Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Land snail completed

Just finished my third 'week' back at the zoo and am pleased to have completed my first illustration of 2014. This wee beastie (although for a snail it's no wee beastie!!) is a giant Ghana land snail - Achatina achatina.

The shells of these snails often grow to a length of 18 centimetres (7.1 in) with a diameter of 9 centimetres (3.5 in) and they are sometimes called giant tiger land snail because of their banded markings on the shell.

I had started this illustration back at the end of August last year before I finished for my annual leave break. So I was off to a easy start this year as the back ground was as good as done and the drawing for the beastie was ready to transfer across onto the painting. 

Also these last two weeks I have been able to finish catching up on finishing the replacement IDs and have got a few texts put onto the ID documents ready for some new species. The cassowary is back at the zoo but not yet on show as the paddock is just being finished off. So a new ID holder needed to be put up and luckily I had one, on a metal bar of the right height, stashed away in our storeroom. So it was an easy job of just positioning it and screwing it into place. Anna was on hand to make sure it was upright and level as I climbed over the rope barrier and down to the lower plant bed to place the screws at the base of the metal bar and wooden post I was attaching it to.

I took several photo's up in Bug World of species that need ID illustrations in the future... a cute little ornate sun beetle, a gorgeous Malaysian giant shield mantis and a fabulous pink leg millipede that quite stole my heart. I was also able to get quite a good shot of the huntsman spider. Mark, Curator of Invertebrates, got her positioned almost out of her tank by removing the back and holding the piece of wood she was sitting on so I could get a clear shot of her. She is what I would call the generic scary spider shape and size, and I was very aware of hairs standing on the back of my neck and a voice screaming "SPIDER! DIRTY GREAT BIG SPIDER!" in my head as I moved in with the camera... no zoom just standard small lens. Yet at the same time I am totally fascinated by their beauty and I had great trust in Mark that he would keep her in the tank and she would not be coming my way.

My next illustration on my very long, ever extending, illustration list... is a wrinkled hornbill - Aceros corrugatus. These already have an ID sign with a photo on it until I can do the illustration; and the ref photos I took of the two birds, male and female, were getting on for a year ago - they were young birds, not yet in full adult plumage. So I went to their aviary to check out how much they had changed and whether I would need to take more photos. They now have their adult plumage and the male's casque profile has changed as he has matured and so I will need to take that into when using my ref photos. I have emailed the Curator of Birds to ask if it is possible to get access to see them better next week sometime. 

It was pretty quiet around the zoo this week, although mild, the weather has been a bit damp with the odd cold sunny day. I didn't get out and about much except to quickly pop out now and again, either to put up signs or go to Bug World. But here's a couple of photo's from the last two weeks, taken en route to Bug World.

Ring-tailed lemurs huddled on a cold grey day.

One of the spider monkey boys coming over to get a closer look at the strange flourescent yellow coated lady.

"Herbert" the female huntsman spider. Has legspan of several inches more than I find comfortable.

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