The Natural Stuff Collection

Jonathan McGowan's Natural History Collections


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01240 viewsThe carcass of a sika hind lays on a heathland by a road. I found her as fresh road-kill. I moved her about twenty yards from the road and decided to put a trigger camera in front of her mainly for my large cat studies but also to see other scavengers feeding from it. The next day the carcass had already been visited by a carnivore and very cleanly opened up (see big cat diaries). The rumen has been partly removed along with its contents, the chewed up grass.

Vegetarians have large stomachs and deer ruminate, they chew partly digested food to release further more nutrients. It is not a very efficient way of eating as they need to eat a lot. The cat that eat one haunch, part of the gut and ribs and skin with belly will not need to do that as this food is highly protein rich and will sustain the animal for a long time. Wild animals such as deer have very little fat. They are constantly active and the food they eat gets converted into lean protein.
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02106 viewsThis is the body of a raven. Most birds have some small amounts of fat on them but usually just under the skin in certain areas where the larger feathers arise from. Small seems of fat are around the thigh areas of the leg or around the upper arms or wing areas. Wild birds are usually very lean and the flesh is dark and iron rich. In birds the breast muscles are where the most meat is because they are the muscles that do most work.
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03102 viewsSea birds such as this guillemot have much more fat as they spend a lot of time in the cold water, not just floating on the surface but flying beneath the water so need to be insulated well. The skin has a thick layer of fat all over it. This particular bird had been killed by an oil slick. It was eaten by me and the skin preserves for taxidermy.
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04102 viewsWhen skinning birds for taxidermy purposes one can find all manner strange things within the body. The owner of this budgerigar did not know as to why it had died. On opening up the bird I came across these tumours. One was nearly the size of its head. There is also a lot of fat within the body. Caged birds do not usually fly as much as they would in the wild and so are more likely to become ill.

I personally think that it is morally wrong to keep birds from flying and budgies are flock birds that fly fast for long distances in their native Australia. Birds often get cancer just like mammals but we humans seem to be more prone than wild animals.
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05106 viewsWild birds are prone to a variety of diseases especially caused by internal or external parasites. Bumble foot (ulcerative pododermititis) is not common but is more so in domestic birds especially fowl that lacerate the feet on hard flooring or wire. The bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) causes infection and swelling. Wrens spend a lot of time on the ground but just how this one got bumble foot and died is a mystery, but way have picked it up from infected pheasants.
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06105 viewsA lot of injuries to birds are caused by humans and discarded fishing tackle is a huge problem world wide. Birds are regularly taken into wildlife hospitals after swallowing baited fish hooks, and birds are often taken in entangled in discarded line.

This heron did not manage to get help. Its right leg was almost severed from tight fishing line and infection caused the foot to swell. It became so weak that it could not fly to its nest to feed its young but it tried, such is the devotion of animals to their offspring. It tried walking, across a dual carriageway towards the nesting colony. No human slowed down for it.
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07108 viewsGannets do not get on with strong winds and especially at nesting time. They have long wings and find it easy to alight from the sea surface, and especially rock faces and cliff sides, but inland where there is less breeze they find it very difficult. When gale force winds come in from the south off the sea a few gannets get blown inland and every year a few are found on Salisbury plain about thirty miles in land. They are often damaged and this bird had a broken wing and although it went to a bird sanctuary, it was decided to put it to sleep.
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08104 viewsGannets are amazing streamlined birds adapted to plummeting into the sea after fish. They have blue colouring on the feet and are related to tropical booby’s. This one had its little passengers, lice all over its body. Some bird lice only live on particular species.
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09110 viewsThis is the gannet louse, it may just live on sea birds or only gannets! They must be able to withstand being submerged in salt water at high speeds. They can walk backwards as easy as forwards and seem to be able to live a long time without the warmth of their host.
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09a104 viewsThis is a louse I found on a kestrel.
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10114 viewsThis is the hind quarters of a domestic cat. It had a heavy flea infestation. It was passed to me by the owner as the cat was 28 years of age and had died. There were over 300 adult fleas on the poor animal and the dark areas are flea droppings. Why people abuse their pets I just do not know.
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11106 viewsThese are lice that I regularly find on stoats.
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