lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info and Lola the labradoodle!

G is for Gorilla

Photo by Christoph Würbel on Flikr.



The Gorilla


He uproots then

peels banana trees,

the inner fibres

delicately stripped,


gently borne

from inner secrets

to his lips.


Beside him,

the leaves look

overfull of sun.


Beside him,

the humming grasses

and the massive trunks

seem insubstantial,


but his grip

on the planet

is shallow

as their roots,


breath of flowers,

leaves and clouds.



There are 100,000 western lowland gorillas left in the wild – less than the population of Crawley, West Sussex.

There are 17,000 eastern lowland gorillas left in the world – the same population as Ripley, the fourth smallest city in the UK.

There are 880 mountain gorillas left in the world – the same population as a small comprehensive school.

There are 250-300 cross river gorillas left in the world – I don’t need to tell you how few that is.


Please use FSC wood for all wood needs, and check for a label on anything you buy.


The wonderful photo at the top is © Christoph Würbel and is on Flikr.

Poem © Liz Brownlee

Information World Wildlife Fund, where you can adopt a gorilla.

If you would like to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click here.

If you’d like to read about or buy my book, Animal Magic, full of animal poems and fascinating facts, click here.

F for Fritillary (F number 2)

Well, I forgot that Sunday was a day off – and put up ‘F’ on Saturday night. So here is ‘F’ number 2 – Fritillary, an exquisite butterfly.


Ralph Daily Fritillary

This beautiful photograph of a Gulf fritillary is by Ralph Daily on Flikr.




Fritillaries, fritillaries,

have butterfly fragilities,

they flit and flutter by with ease

among the flowers and the trees,

stop using that weedkiller please,

or cease to see fritillaries.


Gulf fritillary butterflies are also called Passion butterflies.

Butterflies are not as efficient at pollinating crops as bees, but they play their part.

Butterflies in general are affected by weedkillers such as Roundup – not only do they affect the butterfly themselves, they kill their food plants.

On February 14, 2014, the NRDC in the USA called on the EPA to examine the use of Glysophate, recognising its use was decimating the population of monarch butterflies. I cannot find any info as to whether this worked, or whether the first steps are being taken to limit or ban its use.

In the EU, similar lobbying in April 2013 led to a ban on neonicotinoid chemicals, that are blamed for the loss of bee populations from various causes including the Verroa mite.

It is difficult to overestimate how important crop fertilisers like butterflies and bees are – without them, we starve! It would be impossible to hand fertilise even one field of crops. Much easier to hand remove, or remove by mechanical means, weeds.

F is for Flying Squirrel

Flying squirrel by Leah on Flikr


This lovely creature is a Southern Flying Squirrel – this photo is by Leah and if you click the picture you can see her other photos on Flikr.


The Southern Flying Squirrel


This squirrel of the forest night,

with flattened tail and front of white,

spreads arms and legs and glides in flight,

like a furry, flannel kite!


Here is a pet one in flight on Wiki:




These little squirrels have a furry membrane that stretches from their wrists to their ankles, which allows them to glide through the air when they jump from a branch – they are very quick, and can steer in the air using their flattened tail (quite unlike that of other squirrels) as a rudder.

They live in North America in deciduous and mixed woods, and eat fruit and nuts from trees. They also eat, insects, fungus, carrion, birds’ eggs, nestlings and flowers.

They are social animals and like to forage in groups.

Cute or what?!


Poem © Liz Brownlee

Facts courtesy of Wiki.

If you would like to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click here.

If you’d like to read about or buy my book, Animal Magic, full of animal poems and fascinating facts, click here.

E is for Elephant

Elephanty copy

On the National Geographic site, ‘A Voice For Elephants’, Daphne Sheldrick, who has worked with elephants for many years,  says:

“Elephants share the same emotions as ourselves, with a strong sense of family and the same sense of death. Like us they mourn the loss of loved ones. Each has an individual personality just like us. They can be mischievous, playful, hold a grudge or feel slighted.”

Experts are warning that Africa is losing 36,000 elephants a year to ivory poaching – for chopsticks and trinkets, mainly to satisfy markets in the Far East.

This trade doesn’t just affect elephants – elephants are an important part of the food chain in Africa and many plants, whose seeds are dispersed by elephants, and the animals unique to Africa that survive on them are also at risk of extinction.

Asian elephants are also increasingly being targeted.

This sad slaughter will not stop until there is a complete moratorium on the sale and use of ivory.

Mother Nature Network gives these guidelines if you would like to help elephants:

1) Don’t buy, sell or wear ivory – look at walking sticks, chopsticks, billiard balls, cues, dominoes, piano keys and carvings.

2) Buy elephant-friendly coffee and wood – sometimes these are grown in plantations that have destroyed elephant habitat.

3) Support conservation efforts -

iworry, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust,

International Elephant Foundation,


African Wildlife Foundation,

Amboseli Elephant Research Project.

4) Boycott circuses that use captive elephants.

5) Adopt an elephant.


I love elephants.


Poem © Liz Brownlee

Facts courtesy of the websites linked above.

If you would like to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click here.

If you’d like to read about or buy my book, Animal Magic, full of animal poems and fascinating facts, click here.

East Indian Wandering, Whistling Duck


A rather handsome wandering duck photo by FIR0002/Flagstaffotos.


East Indian Wandering, Whistling Duck


These wandering ducks lack a quack,

it seems they don’t have the quack knack,

and if that don’t surprise you then this’ll -

they purse their duck bills and they whistle!


The beautiful deep red-brown and black-feathered, wandering whistling ducks are found in Northern and Eastern Australia as well as Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and the Pacific Islands.


They prefer deep water where aquatic plants and insects are in plentiful supply.


They are gregarious ducks and like to congregate in flocks – they get their name from the almost continuous whistling calls they make while in the air - their wings also make a whistling sound as they fly.


These ducks are not endangered, but loss of habitat to agriculture may affect them in the future.


Ducks of various species make calls that are not the expected quack, from high-pitched whistles to deep grunting quacks to staccato ‘teets’.


And yes, duck quacks do echo!


Poem © Liz Brownlee

Facts, Wiki, Birds in Back Yards.

If you would like to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click here.

If you’d like to read about or buy my book, Animal Magic, full of animal poems and fascinating facts, click here.

C is for Chimpanzee


Gorgeous isn’t he? A chimpanzee in the wild. This photo was taken by David Schenfeld and is on Flikr. I’ve always been fascinated by the fact we share so much DNA, although further research has shown it isn’t quite as much as previously stated, we have definitely both descended from a common ancestor, around 4-6 million years ago – relatively recently, really! 


The Chimp and Me


The chimpanzee, the chimpanzee,

a similar simian to me,

same DNA to the extent

of 98 or so percent -

we’re 75 percent iguana,

and also half of a banana,

and – both the chimpanzee and me

are 60 percent of a flea…!


If we are 98 percent or so chimpanzee, then chimpanzees are 98 percent or so human – and deserve (as I think all animals do) the same rights as us – food, water, clean air, space to live, the tools to learn, grow and have fun.

Sadly, humans are not allowing chimps most of the above – we are encroaching on their habitat at an ever increasing speed and in some places like the Ivory Coast their population has dropped by 90 percent in the last twenty years.

There is something you can do about this – the UK is still the second largest EU importer of illegal hardwood from rainforest. Please do check that anything you buy (furniture, garden included, decking, ornaments, building materials, windows, doors etc.) are made from sustainably sourced wood. If they are, they will have a FSC label.

If you’d like to do more then please consider supporting the World Wildlife Fund, who are fighting to help chimps in many ways, including:

Liaising with Governments to protect them through anti-poaching laws and effective law management

The establishment of managed national parks

The encouragement of the sustainable use of forest resources

The development of trans-boundary collaboration to develop partnerships between neighbouring countries


OR, if you would like to help rescued chimpanzees find a new home, you might consider Jane Goodall’s charity. This is one of the most beautiful videos I’ve seen.


Poem © Liz Brownlee

Information, WWF

If you would like to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click here.

If you’d like to read about or buy my book, Animal Magic, full of animal poems and fascinating facts, click here.

B is for Butterfly tongue



This is a macro photograph of the tip of a butterfly’s proboscis, or tongue. Who could imagine it? It was taken by Stephen S Nagy, and won the 2011 Nikon Small World Micrography Competition.  Exquisite or what?


The Butterfly’s Tongue


A bright-embroidered

path to drink,


flanked by gems,




a colour promise,

come, take flight,


along a line

of golden light,


escape your vessel,

taste the sky -




a butterfly!



Poem © Liz Brownlee

Photograph © Stephen S Nagy

If you would like to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click here.

If you’d like to read about or buy my book, Animal Magic, full of animal poems and fascinating facts, click here.

A is for Armadillo – hairy and screaming!

Arnaud Boucher


The Screaming, Hairy Armadillo!


He’s clothed in armour stiff with bristle,

tough and cuddly as a thistle,

when shocked he stretches jaws and screams

so loud he’d jolt you from your dreams,

if you kept him by your pillow

he’d make a great alarmadillo!


The screaming, hairy armadillo, Chaetophractus vellerosus, is a small (about 14.5 inches) burrowing armadillo from central and southern South America.

If startled or picked up, this little creature emits piercing cries, thought to be a defence mechanism.

It lives in many habitats where it is possible to burrow, and is omnivorous, eating insects, vertebrates such as lizards and frogs, and also plants.

They have have 1-2 babies a year, are not endangered, although they are hunted for meat in Bolivia and their carapaces are used to make ‘charangos’, a South American lute-like musical instrument.

These hairy armadillos are rather small compared with other armadillos – except for the pink fairy armadillo.

Pink fairy armadillos live in central Argentina and are 4.5 inches long at the most. Numbers are dwindling in part due to habitat destruction but there is insufficient data to classify them as endangered.


Poem © Liz Brownlee, facts from Wiki.

If you’d like to blog-hop to the next A-Z challenge, click here.



A-Z Challenge 2014!

A-Z challenge logo


Tomorrow, the 1st April, is the first day of the 2014 A-Z Challenge!

The challenge is to blog every day on a given subject, except for Sundays, when you have a day off.

My subject this year is of course animals – poetry and fascinating facts.

Unlike the previous two years I have had no time to prepare, and was only reminded today when I read a post written by Steven Chapman.

So I really hope to see lots of you here tomorrow, reading the post I am about to write…

The end of the Gromitathon!

A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to Lola’s charity, Medical Detection Dogs, who trained her to become my assistance dog.

Lola as most of you know has been visiting all the 80 Gromits to raise money for this very worthwhile charity, which helps people live more normal lives, giving them freedom and peace of mind.

We have finished! YAY!

However, her Just Giving page is open for the next 3 months where you can still donate should you wish to:

This is the link to see all 80 slides of Lola’s quest – very varied, great fun, what a fabulous way to raise money!

THE Gromitathon!

And here are a couple of photos if you don’t want to see all 80!

This one was at Tyntesfield, Near Bristol, Oops a Daisy, designed by Diarmuid McGavin:




This one was at Arnos Vale Cemetery, Hullaballoon, designed by Monster Riot,  had rather a cheeky back view…

DSC04642 - Version 2

And – the last one! Gromit, at Paddington Station, by Aardman Animations. We drove all the way to London, had a lovely day looking round and getting Lola used to the tube, as she has to visit with me next November. A man in a group of very kind people offered to take the last photo of us all – thank you, whoever you were!


And lastly – a BIG hello to my blog reader we met at Tyntesfield, who came and introduced herself. Hope you had as good a time as we did visiting them all!


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