Friday, 10 May 2013

Birds and other flying objects

Last week I was chasing ducks whilst Marcia brooded over the next book in her mind. With birds very much on my mind I decided that the way to tackle them on my own web site was to create a list of those birds it is reasonable to expect to find in what you might describe as “Marcia Willett country” and then make it an ambition to put up at least one of my pictures in that section. When that happens, the name on the list will become a link to a new page complete with the appropriate pickies.

Far removed from the British list is the avifauna of Australia. A short while ago, Nancy Sayers who lives down there sent me some delightful photographs of the kookaburra with whom (as far as I can gather) they more or less cohabit. It seems they have had a rough time down there. This from her last email:

“We are having our usual ‘start of winter’ amusements. Brian decided to give the wood stove a good clean as the cold is setting in. He opened the door, and it fell off in his hand, one hinge broken, and one cracked and making up its mind whether to stay or go. It went. We then...Murphy’s Law being what it is, had a severe cold snap, and no fire. [sigh].

“Chaos the cat, and Chloe the dog therefore decided that I was the next best thing, and both climbed on my lap together. I felt that a good old-fashioned hot water bottle might be a good idea for them, poured the hot water in, and it poured straight out again, through the withered side [hidden by the cover] all over my slippers. I may leave home.”

I do hope she hasn’t.

Meanwhile here, as spring finally arrived, I found myself in the garden on a lovely sunny day with a number of hover flies buzzing around my head. Because I like a challenge, I decided to see whether I could get a decent photograph of one in flight. This is, of course, near impossible. Any intelligent wildlife photographer mounts the insect on a long and very find sewing needle fixed to a suitable backing board and then, camera on tripod, ensure perfect focus, perfect exposure and a shot that hides the needle. This, of course, would entail killing the insect. Feeling that I would be somewhat peeved if someone killed me and stuck me on a needle just for sake of a picture I opted for the impossible. Actually the result wasn’t that bad.

She – I think it is a she from the position of the eyes – is about a quarter of an inch long. We have about a hundred and thirty species of hover fly in the UK but rather less than thirty are that size which narrows things down a bit. Anyway, I am reasonably sure this one glories in the name of Syrphidae Scaeva pyrastri which is why we common folk call then hover flies!

This week’s blog dog sporting the spotted handkerchief is Star.