Monday, 26 September 2022

Bran Tub # 24 … Spoon-billed Sandpiper and its 1869 lithographer …

 

Being behind the curve as usual … I spotted this wonderful looking lithograph of the spoon-bill sandpiper – illustrated by John Gerrard Keulemans in 1869 – which led me to various things …



Illustration by John Gerrard Keulemans
(1869)

Oh dear … my interpretation of the title on this book in my little mind was Eleven Birds in House and Town … but as you can see it should be and is: Our Birds in House and Garden …



Keuleman's publication
volume one


Not sure now how I got to the Spoon-billed Sandpiper … but another name came into the frame … Laysan Island … one of the North-western (Leeward) Islands (originally the Sandwich Islands – so named by James Cook in 1778).




Laysan Island one of the tiny islands in
the long-tail of the volcanic chain

This is part of the Hawaiian Islands … a chain of volcanoes that stretch about 2,700 km (1,700 miles) in a north-westerly direction … these are constantly on the move as new islands are created over tens of thousands of years … about 7 cm (or 2.75 inches) per year …



This bird is critically endangered … the main threats to survival are habitat loss on its breeding grounds and loss of tidal flats … in and around that huge area the Pacific Ocean …


Spoon-billed Sandpiper's distribution -
around the Pacific Ocean

it nests in June-July on coastal areas in the tundra, choosing locations with grass close to freshwater pools.




Head of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper 
c 1890 illusration

They feed on moss in the tundras, as well as smaller animal species like mosquitoes, flies, beetles, and spiders … at times they feed on marine vertebrates such as shrimp and worms.


Captain Cook's three voyages: red in 1768,
green in 1772; his final one - he was killed
in the Hawaiian islands in 1776
The gales and storms above the seas will send many a small animal off course …




Captain James Cook c 1775


On looking at Captain Cook and then his wife through these portraits … we can certainly see some of the cultural changes that have occurred in the last 300 years …



Elizabeth Cook - 56 years a widow (1830)


The storms of life are most definitely still occurring … I digress once again … I think it's time I disappeared back onto my curve again …




Spoon-billed Sandpiper ...

John Gerrard Keulemans - his three volume works ... 

James Cook and his history ... 

National Geographic and the chain of Hawaiian Islands hotspot ... 

Saving the Spoon-Billed Sandpiper site ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

24 comments:

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
thanks for introducing us to such a bird... not one that had come to my ken before now! YAM xx

Jacqui Murray said...

What a beautiful drawing. Back in the day before cameras, zoologists had to be artists on top of everything else.

Elephant's Child said...

That is one skilled and talented artist. Thank you. Far too many things are critically endangered at the moment - which makes my head and my heart hurt.

Pradeep Nair said...

Never heard of this bird before. Lovely looking one. I am sure there are many such birds that are facing the threat of extinction.

H. R. Sinclair said...

Very cool! I love the illustrations! Keulemans was so talented!

Deborah Weber said...

How fun to see such a lovely illustration of a spoon-bill. I'm laughing at myself - it never occurred to me that the bird's bill might actually look like a spoon. Clearly, I lack proper bird sense. It was great to be set straight and then follow the delightful trail you've led us on.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Didn't know he was a tundra bird.
And speaking of storms, they are certainly occurring here. And it will be nasty.

Liz A. said...

It's fun to find things and go off on tangents.

Hels said...

Dying young is never good, but Capt Cook at least looked handsome in his portrait. His poor widow must have been lonely for a very long time.

Annalisa Crawford said...

For a second I thought Elizabeth Cook was 56 years old in that portrait! It's early and my eyes aren't fully focused yet 😂

It's so sad that so many creatures are endangered, and so much of it is the fault of humanity.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yam – I'm not sure how it hit my little brain … but rather liked the journey and trails it took me down …

@ Jacqui – oh yes … those early illustrations are so superb – such a great basis of understanding came from their recordings …

@ EC – yes … Keulemans obviously was a great ornithologist … looking at other art works from his collections … he was just brilliant at what he did …
I know there are far too many species of all sorts which are endangered … we don't seem to care …

@ Pradeep – it travels to your part of the world … but was recorded (painted) here in the UK. It's mainly based around the Pacific Ocean. You're right about the extinction threat, particularly endangered ones, and with these storms – that's not helping …

@ Holly – the little bird drew me to Keulemans – so I am particularly grateful to find out so much for one post …

@ Deborah – I wrote a post about 'kitchen utensils' being applied as names to some birds' beaks … it was delightfully informative … not quite 13 years ago! i.e. 17 Oct 2009. I'm just glad you enjoyed the 'delightful' trail I led you on …

@ Alex – oh dear … more storms … we're in a bit of a cold draft now, after Fiona so cruelly raced in to Canada – it wings its way back down here from the Arctic north – cold!

The little spoon-billed sandpiper nests in the tundra, but travels down the coasts to their main wintering grounds in south and southeast Asia.

@ Liz – I'm always going off at tangents … way too often!

@ Hels – despite dying young – he had six children! But he had to return to the Islands to repair his boat and then got into confrontation with the locals … sadly that was it …

… he left a lot of scientific and geographical records – but his dealings with indigenous tribes on each of his journeys left much to be desired.

@ Annalisa - she lived to 93!! And your reaction was really why I put their pictures up ... showing how much has changed over 300 years.

Sadly so much is affected by human behaviour and our loss of habitat is not helping life in general ... we aren't appreciative of how much links together and is necessary for the sum of the parts ...

Thanks everyone … always good to see you – cheers Hilary

Debbie D. said...

Interesting to learn about the Spoon-billed Sandpiper! I especially liked the illustration, which clearly shows how it earned its name.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

John Gerrard Keulemans is justifiably highly renowned in the field of ornithological illustration, rivalling Edward Lear in many respects, in my judgement. Would that I had a print of one of his works. The plight of the Spoonbill Sandpiper continues to be a great concern as its numbers are dangerously low. One virus could wipe out the entire world population. Yet we continue to inflict climate change and habitat loss upon its dwindling numbers while simultaneously investing huge sums of money to try to save it from extinction. Such is the typical trajectory of humans - drive an organism to the brink and then mount a campaign to save it. Wouldn't you think we might have learned that prevention is always better than cure? There is an organization in the UK, whose name I forget, whose primary mission is the salvation of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. They usually refer to it by the inane name Spoonie, but perhaps this is a ploy to engage the public. In any event, it is unlikely that this tiny, enigmatic wading bird can survive in the long term, a real testament to human greed and stupidity. All the best - David

Joanne said...

I like when you go adrift, moved by the tides into travels galore. Sandpipers are fun to watch on the beach, scurrying about. Your spoon-billed sandpiper is in some tough terrain. It seems nature is going berserk right now with typhoons, hurricanes, etc. Mother Earth just isn't happy, alas.

Sandra Cox said...

There is so much endangered on our planet now. We need to start getting down to business and do what we can to save it.
Cheers,

Inger said...

I have a hard time imagining a sand piper with a spoon bill. But there it is. Great post about how one thing leads to another as we ponder life and its variety of situations. I think I will write down my drifting thoughts as I recover from my upcoming surgery. After I'm done with the pain pills. Or not!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Debbie – yes … they definitely thought about the 'common' naming of the bird … and you're right about the illustration – very informative.

@ David – I hadn't come across Keulemans before … so I'll take your thought about comparison to Lear seriously.

You're right about the a 'Saving the Spoonbilled Sandpiper” site – I've put the link at the end of the blogpost for anyone interested.

I've also noted that avian flu in our sea birds, and other sea birds, is spreading voraciously around the world … the thought was it's coming from Chinese poultry farms …

So well expressed about many of the human being … we don't think, we're selfish and we're not educated enough to be curious and understand life … and realise that the things we're killing are just another 'root' of life itself … we just have developed further til we finish ourselves off – having eliminated so much as we do it.

Thank you – an elegant comment to my post …

@ Thanks Joanne … that pleases me and makes it easier when I go off the grid and normality of life … this little bird is very unique in its coverage. You're right about nature going 'beserk' … a change from hot hot drought … but I'm about to dash out before the rains come tomorrow!

@ Sandra – yes unfortunately so many species are endangered or on their way to extinction due to our stupidity and greed – as you say we need to get on with educating people to help our planet …

@ Inger – yes … it does take some thinking about a little bird with a spoon as its beak. I'm glad the post inspired you to perhaps jot down your drifting thoughts as next week draws nearer – I can only wish you the best outcome. With thoughts.

Thanks so much for your appropriate comments – we need to look after this world and all its occupants … cheers Hilary

Dan said...

I have to admit not knowing much of anything about this bird. I was sad to read, "the main threats to survival are habitat loss on its breeding grounds," as that is such an ongoing threat to birds and animals around the globe. In our area, people complain about nuisance critters (the ones we feed) overrunning the area, but they don't realize the connection to the new homes, apartments, warehouses and sports facilities being built where these animals used to thrive.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

This bird is amazing! Thanks for posting about it. How handy to have a spoon like bill.

Teresa

Jeff said...

An interesting looking bird. Yesterday, I did a hike where I am at and got some video of Sandhill Cranes which have one of the most unique throaty cry. I should do a post on them.

bazza said...

Hi Hilary. Spoonbills are very interesting, They use their bills something like a sieve, sweeping from side to side and snapping shut when anything touches the inside - usually the kind of foods you have described.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Dan – well I didn't know too much … but my wandering mind was happy! You're right about how ignorant many of us are re our natural world.

@ Teresa – good to see you … I know birds' bills are very cleverly and appropriately adapted …

@ Jeff – lovely to see you … so glad you were able to see the Sandhill Cranes – beautiful birds. Interesting to know about their cry … must have been fabulous to be able to watch – and yes … perhaps do a post about them – we will all learn.

@ Bazza - yes ... I love how they use their bills ... fascinating to watch, I imagine. Snapping shut ... I guess that's what happens ... so they don't lose their food ...

Thanks for visiting … cheers Hilary

DMS said...

I didn't know anything about this particular bird before reading this post. I can see why you became intrigued. Thanks for all the info. :)
~Jess

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Jess - I'm so glad you enjoyed the post and learning about the little Sandpiper - birds and animals are incredible aren't they ... great to see you - cheers Hilary