Saturday, October 31, 2009

zemblan lists

Travellers who crossed Siberia in the eighteenth century noted the remarkable animals they saw - elk "of mounstrous size," fierce aurochs, wild boars, wild horses and asses, flying squirrels in great numbers, foxes, hares, beavers, bears. Of the swans, cranes, pelicans, geese, ducks, bitterns, and other birds, one traveller wrote, "After sundown these manifold armies of winged creatures made such a terrific clamour that we could not even hear our own words." Philipp Johann von Strahlenberg, a Swede captured by Peter the Great's army at the Battle of Poltava, in 1709, and sent with other Swedish prisoners to Siberia, wrote that the region had six species of deer, including the great stag, the roe deer, the musk deer, the fallow deer, and the reindeer. He also mentioned a special kind of bird whose nests were so soft that they were used for socks.
Ian Frazier, "A reporter at large, travels in Siberia", The New Yorker, Aug 3 2009, p.41