Wednesday, 31 December 2008

The Blackbourne Pavilion at London Zoo

The Blackbourne pavilion has recently been refurbished. As one of the older buildings of London Zoo, it has been remodelled in an homage to the Victorian collector. Outside the entrance is an enchanting ‘steam powered’ clock that does a display on the hour. Inside is a large oil style painting of a Victorian ornithologists study surrounded by silhouettes of various species of bird.

In the main area there are aviaries with toucans and bali starlings, coupled with a scatter of cabinets with museum style specimens of such things as birds eggs. This is particularly unusual as most Zoo exhibits focus on the conservation angle rather than the scientific angle.

The aviary room itself is very light, and the iron beams and pillars are all freshly painted and looking as good as when the house first opened in the 1800s.

Through the aviary to the first flight area. This is less Victorian apart from the binoculars, which resemble stereoscope machines.
When I visited one of these viewers had been appropriated by a bird as a nesting site and was roped off.

Past this room again is the main attraction of the Blackbourne Pavilion, the only free flying Humming Birds in Europe. They are almost impossible to photograph, but very nice to see.
Personally I found the Pavilion a very good reconciliation of modern Zookeeping with Victorian Architecture.

Monday, 22 December 2008

My Links

Firstly a bit of self promotion;
Natural History Notebook is my daily journal of Natural History sightings.
The entries are mainly bullet points and pictures, just to keep a log of what I see and where, but might be interesting and I'd love help IDing things.

Tetrapod Zoology is the blog of Darren Naish, a british Palaeontologist and all round Zoology type, who not only writes about his academic work, but also toy dinosaurs and anything else that takes his fancy. He is also Cryptozoology friendly and has appeared on the British Big Cat episode of Monsterwatch a TV show about cryptids.

The World We Don't Live In is a blog by Emile a student of palaentology at the American University of Beirut. His blog mainly covers dinosaurs, and reptiles, but this allows for such things as speculation on fictional biology and dissecting creationist tracts.

Strange Science is a website that looks at how the fields of Palaeontology and Biology have changed through the use of illustrations from out dated books as well as biography of important biologists. Very interesting and often amusing. Good for day dreams about strange beasties.

Cryptomundo is a cryptozoology blog run by Loren Coleman. it keeps the world right up to date with any kind of cryptozoological news.

WTF nature is a Live journal community dedicated to highlighting natural phenomena that makes you just want to to say ' what the fuck?' or maybe just 'wow' Highlights have been the crustaceans that eat fishes tongues and then lodge themselves in their mouths as an ersatz tongue.

Zooillogix is an animal news blog with mainly light hearted stories. is an archive of pictures relating to domestic animals (mainly cats) both historical and current. There are articles on rare and extinct animal and a grea collection of albino and other mutations including hybrids.

Monday, 15 December 2008


Just browsing for calendars and found an artist who paints surreal animal paintings in the style of natural history water colours. The style of Walton Ford is familiar, but the subjects are are odd, often dark serving as a critique on Colonialism and comment on Natural History.

From an article about his 2006 Exhibition at Brooklyn Museum
"Using the animal kingdom as a mirror of the human world, Ford employs his skill as an artist and observer to communicate his views on society."

This article in the New York Magazine contains an Interview with the artist which explains the background of some of his pictures and where he gets his inspiration from.

More pics to be found on Google Images.