Basket Primadonna Case

In the several years since we got it, we’ve never actually caught Suri using her basket weave cat bed. We still haven’t. This is the neighbour’s cat’s identical bed that she’s taken up residence in. Poor Caesar isn’t allowed to use his own, and she sure as heck won’t let him use hers either. The beds are only a few feet apart, so she’ll know if he tries, and she’ll make him regret it if he does.

#FelinePrimadonna


Birds of Paradise (video)

Now there’s some very fine-feathered friends! And they certainly make me feel ever so underdressed on the rare occasion that I go out, what with my fashion sense having gone completely missing since forever and all. Trust me. This is fireworks. Full screen view warmly recommended.

“The Birds-of-Paradise Project reveals the astounding beauty of 39 of the most exquisitely specialized animals on earth. After 8 years and 18 expeditions to New Guinea, Australia, and nearby islands, Cornell Lab scientist Ed Scholes and National Geographic photojournalist Tim Laman succeeded in capturing images of all 39 species in the bird-of-paradise family for the first time ever. This trailer gives a sense of their monumental undertaking and the spectacular footage that resulted. Filmed by Tim Laman, Ed Scholes, and Eric Liner.”

Then of course, while on the subject of colourful, tropical birds there’s the manakin bird, of South and Central America, which has its own, well, style. Or Michael Jackson’s style if you prefer as it’s the only animal known to be able to moonwalk. It was first brought to my attention years ago by the BBC TV show QI (or rather, this Youtube video clip of the manakin bird brought QI to my attention, for which I am eternally grateful).

Here’s the original National Geographic footage of our yellow-trousered dance floor maestro. According to experts, this dance and attire are part of the male manakin’s plan to attract a female. I can see that I have been going about it entirely wrong, and it must be by dumb luck alone that I managed to capture my better half.

And while I’m at it, you may have noticed in the QI clip that Bill Bailey and Alan Davies broke into a brief rendition of “A Night to Remember” to accompany the bird’s dance moves. Apparently someone took that as inspiration and Youtubed a whole dance video. Kudos!

~

What the Mighty Huntress brought in

After the initial shock of discovery has worn off, we’re still debating whether she actually laid down her prey, or decided to go for the more characteristic approach of collecting fallen fruit, so to speak.

Either way, this unfortunate feathered fellow had been discretely and unceremoniously deposited on the living room floor in our absence, and only the quickest of reflexes on my part as we returned home saved it the indignity of becoming rather pancaked underneath a size 45 (11½ US) left foot. It has since been relocated to a somewhat more worthy resting place where nature may go about its business without too much human interference.

What the Mighty Huntress brought in
Photo © Bjørnar Andre Haveland

The feline huntress in question has so far declined to comment on the matter.

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Four-Deer Wildlife Encounter

Moments are brief, they arrive unannounced, and if you don’t pay attention they’ll be gone before you even notice them.

So also with this one, which occurred on February 21, a Friday, just before 7 pm,. In a time span of more or less what it takes to shake your head and wonder what just happened, a family of four deer had arrived, hurried past, and disappeared into the dark again. The time stamps of these photos go from 18:54:05 to 18:54:44, an entire little eternity which lasted all of 39 seconds.

Add to that the time it took for me to notice and identify the faint, barely visible shadows at the edge of the forest, and get my camera out of the bag (which I carry with me most of the time for just such occasions), set a high ISO to compensate for the low light, and start shooting, and we’re talking about just under a minute.

All photos © Bjørnar Andre Haveland

Four-Deer Wildlife Encounter

Appearing by the power station, tentatively taking one step after another as they aim to cross the road at the hither side of the field, and continue to the forest on the other side. It was pretty dark, considerably darker than in the pictures, and shadows at that distance tend to lose themselves among other shadows.

At this point they hardly move, checking for signs of danger. Apparently a 6′4″ human with a Nikon for a nose, at 150 meters (164 yards) distant, does not make enough of a presence to disturb them.

Four-Deer Wildlife Encounter

First one is away! Presumably Papa Deer, making the first dash toward the halfway point at the side of the road. Second runner — I’m guessing Mama Deer — followed in the tracks of the first, mere seconds later, and the last two were hot on her heels, wasting no time.

Four-Deer Wildlife Encounter

Four-Deer Wildlife Encounter

Four-Deer Wildlife Encounter

Claiming right of way, and taking it, not at all deterred by the approaching cars. Fortunately the driver of this Volkswagen spotted them from a safe distance and slowed down to a soft halt less than five metres from the animals, who in turn wasted no time getting across.

Five metres, and I was at a hundred and fifty. I did feel a small sting of envy at the driver’s far superior vantage point, with the deer practically under his nose. I certainly hope he appreciated his luck.

Four-Deer Wildlife Encounter

Four-Deer Wildlife Encounter

Four-Deer Wildlife Encounter

Well over on the other side, it was like watching a flock of birds heading for the safety of the trees, and with neither fanfare nor ceremony, less than a minute after I first noticed them, they were gone.

Four-Deer Wildlife Encounter   Four-Deer Wildlife Encounter

Close-up of the hoof-prints where they crossed the road. This is just one of the things that I love about living in the countryside. You don’t get to see this happening in the city.

Camera: Nikon D7000, Lens: Nikkor DX 18–135mm 1:3.5–5.6G ED, ISO: 3600
Shutter: 1/200s, Aperture: 1:5.6, Focal length: 135mm (202mm equivalent)

The photo set on Flickr

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Because Murmurations

I learned a new word today:

“Murmurations”

Had you asked me about it yesterday, I might have guessed, more or less correctly, that it had to do with “a low, continuous sound, as of a brook, the wind, or trees, or of low, indistinct voices” (as copied from Dictionary.com). But that just covers half of it.

That covers “murmur”, but I had no idea that “murmurations”, insofar that I was even aware of the word, had to do with birds!

mur·mur·a·tion [mur-muhrey-shuhn]
noun

  1. an act or instance of murmuring.
  2. a flock of starlings.

Starlings? Well, we know what starlings do, don’t we? I’d like to think that flocks of starlings (or flocks of birds doing the same thing) is what people used to look at before we got fancy, psychedelic computer graphics. In fact, these days we have computer graphics trying to do what starlings used to do, and still do, in the comfort of your own living room, or wherever in your home that you tend to watch fancy computer graphics.

But the computer simulations only go so far, and starlings do this outdoors, for real, and it’s awesome to look at. Here’s a couple of videos:

Two girls paddling their canoe
right underneath a huge flock of murmuring birds

60,000 Starlings in flight
with two falcons hunting them

I could easily fill this blog post to the brim and beyond with dozens and dozens of videos of murmurations, but I’ll leave it to you to look them up yourself on Youtube and elsewhere. Be warned, though: You can easily lose a dozens and dozens of hours watching them.

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