Thursday, 31 May 2012

SkyWatch Friday - Tree Skies


Today we had our first really foggy morning – which for reasons far too stupid to reveal we refer to as being rather “Philish”.  Don’t ask, you’d never come back if you found out how stupid I actually am.
By the middle of the morning the fog had burnt off and my wife had phoned me at work to tell me she had just locked herself out of the house.  So, when I was at home rescuing her I took a picture of the clear blue skies and the last leaves of autumn hanging on for one last unseasonal flourish.
The picture reminded me of one I had taken a few weeks earlier when the trees were just gearing up for the change of season.  So, here is this week SkyWatch offering – Tree Skies.
You can find more skies at SkyWatch.
You can find the latest post on my other blog by clicking the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.
Enjoy the Skies.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

World Bird Wednesday - Australian Raven


This raven was sitting keep a very keen eye on our packed lunches outside the entrance to Kelly Hills caves on Kangaroo Island.  It was blowing a gale at the time, and we were glad to be under a roof to eat lunch – although it was interrupted by the arrival of a large spider and the frequent clanks of bits of falling wood hitting the roof.
The identification of Australian crows is, to say the least, fraught.  The most reliable feature is call, and this bird was ominously silent.  But based on a few features – but mainly the size of the neck pouch and the fact that other candidates are much less common, I think I’m going to plump for Australian Raven.
You can find more birds from around the world at World Bird Wednesday.
You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the page.  (If you have not had a look at my other blog yet, I’d really like you to visit!)
Enjoy the pictures.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Our World Tuesday - Buttermere


I had not intended to use these pictures here – but I came to the conclusion that I really rather like them!  They were taken the last time I visited the UK – it was a wonderfully mellow day that ended with a couple of pints as the sun faded.
These are shots of the fells that surround Buttermere in the English Lake District.  It was a really good walk, with “good” being defined by the quality of the company, the clarity of the light and the amount of chocolate eaten.   We also had a dog for company, which was both a novelty and a source of amusement.
I used these pictures in the latest post on my other blog – you can find the first half on my thoughts on migration here.  (If you have not visited my “other blog” I hope you can find the time to pop over and have a look)
You can find more pictures from around the world here at Our World Tuesday.
Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Macro Monday - Garden Mantis

I think this is a Garden Mantis or Australian Green Mantis  - Orthodera ministralis – that’s largely based on the notion that it’s a common species.  This one was lurking on the wall outside my front door when I came home one evening.  They also seem to like hanging about on flywire doors – which tend to give you a bit of a shock if you meet them eye to eye.  The silvery object on the brick behind it is as egg case – once you know what  there are you start finding them all over the place.  My last encounter with one of these insects was when I found one walking up my sleeve as I was pulling out the one tomato plants.   Even if they are common I like them because they seem so alien!
You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday.
You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.
Enjoy the close ups.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

SkyWatch Friday - Living in the past / Thai Sky


At the very end of 1990 I spent the best part of two months is Thailand and Laos.  I had only ever been to the Republic of Ireland prior to flying through Bangladesh and Burma, to land in the heat and noise of Bangkok.  It was a bit of an eye opener – a real innocent abroad.
We followed the Mekong as it formed the border between Thailand and Cambodia and then between Thailand and Laos.  We stopped in towns that were a little off the tourist track, and attracted as much interests in the locals as we had in the things we saw.
We reached That Phamon late in November and the next day we wandered down to the river as the sun was rising.  The place smelt of freshly baked bread, with coffee thrown in for good measure.  We eat the bread and drank the coffee as the sun lightened the sky.  How can it be over 20 years since that morning?
You can find (more recent) images of the sky at SkyWatch Friday.
You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking the Paying Ready attention image on the RHS of this page.
Enjoy the skies.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

World Bird Wednesday - Living in the past / Pileated Woodpecker



In early 2006 (how can it be over six years ago!) I spent a couple of weeks with a friend of mine in Ohio. I presented some workshops with him, spent some time in his school and spent more than a few hours watching the birds in his yard.  We were both teachers then – now he is occupied with busy retirement and I work in research.
As I have mentioned in more than a few comments on other people posts (sorry Gary!) we have no woodpeckers in Australia and I miss them.  Back in the UK there are only 3 species of woodpecker you can expect to see on a regular basis, and only two of those are common enough not to be considered a red-letter bird.  So a cracking black woodpecker, with a cartoon red crest, weighing in at about the size of a chicken was always going to attract my attention. 
These may not be the best pictures I have posted, but they do hold a special place.  I hope you enjoy them.
You can find more birds from around the world at World Bird Wednesday.
You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the page.
Enjoy the birds.

Monday, 21 May 2012

OWT - Living in the past / Chilcompton – where our story begins.

This is a view of the street I was born in.  For reasons that were never made clear to me, my parents dispensed with the normal routine of fashionable health care and decided (or maybe they did not decide at all!) to let me be born in the front room.  I would live in the same house for the next 19 years, until I left to study in far flung Sunderland.  It’s strangely grounding to live within feet of the spot you were born.  Maybe that accounts for my (slightly over blown) sense of place in the childhood landscapes I remember.  
I was born in the spring that followed the coldest winter for a generation, and I cannot really imagine what it must have been like inside the house during those snowy months – although “cold” springs to mind.   
It’s an ongoing source of amusement to me that I now live a house with central heating (for only the second time!) in a part of the country where it’s rare to have frosts and I can wear shorts for most of the year.  I think my mum would have liked the warmth.
You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.
You can find more of my rambling thoughts on the world by clicking the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of this page.
Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Marco Monday - Living in the past / Red Clover.

This has been one of my favourite pictures for a very long time.  I think it’s due to the angle of the shot.  I was lead flat on my stomach in the middle of an abandoned railway line in the middle of Chilcompton when I took this picture.  It was the 30th May 1981. Slide film, bellows and a fully manual camera.  A good deal has changed since then, but I still like the picture.

You can find macro shots of a more current nature at Macro Monday.

You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the page.

Enjoy the close ups.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

SkyWatch Friday - Living in the Past / June Skies

(Click to see a much better version)
Continuing our journey through the past here are some images from my last trip to the UK.  
The “panorama” has been over sharpened to give a grainy feel to the image.  As a kid I spend a huge amount of time near where this image was taken – and in some ways this less the perfect, altered, image seems to say something about the nature of childhood memory; often imperfect and over overlaid with layers that obscure the truth of the matter.  It was (and still is) a place of dragon flies, of long hours fishing, of Roman ruins running along the contours of the hillside and older hill top barrows and broad and indistinct henge circles.  As you may have guessed I miss the place.
The clouds are my concession to a real sky picture!  They were taken in the early morning as the sun came out from behind a hill and for a while the sky was all colour.
You can find more sky images at SkyWatch Friday.
You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the page.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

World Bird Wednesday - Living in the Past / Wood Pigeon


Just to get me in the mood for my rapidly approaching birthday – it’s not one of those big significant round number ones, but it’s not far off – I thought I’d dig out some pictures from the past.  A kind of “Living in the Past” sort of post.
On one of my infrequent trips back to the UK I spent some time at Slimbridge, the home of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.  This organisation was set up by Peter  Scott, whose father died on the return journey from the South Pole.  I was sat in a hide when this wood pigeon landed more or less directly outside the window.  It’s one of the few bird shots I had to take with a wide angle lens!
It’s not really the kind of bird people would travel any distance to see, but I don’t see them any more so I thought I’d give it a brief dance in the spot light of World Bird Wednesday.
You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.
Enjoy the birds

Monday, 14 May 2012

Our World Tuesday - Victoria Avenue

Australia’s forests are dominated by gum trees – eucalyptus trees – and while these are splendidly beautiful trees, they do not loss their leaves in autumn and so they do not put n a show of colour.
To find the autumn colours that come with the cooler days and longer nights you have to look for trees imported from elsewhere. 



Victoria Avenue in Canterbury puts on one of the best displays of autumn leaves near my house.  I pass this street when I drive home – although it unfortunate that I the days I walk home it’s a bit off the beaten track.
I happened to have a camera with me as I was coming home last week, so I pulled into the street to take a few pictures.  I think I may have been a week or so late for the maximum colours – but the street was hardly shabby!

I can’t help but wonder what these street trees do to the value of the houses they shade.  And secondly, I can’t help but wonder on the hell you would get a removal van into the street should you ever need to leave or move in!
You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.
You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.
Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Macro Monday - Locks

Thought I’d combine some macro and black and white into one post.  This is an image I took a long time ago (although not pre DSLR), and I have been waiting for the right place to use it.  This seems to be its moment.
I was originally drawn to the “old/new” thing that is happening between the locks and the wood, and I think the B/W treatment plays on that idea.

You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday.
You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.
Enjoy the close ups.  

Thursday, 10 May 2012

SkyWatch Friday - A Grey Sky

Sometimes, even when the sky is grey there is still much beauty still to be found.  On some days the warmth of a hand, the smile of a child and the open skies are all we really need.
I don’t feel like saying much more than that.
You can find more skies (and brighter spirits) at SkyWatch Friday.
Enjoy the skies.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

World Bird Wednesday - Tawny Frogmouth

As the evenings grow steadily darker I tend to see more wildlife in the half light at the end of the day. We were returning from a family dinner when we spotted a “lump” on one of the telephone wires just up from our house.  We were obligated to go and have a closer look – failing to investigate a lump on the wires outside your house is a civil crime in my opinion.
Our original identification of the lump as a possum was soon shown to be way of the mark.  This is a Tawny Frogmouth.  Often mistaken for owls they are in fact related to Nightjars.  I tend to see them most often on or near street lights where they hunt for the moths the false electric moons attract.
The have huge mouths – and when they are fully open they look more like a flip top bin than a bird.
Finding one is always a highlight.
You can find more birds from around the world at World Bird Wednesday.
You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.
Enjoy the birds.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Our World Tuesday - An Australian Australian.

I have just finished reading a rather good book on those most Australian of animals the kangaroo.  With the exception of some parts of Papua New Guinea, if you are looking at a native kangaroo you are in Australia.  Kangaroos and their relatives live (or lived until recent extinction) in all of the habitats of Australia, including the tops of trees!

Far from being some form of primitive, backwater, sort of animal they are a superbly adapted animal that deal with the vagaries of the Australian climate far better than the energy hungry placental mammals found in the rest of the world.  It can be argued that people only though they were primitive because of the colonial snobbery that early explorers and scientists brought with them.

These kangaroos are Kangaroo Island kangaroos – they are a sub-species of the widespread Eastern Grey Kangaroo.   As you can see from the close grazed grass (and all the droppings!) these kangaroos are doing OK here.
So, my contribution to Our World Tuesday is something really very Australian.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Macro Monday - Mushrooms

The overnight flush of mushrooms shows that we really are in autumn.  Their strange and hurried appearance in the grass, on the nature strips and untold dozens of other damp places is a clear marker we are on the path to winter.   
As clear a marker of autumn as the change of trees, but for many people less welcome, because of folk law and all that goes with it.  If you have any interest in my thought on natures recyclers you can find them here, on an old post to my other blog.

These are you classic mushrooms – Fly Agarics.  Red and white spots, lifted straight from fairy tales.  These have become known in our family, with a kind of silly predictability, as the “Impressive Shrooms” and the quality of all other fungi are judged against them – they have become the fungal bench mark.
You can find more macro shots here at Macro Monday.
You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the page.
Enjoy the close ups.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

SkyWatch Friday - Rainbows.

These pictures were taken a while ago, but I never posted them.  Given that the images contain beauty, light and darkness they seem appropriate for this week.
This has been a difficult week – my wife’s mum died yesterday after a short illness. 

“and what good is cancer in April
why no good, no good at all”
Lou Reed.

I suppose I should have tried to stop the big drops of rain falling on the lens, but I don’t think I noticed them at the time!
Enjoy the skies from around the world.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

World Bird Wednesday - Welcome Swallow

There is something about this image I like.  I spent more than a few minutes trying to catch Welcome Swallows in flight – and most of the images ended up in the bin.
I think this captures the speed and movement of the bird, even if you would not use it as a ‘field guide’ shot.
You can find more birds from around the world at World Bird Wednesday.
You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the page.
Enjoy the birds.