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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
The ram and a younger sheep made their escape today leaving the rest looking on with envy.
With the fine weather over the past month due to make a brief pause, I trekked down to the supermarket yesterday hoping to dodge the rain before it arrived. The zigzag path weaves its way down through the forest and all the rocks and tree roots were covered in a yellow pollen dust that made them look almost luminous. I have never seen so much pollen and yet nowhere could I see any yellow flowers on the pathway, only a few these on the summit.
(Below) Rain splattered pollen coated rock on the zigzag path.
Face masks are obligatory now in supermarkets and on public transport and I had mine at the ready, made from an old T-shirt sleeve. It fitted nicely, was comfortable and looks pretty cool but I certainly would not want to wear one for long as it felt rather stifling. I only saw one person without one and nobody seemed bothered, which makes a change for Germany.
This time I acquired a shopping trolley at the second supermarket, no entry otherwise, but no one took any notice of the two meter rule as they perused the aisles, but then as all were wearing masks that hardly mattered.
Last night I had my first Covid-19 dream. I say dream rather than nightmare because it was more depressing than horror. I suspect it was triggered by my visit to the supermarket although played out in another place all together. I was wandering down streets in a big town frustrated that I could not visit half the shops or do anything. It was a very gloomy atmosphere. Of course my supermarket trip was much the same as it has become a real chore having to walk and climb several kilometers with 15lbs of shopping. Normally visiting town would be fun, encompassing various other things and would also be less physically exhausting but for the moment this is the reality.
No yeast again in either supermarket but now I have my own sour dough starter and a loaf is proving right now. If it turn out OK I might post it on the blog tomorrow. Watch this space.
Take care, stay safe.
The German Society for Nature Photography
Peter Lindel – A Hare’s Dream. European hare in the north of Dortmund
Photograph: Peter Lindel/2020 GDT Nature Photographer of the Year
This stunning photo by Peter Lindel caught my eye, I can only dream of taking such a photo …
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.
( 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 venture out into the forest to inspect the progress of Spring. It’s a fine late afternoon, warm and sunny, perfect for long shadows and maybe a golden hour.
Bracket fungi looking more like cow dung clings to a rotting moss covered tree stump. Below: Dried up frog spawn, it looks like it will be another bad year for frogs. This will be the third year running that the mild winter and lack of water has put paid to any hope of frog spawn surviving. Everywhere there were signs of dried out pools of water with the black sticky remnants of frog spawn.
There were plenty of small wildflowers and even a small brown butterfly that almost became the first snapped with my camera this year.
Newly scanned images from colour reversal film. Photos in and around Lake Geneva taken during my stay there ca. 1992
I spent many hours shooting long exposures of swans with a tripod mounted camera mostly at dawn, dusk or at night.
Mist, low clouds, sunsets and dawn provided endless opportunities for interesting photos.
Near to the summit of Rochers du Naye (2000m+) yellow wildflowers still managed to take root.
A high rise building in Montreux pokes through clouds over the lake.
Rays of sunlight filter through clouds over Lac Leman, Genfer See, Lake Geneva. Call it what you will, it is a fantastic landscape with spectacular views as you descend by train into Lausanne. For an even more exciting experience I can recommend taking the train at night from the north into Lausanne as you will be convinced you are in an aircraft landing at Lausanne airport. The lights below you surrounding the distant lake and black silhouetted mountains against a dark blue star lit sky is truly breathtaking.
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.