Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Life's riches

click photo to enlarge
The other day I saw a pair of lapwings displaying above a field. I suppose they were nesting there, and as they performed their characteristic aerial acrobatics, all the while making their distinctive call, they looked like they were celebrating simply being alive. When I lived in Lancashire lapwings nested in the field behind my house, and across the nearby pastures and uplands. Such are the particular nesting requirements of lapwings, that where I live now, in Lincolnshire, I have to travel to the coastal salt-marsh and uncultivated land to see them. Or so I thought until, when cycling near home, I spotted this solitary pair over a ploughed area. I hope they are successful in their endeavours.

I've been interested in birds since I was ten or eleven years of age. It was my teachers at primary school who sparked my deep love of natural history. Each Friday we would walk into the countryside and be shown the trees, flowers, birds and any other wildlife that was at hand. We learned the names and something of the biology of these living things. That teaching stayed with me, and like the best teaching, spurred me to find out more for myself. It is no exaggeration to say that it enriched my life enormously. When I first became involved in education I was surprised at how little children knew of the wildlife around them, and I was thankful for the knowledge that my teachers had given to me all those years before. On one occasion I asked a group of ten year old children to write down for me all the flowers they knew by name. The only three wild flowers most could name were (perhaps unsurprisingly) the dandelion, daisy and buttercup. They knew more cultivated flowers, naming the daffodil first, followed by the poppy, the rose, and the tulip. Various other well known flowers made an appearance. I thought then, and I think now, that people who can't name, and don't know anything about the plants and animals around them miss so much. The simple act of going for a walk is much less interesting than it could be!

Today's photograph shows one of those more widely known flowers - the tulip. This one, that I photographed on a rainy afternoon, was past its best, its colours darkening prior to the petals falling off.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/100
ISO: 400
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On