Saturday, 14 March 2015

Sunday, 8 March 2015

John Gould, the Giant water-lilly flower and the hummingbird

I never really wanted to have been born on the 19th Century like my friend Redmond O'Hanlon, writer and presenter for O'hanlon's Heroes for VPRO.
The privilege to access a large collection of Victorians work today may have overshadowed that funny wish for me.

I first learned about John Gould, Charles Darwin's illustrator, through his book about Ramphastidae, the toucan family that I was given by my dear friend Fatima, a Librarian at the Goeldi's Museum in Belem.

I then met my lovely late friend Hugh Beveridge and his wife Eliza when I was working for the Tropical Hotel Manaus as a private guide. He was about to finish John Bowlby's Charles Darwin and when he did it he presented that excellent book, which made be a even bigger admirer of Sir Gould who had never been to the Amazon.

I like him so much that I have his picture (and Wallace's) hang on my bar wall.

When I moved to the USA to help taken care of one the largest Psitacidae collection in the world (and the idea was raising them in captivity and find other sources of fund to buy and protect their habitats elsewhere) my friend Richard had John Gould's book on the Trochilidae, the humminbirds.

After asking for permission (from Richard not Gould) I went to his library to take pictures of some plates.

When I was shooting his classical illustration of a Giant water-lilly flower with a humming bird on top, my finger decided not to push my old Nikon's buttom. I tried again without success to notice in my little brain hummingbird never hover ovet that huge flower, of course only after that my finger decided to obey my imperative demand. Giant water lillies flower are pollinated by beetles, a particular one.

A few weeks later I would found myself embarked on the MV Explorer, working as a lecturer and naturalist for Abercombie and Kent.

The Little Red Ship had  been built four years after I was conceived and she was famous for her adventures, lecturers and her not least famous passengers. Seeing myself in a room where Lars Eric Lindblad and Jacques Cousteau amongst others had been was a real dream for me.

In a particular journey a gentleman politely comes to me asking if I had ever heard of John Gould. After I gave him a positive answer and tell the story above he said  I AM HIS GREAT SON.


The picture on my wall