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Showing posts from September, 2014

Waterside colours

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I could not take my eyes off its eyes: a calorific, almost luminous furnace crimson, round and compound. They were seemingly glowing and it was hard to discern a defined surface, it was if they flared. The rest of its body was equally loud, a vinaceous dandified plum colour. It stood, its three pairs of legs clasping the harsh-stemmed rush, its head partially rotated and then it had gone. I did not have to wait long for this territorial male to return and and there it was again, on the same perch, beside the same patch of still water. It was a Violet Dropwing, a dragonfly whose name describes both its hue and the way its wings hang forward at rest, like broad oars ready at an instant to push the insect into another dash at the waterside. It was not alone. From our position just downstream from a bridge crossing the River Almonte, without moving a foot, we could watch Epaulet Skimmers and Red-veined Darters, shifting in and out of the emergent vegetation. At our feet an Iberian Blueta…

Chip chip chipping

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There is a white wine freshness to these early autumn mornings, a clarity surfacing now, more crisply defined dawn wisps of cloud . There are fewer birds in the skyscape and soundscape compared to the spring, but this leaves the stage uncluttered and allows me to soak in solo performances, soliloquies. As I sit with a coffee at the edge of the garden, Woodlark song flows from the blue sky, never failing to move me. Its tranquil, sweet but almost melancholic lapping cadences lull me. Then comes the zany whooping whistles of Spotless Starlings, which give way abruptly to the mellow fluty warbling from a Blackcap in the top of the almond tree above me. I wonder whether this Blackcap is a bird on passage on one that has arrived to spend the winter here. It could be either.

The next performance comes again from the sky. A curious "chip-chip-chip-chip" draws my attention upwards. The sound comes from the direction of the risen sun and it takes a few seconds before the bird respon…