24 July 2017 @ 07:45 am
from The Creation of Éa, by Ursula K. Le Guin
(from A Wizard of Earthsea)

Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying life:
bright the hawk's flight
on the empty sky.
 
 
 
 
22 July 2017 @ 08:30 am
 
 
 
22 July 2017 @ 12:36 pm
Yesterday I got to see a tiny shrew very close-up and it was very exciting.

So I was sitting on a muddy path in a wooded area because of reasons (ok, exhausted after climbing) when I saw movement and a tiny thing scurrying past me. I figured that glimpse was all I'd see, but I turned round to see where it'd gone and it was on the path on the other side of me, and with great caution so as not to startle it I managed to dig my phone out of my coat pocket:

longshot in which a tiny shrew may be visible among rocks and moss

(There's nothing to give a sense of scale, but the shrew is a few centimetres long. It makes mice look big.)

THEN --

Cut for blurry close-ups and blurry worm death )
 
 
20 July 2017 @ 11:43 am
I get the impression these are perfectly normal birds in the UK, but they're quite a novelty to me. Those fancy collars! There were three in the yard of the pub we stayed in, but they wouldn't sit still to be photographed. Here's one from the walk into town:

 
 
20 July 2017 @ 08:50 am
Short-eared owl
[Grainy photo of a short-eared tawny owl sitting on a lawn]

I know this isn't the greatest photo of all time. In my defense, I did take it from behind a dusty windowpane in an upstairs bedroom where I was crouched breathlessly lest I frighten it off.

There've long been barn owls living at my partner's parents' home in rural Norfolk, but I'd never seen any other type of owl there. I was surprised, therefore, to see this tawny owl (h/t to [personal profile] shapinglight for corrected identification) sitting on their lawn at dusk a couple of weeks ago. I worked out that it was watching a group of four partridges who were pecking through the pebbles in the drive, closer to the house. They seemed a rather optimistic target, given that the owl wasn't much bigger than they were.

The owl flew off and returned to the lawn several times whilst I watched, but never made a move on the partridges, who eventually moved onto the roof of the house and over to the other side.
 
 
 
18 July 2017 @ 08:16 pm
I had to check the comm profile to try to decide if this was legit, as this was clearly not a wild pigeon; it was obviously someone's sleek, well-fed and well-cared-for homing/racing pigeon.

However, it was definitely "unsupervised", as it was hanging out at a gritstone crag eating bilberries and watching the climbers.

It wouldn't quite let people touch it, but was otherwise very comfortable with humans and happy to let you get very close.

I took a lot of photos of it trying to get a shot of the tags on its legs, as I was worried it was someone's beloved pet and lost. But when I got home, I found out that the "report a found pigeon" websites (they exist, naturally) say in rather weary tones not to even bother unless the pigeon's been around for at least 48 hours; apparently they like to take pit stops.

Pigeon with beautiful iridescent neck

Cut for more pigeon )
 
 
17 July 2017 @ 10:43 am
Cattails and water skippers in a local ditch.

skippers and cattails

A very vivid ladybug on a maple tree.

ladybug on maple
 
 
17 July 2017 @ 04:18 pm
Urban great crested grebe nest
[Macro image of a great crested grebe sitting on its nest.]

I spotted this great crested grebe brooding on its nest in the canal at Westerdok in Amsterdam. I thought its nest was a remarkable construction: the usual twigs, but also bits of plastic rubbish, and finishing touches of hollyhock. I was also impressed by the two female mallard duck bodyguards who immediately rushed over when I started taking photos. They didn't quack, but eyed me up silently as they circled the nest at a careful distance.

We were staying on a barge nearby for three nights and I checked on the grebe morning and evening. I don't believe it stirred from the nest in that time, so hopefully soon there will be some freshly hatched urban grebes learning to navigate the Dutch canal system!
 
 
 
12 July 2017 @ 10:02 pm
Just a quick update to the people who watch this space for videos/uploads, my laptop has been sent in for repairs (hard disc failure, so all my data is gone) and for the next few weeks I won't be able to encode or upload anything.