Catching the fleeting scenes of many splendored life with a camera.
'Look closely. The beautiful may be small' — Kant

21 December 2014

European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

European robin (Erithacus rubecula), is a small insectivorous passerine bird -- a chat that is now considered to be an Old World flycatcher. It is found across Europe, east to Western Siberia and south to North Africa. British robins are usually resident but a few, usually females, migrate to southern Europe during winter as far as Spain, while Scandinavian and Russian robins migrate to Britain and western Europe. These migrants can be recognised by the greyer tone of the upper parts of their bodies and duller orange breast. In autumn and winter, robins add to their usual diet of terrestrial invertebrates, such as spiders, worms and insects, berries, fruits or seeds. Despite their cute look, male robins show highly aggressive territorial behaviour not only attacking other males that stray into their territories, but also other small birds without apparent provocation.

While humanity is generally bedazzled by space exploration perceived as pushing new boundaries, I believe this planet contains the most inextricable mysteries of the Universe (unless there are more planets like earth), the great bulk of which is still beyond our ken -- after all Universe is a dark cold and deadly empty place. This tiny bird is one of such marvels -- like many other birds robins have the ability to sense the magnetic field of the earth for navigation which is affected by the light entering the bird's eye.
The physical mechanism of the robin's magnetic sense is not fully understood, some scientists even throw in theories like quantum entanglement of electron spins. There exist two main hypotheses to explain the phenomenon of magnetoreception in animals. One hypotheses holds that, cryptochrome, when exposed to blue light, becomes activated to form a pair of two radicals (molecules with a single unpaired electron) where the spins of the two unpaired electrons are correlated. The surrounding magnetic field affects the kind of this correlation (parallel or anti-parallel), and this in turn affects the length of time cryptochrome stays in its activated state. Activation of cryptochrome (a class of blue light-sensitive flavoproteins found in plants and animals. Cryptochromes are involved in the circadian rhythms of plants and animals, and in the sensing of magnetic fields in a number of species) may affect the light-sensitivity of retinal neurons, with the overall result that the bird can "see" the magnetic field. The Earth's magnetic field is only 0.5 Gauss and so it is difficult to conceive of a mechanism by which such a field could lead to any chemical changes other than those affecting the weak magnetic fields between radical pairs. (Cryptochromes are thought to be essential for the light-dependent ability of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to sense magnetic fields.) According to another model, Fe3O4, also referred to as iron (II, III) oxide or magnetite, a natural oxide with strong magnetism remains permanently magnetized when its length is larger than 50 nm and becomes magnetized when exposed to a magnetic field if its length is less than 50 nm. In both cases the Earth's magnetic field produces a transducible signal via a physical effect on this magnetically sensitive oxide.

European robin (Erithacus rubecula). (by-nc-nd)

16 November 2014


Fireworks date back to 7th century China, where they were used to accompany many festivities. Fireworks implemented rocket propulsion common in warfare. In 1240 the Arabs acquired knowledge of gunpowder and its uses from China.
Eventually Chinese fireworks became popular in Europe around the mid-17th century on recreational and ceremonial occasions, and have been an indispensable part of any celebration worth its salt ever since. George Frideric Handel composed Music for the Royal Fireworks in 1749 to celebrate the peace Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which had been declared the previous year.
And on a humorous note:
“The Chinese used gunpowder to make fireworks for celebrations, and the white man came along and said, Holy shit, we can use this to kill people. What better way to celebrate than that?
― Jarod Kintz

Fireworks red. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

11 November 2014

Summer Colours: Yellow and Pink. Golden Trumpet Tree (Handroanthus Balbus), Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) and Mirabilis jalapa (The four o'clock flower)

Handroanthus albus, the Golden Trumpet Tree, is a tree with yellow flowers native to the Cerrado (tropical savannas) of Brazil ( ipê-amarelo-da-serra), namely in the states of Bahia, Espírito Santo, Goiás, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and São Paulo.. It is used as an urban tree, as well as a medicinal plant.

Handroanthus albus (Golden Trumpet Tree) flowers close-up. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

3 November 2014

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta garzetta) and Common Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta garzetta) snapping fish
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

28 October 2014

Summer Colours: Scarlet Red. Hibiscus (Rosa Sinensis) Hybrid

Hibiscus (Rosa sinensis) hybrid red flower close-up. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

19 September 2014

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) Suite

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) chick. (by-nc-nd)

10 August 2014

Tabby Cat on a Windowsill


Tabby cat looking out of the window. (by-nc-nd)

21 July 2014

Summer Colours: Scarlet Red and Yellow/Pink. Flame tree (Brachychiton Acerifolius) and Mirabilis jalapa (The four o'clock flower)

In the dark, the red glow of these baroque style bell shaped flowers looks especially suggestive.

Flame tree (Brachychiton Acerifolius) close-up.  (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved) 

18 July 2014


“The moon is friend for the lonesome to talk to.” ― Carl Sandburg.

These days Moon is at its closest point to Earth and full moon looks 14% bigger and 30% brighter than usual according to NASA. A supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth. The technical name is the perigee-syzygy (from the Ancient Greek suzugos (σύζυγος) meaning "yoked together" is a straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies in a gravitational system) of the Earth-Moon-Sun system.
Well, for the scientists Moon is just a round piece of rock that revolves around the Earth, but according to Greek mythology, Selene, the goddess of Moon, is in love with mortal Endimion, eternally sleeping in a cave on Mount Latmus. Various myths tell different stories as to the cause of his eternal sleep, but the exact origin of this oneiric state and Selene’s role (if any) in it is unclear.
"Selene watched him from on high, and slid from heaven to earth; for passionate love drew down the immortal stainless Queen of Night." (Quintus Smyrnaeus' The Fall of Troy). And so Selene keeps pouring her sad light from high above, pining over her unrealizable love. The satellite’s “sorrowful face” created by dark volcanic maria that fill between the bright ancient crustal highlands and the prominent impact craters might, at least in part, have inspired the tales.
Every time I look at its wistful visage I wonder why would it turn precisely the doleful side to us (the far side is plain and inexpressive). Is it mourning our fate?

Supermoon.  (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

17 July 2014

Summer Colours: Scarlet Red. Red Garden Geranium (Pelargonium hortorum) with Dewdrops

"The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life" [Jean Giraudoux The Enchanted]

Red Garden Geranium (Pelargonium hortorum) with dewdrops.
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

10 June 2014

Spring Treats. White Mulberry (Morus alba) fruits

Morus alba (family Moraceae), known as white mulberry, is a species native to northern China, and is widely cultivated and naturalized elsewhere.
It turns out that apart from being widely cultivated to feed the silkworms employed in the commercial production of silk, the plant has analgesic, emollient and sedative properties and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as a remedy for surprisingly wide range of conditions: the fruit — to treat prematurely grey hair, constipation, diabetes, to "tonify" the blood; the bark — to treat cough, wheezing, edema, fever, headache, red dry and sore eyes, and to promote urination.
Extracts of the plant possess antibacterial and fungicidal properties. The root bark, for example, exhibits antibacterial activity against food poisoning micro-organisms, is antitussive, diuretic, expectorant and hypotensive. The roots are harvested in the winter and dried for later use.
The leaf extract has been studied against the Indian Vipera/Daboia russelii venom induced local and systemic effects. The leaves are antibacterial, astringent, diaphoretic (increasing perspiration), hypoglycaemic, odontalgic and ophthalmic, they are taken internally in the treatment of colds, influenza, eye infections and nosebleeds. The leaves are collected after the first frosts of autumn and can be used fresh but are generally dried.
The stems are anti-rheumatic, diuretic, hypotensive and pectoral. A tincture of the bark is used to relieve toothache. The branches are harvested in late spring or early summer and are dried for later use.
The fruit has a tonic effect on kidney energy and is used internally in the treatment of asthma, coughs, bronchitis, oedema, hypertension and diabetes.
Almost all parts of the plant are used in one way or another: recent research has shown improvements in elephantiasis when treated with leaf extract injections and in tetanus following oral doses of the sap mixed with sugar. Finally, it's not widely known that in some Central Asian countries a spirit (a kind of vodka or strong liquor) is distilled from mulberry fruits.
However, the fresh fruits are seldom available at the greengrocer's (probably due to their high perishability). So enjoy this wonder of Nature, even if just in pictures.

White Mulberry (Morus alba) fruit. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

28 May 2014

Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) female

The Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) is a small passerine bird in the redstart genus Phoenicurus. Like its relatives, it's classed as a member an Old World flycatcher (Muscicapidae). It's widespread in south and central Europe and Asia and northwest Africa, from Great Britain and Ireland to Morocco, east to central China. It is resident in the milder parts of its range, but northeastern birds winter in southern and western Europe and Asia, and north Africa. It nests in crevices or holes in buildings. The Black Redstart is 13–14.5 cm long and weighs 12–20 g. The adult male is overall dark grey to black on the upperparts and with a black breast; the lower rump and tail are orange-red. The belly and undertail are either blackish-grey (western subspecies).. The female is grey (western subspecies) overall except for the orange-red lower rump and tail.
What I especially love about small birds is their cute and sweet contours.

Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) female with a rice grain. (by-nc-nd)

1 April 2014

Dragonflies. Crimson Marsh Glider (Trithemis aurora) and Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata)

The Violet Dropwing, Trithemis annulata, is a species of dragonfly in family Libellulidae.
It is found in Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Israel, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Réunion, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and possibly Burundi. It was also recently recorded in the Maltese islands in 2005 and found breeding in 2007.

Crimson Marsh Glider (Trithemis aurora) female on dry stalk. (by-nc-nd)

26 March 2014

Red-veined Darter, Nomad (Sympetrum fonscolombii) Male

Red-veined Darter, Nomad (Sympetrum fonscolombii) male on a dry stem.
 (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

17 February 2014

Clouded Yellow (Colias croceu), Large / Cabbage White (Pieris brassicae)

Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus) is a small butterfly of the Pieridae family. The upper side is golden to orange yellow with a broad black margin on all four wings and a black spot near the centre forewing. The underside lacks the black borders and is lighter, with a more greenish tint, particularly on the forewings. Females differ from the males in having yellow spots along the black borders on the upper side. Like all Colias species they never open their wings at rest.

Clouded Yellow (Colias croceu) on Dittrichia viscosa (False Yellowhead) flower. (by-nc-nd)

15 January 2014

Meerkat (Suricata suricatta) in a Cage

"What is it that should trace the insuperable line? ...The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?" Jeremy Bentham
Once again a sad sight -- an animal in confinement. Meerkat (Suricata suricatta), aka suricate or sticktail, is a small, burrowing, carnivorous mammal of southern Africa, related to the mongoose. Needless to say, such a frisky creature is a tricky subject for photography.

Meerkat (Suricata suricatta) in cage. (by-nc-nd)

1 January 2014

Whorled Plectranthus (Plectranthus verticillatus) Flowers

Plectranthus verticillatus, aka Swedish ivy, Swedish Begonia or Whorled Plectranthus, is a plant in the family Lamiaceae (Labiatae). Plectranthus verticillatus is native to southern Africa, but is also naturalized in El Salvador, Honduras, the Leeward Islands, the Venezuela Antilles, the Windward Islands, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Hawaii as well as south-east Queensland and coastal areas of New South Wales in Australia. Plectranthus verticillatus thrives in indirect sunlight, likes to stay moist, responds well to pruning and can easily be rooted with cuttings. Apart from possessing significant ornamental value, there's a popular myth that this plant is a kind of mojo that attracts love and money into your home.

Plectranthus verticillatus (Swedish ivy, Swedish Begonia, Whorled Plectranthus) flowers. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)
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