Tag Archives: Nature

Butterfly Bounty

Vicky’s lovely friends Frankie and David wrangled us freebie tickets to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. We showed up there on Wednesday, bright and early, before the arrival of the wild tourist hordes.

Although fidgety by nature, when you’re surrounded by 1,500 of those dazzling beauties, some of them will actually hold still for long enough to get a good shot. As you can imagine, I went into a clicking frenzy until the red light on my camera alerted me to the battery’s defeat.

A total stunner!

The same kind as above, from the side

The same kind as above, from the side

And from the front :) These blue ones are very friendly, they seem to love sitting on people

And from the front 🙂 These blue ones are very friendly, they seem to love sitting on people

On pink flower

Black

OrangeOrchid

Brown

All that posing and fluttering about gives them a mighty appetite:

Butterflies on sponge feeder

Congregating on a (sangria-soaked?) sponge feeder

Banana

…and on a saucy banana

Fruit

Butterflies aren’t the only inhabitants of the conservatory; there’s a whole flock of brightly-coloured birds keeping them company.

There are also Rhett and Scarlett

Including Rhett and Scarlett, who bicker loudly, and then make up, even more vociferously. When they don’t have their heads under water, that is.

...and this tiny, newly-hatched baby quail

A tiny, newly-hatched baby quail…aaaawwwwww!

Key West – Explosion Of Colours

So, early last Thursday morning, I set off on my annual pilgrimage to Key Wes (Florida), a balmy island 90 miles off Cuba. I’ll be here for almost a month, lounging around on my friends’ houseboat. Here’s my first rash of photos 🙂

Pelican in Key West Harbour

Pelican waiting for some tasty scraps to be tossed into Key West Harbour

The hallmark of Key West is its colourfulness, which, although a bit brash at times, accounts for much of the tiny island’s charm.

Key West Colour

Beautiful flowers grace people’s front gardens:

Trop Plants

Flower 2Flower 3

Orchids are a common sight

Orchids are a common sight

White and purple orchids

Cat

Even the cats have strikingly coloured eyes!

Key West is a prime Cruise ship destination

Cruise ship

The seabirds remain unimpressed...

The local seabirds remain unimpressed…

Photo Challenge: Got All Your Ducks In Line?

Here is my entry for this week’s Fun Foto Challenge: Reflections & Shadows, laid on by Cee.

First up, we have reflections: I took this shot a couple of days ago, while out on a walk with a friend by the river Tagus, which flows through my current home town of Toledo (Spain), all the way through to Lisbon (Portugal).  Seeing the geese (not ducks…) all lined up by those giant pillars amused me. The wheel behind is quite impressive… I’ve no idea what that installation was once used for, mind!

GeeseAs for shadows, here’s my own, falling onto my father’s grave, taken this summer in Germany:

Shadow

Fowl Friday

Here are couple of shots I took last weekend of a group of geese on the shore of the Tagus, and two ducks zipping along its choppy waters.

GeeseDucksI love ducks, but I have a bit of unprocessed childhood trauma when it comes to geese… memories of being held captive by a fierce gaggle of them while up on a neighbour’s plum tree. Where I shouldn’t have been in the first place, admittedly.

Brace Yourselves: Bavarian Firefighters With Their Hoses Out!

When I’m on my annual home visit, my mum and I like to go out for evening walks together, strolling through the woods and fields surrounding The Village.

Fields, woods, and the Alps stretching across in the far distance. Quiet, peaceful, restorative.

View from the southern edge of The Village: Fields, woods, and the snow capped Alps stretching across the horizon. Quiet, peaceful, restorative.

The air of tranquility was interrupted, however, when we happened across a group of firemen from the neighbouring village, fiercely engaged in a training exercise:

Aw, look at them with their foam extinguishers and their hoses...

Aw, just look at them with their foam extinguishers and their gushing hoses…

Hard at work, fully decked out in their combat gear

The boys hard at work, decked out to the nines in their combat gear

On the way back home, there was a rather lovely sunset 🙂

Sunset

Now,  I’d just like to return to the firemen once more. These guys we bumped into were from a village less than two miles away, not much more than a hamlet populated by fewer than 300 souls. My village, which has a headcount of scarcely 700, not only has its own fire brigade, but sports this state-of-the-art fire station:

Fire StationYou may wonder how tiny Bavarian villages can afford all this.

Well, Bavaria is run by farmers. Rich farmers. They are conservative in their attitudes, but forward-thinking in their spending and planning, and they wield immense political power.

Village fire crews are volunteer organisations composed of, by and large, farmers and their sons. Farmers care very much about their barns catching fire in the dry late summer heat, and by the time a fleet of fire engines manned by a ‘professional’ salaried crew arrives from a a town 20 miles away, an entire farm might have gone up in flames.

In addition, being a member of the volunteer fire squad has a major social component to it: The boys go out drinking together, and they get to go away on training courses and ‘team building’ weekends. So, you see, there’s every incentive to be part of the gang, and there’s also plenty of community cash buy all the requisite toys.

[If you’ve missed my introductory post about The Village, here it is.]

Attack Of The 12oz Pug And Struggly Ducklings

On Monday’s family outing to Landsberg, we spotted this two month old pug.

Here she is with my mum

Here she is with my mum

Now she’s wandering over in my direction, all unassuming and a bit coy…

...and the madness starts!

…and the madness starts! She’s just about the length of my hand, and my hands are tiny.

Pug

Teeth like needles this one!

Teeth like needles this one!

There was another funny animal-related incident in Landsberg, involving a family of ducks. You can just about make them out in the river, on the bottom right:

Lech

Mother duck was trying to teach her offspring to scale up the cascading water. The four almost grown ones managed to remain steadfast the current, but the smallest one couldn’t even keep his feet in contact with the slippery ground. He was paddling on all cylinders just to remain in the same spot, and he kept drifting back down the river again and again.

Here they all are, mum in front, four nearly grown ducks in the middle and the runtling struggling to keep up on the left

And she’s lost him again!

The mother eventually leapt up the first shelf, but none of the others followed, despite her best efforts to entice them. My mum, my brother and I kept cheering them on from the sidelines… to no avail. In the end, mother duck had to abort the exercise and return to less troubled waters.

Few Words Friday: Pink ‘n’ Purple

One of my fave colour combos 🙂 Well, more of an alternation in this case. All taken in Toledo.

The first one’s for my local friends: Where was this taken?? First correct response gets a free coffee. Or a granizado 🙂

Toledo's photogenic street lamps almost steal the show...

Toledo’s photogenic street lamps almost steal the show…

Purple FlowersRosy rose

LavenderRhododendron