Nature Crossword – Araucarian Word Ladder

Long time since I posted a crossword here!

So, this isn’t just any old crossword. This is based on a format originally invented by Araucaria* which I absolutely love: the word ladder crossword. Rules are fairly simple:

Each answer is 8 letters long, but can be split into two 4 letter parts (which may not always be valid words on their own). The clue is then a series of synonyms indicating the various steps in a word ladder linking the first part to the second, changing one letter at a time. So the two halves of BUSY BEES can be linked in a word ladder “BUSY – BUST – BEST – BEET – BEES”, which might be clued as “Destroy perfect vegetable” (“bust best beet”). The first and last words themselves are not clued.

The puzzle is nature-themed, and every answer refers to an animal, plant or landscape. The solutions are all shown in photographs below, which are presented in a random order.

You can download a printable PDF version and the solution below:

Continue reading

Hyperlocal Everyday Nature – Business Birding in Niederrad

I work in a big office building in Niederrad, the business district of Frankfurt. It’s not residential at all, and to many people it’s probably one of the most lifeless places in the city. Nothing opens on weekends. Before the morning commute, after the evening commute and between commutes you’ll hardly see a soul out walking. You notice every time you pass a dog walker or a mother with a pushchair because it’s so odd, and you’ve forgotten just how odd it is.

If thou gaze long into birds, birds will also gaze into thee.

But Niederrad has its upsides. The things that make it so devoid of people make it peaceful for the local wildlife. Big office buildings in Niederrad are surrounded with trees and gardens, spaces for its workers to look out on or wander through at set times of day to make the office job seem not that bad. For the vast majority of time, they’re empty of people.

Walking through Niederrad on the way to and from work are some of my favourite times of day, and not just because I’m not at work. Working in the same place and keeping roughly the same hours gives you a sort of temporal focus point from which you can watch the interplay between the seasons and the space.

Birds are by far the most common non-insect wildlife in Niederrad (anyone who’s ever foolishly tried to eat outdoors in glorious summer will know the necessity of the qualifier) and it’s through them that you can track most of the changes. The same species return at the same times every year. Some of them stay year-round, and you can start to recognise their songs. Even if they’re playing hard to get, it’s nice to know that the blue tits are awake or the chiffchaffs are close by.

So, what can a prospective nature watcher expect to see on a ten minute walk from Niederrad Station to the office?


Continue reading

Urban birdwatching in Frankfurt — Urbane Vogelbeobachtung in Frankfurt-am-Main

If you follow me on social media, I’ve probably been driving you mad recently with lots of bird pictures. Lots and lots of bird pictures.

In order to have them all in the same place – and not just have them on a social media site that could disappear and/or use them to hack an election at any time – I’m going to put a little list of all the birds I’ve Frankfurt, and where I’ve seen them! (Und auch auf Deutsch!)

Continue reading

German Reading Project – Die Tribute Von Panem by Suzanne Collins, Chapter 3

It looks like I’m getting through these fast but actually I’m just ploughing through because I owed like three chapters after getting back from Amsterdam…

Favourite word: Der Spotttölpel: Mockingjay.

Bonus trivia! OK, this isn’t a real word, but whatever! I like birds. It looks like, rather than an amalgam of “mockingbird” and “jay”, the German version of mockingjays are “mockingbird” “boobies“! Jays, both the Eurasian jay and blue jays, are “häher”. In the English language version, it makes sense that the Capitol would use jaylike birds to genetically engineer, as blue jays seem to be pretty common throughout huge chunks of the US and are known for their varied songs and can learn to mimic human speech. I’m not sure why the German decided to deviate here. “Spotthäher”, the logical translation, doesn’t seem to be a real bird anywhere, so that’s not the reason, and no booby of any species lives around Europe (once a red-footed booby washed up in Sussex and it was a Big Deal) so it’s not for reasons of familiarity either – anyone got any ideas why the change?

Favourite non-invented word: die Pappschachtel: cardboard box.

Google Search Q&A 6

Spuggies! (By Daniel Marchese on Flickr, CC-BY-2.0)

It’s been a long time since we did this, and the boring reason why is that Google now encrypts its search engine referrals (officially for privacy reasons, but it will still show you search terms for paid search adverts…)

But not every search engine does, and the “Search terms” box in our stats page has been very slowly filling up…

  • dove mixed with sparrow
  • pattern of sparrow for embroidery
  • sparrow in cross sticking
  • difference between mocking jay and sparrow
  • small brown garden bird
  • small speckaled uk sparrow like bird
  • what would the difference be when reffering a person as a dove rather than a sparrow
  • cayenne pepper and sparrows

…with sparrows.

Today, we’re going to answer one (non)Google Search with the help of another.

  • nom of sparrow graph
  • sparrow energy drink

Continue reading

Google Search Q&A 4 – A beginner’s guide to set theory

According to our site stats, almost two thirds of visitors to our site are looking for information on sparrows. Don’t believe me? Here is a graph of the search strings that have found our site, grouped by whether or not they contain the word “sparrow”:

See? It’s scientific fact. And 23 of those are variants on “is sparrow and dove same thing?” So, what does the mailbag have for us this time? (Please don’t be sparrows, please don’t be sparrows)

topless jamaica

red light district in frankfurt on map

rob liefeld wallpapers

… On second thoughts, let’s go with the sparrows.

sparrow in maths sets

Aww, who wants to learn some maths?

Continue reading


For Christmas, we got a bird camera (Brinno BirdWatchCam if you want to know), and we set it up in eager anticipation of lovely bird pictures. Sadly, being the height of winter, we got no photos before a sudden cold snap completely trashed the batteries. But with warmer weather and new, better quality batteries…

Continue reading

Google Search Q&A 3

Time to stick my hand into the lucky dip of our incoming Google Searches once more and see what comes to the top…

difference between dove and sparrow

what is the difference between a dove and a sparrow

whats the difference between sparrows and doves?

difference between sparrows + doves

difference between a dove and sparrow

sparrow or dove


This will never do. Let’s have another look.

sparrow tram

Ah, now that’s a good question.

Continue reading

Google Search Q&A 2

A few months ago, Dove wrote a post for one poor hapless soul who ended up on our blog after searching for “is sparrow and dove same thing?” Since then, we’ve had people find our site using “is a sparrow an a dove the same” “difference between a sparrow and a dove” “are doves and sparrows compatible” “is dove sparrow” and “sparrows+doves+same+thing“. Clearly, we’ve struck a nerve, and found a whole tranche of people who until now were fruitlessly searching the internet in the vain hope that they could one day learn if sparrow and dove is indeed same thing. We’re providing a public service!

So, I’ve looked through our site stats and found a few more searches that led people to our site, but which we were so far unequipped to answer. Let’s get started with this one from the mailbag.

spugogi food in germony

This is a tricky one to answer, because 50% of the words in that search do not exist! In fact, until I click publish on this post, no-one on the entire internet has ever posted the letter combination “spugogi”. So, what can it be?

Google corrects this search to “bulgogi food in Germany“. That’s a pretty reasonable search, and as it happens, I know a couple of good Korean places in Germany (if by Germany you mean Frankfurt) that do a great bulgogi! If you’re in the town centre, there’s Coco on Große Eschenheimer Straße (the road between Hauptwache and Eschenheimer Turm), which is modern and a bit cramped, but does good food and has excellent service, or, if you feel like a bit of a walk, there’s Mr. Lee at 153 Gutleutstraße (just south of Hauptbahnhof), which is more traditional but no less delicious, and has a wider range of dishes.

But! If you search “spugogi” on its own, Google corrects it to “spuggy”, which as we all know, is North-Eastish for sparrow. So, perhaps they want to know where to get sparrow food in Germany?

Seeds are fairly widely available at health shops, although they’ll cost you a lot. Most DIY shops and garden centres will sell proper bird food though. To be honest though, if Frankfurt’s greedy, fearless sparrows are anything to go by, German sparrows really don’t need more food – they’ll already happily land on your table at restaurants and pinch your bread.

But… perhaps by “sparrow food”, they meant sparrows you can eat! (IT’S A COOKBOOK) Well, I can’t help you with that I’m afraid, but I did find this useful book of German old wives tales, which says

“If a pregnant woman eats sparrow meat and drinks wine, her child will be unchaste and shameless.”

Learn something new every day.

Intoducing the new country........... GERMONY

Finally, perhaps spugogi isn’t a typo at all! Perhaps this person really did want to find spugogi in Germony.

Well, the name suggests sparrow bulgogi, which isn’t as bad an idea as it may sound. Sparrow meat is very dry, and apparently tastes best heavily spiced, so marinading and quickly grilling it is probably a good way to serve it! Sadly, no-one on the internet has (yet) had the idea of making bulgogi with sparrows, but here’s a recipe with chicken, which is as close as I could find on the web. Good luck finding sparrow meat though…

Alternatively, perhaps it’s spaghetti bulgogi? That’s an interesting idea – Bulgogi can already be served with noodles, so spaghetti isn’t a million miles away. Something along the lines of spaghetti with steak strips? This calls for some experimenting…

Check back soon to find out if spaghetti bulgogi is delicious or awful!

Google Search Q&A – “is sparrow and dove same thing?”

I sincerely hope this is the first of many.

Before all that, though, check out mine and Charlotte of Sherbet and Sparkles‘s review of Frankfurt bubble tea purveyor Nom Nom!

So down to business. Spuggy informed me that when he was obsessively checking through the site stats like the maniacal scientist that he is, that he came across this Google search that had led one hapless unfortunate to Sparrow & Dove.

is sparrow and dove same thing?

And I realised that not once, in all the time this blog has been a thing, have we answered that question.

Well, I refuse to let this travesty continue. Today, unknown searcher, I shall answer your question.

Continue reading