Focused Moments is on hiatus while I am travelling Down Under. In the meantime, I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
I am very excited today because the news has just gone public that I have won Surrey Life magazine’s calendar photography competition. Here’s a link to the announcement. My winning image is Evening Poppies (above) and it goes on the cover of the calendar. January’s image is also one of mine: Winter on Desborough Island. A further two have been requested for the exhibition at Denbies Wine Estate in January: Moonrise over Weybridge and Autumn at the Lake.
Today, I want to share a very special experience. Last week I had the pleasure of witnessing one of nature’s great Autumn spectacles, a murmuration of starlings. During Autumn and Winter, starlings flock together at twilight, performing amazing aerial ballets that attract more birds to the group until they descend, all together in a moment, to their roost for the night.
It starts with just a small group, circling in the sky in a way that seems to attract others.
Soon many more have joined, and fantastic shapes are created as they bank and wheel about.
This was a very small murmuration, with numbers in the low hundreds. Flocks in the thousands are seen at certain key locations in Britain at this time of year. Sadly, however, starling numbers nationally have fallen by 70% in recent years and they are now counted as a threatened species. For more information, see the RSPB’s website.
I feel very privileged to have seen this waning, natural wonder.
I have had a wonderful week of photography, with two full days out in the field with fellow enthusiasts, Jenifer Bunnett and Tony Antoniou. Conditions were perfect, with mist and patchy sun. On both occasions I visited Boldermere, a peaceful lake incongruously nestled in the crook of the M25’s junction with the A3. Each day was rounded off perfectly with one of nature’s most spectacular Autumn displays, a murmuration of starlings. Those shots will follow in another post soon. For now, a gentle panorama of this quiet, forgotten spot.
I have been outside all week, and am consequently very behind with visiting blogs. I will try to catch up soon, before we head off on our next big adventure, Down Under!
Jen and I enjoyed a wonderful shoot on Chatley Heath yesterday. For a short while, the sun burned through the early mist to cast its rays across the landscape. Chatley Heath is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and it is managed as a nature reserve by Surrey Wildlife Trust, a favourite charity of mine.
For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.
-Herman Hesse,Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte.