Wow. SO CUTE. The various species of boobies (red-footed, brown, etc) and sharp coastline are amazing! These are also in from my dad’s adventures in Christmas Island (which according to wikipedia - The mountain was originally a volcano, and some basalt is exposed in places such as The Dales and Dolly Beach, but most of the surface rock is limestone accumulated from the growth of coral over millions of years. “The summit of this mountain peak is formed of a succession of tertiary limestones ranging in age from the Eocene (or Oligocene) up to recent reef-deposits, with intercalations in the older beds of volcanic rocks.”)… so far you’ve seen the insane crabs… see the rest of the bird and jagged coastline pics on the next page!
Another London discovery from Justine!
An unexpected discovery on the way to FARM:shop, the Dalton Eastern Curve Garden looked irresistibly welcoming. The unexpected wildlife friendly garden is a beautiful sanctuary from the busy streets, like a big communal backyard complete with butterflies and bees drifting from flower to flower, children playing and locals relaxing in the sunshine as the pizza oven was being fired up.
The garden is situated on the abandoned Eastern Curve railway line. The area was transformed into a green space by the Design for London initiative Making Space in Dalston. The collaborative EXYZT built the ‘Dalston Mill’ for three weeks as part of The Barbican Centre’s ‘Radical Nature’ exhibition and returned to create the pavilion in 2010. The gardens opened just over a year ago in July 2010.
“A meeting place for people and plants”, the garden hosts courses, events, workshops and all sorts of activities for children and adults, it is a wonderful space and perfect way to escape for a few hours. More photos of this spectacular urban garden and pavilion on the next page.
Here’s the latest discovery from Justine based in London!
20 Dalston Lane in the heart of East London seems an odd address for a farm. But Dalston’s FARM:shop is literally a farm in a shop. Once a derelict store, the shop is now a shop/cafe/meeting place and farm all in one. It is home to hundreds of growing plants arranged in every setup imaginable from a backyard polytunnel to hydroponics setup where plants are fed by the fish. It is even home to a flock of rooftop living chickens!
A perfect combination of public spaces/projects with urban farming, I knew this one would be right up our alley, and when I heard about the hydroponics and chickens on the roof, I knew it would be one not to miss. More photos on the next page!
Last night we stayed at the Dream Inn Santa Cruz, and from the balcony there was an amazing view of the wharf, boardwalk, and the bay… and all night we heard a mix of waves crashing, fog horn going, and what sounded like tons of sea lions barking… but we never saw them! When i asked about the upon check out ~ i didn’t believe the woman that they were all tucked away on the pylons beneath the wharf… so, first stop was the wharf! And she wasn’t kidding… you have to see it for yourself ~ they balance and nap beneath the wharf on the thin pylons. They even leap up on to them (sometimes after many tries and much splashing) ~ and you can get closer to all of them than at a zoo, etc. It’s fascinating. They are SO loud with the echo created under the wharf. You can peek at them at a few spots ~ under the wharf, on the floating barge near the boat launch, and through various areas in the center of the wharf near the far end… Endlessly amusing, and a gorgeously sunny day in Santa Cruz ~ take a peek at our post-car-weekend adventure on the next page…
On fun emails ~ my dad just got back from Sitka and sent over some adorable Brown Bear pics. Turns out they are from one of his favorite non-profits that he visits a few times a year ~ Fortress of the Bear… “a 501 (c)3 non-profit education and rescue center with an exquisite three-quarter acre habitat for orphaned Brown Bear cubs complete with covered viewing areas.” Mind blowing that the tiny cubs he saw in the years past are now 300-600lbs cubs! And apparently these Sitka Browns “represent a distinct population, genetically dissimilar from any other bear. Research suggests these bears are remnants of a Polar bear population stranded in Southeast Alaska following the last ice age.” Interesting, right? Rumor has it they may have started as browns that turned white to adapt (and into polar bears of the region) only to evolve back to browns to adapt again… Regardless, it sounds like a beautiful, playful, peaceful space for orphaned cubs to call home, and definitely a better alternative to the usual reaction of shooting them! Some grow up to move to zoos around the country, others live out their days there… and all get delicious salmon and food from local fisherman, restaurants, and more! So, if you’re ever in Sitka, Alaska go visit (and support!) Fortress of the Bear! Take a peek at more of the pics he sent over on the next page.
Popped by Dwell on Design in LA today ~ highlight? CHICKENS! Particularly mod wooden chicken coops by 100xBTR and Chicken Co-op. Fun, playful, and perfect for your modern rooftops and yards ~ i love the seeing designs that enable more and more folks to expand their sustainable hyper-local/home grown possibilities… (without sacrificing their innovative design loving tendencies). Read to see the chickens and more of the fun little details (and full views) of these pre-fab chicken estates? To the next page!
Justine was sharing this incredibly intriguing project she found happening in the UK… supposedly its like Farmville, but in real life… while still online… anyhow, take a peek below at what she has to share about it!
Last month, the National Trust launched the MyFarm project, which creates and bridges digital communities with the daily realities of farming. Although the project was heralded by the BBC and others as “FarmVille meets reality”, those behind the project are clear to stress that this is not a game. Instead, the community of 10,000 online Farmers have a direct impact on the workings of the farm at National Trust’s Wimpole Estate and are effectively working with farm manager Richard Morris to decide how it should be run. The first MyFarm vote took place last month, with internet farmers voting to grow wheat and that decision is already being implemented!
The project is a fascinating mix of real and virtual worlds and demonstrates a great use of digital and social media to raise awareness about the National Trust and British farmers. It also provides unrivaled access to a working farm. No matter where you are, you can follow the estate on twitter (@WimpoleEstateNT) as well as farm manager, Richard Morris (@farmermorris) as he goes on his rounds to check on the farm and reports on the many new arrivals (the last few days have seen many new piglets and calves!). They team have also just set up a dedicated MyFarm twitter account (@MYFarmNT) and an account for Emma who looks after the Shire horses (@EmmaMyFarm). The Shires are one to watch at the moment, with a new streaming cam for MyFarmers to be able to watch the pregnant Queenie and hopefully witness the birth of a Shire foal live in the next week or so!
In addition to being a fascinating project, the Wimpole Estate is an incredible place to visit. Located just outside Cambridge, it is one of my favorite escapes, with a beautiful stately home and gardens as well as the farm. It is also home to many of my favorite rare breeds. The home farm is a Rare Breeds Survival Trust approved farm park, home to a number of rare breed livestock including horses, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry. The estate also runs a great events/courses series. I recently learned to hand shear some rare breed sheep and may be back soon to try my hand at hedgelaying, blacksmithing or ferretting. The next MyFarm vote is coming up soon and is about a subject near and dear to me, SHEEP! So let’s get voting to save native breeds!
Baby turtles!!!! Our good friend and zoologist colleague Dr. Rob Holbrook sent me some amazing photos of his recent adventures in Sri Lanka. Despite traveling for pleasure rather than a zoological field trip, he managed to encounter some amazing animals! Of course he returned with awesome pictures ~ these are from the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project and the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. See all the pics on the next page!
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When American Express Membership Rewards approached us about sponsoring content around dream things we’ve been wanting to do ~ first thing to come to mind was GIRAFFE MANOR! Not sure why, but giraffes keep coming up lately (i blame the Petite Lap Giraffes) ~ and then the idea of hanging out in Nairobi… in a manor… where giraffes just pop their heads in? Fascinating, right?
When I first heard of Giraffe Manor, I wasn’t sure whether this giraffe lovers paradise could be real. The picturesque 1930’s manor house where you can get up close and personal with a herd of Rothschild Giraffe. The giraffes don’t just wander through the gardens, the may join you for breakfast or even visit your bedroom window like the opening scenes of the children’s cartoon 64 Zoo lane. Set within 12 acres of private land, Giraffe Manor is surprisingly easy to get to, only 20 km from the city of Nairobi. The hotel looks too amazing to describe in words, so check out more pictures on the next page (and the vintage archive pics are pretty amazing too!)
Petite Lap Giraffes! They have their own website!!! If you follow my silliness on twitter / Life.NOTCOT, you’ve probably noticed my post way back when i couldn’t resist screenshotting the DirecTV ad with the creepy russian and his adorable teeny tiny giraffe! Well, DirecTV, has given them their own website, complete with “giraffe cam”! Petite Lap Giraffes!!! Take a peek at some screenshots and also the two DirecTV ads on the next page!
The Grant Museum of Zoology has always been one of my favorites. Tucked away on Gower Street (near Euston Square tube), the Grant Museum is open to the public on weekday afternoons. The eclectic zoological museum is part of University College London’s teaching collections and one of only a handful of university zoology museums.
I’d visited the museum before and was amazed by the hidden gem, packed full of spirit collections and skeletons. When they closed 8 months ago for refurbishment, I have to admit I was worried about what changes it would bring. I have a soft spot for the quirky, cluttered, Wunderkammer style it had embodied. So when I re-entered the newly refurbished museum today, I wasn’t sure what to expect; but as you can see from the photos, they’ve done a fabulous job of creating a great space that plays to the strengths of their weird and wonderful collection. Take a little tour through the fascinating collection and space on the next page!
We’re so in love with and inspired by nature here at NOTCOT ~ Here’s another peek into the world of our resident zoologist and editor, Justine! So amazing and adorable to see how these little birds come to be! Oooh and you can follow her on twitter now ~ @NotCritters… say hi!
With spring on its way, it’s time to get ready for the bounty to come. Here are some photos of the adorable blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) family that made their home in a nestbox on my office balcony last summer. Take a peek at their growth from eggs to fluffy teenagers on the next page!
Justine has more fascinating and adorable creatures to share with us! She and i grew up surrounded and obsessed with critters big and small ~ while i found inspiration from them but went down a design path, she pursued an animal behavior/zoology phd. So, naturally, the more involved she’s been getting with NOTCOT, we can’t help but share all our passions and inspiration here! Also, just started her up on Twitter ~ follow her @NotCritters.
They may not have fur or feathers, but these little newt larvae still manage to be incredibly cute (between the big fluffy gills and four tiny little fingers and five little tiny toes, I’m smitten). These babies are Smooth or Common newts (Lissotriton vulgaris) that we raised from tiny eggs a few summers ago. See our family album, from egg to eft on the next page!
Just in from the UK ~ Justine just showed me the most adorable pictures of a baby tapir she took, and i had to share! See what she has to say below…
The Bristol Zoo just had a beautiful new baby tapir and I couldn’t resist going to meet him. I had heard about the new arrival from Zooborns and just had to see the little watermelon striped baby for myself. The Brazilian or Lowland Tapir (Tapirus terrestris) is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List. Find out more about them at ARKive and see some of my favorite pictures (including a tapir yawn!) on the next page.