Sunday, 20 June 2010

Tropical treasures

Sunny days, as Midsummer approaches, but the nights have gone cold and few moths are out celebrating in Leeds. Here's one who is, though, the Spectacle, with its uncanny patterning when you look at it head-on. Ah, what fate brought us to this dear but rainy little island, with its small brown birds and small brown moths? Mustn't be too glum, as previous posts show I hope, but just look what my son and his wife have found on a visit to Costa Rica from Mexico City, where Tom has the illustrious post on The Economist of Corresponsal en Jefe para México, Centroamérica y el Caribe.

You can read his real work on (paste & copy - I'll add a link to my list shortly) but in the meantime, here are some of the treasures that he and Abi found in the forests. Thanks very much both - and if any foreign mothing correspondent knows what the caterpillars are going to turn into, we'd all be thrilled.

Some Costa Rican birds now. I love the owl staring back (the symbol of Leeds, btw, chosen in the mistaken belief that owls are wise), but the real glory is that unbelievable combination of primary colours, the famed quetzlcoatl. You can enlarge any of these pics by clicking on them. Whoops, sorry. See Comments. The bird is just a quetzel; the coatl bit belonged to a prehistoric creature a million years earlier (and a famed god, and the currency of Guatemala). Many thanks for the correction from Ornithon.

How am I going to beat this in Leeds? How are England going to beat Slovenia? So many unanswered questions...


sarah meredith said...

Hi Martin,
How fun to see the fauna of Central America - but even better, the link to Tom's writing. A big fan of father will now get to become a big fan of son, as well. I shall link also! Love to Penny and tell her that when Americans don funny hats and pins it is usually because of sports or politics - neither activity very quaint, nowadays. xxs

ornithom said...

Hi Martin,

Great posting as usual, but as is usual for me too I write to correct you.

Only a minor point but it has resulted in a major space-time indescretion (if you're a pedant like me!).

The beautiful pictures are of the 'Quetzal', not a Quetzlcoatl which was in fact an early bird-like pteradactyl. Only a few million years of difference!



MartinWainwright said...

Hi both!

Mea culpas first and thanks ever so much for such a gentle correction, ornithon. I was going to say that a few million years out isn't untypical of a journalist, but I don't want to get into trouble for denigrating my trade. As you'll probably know, I am far from perfect on moths, but I'm sorry to have extended this into birds. Do you know the origin of the word 'quetzel' which I notice from my good friend Google is also the name of Guatemala's currency? I wonder if it's a central American word for 'bright' or 'colourful.' Or maybe it just comes from the God's name, Quetzelcoatl. Anyway, many thanks and warm wishes and I'll correct it on the post.

Sarah Hi! Hope you enjoy T's work which is much more authoritative than mine. He's never out by a million years. I've passed the message to P (as opposed to BP...) Stand by for more central American moths tomorrow from a niece of mine who is roaming around out there too. xM

Tom Wainwright said...

Hello quetzal-watchers! I just got back from Guatemala, where quetzals are almost literally ten a penny - it's the national currency, at about ten to the pound. The banknotes all have a great picture of a cartoon quetzal dashing through the air in a superman pose! I'll email you a picture in a second.

Quetzalcoatl was the chief god of the Aztecs and was always VERY cross, judging by the pictures of him everywhere here in Mexico City, chopping off people's heads. In Náhuatl (the language they spoke here before Cortés showed up) the name means "plumed serpent", which I think is where the quetzal gets its name too, for its amazing plume of tail feathers.

MartinWainwright said...

Tom Hi! Goodness, there are so many ways of communicating these days. Thanks so much for that - I've just incorporated the wondrous banknote in today's (or in a sense, tomorrow's) post. Happy Midsummer Day (although strictly, I think June 21 is only the beginning of summer. Yo! x M & D