I enjoyed so much my time on the Isle of Wight last year (see my post – A Trip to the Isle of Wight) that I decided to return this summer as well. Alongside penguins and pandas, llamas and alpacas are my favourite animals, so I visited the West Wight Alpacas and Llamas farm situated near the quiet village of Wellow on the Isle of Wight. This is a large farm that was started in 2010 by a husband and wife team, and now provides a great day out for all the family. They offer a variety of farm activities, from feeding various farm animals to short walks and long treks with llamas and alpacas.
Llamas and alpacas originate in South America, and at least the former has been domesticated for thousands of years, primarily in the central Andes. In their book Llamas of South America, Conklin and Bjorklund say that “the llamas were domesticated over two thousand years before the coming of the Incas”, and since the Incas of Peru had no writing system to speak of, or iron, it was probably due to the llama that they were able to build such a great empire since the llama provided them with food, wool and means to transport bulky items.
Continue reading “A Spot of South America on the Isle of Wight”
The Genius of Birds  – ★★★★
November is a “Non-Fiction” month, so I am trying to read more non-fiction books. Nature books are something I have been neglecting for some years now, so I have picked up Ackerman’s 2016 bestseller The Genius of Birds. Birds are some of the most remarkable animals on earth, but they have also been very misunderstood and it was only in the second half of the previous century that the scientific community had finally started realising their full complexity and intelligence. Now, in lists (for example, see list 1 and list 2) of the most intelligent animals in the world, birds (parrots, crows and pigeons) take their places alongside such animals as chimpanzees, gorillas, dolphins and octopuses. Some birds are capable of inventing new solutions to problems, making and using tools, leading active social lives, recognising themselves in a mirror, remembering people or places they have not seen in months or years, and reproducing up to sixty different songs which they have heard only a few times. Ackerman’s book explores the technical, inventive, musical, artistic, spatial and social abilities of birds, opening up a side of birds and their intelligence you never knew existed.
Continue reading “Mini-Review: The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman “