Spiral. #35

Aiako Harria Parke Naturala. Basque. 30 March 2018

Watch rustling trees and shimmering lakeside, the striking backdrop of snow mountain shine. Finches flitter around empty summer benches, as the ever setting sun melts into the dark. 

Amble small roads blinded by Red Kite, soaring above this flat arid land. Field after field, growing in size but not feather; just machanical toiling and lingering dust.

Immature Golden Eagle flying all too serenely, seemingly out of place compared with before. But latitude and dispersal outweigh naive assumption, as territory gained helps breed life success. 

Spiralling roads meet defiant Griffon Vulture. Settled and earth bound: defending its prize. So close; so cold, its eyes look so empty, the ripping of flesh just its normal routine. 

Down steeper valleys and past new spring pasture; ever warming streams and too familiar song. Never enough time, but the promise of returning. On and on, a race to be run... 

Border. #34

Bragança. Norte. 27 March 2018

From neolithic heartlands, 'summer' home of the Tree Pipit, to empty mountain passes, 'dot' Eagle (sp.)  soaring high. The journey continues; ever upwards, ever onwards, so much to see, but too far to go. 

Bridge after bridge; spanning cold grey rock face: a mind driven plunge down icy cold water. Mile upon mile of endless black carbon, screaming burnt fingers for all to see.

Small remote villages: old men watch the passing; with Linnet and Goldfinch, their ever-present song. Whilst dogs chase the wheels; their teeth bared with malace, showing pent-up aggression to mirror their land. 

Place upon place, built around the Castelo. A ringing indictment of a more brutal past. Each fortification to repel the invader: but protecting life privilege and succession high-born. 

Above this landscape, unhindered by borders, the passage migration is gathering apace. From raptor to passerine, their need overwhelming. Day and night, their gamble consumes...

Unshackle. #33

Castelo de Vide. Alentejo. 24 March 2018

Moving on from the known to the unknown. A leap of faith and an unshackling of the mind. A change of scenery and certainty. Life on the open road.

A quest still there via small winding roads and tracks. Places to see, places that don't exist until they confront the eye. Fueling childhood passion, the natural world in all its glory. 

Feeding Azure-winged Magpie scraps in Alcoutim: a fair exchange for the enchantment and wonder given so freely, so easily. 

Lavajo Menhirs: you greywacke monoliths, decorated with carved patterns, the committed ancestors long gone. Erected five thousand years ago and now fenced in; from life dominating symbols to five minute sideshow. 

Migratory Lesser Kestrel in Mértola, flying above the castle walls. Ignored by the chatter below; but an endanged jewel, another one to be treasured, another one to save. 

Soaring Black Kite and in and around Castelo de Vide, deep in the Parque Natural Serra de São Mamede. Fleeting glimpses in the low cloud blanket. Never enough. 

And ever, the slow drift northwards. Into more mist cooled mountain villages and fertile lowland plains. Crossing regions and cultures. A drift back to normal abnormality... 

Great Spotted Cuckoo. #32

Sapal de Venta-Moinhos. Algarve. 21 March 2018

Where are you, you should be here by now; you always have been in the past. But not this year, not now, and I worry.

The rest are here; or never left this refuge from the crunching, mind numbing world beyond its borders, 'Reserva Natural'.

Black-winged Stilt bark at me like little yappy dogs before setting flight; their too long red legs trailing after them. But never going too far, just enough.

Corn Bunting in numbers I've never seen before. Every dead  'sitty' tree full of their 'jangling keys' call. The last to stop talking in the fast cooling night.

Endless groups of Greater Flamingo filter the water in ever scything motion: three different types of Egret feed stoically and steadily; in and around these ridiculous prancing show ponies.

Vulgar 'shouting' Spotless Starling share the trees with dainty 'twinkling' Serin: an odd mix, whilst above them swoop Pallid Swift and its commoner cousin. 

The Magpie is here, ready to start the arms race with you. You parasitise her nest and she's waiting. Another years battle, ready to commence. 

But I can't see you nor hear you. Not your usual constant flying, nor your gyrating call. Not your frequent ground hopping 'tail up' trait and fearless persona. Nothing. I can't see you, I can't hear you, I can't find you; because you're not here...


Harvest. #31

Ria Formosa. Algarve. 19 March 2018

As the gullies fill, the retreating shell-fishers clamber through the sour sticky mud, dragging their bounty behind them. Easing the weariness in old bones, straightening up once more into an upright world.
This void is replaced by opportunist waders rushing in to explore the human plough, time is of the essence; mud desolving, inevitably returning to the sea. 
In the ever deepening pools Spoonbill and Egret, white beacons in the gloom, avidly feed. One scything, one stabbing. Together but not in competition: horses for courses. 
The incoming tide releases the fry from their nurseries, the trigger for finned predators; patrolling the channels, silver-grey movement in packs.
Sea grasses are covered, transformed from dry rag to streaming siren. Enlarged and expanded, waving goodbye to the air world before the inevitable return.
Endless expanse of sea and sky, both robust and fragile: here forever, but so easily lost. An intertidal world refreshed twice a day; opportunity and refuge for the hunter and the prey...

Orchard. #30

Horta Grande. Silves. Algarve. 15 March 2018

The humming of night-time insects and the Blackbird dawn chorus are the blanket of soothing normality in this place of softly falling fruit. 

Serin, Sardinian Warbler, and Zitting Cisticola: all fill the midday void. Exotic for my homeland but not here; their calls over clear blue skys, a daily occurrence. 

A smattering of 'cabbage white' twinkling over ever growing brassica. A gathering of White Stork emptying each heavy row of 'caracol' with clinical, merciless, efficiency. 

Fields bounded by riverside reedbeds; hiding the never seen, but periodically heard  'exploding' Cetti's Warbler. And then silence. 

Cattle Egret joining Black-headed Gull in flight, unnerved by a marauding Booted Eagle patrolling its 'patch'. Silent and certain death from above. 

Glossy Ibis passing through; from whence to where unknown, but lifting thoughts and instilling wonder in a flightless earth bound  spirit. 

Afternoon blizzards of Hirundines flitter and feed in and above the regimented lines of fruit trees. Ignoring my presence in their all consuming need. 

Night-time draws in yet again on this sanctuary, my sanctuary. Once more observed activity is replaced by constant sound; as the humming of unseen insects begins...

Light. #29

Câmara Municipal. Silves. Algarve. 08 March 2018

It streams in unbidden but not unwanted. Cascading off darkened surfaces and opening hidden recesses.

Washing away the frightening night time places; so beloved by fear and caution. Chasing away doubt and foreboding, replacing with certainty and warmth. 

Expanding its enlightened reach and shrinking the dreaded unknown. A life giver, a life saver; a manifestation of both thought and deed.

Enveloping the tops; giving colour and substance to the massive walled dominance that subjugates all lesser far off lands .

Fingers slowly filling in the shadows, pushing through the cobblestones; illuminating the veiled streets below. 

Cutting through the valley mist that eminates from the slow tidal river. Pushing back her damp, clammy, cooling, unwanted breath. 

Running through the wild spaces and neishe places. Unseen and unwatched, but there nonetheless. A baton of anticipation; of action. A baton signalling lifes dawn chorus to begin...

Emma. #28

Faro Island. Algarve. 01 March 2018

The wind howls and the rain lashes across empty carparks. The island bridge is closed to traffic, enforced by a physical police car barrier.

Walking sideways, holding hats and 'inside out' umbrellas is the new way, the only way to see closed cafés and empty spaces.

Waders struggling to maintain direction in her grip. But with her they roar past, flashes of wingbars and plumage identifying different species. Here for a blink of an eye, and gone in a moment.

Gulls bouncing against the sky, moving from one gust to another. Obscured by mountainous seas and released up into the storm. Always moving. 

Hunkering down against never-ending onslaught, picked out in the gloom, Little Egret endure. Not feeding, just waiting, and waiting.

The setting sun brings no respite, no comfort. Still the wind howls and the rain lashes down.

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