I recently stumbled across a collection of Shell Nature Studies, a series of advertising posters produced in 1955 by the controversial Shell Oil Company, and for many the quintessential backdrop to the school show and tell. This particular Nature Studies series comprises twelve 30" x 60" posters, each one corresponding to a month of the year with an illustrative and textual depiction of its seasonal pleasures. The copy is by James Fisher, ornithologist, naturalist, author and broadcaster, with illustrations by Maurice Wilson and design by Rowland Hilder.
I'll be posting each one up on the first of the month, largely because I love them but also with a view to undertaking that grown up strain of show and tell, the then and now. Herewith, January... I love this one, especially the pink breasted duck showing off at the front and the red-breasted merganser behind!
In the midst of winter some wildfowl begin their spring. Unexpected, and graceful is the queer courtship of the ducks. Watch lakes, reservoirs, where the migrants court and pair before the long flight north. Goosanders (1) and red-breasted mergansers (2) may go no further than Scotland, but the smaller, handsome anew (3), most often seen in Britain, perhaps, on the great reservoirs that serve London, is bound for the its nest-hole in some forest-tree of Lapland or northern Russia. These three are 'sawbill' ducks, which dive for their fish.
Also diving ducks are our native tufted ducks (4) and pochard (5). A drake scaup (6), perhaps from Iceland, floats among the pack of tufted. The surface-feeding ducks spend much of the day asleep on the bank. Widgeon (7), teal (8), mallard (9), shoveler (10) and pintail (11) all nest in some part of Britain. Britain's two commonest wild geese are seen grazing on peaceful water-meadows, or moving, in skeins, to new feeding-grounds. The white-fronted goose (12) breeds in Western Siberia: nearly all the world's pink-footed geese (13) come from Iceland to spend the winter in Britain.