Nature today

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A snail’s eye view of some beautiful wildflowers against a clear blue sky. It’s warm at last and sunny today. A cold wind up until now has made it quite cool despite plenty of sunshine over the past months. Meanwhile a mystery bird was chirping happily away on a nearby tree branch. It was there yesterday too but I only managed a reasonable photo today. At first I thought it was a blackcap but now I am not sure. I leave it for you to decide.

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Dragon lifts off

Black Sabbath – Planet Caravan

Lyrics to Planet Caravan – Wake-up music played in flight.

We sail through endless skies, stars shine like eyes, the black night sighs, The moon in silver trees, falls down in tears, light of the night, The earth, a purple blaze, of sapphire haze, in orbit always, While down below the trees, bathed in cool breeze, silver starlight breaks down the night, And so we pass on by the crimson eye, of great god Mars as we travel the universe

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Good luck!

Elon Musk’s Space-X Dragon capsule heads for space. A joint venture between Space-X and NASA and the first manned rocket from the USA since 2011. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are on their way to the ISS.

WOW! That was an impressive take off and not to mention the landing of the first stage on a ship, almost as astounding as missions like the Sputnik, Gagarin and the moon landing.

I had written a long piece about despair, which I was about to post but that will have to wait for another day.

Great work!

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Elon Musk talks to the astronauts shortly before their first weather aborted takeoff.

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Inside the Dragon capsule waiting for take off.

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Lift off! … and the Dragon capsule heads for the ISS.

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Update 31.05.2020

Successful docking of Dragon with the ISS 16:16 CET

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Above instrument view inside the Dragon cockpit during live docking and underneath the docking simulator, which I tried and failed but it was fun trying.

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Dragon capsule meters from docking with the ISS.

 

Wildflowers

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Wonderful to see more wildflowers growing in long grass. There was a time when this was normal but the obsession with cutting grass led in recent years to just small patches being left to grow wild. A sort of token gesture to nature. Whether this present situation is intentional or the result of the corona virus lock down, it’s hard to know. I hope it signals a change, giving a boost to the insect population and creating a knock on effect.

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‘Happiness only real when shared’

Christopher Johnson McCandless

Brambles

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The sheep are enjoying their new found freedom, luscious green pastures, sunshine and warm temperatures. Sunshine is forecast for the coming week with ever increasing temperatures. Summer just around the corner. Meanwhile the brambles are an ever present hazard and several sheep have already got caught up in them.

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I watched as this ewe (above) managed to tug itself free from a bramble bush taking a long piece with it, which was soon transferred to another ewe with its lamb in tow. (below).

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Update – 20.05.2020

Another ewe drags half a bramble bush behind it, thankfully the rest have endured their freedom well and for the most part seem to have learned from their earlier mistakes.

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Wood wander

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Finally this is what happens to a pine tree when it gets in the way of lightening.

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Grass is greener

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The grass really is greener on the other side and these sheep are no fools. They continue to find ways to breach the fencing despite all our efforts. Who can blame them when the grass on the other side is clearly more inviting than their own well trodden meadow. Yesterday it was over the fence and today under, but like all things in life the inviting field is not without its hazards and here it is the brambles, which snag the sheep’s wool taking them prisoner until I or someone else can free them.

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The ram and a younger sheep made their escape today leaving the rest looking on with envy.

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Squirrel

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He’s back again to join the wild life party, checking out everything that’s on the buffet. This red squirrel visits the balcony regularly but his main interest are the monkey nuts hanging off a chair on a piece of string.

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He attempts to get at the nuts from below but they are just out of reach and when a crow buzzes the balcony, causing the squirrel a fright, he hides under the chair, frozen motionless for a while. Once the danger has passed he decides to attack the nuts from a new direction and climbs the chair via the tomato plant pots.

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Once on the chair he has the nuts in sight but first checks to see if anyone is at home before continuing his mission impossible.

Other party guests include: A field mouse, blue tits, great tits, crested tits, chaffinch, black redstarts, crows, magpies, bullfinch, nuthatches, robin and a few elusive night visitors.