It’s part of our innate human nature to want to collect and hoard. How many of us for instance have walked a beach’s high tide line searching for interestingly shaped pieces of driftwood? At what age did you bring home that first cherished shell from your summer holidays? I’m no different and for as long as I can remember have been collating an ever changing assortment of natural items. Giant pine cones from southern France, bird feathers and enough driftwood to create several works of art around our home are just an example. One thing I really wanted to get into though were bones, or more specifically skulls. I lay blame on this latest area of interest firmly at the feet of several blogs and fellow twitter users whose own personal collections are envious to say the least. Jake’s Bones I’m looking principally at you here.
It’s not exactly the easiest of hobbies to start however requiring an element of luck and plenty of time spent out in the field. Thankfully the latter is in no short supply around here and over the last couple of years I’ve begun to pick up a few items, one of which has already featured on these pages. My very first find and still my personal favourite was this Oystercacther skull discovered near Llanelli, but since then I’ve also added skulls from a Gannet, Manx Shearwater, Jackdaw, Robin and Meadow Pipit.
With the exception of the Jackdaw skull which I miraculously found in the middle of our lawn completely clean, all have required a degree of preparation to get them to this state. Principally this involved several months soaking in water with a small amount of biological washing powder, a distinctly unpleasant process which works wonders at stripping off any remaining flesh. Then followed a couple of days soaking in Hydrogen Peroxide (surprisingly tricky stuff to get hold of) to sterilise and whiten the bones before a final thorough drying. As a first attempt I’m pretty damn impressed with the results as you’ll hopefully agree.
Seeing how well these have turned out has only increased my desire to keep searching and see what else I can find. All that’s for certain is I’m going to need some bigger shelves!