So, I decided to take a short stroll through the forest today despite the cool overcast damp weather. I took my D5200 with its 18mm-105mm lens. ‘But what if I see something interesting … nothing interesting will happen’ …
I am hardly 50m from my flat and a black bird rises from the undergrowth. At first I think it’s a large blackbird or maybe a crow but when I spot the bright red crest I know immediately its a black woodpecker!
It lands on a tree in perfect view and pose, I grab the camera. I fumble to find the back focus button, it’s positioned slightly differently to my normal camera. Damn, it will not focus … I check the camera. I’m pressing the wrong button. I try again but the bird has gone. I fire off a couple more shots anyway.
Perfectly positioned perched on a tree just waiting for me to take a perfect shot. Wrong camera, wrong lens, wrong button. WTF. (2nd of four shots.)
I have only seen these black woodpeckers three or four times in 10 years. They are huge and easy to identify being all black with a bright red crest, but they are rarely on view and this was the first time I had had an opportunity to photograph one.
This was the third shot, which caught it in flight. I was lucky to get it at all as I could no longer see it and assumed it had gone. Luckily I took another two shots on the off chance.
Move along … nothing to see here. I continued to look out for the black woodpecker but had no more luck. Previously I had only ever seen them in pairs, so this single encounter was unique too and maybe another one was hanging around somewhere. So that was it, I had to console myself with wood textures for the rest of my blog post.
There was no shortage of bracket fungi and some are edible, though which ones I could not say. The brown slimy one (below) certainly does not look too appetizing.
Finally this is what happens to a pine tree when it gets in the way of lightening.
A magpie pays a visit, edging along the balcony railings with one eye on a fat ball. Below a wood pigeon in the forest. Unusual to get that close to one.
Yes folks, it’s all been bullshit, time for change, time to rethink, time for reflection. There is a reason for everything and this pandemic is here for a reason. Warnings for decades have been ignored. The world has now been stopped in its tracks.
No more carry on as normal.
Back to nature.
Less is more.
Micheal Moore presents: Planet of the humans.
( I read today 26.05.2020 that YouTube had removed the video ‘Planet of the Humans’ due to copyright issues. There has been much controversy over the film, some questioning its accuracy and motives. I would just like to add that while there may have been some exaggerations the core message should not be ignored. As one example, while traveling by train through Germany we passed a field of solar panels. Now I am very much for solar energy but I found the sight of endless solar panels quite disturbing. No sign of any trees, flowers, animals, insects or birds … nothing but glass panels for several kilometers. Surely that cannot be a solution to the environmental problems. Wind farms, solar energy fields along with battery farming and mono-culture crops would eventually destroy nature. We need to look at other solutions and I believe this was the main message the film was attempting to put across. Things are never black and white.)
A film directed by Jeff Gibbs
A beautiful male bullfinch stops by for a drink in a small pond. (out of sight)
Meanwhile (below) another pond visitor was this crested tit. The lack of rain recently is making them more courageous and both the bullfinch and crested tit buzzed me a number of times, hoping that I would move away from the pond, I presume. In the end both decided to risk it and I got my photos.
The crow I spotted poised on a concrete post on the hillside sunning itself, I have included it under garden birds as it has a habit of stealing the fat-balls from my balcony. Just look at that beak, puts many a bird of prey to shame.
World Earth Day
This is the entrance to the Fuente de Piedra lagoon in Andalusia, Spain. It is famous for flamingos, which arrive here every Spring to breed. It has the largest colony of flamingos in Spain and the second largest in Europe apparently. When I visited in 2015 there was a lack of water, which meant that the flamingos were a long way out and too far to be photographed. So no flamingos here.
Nevertheless for bird enthusiasts there were plenty of other interesting birds to be seen, particularly waders such as black-winged stilts, black-tailed godwits, redshanks and many others.
A black winged stilt (above) wades through shallow water and (below) a black tailed godwit takes flight.
… and a rare selfie to show the lagoon and how far it stretches in all directions.
Evening sunlight catches birch trees still naked from winter. Meanwhile I capture a small bright red bird hiding in a tree but I have no idea what it could be. The only birds with red plumage I know of are bullfinches and robins. However after a bit of Googling I come across the crossbill, which fits the bill (excuse pun) and I did once find a dead crossbill near here, which seemed to have flown into a window by mistake.
Check my post expired crossbill
Silver birch update: 10.04.2020
The silver birch sprouts some new leaves in warm sunshine +20C, blue skies.
No chance of getting an in-focus shot of this Great spotted woodpecker through the curtain of tree branches. Also it was already dusk, so the light was poor. However such a spectacular bird deserves a post whatever.
Meanwhile Doris looked on as I photographed the woodpecker and not far away a fox was barking, which is what drew me to look out of the window initially.
There was a time when I used to make lots of GIF animations, mainly cartoons, but like Flash used in ads., it became a bit annoying and I stopped making them some years ago. However they do have there uses as they can explain an event without uploading a cumbersome video. Searching for something to post I came across these photos of a crow mobbing a heron taken on the river Nagold in Pforzheim a couple of years ago. Each photo alone does not really provide much insight but put together and things become clearer, I hope.
Why the crow was so incensed by the heron I have no idea as fish is not on their daily diet as far as I am aware. Herons do nest in trees so maybe it was a neighborly dispute. Whatever, the crow was quite persistent forcing the heron to escape to the other side of the river where the harassment continued for sometime. The heron remained super cool … maybe it was just a game.
This could well be the last photo of the woodpecker drilling on this building. Shortly before taking this single, out of focus shot I had TWO green woodpeckers in my viewfinder, unfortunately I was not able to focus in time before one flew away. Looks like he/she has finally succeeded in finding a partner.
Meanwhile I went shopping again today. Sunny weather but still very cold with patches of ice and snow along the way. Few people about and many shelves in the supermarket were empty. I must make a correction here as last time I said there was a sign at the checkout to ‘pay with cash’. In fact it said ‘pay with a card if possible’. As usual I had misread it, due either to dyslexia, lazy reading or being in a foreign language. I just saw ‘Bargeldlos’ and failed to read the rest. Bargeld is cash, Bargeldlos is cashless. Sorry for the misinformation. Anyway at least that makes sense to me now.
With my 15kg of shopping I trudged slowly back up the hill. Although my upper body gets plenty of exercise during the week while woodworking, I have not done much walking due to the isolation advice, so this walk did me good. I was also much more selective about my shopping of course, due to weight and only bought what I really needed. There is always a positive side to all these negative events.
Well the woodpecker continues drilling on the building so now I am none the wiser as to why. Having found a partner (I believe) it obviously was not an SOS message, unless of course its polyamorous.
Yes, he’s back and looking more serious than ever. Not that he ever went away, yesterday I was just too busy to photograph him. For a brief period today he moved to another similar building, also white and positioned himself in exactly the same spot on the corner. In between drilling he invariably looks up, cocks his head as if listening for a response and surveys what’s above much like climbers do when assessing a route. However I suspect he is hoping to spot a prospective partner flying above, which so far, it would seem, he has not had much luck with.
As I am writing this a beautiful magpie just landed on the balcony railings and pinched something from a plant pot. It knew exactly what it was after, which makes me wonder, do they spot these things from a distance or can the smell a piece of rotting fruit.
Finally I get a halfway decent shot in focus of one of the crested tits that visits my balcony. Despite me and my camera being in clear view and noisy clicks as I pressed the shutter, it continued happily retrieving seeds from an empty ice cream carton and used the bars on the trellis to hack them open with its beak.
Some small brown butterflies were also dancing around today, a sure sign that Spring had arrived..