Month: July 2014

My thoughts on nature… (by Sam)


I like to think of nature as a place you can never be disappointed in no matter where you are you can always rely on nature to put on a show from majestic eagles soaring through the sky in Africa, to the bold pigeons building nests in London. Not only does nature present the most exciting events in natural history but it records all of natures past and present events through fossils and bones. 

“Nature is a cycle that never ends each and ever part of nature helps to keep that cycle going, without it we wouldn’t be alive today” when I heard this It got me thinking that I should cherish nature even more than I did then I began to appreciate all of the animals no matter what even mice and spiders. I wouldn’t be blogging nor would I be so keen on photography and art if it learnt for nature. Nature doesn’t just provide inspiration but has inspired millions like Kate Macrae to do photography and art and collecting. 

Nature also inspires TV shows like Springwatch and natures curiosities bringing more enthusiasts to think more about nature as well as learn more. Without nature there wouldn’t be safaris or birdwatching tours nor would there be so many birds on Skomer or Madagascar.



Birds of Skomer… (by Sam)

Recently I went to skomer island (off wales) and saw hundreds of birds I had never seen before. While i was on the island I documented all the bird species as well as a few mammals and here is the list organised under the topics, cliff nesters, burrowers, gulls and others.

   CLIFF NESTERS     BURROWERS     GULLS                 OTHER

   RAZORBILL            PUFFINS              KITTIWAKE         GANNET


  FULMARS                                            LESSER B-B        ROSE BUNTING

                                                               BH GULL              SKYLARK 

                                                              GREATER BB

DSC_1077Baby Manx shearwater chick (Puffinus puffinus)

                               DSC_1068Puffin pair.


The Mystery of Aldenham.. (By Sam)


Yesterday I went for a few walks in Aldenham country park and after a long lakeside forest walk I found ribs I had no idea what it was from, I thought maybe a fox or badger maybe even a heron. Like Ii always do I won’t take just the rib unless theres a skull with it, so naturally I continue looking for more of the animals bones and found some more ribs, what looks like the part of a leg bone and something I thought was a shoulder blade (scapula),it took a while but I eventually found parts of the skull, It looked like maybe a badger lower jaw but looked to much like I herbivorous animal, Aldenham park is know for its farm animals like pig, sheep and goat all herbivores which means it could have been one of their bones, but the ribs were too small for a large sheep although only slightly smaller than a lamb the next thing you have to work out is how it got there. Aldenham has plenty of walks and next to one sheep are let out into the field nearby so maybe a fox took the carcuss of one across into the forest and it drifted out in the lake and washed up but the teeth just weren’t large enough so I kept thinking and thinking but nothing!! So I went to the desk and asked what they thought and they let me into the room to show them. they had no idea so they called someone else who worked at the park who studied zoology (like I want to when I’m older) she looked at them and kept thinking we were talking about the possibilities of it being domestic animal bones but the teeth weren’t large enough for pig, sheep, pony, goat or lamb so she got out two skulls, a badger wight eh jaws together and fully articulated skull and a fox skull with the jaws in two parts, we compared the skulls but they just weren’t right so like I always do I asked my twitter friends Ric, Ben, Jake and Paolo so after a little wait I had reply from Ric who told me “looks like the pharyngeal teeth of some sort of fish” then  Jake said said he thinks it looks like the bones of a large fish he also told me their skulls are in small unfused plate which explained why there was lots of scale shaped bones lying around and to confirm what Ric and Jake had told me Ben said he agrees and that it was a black carp so that settled it but only the skull parts the other bones were to big for a fish bones and it remains a mystery as to their identifacation……..


Pippy the Bat (by Sophie)

My neighbour came round today to tell me that her husband had found something for me. So I went round to help with their garden and to see what he had found.
She came out of the house with something wrapped in kitchen role and handed it to me. I unfolded it slowly incase they were playing a joke on me 🙂 i was really shocked to find out it was a young Pippestrel Bat. I know they are protected so i need to get CITES permission to keep it.
It is so small and fragile, especially its wings. I looked at it for ages, studying all of it. I’ve decided to call it Pippy and keep it in my treehouse boxes.
There are many bats flying round our houses at dusk and the other year my dad borrowed a bat detector which lets you listen to their echo location. Thats how i found out that they were Pippestrel bats. It was brilliant being able to listen to their calls.

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our guest blogger (the amazing bone carver)


(quick message from us) Today we are deleted to have guest blogging on Strong As Bone Sophie Doberdor from Doberdor design the amazing bone carver….

Hi I’m Sophie 

Choosing to carve bones wasn’t so much about the material, but more about the natural sculptural qualities every bone possesses. I became fond of the properties of the material only after I had begun practising carving techniques on scraps I bought from pet shops. It’s somewhere between wood and stone. It grinds to dust easily (some easier than others!), yet even the finest piece of bone can remain tough and support other pieces much greater than itself. It’s an amazing material, and blows my mind every day that such a material is formed naturally!
My carvings allow you to see glimpses inside of skulls. You can make out how it’s made up because I leave the structures beneath as intact as possible. I find the insight fascinating and often find myself just examining the structure and all the shapes that make up such a complicated natural sculpture. Each carving is unique to reflect the individuality of the creature and I never repeat a design on any skull for this reason.
I carve for the love of animals and natural history, and hope that I can open up a world of bones, not only to people who already love these fascinating creations, but hopefully to those who may see bones and skulls as little more than ‘creepy’ or something ‘weird’.. Because at the end of the day, we’re all full of them and we’d be pretty useless without!


Growing up in the countryside has had a lasting effect on my art and attitude towards my surroundings. I find myself constantly aware of all the creatures that may be nearby as well as those I can see and hear already. The thing with nature is that it is ever changing, and nobody can really fully determine exactly how or when changes happen. It’s wild and it does what it wants. Nature is a pretty formidable force that is so far beyond our control and I take a great amount of inspiration from it for this reason among many others. I find it difficult to resist poking and prodding around if I’m out on a walk and seeing what’s there, and I get a real buzz when I see animals like foxes, badgers, birds of all kinds, etc., etc. The thing is, I find it impossible to become bored of nature, it changes constantly with the seasons unlike any city or town, and it’s a home for hundreds of thousands of creatures of all sizes and shapes. There is so much left to discover and it’s a world much greater and more fierce than our own. It’s just amazing!                                                                                            


Thx Sophie for taking us on a Journey through your thoughts 🙂



gully the herring gull isn’t a herring gull??? (by Sam)


If you have read my other blog then you will know that Ric Morris an awesome collector and very generous man gave me loads of different types of bones from razorbill to shrew and amongst those amazing specimens was what he thought could be a herring gull so for a long time I assumed it was a herring gull and that is what I wrote on its tag, but then as I was not sure one day I just went to double check with another awesome guy called Paolo V see his blog (zygoma) someone who I had met at the Horniman Museum for an interview (viewable on my blog) and asked him whether he thought herring gull straight away he knew it wasn’t herring but suggested a kittiwake, I agreed with that saying it did look like one but then I gave him the measurements and he told me it was a common gull, I was very excited about having a common gull as I knew it was hard to find (despite the name COMMON gull). So without Paolos help and Rics gift I wouldn’t of learn that it was a common gull or would have it in my collection, Thx guys.

Racing Pigeon (sophie)

This is the first racing pigeon i have found. I found it a few weeks ago when i was last up at Cockerham, but because it was really fresh, so i only took it’s ring (GB 09 K49993). I reported it straight away to The Royal Pigeon Racing Association. After a while, they got back in touch with me, saying that they had reported it to the owner. And that was it. I didn’t get any other information. I would have liked to know it’s name and if it had won anything.

However, this time at the caravan, the tides haven’t been high, so i managed to find the pigeon. This time i managed to get it’s skull and cleaned it up in hydrogen peroxide. Now it looks really good and clean. Can’t wait until i get home and can store it in my treehouse.

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Our favourite skulls, if you wanted to know :)

Well as you know we collect skulls because we are interested in them. Together we both have, well quite a few. Sam collects his skulls for interest and educational purposes, whereas i collect them because i like to have something unusual to show and talk about, plus i like them.
Sam’s favourite skull is his Shearwater skull. He was given one by Ric Morris and has recently been to Skomer, where he found two and is trading one with me. He thoroughly enjoyed visiting Skomer and he even got to hold a Shearwater chick and saw Puffins!

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Sam’s other favourite skulls are his Great Spotted Woodpecker, which had flown into his gran’s window. He had buried it in a pair of tights and has got the skull displayed in his room. He also likes his Razorbill skull, which was given to him by Ric, along with some other bones.

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The other partial skull in the picture is his Muntjac skull, which he found in Wood Fallow Forest (Asgridge Wood) near him. Even though it is only part of a skull, he still loves it as it has given him an insight into the wildlife around him, as well as giving him inspiration to try and find some more complete Muntjac skulls.

My three favourite skulls where found at home and Cockerham Sands, where i stay in a caravan for a few weeks. The first is a Gannet skull. It is amazing to look at, especially as it still has it’s beak sheaths. The strength of the bone is unbelievable!

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My next fav skull is my plain old grey squirrel. Even though it’s just a squirrel, i like the story to how i came across it. I was in my neighbours garden (shhh) and i saw a squirrel shoot into a tree hole. I went over to try get a picture of it, but instead it jumped out of the other side and sped off. But when i took a picture inside the trunk, there was definitely a squirrel in there. After a while of plucking up some courage, don’t ask me why, but i put my hand in the tree hole. Luckily nothing happened and instead ended up with my squirrel skull, which by the way has some amazing teeth.
The last skull i like is my Greater Black Backed Gull. Also found at Cockerham, it did have a black beak sheath but a magpie got hold of it. I like it because of the shear size of it and the muscle marks on it.

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We both love collecting our skulls because it gives us an interesting and unique hobby, that people want to talk about. We always make sure they are clean so that our mum’s don’t shout at us 🙂

A new bone and and amazing place! (post by Sam)

DSC_0046Over the weekend I went to skomer (read more on my trip on my blog) where I saw hundreds of different species including fulmar, shearwater, puffin and razorbill all firsts for me but not only did I go to see the birds, although bird watching was the main reason we came to skomer it was very good for somethings else I do, collecting I found plenty of bones but only took a few, one of the bones I took was this unknown fish vertebrae that I found by the island side. I assumed that a bird  maybe herring or black backed gull scavenged or caught a fish and this is what I found. You can see how its very different to other vertebrae of animals like birds and mammals, it has a sort of hourglass shape from the side unlike say a rabbit vertebrae, I t was very interesting to find out what it was originally I was thinking an odd sternum growth of a manx shearwater and when I asked some experts on twitter I had a few replies, one from Jake from Jakesbones fellow blogger and also author who suggested it was the ankle joint of a large mammal but then I told him the only large mammals on skomer were people and seals both of which I doubted to find here on skomer, then someone else on twitter (Stuart Petch) came and said he thinks it was a fish bone, I was being silly and thought no way could it be fish, which I told him and said he thought it reminded him of fish vertebrae, so I did some research and discovered it was intact a fish vertebrae so I’m sorry to Stuart. Then out of the blue this morning Ric morris replied and backed up Stuart which now makes me certain it is a fish vertebrae of an unknown species.