Yesterday the first snow of the year arrived as temperatures plummeted to zero. Today however it’s warm again with temperatures expected in double figures. Meanwhile the forecast for the coming days is a high of 17C degrees then next week a drop to -8C. 17C in January! A real roller coaster ride and quite unusual as temperature usually hover around zero this time of year. Meanwhile the sheep tuck into their welcomed breakfast.
Some nature photos from Taiwan to round off the end of my trip and year.
A dragonfly alights upon a pond flower.
A Chinese pond heron (maybe) contemplates life by the waters edge.
A squirrel nibbles on a nut beside a tree in a park.
Turtles, young and old gather together on a rock or possibly the mother of all turtles.
This pterodactyl is just one of many image tiles on the walkway strip leading up to the National museum of natural science. (see post: Taichung postcards). The creatures come in all sizes and this one is by no means the biggest. The larger ones are hard to view unless you have a drone or access to one of the tower blocks surrounding the walkway. Even then trees along the strip would probably hinder the view. So I created this image by stitching together 8 separate images so that it could be viewed in all its glory as I doubt few people have ever seen them properly. My feet at the bottom show just how big this one was.
A pedestrian walks along the strip, the normal ground level view.
Taichung’s old main station lit up in all its Christmas glory.
Initially Taichung can seem chaotic and impossible to navigate, especially for non Chinese speakers. However, well designed tourist maps are available from the main station and buses are frequent, well marked and easy to use, especially if you buy a swipe card (Easycard), which is essential for frequent trips. (MRT is still under construction). Most bus trips inside the city are free so that even getting the wrong one costs nothing. A shuttle bus service does a round trip stopping at many of the main places and it is useful if you have a particular place in mind.
Taichung park lake and fountains
However, from the old/new main station with a bit of zigzagging it is possible to take in many of Taichung’s main attractions by walking or riding through the greenest parts of the city. First stop after the station is Taichung park, which was created by the Japanese during their administration of the city. It’s a great place to relax with a real zen atmosphere, spectacular trees and a boating lake full of koi carp and turtles.
A typical restaurant street at night between the park and the canal walkway.
From there head west along the canal walkway to the National Taiwan museum of fine arts. Then a long narrow park with sculptures (Calligraphy greenway) takes you north again until you reach a vast green area overlooked by the impressive Hotel One.
A typical ‘Calligraphy Greenway’ path where a variety of sculptures can be found.
Hotel One towers over the a park where families spend weekends picnicking and playing.
Continue northwards staying on the parkway strip and eventually you will reach the National museum of natural science and finally the botanical gardens.
There is a beautiful tiled pathway leading to the National museum of Natural Science with inlaid animals and plants depicting a timeline from prehistoric to contemporary times. Unfortunately they can only be viewed at ground level, which is a pity as some are so big, particularly the larger dinosaurs that they are difficult to see properly.
Finally you will reach the botanical gardens with a tropical glass house and waterfall.
Another stressful morning freeing two more sheep caught in brambles. It took me half an hour hacking my way through brambles, shoulder high, to get to this one. This is a new problem as the last flock took no interest in brambles (blackberry bushes) but these new sheep seem to have a taste for them.
After rounding up the flock the owner and I managed to get them into another area fenced off and away from the worst of the brambles.
I had to rescue three young sheep this morning trapped in brambles, an ever present hazard here. This one took around 20 minutes to free as I had no tools with me to cut away the thick bramble stalks. The wool had become tangled and wrapped around the stalks and the young sheep was literally hanging from vegetation on the steep hillside. Note the tufts of wool everywhere, it must have struggled all night. I found two more young sheep elsewhere caught in brambles, they seem to like eating them, which could account how they become trapped.
Meanwhile another young sheep that had been hanging around came to inspect the damage and seeing its mate freed called it to join him but was duly ignored. The young sheep seemed more interested in eating, no doubt not having eaten for sometime. So the other wandered back to the flock, satisfied I imagine that all was OK now.
A while later …
I discover on the way back to its flock the young brown sheep became trapped on the corrugated roof of a small shack, caught up in a cable, but once freed it too joined the rest. The flock finally together again, minus the first one I freed, which seems to have taken umbrage with its family. So that makes four rescued in one day. I just hope the flock has learned from that experience and stick to the grassy pastures in future.
Yesterday I received a new mouse trap and already today, with the help of a chocolate cookie, I caught at least one of the culprits that have been plundering my store cupboard.
A cute thing, probably a field mouse or maybe even a dormouse. I promptly took him outside and released it from its overnight incarceration. It seemed unperturbed by its ordeal as I had expected wild shrieks overnight but thankfully it made no sounds at all. I returned the trap to the cupboard.
A short while later I heard the trap go off again and looked inside the cupboard. The trap had clearly been pushed around the floor, which had triggered the release mechanism but it was empty. Had they already cottoned on ?
No, later in the afternoon another one found its way into the trap, however it looked suspiciously like the first one. This could become a bit of a game. This time the chocolate cookie was almost completely eaten. They are a bit morish, I must say.
Overnight another mouse was caught in the trap, making it three in two days. It looked slightly different to the others, being smaller, slimmer and more nervous, but otherwise it was the same type of field mouse.
I replaced the trap with a new biscuit and in the afternoon I inspected the trap again. The biscuit was gone. WOW! somehow a mouse had entered the cage and dragged a pretty large cookie out without releasing the trap door. Not a crumb in sight and no sign of the biscuit. These mice are no fools.
It’s a mild autumn day and perfect for a stroll among the falling leaves. The squirrels are out in force today and the first one I encounter is just a few feet from my doorway. After that I see several more collecting nuts ready for their winter hibernation.
It is still so mild that even butterflies are out and I also see another hummingbird hawk moth but fail to photograph it. However while sorting through my images I came across two nice photos I had overlooked in my eagerness to post the previous humming hawk moth photos.
Meanwhile I reflect on today’s welcome news that eleven supreme court judges have unanimously ruled against Boris Johnson. I think it is the first time I have felt any relief since the start of the whole Brexit saga. It is a great day for the rule of law, if not democracy.
Just minding his own business … zen-like.
‘Nuts whole hazel nuts’ … a mouthful of nuts ready for winter
The hummingbird hawk moth close up from my last encounter.
Note the particularly long proboscis.
A red admiral butterfly seen for the first time this year.
A jay finds a convenient wooden handrail to perch on.
… and sheep are doing their best to keep the grass trimmed on the hillsides.
Have you ever noticed how little animals and birds do. Look at your average dog or cat, they sleep all night and then for much of the day. Notice a field of sheep or ducks beside a pond, they too spend much of the day sleeping and I am pretty sure they are not suffering from insomnia.
You have to ask yourself what are we humans doing wrong. We dash around the world polluting the environment, provoke wars or else we spend hours frustrated waiting in traffic queues, checkins and such like.
Is it not time to rethink what we are doing and where we are headed. Why are people working their butts off just to buy things that give a momentary buzz. What’s with all these famous, rich, celebrities living in those huge mansions you see on YouTube. Empty mansions, spotless, sterile, never lived in. Too big even for three generations of one family. OK, so some are investments and some are historic buildings being preserved. However, even your average middle class family own a large house that will soon only echo to the hollow sounds of the children who once lived there.
I read that algorithms will soon replace most of what we humans do. No profession is untouched. Even art! A computer that composes music has already dumbfounded music critics. They could not tell the difference between real Bach and this computer that had been programmed to create Bach style music. The speed of change is so great now that even educating youngsters for specific professions is rapidly becoming obsolete.
Never mind, there is always Weezer.
Weezer – Islands in the sun.
About a hundred sheep were grazing on the hill today. We lost two recently to a wolf but these were relatively safe being protected by an electric fence, which gave me a couple of shocks as a reminder. Just one of the many daily hazards a nature photographer must endure. An electric fence is a simple and relatively cheap measure to protect them.
There were plenty of lambs all sporting the latest in fashionable colourful earbuds. Meanwhile the glorious summer weather continues and it looks like warming up too in the coming days.
Listening to Dire Straits by the look of that face.