This week’s Lens-Artists Challenge is Taking Flight. What to choose? I thought of hot air balloons I’ve seen. I thought of planes. I thought of bubbles magically released into the sky to delight children and adults everywhere. In the end, two ideas insisted on their fifteen minutes of fame.
The first is the starling murmurations which are such a feature of life here early every spring. Once, one even took place over our garden. We were entranced until we saw the state of our car afterwards. Have you seen one? Murmurations take place towards evening, when thousands of starlings swoop and swirl in the sky above their chosen roosting site for that night. Are they keeping predators at bay? Exchanging information before nightfall? Nobody’s sure. But as suddenly as it begins, the display stops, and the birds descent to their roosts, and it’s over for another night. Here are a few shots – and look at the featured photo too.
Then there was our visit to the Farne Islands, a protected National Trust bird reserve off the coast of Northumbria What an afternoon we had here. We saw puffins, we saw razorbills, guillemots, eider duck, fulmars …. sea birds of so many kinds. But if it’s flight you want to see today, we’ll just stick with the Arctic Terns, with their brightwhite and grey plumage and orange beaks.
Arctic terns are feisty, aggressive birds, fiercely protective of their young, as these pictures may suggest. They are impressive migrants, flying between 44, 000 – 59, 000 miles a year to reach their European breeding grounds from the Antarctic.
This month, Jude has asked us to find photos featuring brown. Well, I know about brown. Here is brown:
That’s right. Mud. We have mud everywhere.
I could cheer things up a bit however. Look at these. My featured photo was taken near Fountains Abbey only a few weeks ago, and here are more uplifting shots of the world in brown. We’ll start off with some that have been squared up – and can anybody help me identify that butterfly please?:
… and move on to a couple more autumnal scenes from Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal; a fish – part of a wall decoration at the Natural History Museum, London; tree bark: and our logs all stacked up for winter. Click on any photo for a close-up.
It’s been a strange Not-Quite-Christmas – in our case quite an enjoyable one, and today I’m going to offer a Not-Quite-Monday-Window. Why not? Eyes, it’s said, are the windows to your soul, and we saw plenty of eyes when we visited Knole Park the other Christmas with Team London. Those eyes belonged to some rather over-friendly sika deer. I’m not clear about whether deer have souls, but they they certainly provided a different sort of window through which we could remember our visit. Here’s a picture of me with my son and his son, as seen through the eyes of a passing deer.
Suddenly, autumn is almost over. Those rich burnished leaf tones of copper, gold, brass, bronze and rust are all but gone, released onto the woodland paths beneath the trees. It’s that final burst of colour that we love to celebrate: so how odd of me to choose trees as my subject for Jude’s Photo Challenge this week, where she invites us to look at shadow and texture in black and white. I thought it might be fun to allow craggy, nubbled trunks and bark centre stage, and to contrast them with the leaves, glossy this autumn from the rain that’s so often beaten them to the ground beneath the trees where they’ve been since spring time. And at the end, just a couple of trees reflected in different ways, at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
The High Ride at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal
Two from the High Ride at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. The last image was taken a Kiplin Hall
Neptune is probably used to playing host to coastal residents. He seemed kindly disposed towards this gull alighting on his head, as he strode purposefully through the Moon Ponds at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal earlier this week.
Walking in Studley Royal the other day, my interest was kindled by an odd yelping call coming from one of the trees along my path. It wasn’t from any bird I recognised. That’s because it turned out not to be a bird, but a grey squirrel. An alarmed and agitated grey squirrel. This one.
I don’t know what the problem was – nothing that I could see. But he was at it as I arrived. I watched him for more than five minutes, and he was still at it as I went on my way. This is what he sounded like.