Thursday, 14 July 2011

An odd combination

An old stone wall enveloped in Campanula poscharskyana is a common sight in the Cotswolds, and usually doesn't warrant a second glance, but I was struck by the sheer incongruity of seeing it in combination with a King Penguin. This apparently unlikely pairing is at Birdland in Bourton-on-the-Water, which I visited yesterday evening with the Cotswold Pheasant and Poultry Club. The presence of vegetation is not actually anomalous: the King Penguin, unlike its relative the Emperor, lives on vegetated islands in the Southern Ocean, so bleak snowiness is inappropriate. However, according to our guide for the evening, Assistant Head Keeper Chris, the penguins find the Cotswolds summer too warm for comfort and must be supplied with cooling devices, including shade umbrellas and ice blocks. The biggest problem is that the females are apt to lose their eggs when they feel the urge to cool off with a swim, so the eggs are usually removed for incubation and hand-rearing while a floating substitute is provided.

Birdland is not a horticultural destination, but it has a lot of beautiful, lovingly cared-for birds that in many cases are part of an organized captive breeding programme.

Palawan Peacock Pheasant

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