exactly five years later, Amelia Earhart completed the same feat, but with a woman (her!) at the controls. She landed in a pasture at Derry, Northern Ireland.  On this day in 1936, the Japanese sex worker Sada Abe was, as Wikipedia notes, “arrested after wandering the streets of Tokyo for days with her dead lover’s severed genitals in her handbag.” She had strangled her lover in a bout of erotic asphyxiation. This was a huge scandal in Japan, and you may remember was the subject of Nagisa Oshima’s movie In the Realm of the Senses, which, though infamous for its explicit (and genuine) sex onscreen, was a good film.  Abe served five years in prison and then went into seclusion. Here’s the trailer for the movie, which leaves out its pornographic aspects. (There is not a man alive who doesn’t clutch his crotch during the scene when Abe cuts off her dead lover’s penis.)

On this day in 1946, in a horrendous episode, Louis Slotin, a physicist working on nuclear reactions at Los Alamos, was fatally irradiated after his hand slipped, bringing two plutonium spheres together and initiating a fission reaction. (He was using the edge of a screwdriver to keep the spheres apart—a big no-no—and the screwdriver slipped.) Sloting died a painful death nine days later. On May 21, 1972, a vandal (“the mentally disturbed Hungarian geologist Laszlo Toth”) damaged Michelangelo’s statue Pietà in the Vatican, knocking off Mary’s arm and damaging her nose and eyelids. Toth served three years in a hospital and was then deported to Australia. Finally, it was on this day in 1991 that former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a woman suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt.

Notables born on May 21 included Albrecht Dürer (1471, one of my five favorite painters), paleontologist Mary Anning (1799), Henri Rousseau (1844), Fats Waller (1904), Andrei Sakharov (1921), Günter Blobel (1936), Leo Sayer (1948), Al Franken (1951), Jeffrey Dahmer (1960; killed in prison at age 24), Lisa Edelstein (1966), and The Notorious B.I.G. (1972). Here’s a series of Dürer sketches that includes cats.

Those who died on this day include Christopher Smart (1771; author of the best cat poem ever), social-work pioneer Jane Addams and geneticist Hugo de Vries (both 1935), and Rajiv Gandhi (see above).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s in the garden but wants the greater freedom of the orchard:

Hili: Let’s go to the orchard.
A: Now?
Hili: Yes, here I feel claustrophobic.
In Polish:
Hili: Idziemy do sadu.
Ja: Teraz?
Hili: Tak, tu mam poczucie klaustrofobii.

Leon’s family finally got the foundations of their wooden house poured, and, I hope, by the end of the summer Leon and Hili will live only about 10 km apart. Leon and his staff are still in Wloclawek, but not for long!

Leon: Sunbath in a favorite cardboard box—this is it!

In Polish: Kąpiel słoneczna w ulubionym kartonie to jest to!

Reader Barry sent a cat sleeping in such a weird pose that people suspect it was photoshopped. (I don’t think so.)

Reader Gethyn sent cat armor:

From Grania; what the Internet has come to:

What am embarrassing fate! This student will forever be known as “vagina man.”

Do read the short article:

An excerpt from Frum’s Atlantic piece:

More than 70 percent of Trump voters in 2016 described guns as “very important” to their vote, versus only 40 percent who described abortion as “very important” to their vote and only 25 percent who felt that way about gay rights. With the slow fading of battles over same-sex marriage and abortion, and the rapid collapse of other aspects of conservative ideology, guns may now rank as the single most important political dividing line in 21st century America.

. . . According to a Pew survey, only about one-quarter of gun owners think it essential to alert visitors with children that guns may be present in the home. (Twice as many non-gun-owners think so.) Only 66 percent of gun owners think it essential to keep guns locked up when not in use. (Ninety percent of non-gun-owners think so.) Only 45 percent of them actually do it.

Joyce Carol Oates apparently has a new cat, but, like me, doesn’t give a toss for the Royal Wedding. (Cats are, of course, themselves royalty.)

From Matthew, who thought today was World Bee Day (it was actually yesterday), we have a clear-winged moth that mimics a bee: a clear case of Batesian mimicry:

What is going on here? Invasion of the Giant Mallards? The backstory is here.

I’m no fan of the brouhaha around the Royal Wedding, but it sure brought out the termites:

The best use of Twitter is to show stuff like this:

Finally, a comic from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach Weinersmith (h/t: Phil D.)

An apology

Yesterday I wrote a post calling out a new MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on “The Science of Religion” offered by the University of British Columbia and, as I reported at the time, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. Further research on this course, and correspondence from one of its teachers, Dr. Edward Slingerland (the other professor is Dr. Azim Shariff), has convinced me that that the course is not meant to give any justification for the existence of religious belief.

A review of the link still shows that the course is sponsored by Templeton:

Its maintenance and update has received additional support from a generous donation from the John Templeton Foundation.

I am further told that both professors are atheists, and Dr. Slingerland informs me that the course is simply one that discusses how people come to accept the existence of a nonexistent deity; that is, what makes people become religious when there is no evidence for the tenets of faith. There is no “pushing of religion”, I’m told.

In light of this, I offer my apologies to Drs. Slingerland and Shariff for misrepresenting and misunderstanding the content and intent of this course, and I have deleted the post. I also apologize to the readers for not doing my homework properly. What I have determined, and want to emphasize, is that both Slingerland and Shariff are respectable and productive scholars in their fields, and I did not mean to imply otherwise.

What I do not apologize for, however, is criticizing those who, like the two professors, take Templeton money to fund their research and teach courses funded by Templeton. Though some of that research may not further Templeton’s aims in a direct way (i.e., using science to prove the existence of God), I continue to see the organization as deleterious to the progress of science because most of its money goes to what Steve Gould would call “mixing the magisteria.”

But I screwed up with this post, and have no good excuse except duck-tending and my lack of responsible scholarly vetting. I will certainly try hard to vet and research my posts more carefully in the future.

Duckling rescue, part two

I haven’t posted much today as I’ve spent much of the day with co-duck-tender Dr. Anna Mueller, going to Home Depot to buy bricks and then putting them in the Duck Ring of Death. This morning I discovered that, as I’d feared, one duckling got trapped in the “duck island” last night, couldn’t jump out over the high lip, and died of exhaustion or drowning (picture below fold if you want to see). Physical Plant couldn’t do anything today, so we decided to put a ramp in the island so that wouldn’t happen again, and fill it up with bricks to allow egress as well as a place to rest. To do that, I had to carry heavy bricks in very cold water up to my thighs. But I’d do that for Honey and her brood of nine. I’m very sad that she’s lost one of her babies.

Here are some photos of our modifications of the duck ring, which, as I’ll relate below, will be turned into a lovely resting place tomorrow. All photos are by Anna Mueller.

Putting bricks of various sizes in the Duck Island of Death:

That water was cold, and the pond is uneven and muddy; it’s tricky walking with heavy bricks:

After a while, a nice guy from Physical Plant came over, and despite my telling him he didn’t need to get into the water, he did—with his uniform on! He brought a small bucket of bricks with which we filled in the ring, and a long piece of stone that served as a ramp to allow the ducks to avoid being trapped.

The final appearance until tomorrow:

Then the Boss came over, and we worked out what will be done by Landscaping tomorrow morning.

  1. A ramp will go from the water to the shrubbery alongside the building, allowing the ducklings to leave the pond and hide from predators. Right now, they can get out only on the bank, which is easily accessible to people and predators like feral cats.
  2. Filling in the duck island permanently with river stone up to one inch below the top, with those topped with nice flat flagstones for the ducks to rest on.
  3. Putting more dirt in the “tree islands” so that the mud is replaced with dry cover for the ducks to rest on.
  4. A wire fence to keep people from the shore to the north, so that the ducks don’t get too bothered.
  5. A “do not disturb the ducks” sign on the fence.

If this is done, then the brood stands a good chance. I was assured these fixes will happen, so keep your fingers crossed. Right now Honey has to rest on the bank with her body and wings covering all nine cold babies.

Click “read more” if you want to see the poor dead duckling.

Read More »

HuffPo = NYT?

I’m not suggesting here that a respectable news source is completely identical to the New York Times, but I have suggested that the good gray Times is becoming—despite Bari Weiss and a few conservative columnists—more Authoritarian Leftist. Witness the opprobrium that Weiss got from her fellow reporters on a backchannel discussion group. Part of this is due to their younger journalists, educated in Control-Left colleges, and part is a reaction to Donald Trump’s election.

Here are very similar articles from today’s NYT and today’s HuffPo (click on screenshots to see why The New Era is Dawning).

The “new era” stuff is bunk, of course; Prince Charles is next in line to be ruler, and after that Prince William. Prince Harry, who supposedly ushers in the New Era, has a snowball’s chance in hell to be king. Yes, it’s great that they had a gospel choir and a shake-’em-up American preacher at their wedding, and people got all excited that Oprah and George and Amal Clooney were there but in the end Harry and Meghan will retire to one palace or another and, I hope, do some good charity work. But a New Era in royalty? What would that constitute? And how would someone who will never be king even do that?

HuffPo:

And one reader, incensed at HuffPo’s coverage of the royalty, sent me screenshots of the site’s front page. It’s becoming a tabloid, and I won’t shed any tears when it goes away. Here’s the international breakdown of readership, and the one-month drop in viewers—part of a steady decrease:

Note how many of yesteday’s front-page articles were devoted to the royal wedding. I count 15 out of 21, or 71%. The header: celebs at the wedding (the Clooneys, of course):

Tina Fey returns to SNL season finale, playing Sarah Palin with a cast of Trump lackeys

Since I saw the first season in graduate school (was it really 43 years ago?) Saturday Night Live has become a mere shadow of its former self. But it would be impossible to replace that first cast, which included Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, and Chevy Chase. Still, there are moments of great humor, usually when former cast members return. One of those is Tina Fey, who came on at the end of last night’s season finale. As the New York Times reported on the 5½-minute sketch:

“It’s me, the ghost of Sarah Palin,” Fey said as if speaking to Palin’s fans, before clarifying that she was just kidding. “I’m still alive,” she said. “But you had to think about it, didn’t ya?” Clad in a leather motorcycle jacket, Fey explained, “One minute you’re on top, and then you’re gone in the blink of a Scaramucci.” Then she sang a few bars of “What I Did for Love,” from the musical “A Chorus Line.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, played by Aidy Bryant, soon popped in to puzzle over her relatively lengthy tenure as White House press secretary. Speculating on what the future would hold for her, she put her own spin on “What I Did for Love”: “Kiss White House goodbye, and point me toward Fox News,” Bryant sang. “I did what he said to do, and I might regret what I did for Trump.”

Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon), Stormy Daniels (Cecily Strong) and Omarosa Manigault Newman (Leslie Jones) took their turns recounting what they had done for — or, in the case of Daniels, “with” — President Trump. Fred Armisen, the “S.N.L.” alum and “Portlandia” star, joined the production number as Michael Wolff, the White House reporter behind the book “Fire and Fury.” His verse included the line, “The truth was mine to borrow.”

The sketch’s other surprise guest was Goodman, who delivered an impression of Trump’s former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. “I’m the only man ever to go into a situation scathed and come out unscathed,” he joked. “Trump was the biggest mess I’ve ever dealt with, and I worked for Exxon Mobil.”

This is pretty funny, but the humor is a bit heavy-handed, and comes nowhere near the great political bits of yore, including Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford, Dana Carvey as George Bush, Sr., and Dan Akroyd as Jimmy Carter (remember when faux-Carter tried to talk someone down who was on an acid trip?) I don’t watch the show any more: now that I’m older, I need an earlier bedtime. But the bits I have seen on YouTube (supposedly the funniest bits) suggest that the show should be retired. Who watches it—younger folk, or we oldsters, hoping to recapture some of the glory of those first seasons?

We have NINE ducklings! (And the mom is probably Honey)

When I went to the pond this morning, as I said, I saw no female duck nor any ducklings. My heart was heavy. But of course I stopped by again to feed Frank (and his drake pal Henry) on my way to the store to buy corn for the fowl and food for myself. This time, I heard some peeps from the bank. There, huddled on the shore, was mom (I’m still not sure if she’s Honey) with NINE—count them, NINE—very young ducklings.  I immediately ran upstairs, thawed some corn and filled a beaker with mealworms, and went back to the pond, trying to feed everyone but keeping the drakes and family apart. (Frank is aggressive and drives mom away from the food.) I managed to feed Frank and Henry on the shore, while giving mom corn on the bank and the whole family mealworms in the water. It was no picnic, believe me. At times I had to shoo Frank away from the others.

I’m not sure where the other seven ducklings came from; perhaps they hatched last night or were just hidden while I rescued two wayward siblings from the duck island (aka “the duck trap”) yesterday.

It’s going to be a long summer, but, I hope, a fulfilling one.  Now if I can just get Physical Plant to pitch in and do what they promised to do (they failed to put in a ramp last night, but swear that they’ll fill in the duck island today). If they don’t, I’ll go into the pond again.  I guess this is my family for the summer!

Some photos. Yes, there are nine wee ones. Here they’re eating mealworms. Mom, as expected, was ravenous.

Ducklings foraging amidst the lily pads:

Mom from half an hour ago.

New mom: beak markings enlarged:

 

The real Honey; photos from last year:

I’d like to think this is Honey, as the stippled beak marks bear a resemblance to the real Honey, though the dark triangle at the base of the left side of her bill doesn’t match. But stippling like this is unusual in hen mallards, and, as experts have said, the pigmentation changes over time. What do you think?

Regardless, she and her brood are my responsibility now.

UPDATE: Physical Plant, despite its promises, won’t help out this weekend. So I’m going to the store with Anna and am going to buy bricks to fill up the duck island. That involves multiple trips through cold water. Good thing I brought some swimming trunks today!

 

Readers’ wildlife photos

Today we have bird photos by reader Liz Strahle, who tells us that the “e” at the end of her last name is long, so it rhymes with “Bailey”.  Her notes and ID’s are indented:

These were taken in the last few months in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. The first herring gull was in NY and the non-leucistic red-tailed hawk was in CT. The rest were in NJ.

I believe the gull pictures are Herring Gulls but am not absolutely sure. After googling “white hawk” and then googling leucistic red-tailed hawk, I am pretty sure that the third and fourth pictures are of a leucistic red-tailed hawk. I saw him/her on different days but in the same spot.

The leucistic red-tailed hawk, the American robin, and the black vulture are new birds for me. I must have seen an American robin before, but I could not identify it without looking it up. I think I’ve mentioned before that I love turkey vultures. They are so beautiful. The black vultures are neat, too, but not the same.

Herring Gull (Larus argentatus):

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) (I think it’s leucistic.)
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis):
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis):
American Robin (Turdus migratorious):
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura):
 Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata):
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo):
Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus):
I could be wrong about the leucistic red-tailed hawk. I’m not sure.

Sunday: Hili dialogue

Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) is back doing Hili, but readership and comments seem to be low, and I’m wondering how long I can sustain the will to do this. I will soldier on at least temporarily.

My heart is heavy this morning, as my brief visit to the pond revealed the arrival of yet another mallard drake (there are two besides Frank now) and no sign of mom and ducklings. I will do the feeding and a closer inspection later; I hope fervently that mom and ducklings are hiding somewhere, although I don’t know how they’d get out of the pond. But I will ensure the “duck island” is put in shape today in case of future ducklings.

It’s May 20, 2018, and a cold and cloudy Sunday in Chicago, with the high temperature predicted to be only about 50°F (10°C) . It’s National Quiche Lorraine Day (I’d prefer a cassoulet), as well as World Metrology Day (not misspelled) and World Bee Day (the birthday of the pioneer of beekeeping.

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the first atlas of the world, published on this day in 1570: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, or Theatre of the World. As Forbes notes,

. . . [it] was a novel concept in the late 16th century: a book of maps, all the same size, organized geographically.

It was the work of cartographer Abraham Ortelius, who collected the maps, added his own notes, and had the book printed from specially-engraved copper plates. It contains one of the earliest allusions to what would later become the theory of continental drift, and it’s full of the names of the leading scientists and cartographers of the late sixteenth century – people like Gerardus Mercator, whose method of representing the round globe on a flat map is still in use today. Ortelius did almost none of the actual surveying or drawing for the maps in his book; his role was to bring them all together with descriptions and references. So he cited the names of the 33 cartographers whose work he used – another first, in a period when rules about plagiarism would horrify most college professors today. He also included a list of 54 more professional cartographers.

On May 20, 1498, the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama found the sea route to India from Europe, arriving at Calicut, a city in Kerala. On this day in 1609, Shakespeare’s sonnets were published by Thorpe; Wikipedia adds “perhaps illicitly.”  In 1873, two Jewish men, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis, got the U.S. patent for blue jeans with copper rivets. The rest is history: I suppose I’ve worn them about 95% of the days of my life since my junior year of college. On May 20, 1883, the volcano Krakatoa began its infamous eruption, culminating with an explosion on August 27 that killed over 36,000 people.  On this day in 1932, Amelia Earhart took off from Newfoundland on the first successful solo crossing of the Atlantic by a woman pilot. She landed in Ireland on May 21.  On this day in 1940, the first prisoners arrived in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. Exactly 16 years later, the first airborne hydrogen bomb was dropped by the U.S. in a test over Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. Here’s a video.

On May 20, 1964, Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias discovered the cosmic microwave background radiation—the echo of the Big Bang. Both men were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1978.  On this day in 1989, the Chinese government declared martial law in response to pro-democracy demonstrations, culminating in the Tiananmen Square massacre, with protests lasting until June 4. Finally, on May 20, 1983, a team of scientists led by Luc Montagnier published a paper in Science revealing the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Montagnier, along with  Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Harald zur Hausen, received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2008, while Robert Gallo, who fought fiercely for credit (and probably deserves some) got nothing.

Notables born on this day include Sir William Congreve (1772), Simon Fraser (1776), Honoré de Balzac (1799), John Stuart MIll (1806), James Stewart (1908), Moshe Dayan (1915), geneticist E. B. Lewis (1918), Stan Mikita (1940), Joe Cocker (1944), Cher (1946), and Patrick Ewing, Jr. (1984). Those who died on May 20 include Clara Schumann (1896), Hector Guimard, designer of the Paris Metro entrances (1942), Max Beerbohm (1956), Barbara Hepworth (1975), Gilda Radner (1989), Stephen Jay Gould (2002), and Robin Gibb (2012).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the Princess gave us a scare:

A: Have you converted to vegetarianism?
Hili: No, I still live according to nature, but grass helps the digestion.
In Polish:
Ja: Nawróciłaś się na wegetarianizm?
Hili: Nie, nadal żyję w zgodzie z naturą, ale trawa wspomaga trawienie.

And spring is firmly ensconced in Winnipeg, where Gus has just been given a new catnip plant. Here he looks pretty baked:

Some tweets from Matthew. Have a gander at this lovely grasshopper, which looks as if it were made of steel:

A heron surfing on a hippo!

A rare artist who could actually draw a cat accurately:

And the world’s most graceful cat. LOOK AT THIS VIDEO!

This video claims the whale is “thanking” its rescuers for freeing it from a fishing net, but of course that’s pure speculation:

I’m not sure what mayhem ensued here:

Matthew wants us to know about this important scientific advance in cat research:

Reader Gethyn tells us about the spread of domesticated cats from their origin in the Middle East:

And from Grania, interspecies (or inter-object) love:

Ceiling Cat bless Emma Thompson, here refusing to discuss the royal wedding: