Today was a day of birdsong: of nightingales without end, of golden orioles and hoopoes. It was a day to watch bee-eaters, pelicans, grey herons, night herons flying over the lake. It was a day to watch sows idling away the morning under a shady tree, or goats commandeering the hillside. Or to see a wild tortoise lumbering across the path.
Today, we journeyed to Lake Prespa, Grecian section. To Little Prespa to be exact. We are staying on an island where we were promised a cacophony of frogs – all night – and a plethora of pelicans. The frogs are delivering: but the pelicans, up to perhaps 80% of them, have been decimated by avian flu. They were not there to greet us as we hoped. But aided by powerful lenses, we finally saw them. Trust me, they’re there, and there in abundance, roughly in the middle of the first shot.
I’ll send just one more postcard this evening, taken just as the sun set.
Back in March, I brought a daily diary, by Yevgenia Belorusets from Kyiv to your attention. It went silent nearly two weeks ago. But news from Ukraine is unremitting, and none of it good.
I thought it would be good to remember that Ukrainians are so much more than victims, and fighters for their country. They have towns, cities and countryside that are important to them. They have a cultural life that mustn’t be extinguished. Here are two stories to remind us of that. The first is from the Guardian’s Country Diary last week. Here, Olexandr Ruchko describes the annual arrival of the storks to his homeland.
The next is about a children’s choir, the Shchedryk Children’s Choir, Kyiv.
Many of you, by ‘liking’ a previous post, enabled me to give a donation to World Central Kitchens, which works in Ukraine and disaster zones throughout the world. Here‘s a link, in case you too are interested in donating.
My header image recalls the Ukrainian flag. Though this image was taken in North Yorkshire, it reminds us that Ukraine is, in normal times, the Breadbasket of Europe.
As it happens, Brian Butler, in his engaging Travel Between the Pages blog, features today a short video of Kyiv, as it experienced a normal day, only last summer. You can view it here.
It wasn’t much more than a year ago. I was walking in the grounds of Fountains Abbey when I heard a vicious one-sided conversation going on above me. It was a squirrel, a very heated and angry squirrel, who evidently had a great deal to complain about. Maybe it was me he was angry with. I never found out. The complaining went on long after I’d gone out of his sight.
If you’re ever near Middlesbrough, and fancy a breezy walk on an RSPB reserve, you could do worse than go to Saltholme. It’s modest enough to explore in an afternoon, and besides, there’s helpful signage to prevent your getting lost.
The river down the track from us is a favourite fishing ground for herons. I love to watch them as they patiently watch too, for fish. And I love it too that wherever we travel, we’re likely to see local herons about their business. The one in the featured photo lives on the Guadalquivir in Córdoba, but his routines seem just the same as those of our Yorkshire birds.
This one lives in Kew Gardens, and the heavy rain makes him look a little out of focus:
Here are a few more:
Elke of Pictures Imperfect demonstrates that the black-and-greyness of these birds makes them ideal for Jude’s Life in Colour challenge, as she’s seeking shots that are black and grey this month.
What a good idea Becky had when she began to start her blogging week with a favourite portrait! I’m going to follow suit, and choose to give fifteen seconds of fame to a special bird: a stork, nesting on a church in Tudela in Spain.