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Birch

A birch is a thin-leaved deciduous hardwood tree of the genus Betula, in the family Betulaceae, which includes alders and hornbeams. It is related to the beech-oak family Fagaceae; the genus Betula contains 30 to 60 known taxa of which 11 are on the IUCN 2011 Red List of Threatened Species. They are a rather short-lived pioneer species widespread in the Northern Hemisphere in northern areas of temperate climates and in boreal climates. Birch species are small to medium-sized trees or shrubs of northern temperate and boreal climates; the simple leaves are alternate, singly or doubly serrate, feather-veined and stipulate. They appear in pairs, but these pairs are borne on spur-like, two-leaved, lateral branchlets; the fruit is a small samara. They differ from the alders in that the female catkins are not woody and disintegrate at maturity, falling apart to release the seeds, unlike the woody, cone-like female alder catkins; the bark of all birches is characteristically marked with long, horizontal lenticels, separates into thin, papery plates upon the paper birch.

Distinctive colors give the common names gray, black and yellow birch to different species. The buds form early and are full grown by midsummer, all are lateral, no terminal bud is formed; the wood of all the species is close-grained with a satiny texture and capable of taking a fine polish. The flowers are monoecious, opening with or before the leaves and borne once grown these leaves are 3–6 millimetres long on three-flowered clusters in the axils of the scales of drooping or erect catkins or aments. Staminate aments are pendulous, clustered or solitary in the axils of the last leaves of the branch of the year or near the ends of the short lateral branchlets of the year, they remain rigid during the winter. The scales of the staminate aments when mature are broadly ovate, yellow or orange color below the middle, dark chestnut brown at apex; each scale bears two bractlets and three sterile flowers, each flower consisting of a sessile, membranaceous two-lobed, calyx. Each calyx bears four short filaments with one-celled anthers or two filaments divided into two branches, each bearing a half-anther.

Anther cells open longitudinally. The pistillate aments are pendulous, solitary; the pistillate scales are oblong-ovate, three-lobed, pale yellow-green tinged with red, becoming brown at maturity. These scales bear each flower consisting of a naked ovary; the ovary is compressed, two-celled, crowned with two slender styles. Each scale bears a single small, winged nut, oval, with two persistent stigmas at the apex. Betula species are organised into five subgenera. Birches native to Europe and Asia include Betula albosinensis – Chinese red birch Betula alnoides – alder-leaf birch Betula ashburneri – Betula baschkirica – Betula bomiensis – Betula browicziana – Betula calcicola – Betula celtibericaBetula chichibuensisBetula chinensis – Chinese dwarf birch Betula coriaceifolia – Betula corylifolia – Betula costata – Betula cylindrostachya – Betula dahurica – Betula delavayi – Betula ermanii – Erman's birch Betula falcata – Betula fargesii – Betula fruticosa – Betula globispica – Betula gmelinii – Betula grossa – Japanese cherry birch Betula gynoterminalis – Betula honanensis – Betula humilis or Betula kamtschatica – Kamchatka birch platyphylla Betula insignis – Betula karagandensis – Betula klokovii – Betula kotulae – Betula luminiferaBetula maximowiczii – monarch birch Betula medwediewiiCaucasian birch Betula megrelica – Betula microphylla – Betula nana – dwarf birch ) Betula pendula – silver birch Betula platyphylla – —Siberian silver birch Betula potamophila – Betula potaninii – Betula psammophila – Betula pubescens – downy birch known as white, European white or hairy birch Betula raddeana – Betula saksarensis – Betula s

Magellanic plover

The Magellanic plover is a rare and unique wader found only in southernmost South America. It was long placed in with the other plovers in the family Charadriidae; as such it is now placed in Pluvianellidae. This species is not a long-distance migrant, although some birds move further north in southern Argentina in winter; the species breeds inland and moves to the coast during the winter to estuaries. This species is in its structure and habits much like a turnstone, but it cannot be confused with any other wader species, its upperparts and breast are pale grey, the rest of the underparts are white. It has a black bill and red eyes. In young birds, the eyes and legs are yellowish in colour, the plumage is grey overall with scaling; the call is a dovelike coo. This species breeds near water saline lakes but there are reports of nests near rivers as well. Pairs defend territories, both parents share incubation duties, it lays two large eggs on the ground, although only one chick survives. One unique aspect of its behaviour and physiology is its method of feeding its chicks.

Chicks are fed by regurgitating food stored in this species being the only wader to do so. Magellanic plovers feed on small invertebrates, picked from the ground, or from under pebbles, again like a turnstone, they have been observed collecting worms in the bill in a similar fashion to a puffin. Shorebirds by Hayman and Prater, ISBN 0-7099-2034-2

Highlander (franchise)

Highlander is a film and television series that began with a 1986 fantasy film starring Christopher Lambert, who played Connor MacLeod, the Highlander. Born in Glenfinnan, in the Scottish Highlands in the 16th century, MacLeod is one of a number of Immortals. There have been five Highlander films, two live-action television series, an animated television series, an animated film, a flash animation series, ten original novels, nineteen comic book issues, various licensed merchandise; the first of the series of films, directed by Russell Mulcahy, was released on March 7, 1986, with the tagline "There Can Be Only One". The film features a number of flashback scenes establishing Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod's early history, builds up to his final destiny among the last of the mysterious Immortals. Through a mentor and fellow Immortal—Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez—he learns of the existence of other Immortals, who appear spontaneously throughout history. An Immortal can die only after being beheaded, Immortals battle one another in ritual single combat to the death, until the "Gathering," when the few remaining Immortals will fight until only one remains to take "The Prize."

The Gathering occurs in modern-day New York City, when the Highlander, who has fallen in love again despite trying to distance himself from humanity, defeats The Kurgan, who he has encountered over the previous centuries, who had slain Ramírez and many others. The movie was titled Shadow Clan in the earliest drafts. Upon its release, the film was poorly reviewed by critics. However, it gained a strong cult following, was a hit internationally, is regarded by many as the best movie in the series; the original orchestral score was composed by Michael Kamen, but the soundtrack included several songs by Queen, like "Princes of the Universe", which were used in the Highlander television series title sequence. In the United States, the film took in $2,453,021 in its opening weekend and ended up grossing $5,735,847. However, the film had more success internationally, taking in $12,885,193. Highlander II: The Quickening directed by Russell Mulcahy, was released on November 1, 1991; the film takes place in 2024, with flashbacks to events in 1999, a distant past on the planet Zeist.

MacLeod designs an energy shield to protect the Earth after its ozone layer began to disintegrate, but the Shield's heavy red clouds and blocking of natural sunlight have plunged mankind into despair. The Shield has fallen under the control of the Shield Corporation, which taxes for its services in the pursuit of profit. Meanwhile, MacLeod has physically aged into a frail old man—his mortality part of winning the Prize – and expects that he will die of natural causes. After he kills one of the Immortals from Zeist sent to kill him, he becomes young and Immortal again, much to his dismay, he joins with Louise Marcus, who had led a group of terrorists who try to dismantle the Shield. This film offers an alternative origin for the Immortals, who are depicted as aliens exiled to Earth from Zeist. In direct contradiction to the original film, Ramírez and MacLeod were friends before their exile from Zeist. In the original, they first met in Scotland with no mention of Zeist; this film was made entirely in Argentina.

When it was released in 1991, it was poorly reviewed by critics worldwide, is now considered to be one of the worst movies made. Russell Mulcahy was disappointed with the movie as released, made his own "Renegade Version" director's cut with a proper sequencing of various scenes, the filmmakers' explanation for why the movie turned out as it did. One of Mulcahy's most dynamic alterations was the relabeling of the Zeist footage as a flashback to an ancient, technologically advanced civilization on Earth, much more in line with the continuity of the first film and the TV series. In 2004, a Special Edition was released, featuring several distinct alterations, including new computer-generated visual effects throughout the film; the reconstructed film's reception was far better than the original, although the general reception was somewhat mixed. Highlander III: The Sorcerer was released on November 25, 1994. MacLeod battles a warrior who missed the original Gathering, because he was buried deep in a Japanese cave, holy ground, isolating him from the final contest of the first film.

Kane is a master of the "power of illusion", which allows him to create false imagery to deceive his enemies. Connor, who has lived with his adopted son John for years with the belief that he is the final Immortal, must return to New York and finish the job he started back in 1985. Along the way, he finds Dr. Alex Johnson; the movie was a box office bomb. Critics claim. Highlander: Endgame, released on September 1, 2000, was an attempt to merge characters from both the original film and from the Highlander TV series; the story follows Duncan MacLeod as he confronts Jacob Kell, an evil Immortal who has assembled a group of fellow warriors, as well as an impressive body-count. Kell, who holds a centuries-old grudge against the elder Connor MacLeod, has slain Connor's dearest loved ones, he does not follow the traditions of single combat. Connor has spent a decade trying to escape the Game in a hidden Watcher fortress known as the Sanctuary, but he and Duncan are forced to confront this new thre