Tuesday, 21 February 2017

An India Icon

The Taj Mahal in Agra must be one of the most recognisable buildings in the world.  It shape and colour make it stand out from other 'iconic' boilings such as Sydney's Opera House or the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Perhaps only the pyramids are as instantly recognisable.

The Taj Mahal is built from a huge amount of white marble, which is now (unfortunately) taking on a yellow hue because of pollution.  For all that, the overall impression of the place is still truely remarkable.

Work on the Taj Mahal started in 1632 and was basically complete by 1643, although other work continued for another 10 years.  The Taj Mahal was built to house the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the favourite wife of the Shah Jahan.  Much more detail about this remarkable building can be found here.

One of the issues about photographing such a well known building, is that the 'classic shots' have ben taken thousands of times before.  These first two shots fall into that category.

I tried to find some different ways to take pictures - and while I doubt that I really did find any new angles, at least I had fun trying!

These images are an attempt to capture the way in which the Taj Mahal is first seen - over the heads of crowds and through the arch of the main gate.

In these next images I am trying to get a sense of both the scale and detail of the place.

And finally I tried to find a way different way to frame the Taj Mahal - to contrast the built with the natural.

It really is a remarkable place.

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 238 - Taking a bath

A bit rushed this week - as some of you may know I am in India on a work trip - so things are a bit hectic!  And I thought I had set a WBW post up for this week - only to find I was wrong!

Indian birds and pictures to follow soon!

These birds are House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) taking a dust bath in a car park in New Zealand.  Given that they seem to have excavated little holes in the ground, it seems to a popular location for a bath.  The dust also seems to have given the birds a little more colour than normal!

As ever, to link up with WBW click on the blue button below. 

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A taste of things to come

I am just over half way though a work trip to India - although I have been able to sneak a few side trips into the schedule!

These are some of the shots I have taken in the last few days.  More to follow.

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 237 - Weka

The Weka (Gallirallus australis) is an endemic, flightless rail from New Zealand (and only New Zealand!).  The bird is about 50cm long and weighs in between 700 and 1000g - in other words it's about the same size as a small chicken.

Those of you with good memories may recall that I posted some images of Woodhen from Lord Howe Island about a year ago. Woodhen and Weka are in the same genus and have both become flightless.  I say 'become' because both species of birds are found on remote (ish) island and it's sure that the ancestors of these birds did not swim to these islands!

These pictures are of two different birds and I suspect that they are examples of two of the four 'types' found in NZ.  The first first bird seems to be one of the 'buff' forms - its does seem rather more 'ginger' than the darker bird, which may be the 'western' form.

In any case the first bird was very inquisitive and walked up to and past us without much bother.  I would have liked to get a bit lower for some of the shots of that bird, but we were half way though a walk and things were a little damp underfoot!  It's why I normally wear (or carry) a coat of some form!

Pictures from this point are of the second 'darker' bird.

Now it's over to you - click the blue button and off you go - with luck I'll be able to respond quickly this week, but I'm not sure, as, believe it or not, I am on the road again!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

A different side of New Zealand.

New Zealand was wonderful - great scenery, strange wild life, good walks and ample craft beer.

But another thing struck me - even the smaller places we visited had war-memorials.  I don't know why this surprised me, but it did.  The UK and Australia have many such memorials - but to see them in such a small country, so far away from the places where the soldiers fought was a real eye-opener.

Once again I could not help but think that the loud mouthed (almost aways) men who wage war from their offices never really have to bear the cost.  I also cannot help but think that this poster may be of use in the four years to come.

The first images are from Wellington's Museum and War Memorial, the next from Karekare Beach (which is the black sand beach from previous) posts and the last image is from a walk around the edges of Marlborough Sound, nr. Picton on the South Island.

I dont often post post such as this - but sometimes we need to face facts and there are no convenient alternatives. 

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 236 - What's in a name?

As a number of you may have noticed I was in New Zealand in the middle weeks of January - what a place!  I can only recommend you go there.

One of the issues I faced as a birder there, was 'translating' the common names of the birds I saw into a form with which I was familiar.  According to my field guide, the birds in this post are Black-Backed Gulls, or to use the Maori name, Karoro.  If I had seen the same bird in South America it would have been called a Dominican Gull, and if I had seen it at home I would have called it a Kelp Gull.

The bird is of course all of these and none of them at the same time.  All over its distribution this bird is Larus dominicanus - its formal name giving us all the certainty I need, that, having seen Kelp Gulls in Australia, my life list had not clicked up by one when I saw a Black-Backed Gull in NZ.

In the past people have laughed at me for my interest in taxonomy - but I think this is a nice example of why its important.  We can't know what things are unless we agree on a name - so here, in all its gully glory is Larus dominicanus. 

If you look at the post from yesterday, you will find more images of the black sand beach on which I took these pictures.

These birds, like most wild gulls (rather than their chip loving urban cousins), are difficult to approach - so I was rather pleased with these images.

Now its your turn to be pleased with your images and to share them with the WBW community by clicking on the blue button below!