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Showing posts from November, 2014

Alcollarín offerings

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My focus was on the two storks which stood at the edge of the water in a monochrome certainty: one white and the other black. The picture told a fuller story. The White Stork stood in the wet pasture whilst the Black Stork stood in water, its irridescent neck and breast suggested in its near-perfect reflection. Although a similar shape and size, the White Stork will feed mainly in grassland on a range on small prey, whereas the Black Stork prefers to forage at the water's edge, on amphibians and small fish. They differ too in their abundance and breeding behaviour: in Extremadura the White Stork is abundant with over 12,000 pairs with their visible nests adorning tall buildings and pylons, as well as the outer canopy of large trees across the region. The Black Stork is much rarer with perhaps 200 pairs, breeding in the safety of inaccessible rocky outcrops and on trees deep in woodland, with the nest  placed out of sight inside the canopy close to the trunk. Both species migrate,…

Sparrow surge

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I can only describe the sound as being that of a large wave drawing back over a shingle bank, like a deep inhalation of breath, sucking. It signaled an eruption. From the yellowing expanse of ripe rice, which had seemed devoid of movement, a vast shape emerged. The sound came from feathers, pushing through the air, as hundreds upon hundreds of wings beated and the birds they carried rose in unison. One's impressions of this heaving surge depended wholly on scale, With my binoculars, it was as if I had plunged into the mass and into a realm of chaos, with birds seemingly moving at random. Lowering my binoculars, the viewing thus unaided, the flock took a wholly different form, almost as if it were some meta-organism in its own right, Its shape was smooth, its movement fluid and there was utter harmony. As it lifted from the crop it split, amoeba-like and all of the birds settled in two separate clumps of small trees. Here these sparrows sat and chirped, packed onto every available…