There was an Old Man, on whose nose...
Lear had a genius for observing the unusual nature of his sitters
– Samuel Fanous, head of publishing at the Bodleian Library
I’m a winner: this study of a whitebellied cinclodes in Peru will feature in a complete collection of photographs entitled The World’s Rarest Birds
THIS STUNNING IMAGE of a displaying white-bellied cinclodes (Cinclodes palliatus) has won an international Critically Endangered bird competition.
Formidable: like many other very large species, shoebills only raise one youngster per nesting attempt
DISTURBING FOOTAGE HAS been shot of shoebill chicks (Balaeniceps rex) killing their siblings in Southern Africa. A BBC/Discovery film team watched a larger chick systematically harass, attack and ultimately kill a younger sibling, revealing why shoebills only ever produce one offspring. Director Alex Lanchester said: “This behaviour had previously been recorded in shoebills, but we hadn’t planned on seeing it. It’s very hard to watch. Especially watching the smaller chick trying to fend for itself, for example trying to shade under the grass and going to get water itself.”
This magical hobby: during a routine wild-bird survey in Middlesex, I enjoyed a marvellous encounter with two freshly fledged juvenile hobbies (Falco subbuteo). Instead of fleeing at the sight of me, they allowed me to approach to 25m, bobbing their head, staring comically into the sky and even scuttling about in the grass. Here’s one looking relatively sensible! Even when they flew off, they merely retreated to a nearby roof and sat there shouting at me. This wonderful falcon is a summer visitor to Britain, and a supremely acrobat flyer. It is my privilege to live and birdwatch near several traditional territories.
It reminds me of the recent week I spent in southern Spain with a group of friends. We rented a villa in the hills outside Malaga and watched Bonelli’s eagles do their stuff, while we quaffed large quantities of white Rioja. It was all very agreeable.
Monals are undoubtedly the most brilliantly garbed of all game birds, the metallic refl ections of their blue, purple, green and red hues being equalled only by those of the birds of paradise, sunbirds and hummingbirds. It is hard to decide whether or not monals are the fi nest of all pheasants, but they are certainly of outstanding interest .