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Archive for January, 2011

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Blue Tit: Birds of Britain

Posted in Animals, Birds, Wildlife on Monday, 31 January 2011

Blue Tit - Birds of Britain, picture, illustration

Blue Tit – Birds of Britain

Blue tits are the acrobats of the garden. Hang out a string of nuts or strips of bacon rind and you will probably see these little birds suspended, balancing agilely to reach the food. They can even learn to pull out matchbox drawers to obtain food inside, and regularly pierce the foil caps on milk bottles to get at the milk. Blue tits need this ingenuity to survive. Although one pair might lay as many as 13 eggs in one clutch, only one adult and one young bird will, on average, live to breed the following year.

This edited article originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 901 published on 28 April 1979. Click on a picture to find out more about licensing images for commercial or personal/educational use. We are also able to license textual material. Please contact us for details.

Black Grouse: Birds of Britain

Posted in Animals, Birds, Wildlife on Monday, 31 January 2011

Black Grouse - Birds of Britain, illustration, picture

Black Grouse – Birds of Britain

The male black grouse is an impressive bird as it flies over open moorland, the white bars along his wings showing starkly against glossy black plumage. His courtship takes place at a communal display ground, or lek, where many males defend their territories and vie for the attentions of the drab brown females. Crowing, bubbling and hissing, the males lift and spread their unique huge tyre-shaped tails, revealing a billowing white patch of underfeathers.

This edited article originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 901 published on 28 April 1979. Click on a picture to find out more about licensing images for commercial or personal/educational use. We are also able to license textual material. Please contact us for details.

Black-headed Gull: Birds of Britain

Posted in Animals, Birds, Wildlife on Monday, 31 January 2011

Black-headed Gull - Birds of Britain, illustration, picture

Black-headed Gull – Birds of Britain

Despite its name, this gull is white all over in the winter months, with black-edged wings and tail. Only in summer does it have a brown, not black, head. This coloration is used in the “head flagging” ceremony in courtship. The birds threaten one another with their brown faces, then suddenly turn their heads away, placating their mate by hiding the aggressive dark mask. Once the black-headed gull was most often seen following the plough, but now it is a common sight in towns, scavenging for food.

This edited article originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 901 published on 28 April 1979. Click on a picture to find out more about licensing images for commercial or personal/educational use. We are also able to license textual material. Please contact us for details.

White-tailed Sea Eagle: Birds of Britain

Posted in Animals, Birds, Wildlife on Monday, 31 January 2011

White-tailed Sea Eagle, bird, illustration, picture, image

White-tailed Sea Eagle – Birds of Britain

Once the most widespread of our birds of prey, the white-tailed sea eagle has not nested around our coasts for half a century. Poisoning, shooting and trapping by sheep farmers was mainly responsible for its disappearance. Although the sea eagle’s threat to new-born lambs is now thought to be grossly overestimated, the bird is still persecuted for this in northern Norway. This mighty creature, with its wingspan of up to three metres, is now seen by our shores only as a rare winter visitor from Scandinavia or Iceland.

This edited article originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 901 published on 28 April 1979. Click on a picture to find out more about licensing images for commercial or personal/educational use. We are also able to license textual material. Please contact us for details.

Mute Swan: Birds of Britain

Posted in Animals, Bible, Wildlife on Monday, 31 January 2011

Mute swan, bird, illustration, picture, image

Mute Swan – Birds of Britain

Custom dating back before Elizabeth I dictates that all mute swans on the Thames belong to the Sovereign. Only swans marked in the upper bill in the ceremony of “upping” are owned by two livery companies, the Dyers and Vintners. These majestic birds are not completely mute, for they do snort and hiss when annoyed.  Male mute swans can be very fierce, and stage spectacular battles, their vast wings arched and graceful necks drawn back. The victor’s heavy orange bill with its black knob at the base pecks at the head and neck of the loser.

This edited article originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 901 published on 28 April 1979. Click on a picture to find out more about licensing images for commercial or personal/educational use. We are also able to license textual material. Please contact us for details.

Turtle Dove: Birds of Britain

Posted in Animals, Birds, Wildlife on Monday, 31 January 2011

Turtle dove, bird, picture, illustration, image

Turtle Dove – Birds of Britain

The sleepy crooning of the turtle dove is a typical sound of summer in the countryside. This dove only visits from April to September, feeding mostly on the seeds of the fumitory, a weed of arable land. Smaller than other British pigeons, the turtle dove is easily identifiable by orange and dark chequered upperparts, a black and white striped patch on the neck, rosy breast plumage, and a white barred tail.

This edited article originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 901 published on 28 April 1979. Click on a picture to find out more about licensing images for commercial or personal/educational use. We are also able to license textual material. Please contact us for details.

Swallow: Birds of Britain

Posted in Animals, Birds, Wildlife on Monday, 31 January 2011

Swallow, bird, picture, illustration

Swallow – Birds of Britain

The long streamers of their deeply forked tails readily identify swallows as they congregate on telegraph wires before migration. They are often seen in early summer, skimming low at a constant height above the ground or water to catch flying insects. Fast and accurate flyers, they fly unhesitatingly into very narrow openings in the buildings where they build their nests, and are said to reach speeds of 160 km per hour when migrating.

This edited article originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 901 published on 28 April 1979. Click on a picture to find out more about licensing images for commercial or personal/educational use. We are also able to license textual material. Please contact us for details.

Redstart: Birds of Britain

Posted in Animals, Birds, Wildlife on Monday, 31 January 2011

Redstart, bird, illustration

Redstart

The courtship display of the handsome redstart is a colourful sight. Black throat outstretched, elegant grey wings drooping low, the male fans out his vivid russet tail in its full glory to attract the female. Redstarts breed most commonly in old woodland, but will nest in almost any suitable hole: in parks, gardens, riversides, or even stone walls in treeless areas.
This edited article originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 901 published on 28 April 1979. Click on a picture to find out more about licensing images for commercial or personal/educational use. We are also able to license textual material. Please contact us for details.

Henry VII: Famous Last Words

Posted in Famous Last Words on Monday, 31 January 2011

picture, King Henry VII, funeral effigy

A portrait of Henry VII taken from his funeral effigy. Illustration by Pat Nicolle

“We heartily desire our executors to consider how behoofful it is to be prayed for.”

King Henry VIII was the first King of England in the House of Tudor. He ascended to the throne by defeating King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth – the last King of England to win his throne on the battlefield. He restored power and stability to the English monarchy following the years of the Wars of the Roses and ruled for 23 years before peacefully passing on. He died suddenly at Ludlow Castle on 1502, after uttering his philosophical final words.

Many more pictures relating to kings and queens can be found at the Look and Learn picture library. Click on the link or picture to find out more about licensing images for commercial and educational use.

Death of John Buchan

Posted in Anniversary, Literature on Monday, 31 January 2011

11 February marks the anniversary of the death of Sir John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir, governor-general of Canada and novelist, in 1940.

picture, John Buchan, Prester John, Africa, natives

A scene from John Buchan’s Prester John in which David Crawfurd’s dog intervenes to save his master’s life

Buchan, born in Perth, Scotland, in 1875. He  held many diplomatic and political posts in South Africa and was MP for the Combined Scottish Universities. However, it is as a novelist that he is remembered today. His first thriller, Prester John, set the tone for the adventure novels he continued to write throughout his career. His best-known creation was Richard Hannay, whom Buchan based on a friend from South Africa. Hannay appeared in a number of Buchan’s finest works, which include The Thirty-Nine Steps, The Power House, Greenmantle, Mr Standfast, Huntingtower and Midwinter.

Many more pictures relating to authors and their works can be found at the Look and Learn picture library. Click on the link or picture to find out more about licensing images for commercial and educational use.