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Baby Eating Eagles #2: Video Evidence? November 11, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Baby Eating Eagles #2: Video Evidence?

A couple of years Beach wrote a blog on birds of prey ‘stealing’ babies: the following post serves as an update of a subject that greatly interests both this blogger and those who arrive here by google. Since the original post two important events have taken place. First, a video was put up December 2012 […]

A Magpie Parliament? February 11, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
A Magpie Parliament?

***Dedicated to Ed*** Magpies are often seen in small groups and this has had a predictable reflex in folklore where there is a charming rhyme (with some regional variations) that children still learn in the UK: One [magpie] for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy… As to bigger groups […]

Earliest Flying messengers September 17, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval
Earliest Flying messengers

Beachcombing has a few bizarre carrier pigeon stories in a mauve file under the staircase: I mean are pigeon stories ever going to be normal? He thought though that he’d start his pigeon campaign with a simple even tedious question. When were pigeons first used as messengers? Their role carrying messages in the two world […]

Hibernating Hirundines March 19, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Hibernating Hirundines

Beach gave some publicity, a couple of years ago, to the question of swallows and other hirundines sleeping in the winter rather than migrating. It is all a lot of burnt toffee, of course, but entertaining and it represents a last stand of the ‘old’ country against the ‘new’ science: men in pitchfork marching up […]

An Eagle, A Basket and A Boy January 12, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
An Eagle, A Basket and A Boy

Beachcombing probably owes his ever patient readers an apology today. This post hardly counts as bizarre history: but there are eagles (much visited in previous posts, particularly involving children being carried away) and a young man’s hair turning white and a classy illustration to go with it. The story relates to the West of Ireland […]

City of Ravens: Boria Sax October 31, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
City of Ravens: Boria Sax

The story so far. An ancient British myth going back to ‘ye olde Celtic times’ states that while ravens reside at the Tower of London then Britain will prosper. However, turn the neatly embossed tourist sign with ‘ye olde Celtic times’ over and there is a ‘Made in Taiwan’ marker stamped into the plastic. Translated? […]

The Emu War of 1932 July 18, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Emu War of 1932

In the aftermath of the First World War different countries wrestled with the problem of how to reintegrate their veterans into society. In Britain houses were built ‘fit for heroes’, in Italy soldiers coming home were invited to beat up socialists and in Australia veterans from that country  were given land to farm. These Australian […]

First Greek Encounter with a Parrot December 30, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
First Greek Encounter with a Parrot

  In the ancient Mediterranean parrots were an exotic bird. They were rare, they were multicoloured and they could even repeat human words more convincingly than the native mimics: starlings, magpies and nightingales. Understandably, then, when they appeared, they were attention-grabbers. Indeed, in some periods of antiquity Beachcombing can barely read a source without tripping […]

Crow Bombs: Avian Missiles in the Medieval World November 9, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Crow Bombs: Avian Missiles in the Medieval World

Beachcombing has spent the last few hours enjoying a medieval work named the Book of Fires (Liber Ignium). The author’s alleged name, Mark the Greek is not certain and the text survives in Latin that means we cannot be certain either that it was originally written in Greek: though the structure of the Latin sentences would suggest […]

On Church Fathers and Peacock Flesh… November 8, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
On Church Fathers and Peacock Flesh...

Beachcombing doesn’t much care for the greatest Church Father of them all, Augustine. Perhaps its what ‘the Confessor’ did to his mother and his concubine. Perhaps it is his rather smug treatment of Britain’s first fanatic, Pelagius. Perhaps it is his Latin that is so tiresomely balanced and his apparently imbalanced thinking. But Beachcombing must […]

Baby-Eating Eagles November 5, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Baby-Eating Eagles

When Beachcombing first came to Italy, many years ago, he spent a summer in a room with an enormous wardrobe – the stuff of C.S. Lewis fantasies. This wardrobe was not only huge, but it also had a memorable print on the front. An eagle was being attacked by a weepy mother and in the […]

The Moas of Cannibal Gorge November 4, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Moas of Cannibal Gorge

Beachcombing is in an ornithological mood this month. It all started off with the druidic ravens at the Tower of London, then came the hibernating swallows, the parrots of Orinoco, swan-necked Mary Beard and today, to round off the series, he turns to one of his favourite bird stories of all time: the moa of the Cannibal […]

The mystery of the hibernating hirundines October 31, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The mystery of the hibernating hirundines

Humans create ideas to explain natural phenomenon. Most of these explanations are worth little more than the cinders that Beachcombing nightly sweeps up from the fire. These explanations are then superseded by other explanations – that typically bear as little relation to truth – and so knowledge marches heroically on… Inevitably, though some branches of […]

Druidic Ravens at the Tower of London? October 10, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Druidic Ravens at the Tower of London?

Beachcombing got an email this week from a Canadian history student. ‘Seeing as you seem to have knowledge of historical things quite off the beaten track I thought I’d seek some historic tourism advice. I’m a Canadian history student and over Christmas I’ll be travelling to London. I plan on a doing a couple of […]