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

13 December 2015

Elusive Guests. Black Rat (Rattus rattus), Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) and Little Owl (Athene noctua)

Black rat (Rattus rattus, also known as the ship rat, roof rat, house rat, Alexandrine rat, old English rat, and other names) is a common long-tailed rodent of the genus Rattus (rats) in the subfamily Murinae (murine rodents). The species originated in tropical Asia (in India and Southeast Asia) and spread through the Near East and Egypt in Roman times before reaching Europe by the 1st century and spreading with Europeans across the world.
Black rats are generalist omnivores and thus not very specific in their food preferences, they feed on a wide range of foods, including seeds, fruit, stems, leaves, fungi, and a variety of invertebrates and vertebrates. Which makes them a kind of pest in nature (hmm, a lot in common with humans). They are vectors of many diseases including the bacterium Yersinia pestis, an agent of bubonic plague, (which I suspect is just another attempt to blame every mysterious disaster on an animal — the speed of propagation of the desease, as well as its geographic distribution raise doubts about the rodent’s role in the epidemics more likely caused, among other things, by the destruction of European forests, mini glaciation in the Middle Ages, overpopulation and consequent famine, and lack of hygiene).
Like tree squirrels rats prefer fruits and nuts. They are a threat to many natural habitats because they feed on birds and insects. They are also a threat to many farmers since they feed on a variety of agricultural-based crops, such as cereals, sugar cane, coconuts, cocoa, oranges, and coffee beans. The black rat is again largely confined to warmer areas, having been supplanted by the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) in cooler regions and urban areas. In addition to being larger and more aggressive (I’ve seen big fat brown rats feed with chicken and porks at the same trough and chase cats), the change from wooden structures and thatched roofs to bricked and tiled buildings favored the burrowing brown rats over the arboreal black rats. In addition, brown rats eat a wider variety of foods, and are more resistant to weather extremes
Black rats adapt to a wide range of habitats. In urban areas they are found around warehouses, residential buildings, and other human settlements, especially in dry upper levels of buildings, so they are commonly found in wall cavities and false ceilings.. In agricultural areas they live in barns and crop fields. In the wild, black rats live in cliffs, rocks, the ground, and trees. They are great climbers and prefer to live in trees, such as pines and palm trees. We often see them in the neighbourhood walk up and down the trees and scutter along the power lines that serve as suspension bridges. Their nests are typically spherical and made of shredded material, including sticks, leaves, other vegetation, and cloth. In the absence of trees, they can burrow into the ground. Black rats are also found around fences, ponds, riverbanks, streams, and reservoirs.

Black rat (Rattus rattus). (by-nc-nd)

Flowering Trees: Koelreuteria Paniculata (Goldenrain Tree), Lace-bark Tree (Lagetta lintearia), Lagunaria patersonii (Cow Itch Tree), Parkinsonia Aculeata (Jerusalem Thorn)

Summer Colours: Lemon Yellow, Purple and Pink

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Shakespeare. Sonnet 18

Koelreuteria paniculata var apiculata. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

5 October 2015

Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides).

Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) aka confederate jasmine, and Chinese star jasmine is a species of flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae, native to eastern and southeastern Asia (Japan, Korea, southern China and Vietnam). A valuable perfume oil is extracted from the steam distilled or tinctured flowers and used in high end perfumery. In a dilute form, tinctured flowers are much used in Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai incenses, while bast fibre is produced from the stems.

Trachelospermum jasminoides (star jasmine) close-up. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

28 July 2015

Freesia fucata, Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), Melia azedarach (white cedar, chinaberry tree, bead-tree, Cape lilac, syringa berrytree, Persian lilac) flowers

Freesia is a genus of herbaceous perennial flowering plants in the family Iridaceae. It is native to the eastern side of southern Africa, from Kenya south to South Africa.

Freesia fucata flowers. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

24 June 2015

The Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus).

The common starling (Sturnus vulgaris), also known as the European starling, is a passerine bird in the starling family, Sturnidae. It is about 20 cm (8 in) long and has glossy black plumage, which is speckled with white at some times of year. The legs are pink and the bill is black in winter and yellow in summer. It is a noisy bird, especially in communal roosts and other gregarious situations, with a varied song that sometimes sounds like a wolf-whistle. Its gift for mimicry has been noted in literature including the Mabinogion and the works of Pliny the Elder and William Shakespeare (hmm, that would explain the wolf-whistling). Large flocks of this species can be beneficial to agriculture by controlling invertebrate pests; however, starlings can also be pests themselves when they feed on fruit and sprouting crops.

Common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) on a twig.  (by-nc-nd)

19 June 2015

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) Female

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citronella) female in a puddle. (by-nc-nd)

18 June 2015

Iris Pseudacorus (Yellow Flag, Yellow Iris, Water Flag) Flowers

Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag, yellow iris, water flag) is a species in the genus Iris, of the family Iridaceae. It is native to Europe, western Asia and northwest Africa. The rhizome has historically been used as an herbal remedy, but when applied to the skin or inhaled, the tannin-rich juices can be acrid and irritating. Not only is yellow iris a beautiful ornamental plant, but also a form of water treatment since it has the ability to take up heavy metals through its roots.

Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag, yellow iris, water flag) flower close-up. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

25 May 2015

Rabbit suite. European rabbit or common rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

The European rabbit or common rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is native to south-western Europe (Spain and Portugal) and northwest Africa (Morocco and Algeria). The animal’s decline in its native range (caused by the diseases myxomatosis and rabbit calicivirus, as well as overhunting and habitat loss), has, in turn, caused the decline of its highly dependent predators, the Iberian lynx and the Spanish imperial eagle.”

European rabbit or common rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) close-up. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

4 March 2015

Schlumbergera Russeliana

Schlumbergera is a small genus of cacti (although they don’t really look like common cacti) with six species found in the coastal mountains of south-eastern Brazil. Plants grow on trees or rocks in habitats which are generally relatively cool, shady and of high humidity.

Schlumbergera russeliana flower. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved) 

9 February 2015

Homing pigeon (Columba livia domestica), Common Blackbird (Turdus merula), Eurasian Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina), and Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Homing pigeon is a variety of domestic pigeon (Columba livia domestica) derived from the rock pigeon, selectively bred to find its way home over extremely long distances (up to 1,800 km). The wild rock pigeon has an innate homing ability, meaning that it will generally return to its nest and mate. Their average flying speed over moderate distances is around 80 km/h (50 miles per hour) but speeds of up to 140 km/h (90 miles per hour) have been observed in top racers for short distances. Homing pigeons are called messenger or carrier pigeons when they are used to carry messages. Pigeons can find their way back from distant places they have never visited before. Most researchers believe that homing ability is based on a "map and compass" model, with the compass feature allowing birds to orient and the map feature allowing birds to determine their location relative to a goal site (home loft). While the compass mechanism appears to rely on the sun, some researchers believe that the map mechanism relies on the ability of birds to detect the Earth's magnetic field. Scientists discovered on top of pigeon's beak large number of particles of iron which remain aligned to north like manmade compass, thus it acts as compass which helps pigeon in determining its home, and it looks like the trigeminal nerve plays a role in magnetoception, too. Some studies showed that pigeons also orient themselves using the spatial distribution of atmospheric odours, known as olfactory navigation, as well as low frequency infrasound. In areas they have previously visited, pigeons are probably guided by visual landmarks, such as roads and other man-made features, just like humans. However, various experiments suggest that different breeds of homing pigeons rely on different cues to different extents.

Homing pigeon (Columba livia domestica) portrait. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)
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