AirToob Lightning

Tags  →  wildlife

Photo by the wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas, whose other work is well worth exploring

Thanks to ChrystalStars, whose beautiful pages were just what I needed to cheer me up!

´Whirlpool´ embroidery detail by Annemieke Mein, a Dutch-born Australian textile artist
who specialises in depicting wildlife.

Found on another great art resource.

Liz Bonnin is a great (and beautiful) ambassador for wildlife conservation, the environment, and science.

One way in which she demonstrated this was in BBC3's superb series Mission Galapagos (follow the link if you would like to read my article about it).

Such ambassadors have never been needed more than now.

The image comes from a post about a wildlife conservation event created by wildlife and landscape artist Francesca Sanders (whose work is well worth checking out).

A very nice image of some of The 12 Apostles in the Port Campbell National Park, by the Australian nature photographer and book author Steve Parish - click the image for his interesting information about the place

The beautiful white tigress (one of only about 1,200 white tigers left in the world) who mated with a white lion (one of only about 300 left in the world) to produce 4 white "liger" cubs, who are mega-cute and also the rarest big cats on the planet.

(Click the image for links on this story)

Thanks to blacksock for this one!

Mission Galapagos

Liz Bonnin in the superb BBC 3-part series Galapagos, a beautiful and informative documentary

Mission Galapagos was a high-tech science expedition to examine what the Galapagos Islands can tell us about evolution and the effect of climate change on wildlife.

The islands, located in the Pacific about 1000km west of Ecuador, are not a place for Creationists to think about (doing so would fry their brains).

One of many things we learn is how the islands were formed (and are still being formed), how long this has taken, and why they are so different from each other.

It turns out that the islands sit on the Nazca tectonic plate that acts like a conveyor belt, trundling very slowly eastwards (at around 58km per million years), passing over a magma hot-spot below. This hot-spot constantly generates new volcanos as the plate moves eastwards, which rise above sea level to become new islands. Eventually the volcanic islands leave the hot-spot and cool so that they develop lush vegetation, and finally disappear underwater again (as the plate slides downward beneath the South America Plate) to become submerged mountains.

The Mission Galapagos science team visit one of the most awesome and dangerous dive spots in the world...

...Darwin's Arch, where scuba divers must descend quickly through strong currents to the relative safety of the rocky sea bed (click either image above for photo source)...

...and where hammerhead sharks (globally endangered) congregate in vast numbers for a mating ritual
(photo by Simon J Pierce, click image for photo source)

Among many other animals investigated was the astonishing marine iguana, living above and below water,
which has evolved so that the same animal can shorten its length in hard times
(Click the image for photo source and to read more about the expedition.)

There was much to enjoy in this documentary, whether above ground, underground or underwater. Some people, sadly, may never get to see it. American networks were very reluctant to show the final episode of Sir David Attenborough's Frozen Planet, because it showed "controversial" evidence of the effect of climate change at the Poles. What Bible Belt America and Trump America will make of Mission Galapagos, should they get to see it, is anyone's guess.

It is not only in America that Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) is under threat. There have recently been massive worldwide “Marches for Science”, protesting against “a global political assault on facts”. Anyone who doubts the significance of this is invited to peruse my Trump Diaries.

Liz Bonnin is one of my personal heroes in what is genuinely a fight against the forces of darkness. Her scientific background (she is a biochemist and Wild Animal Biologist, among other things) and her personality make her a very effective ambassador for STEM.

In the UK, as elsewhere, it was realized some time ago that disrespect for STEM would cost the country dear if not reversed. One of the first shots in achieving that was the successful BBC Series Bang Goes The Theory, where I first saw Liz in action.

Now young people (and especially girls) are being actively encouraged to take an interest in STEM.

Sadly, the USA is cursed with an anti-science (and anti-reality) President who seems bent on undermining the US's science and technology base, with untold consequences - but that's another story.

If you like this...

[My environment and technology page]

A beautiful image by the Austrian photographer Franz Pazdera

One of many beautiful things to be found on the fine pages of Jilli. Do visit her if you haven't already!

What I particularly appreciate about her blog is the information that accompanies each image, something which is much appreciated.

“Morning Stillness” © by lighttrouve (Russell Tomlin) - one of many fine examples of his work, which include some wonderful landscapes and abstract photography

Lisbon, September 2015 - Lisbon Oceanarium

[Lisbon visit continued from Part 2]

The Lisbon Oceanarium (location in the centre of this map) is said to be one of the best in the world. It is located on the banks of the Tagus (which the locals pronounce somewhat like a sneeze), which is enormously wide at this point, being crossed nearby by the 12km long Vasco da Gama Bridge.

The Ocenarium is is organized as 4 "oceanic ecosystems" around a huge central tank. This is the Antarctic...

I had to look twice before I saw the bird!

The Temperate Pacific kelp forests... I have always had a weakness for sea otters, since I once saw them in the wild like this off Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey, California. The Lisbon Oceanarium's sea otters are famous, apparently.

If you like sea otters, too, don't miss this video of an otter giving itself a massage which was shot here...

The Tropical Indian coral reefs

The big central "ocean" is accessed on two levels. We're looking down at a school party on the lower level. The Lisbon Oceanarium has all kinds of educational activities, many of them especially for children (e.g. “sleeping with sharks”, a different kind of pajama party!).

Down at the lower level

The inhabitants are hand-fed on a very scientific diet, designed to keep them healthy and avoid one species feeding on another. In the case of the sharks (no photos - sorry) hand feeding is done at the end of a very long plastic pole! Very interesting video shown in the lower level theatre about all this...

One of the nice features is that the big "ocean" is ringed by natural-looking grottos, which you can look through from outside

Outside the Oceanarium, on the way to a very good (and cheap) fish food restaurant

The area surrounding the Oceanarium looks really interesting (e.g. see “Sights Nearby” here) - worth a day in its own right

If you like this...

[Index of all my photoblogs]

Sea Turtles in Danger

From “Protecting Honu” - the green turtle of Hawaii

From “Sea Turtle Endangerment

My spouse wanted to sketch turtles for a project of hers during our recent visit to the Lisbon Oceanarium. We didn't see any on that occasion (possibly because they weren't there) but we learnt about the danger they are facing from marine debris in the ocean, in particular from plastic bags, which can take 1,000 years to degrade.

In Britain, the use of one-trip plastic bags has thankfully decreased considerably over recent years, and in a few days' time all large shops in the UK must start charging for them. The problem, however, will take a long, long time to go away. Let's not add to it any more...

If you like this...

[A nice advertising video with green turtles to chase away those winter blues]

A beautiful animated tribute to Cecil, speedpainted by Aaron Blaise

Click the text below for a lot more...

Thanks to my younger daughter for this one!

“Lost in Thought”

“Little Indians”

Wonderful photography by Ellen-OW (Eleonore Swierczyna), whose full portfolio is well worth checking out

I found this (as so many other good things, click her tag!) on the fine pages of Toetie.

“Playful Friends”, a watercolour by Christelle Grey, a South African now living in Australia

... featured on the site of The Wildlife Art Society of Australasia (also well worth visiting)

Indian Scops Owls brood of young © by the Dutch photographer Peter Otten

Thanks to my younger daughter, who knows that I have some sort of relationship with owls... (see the owls tag...)

BTW, if you ever read “My Family and Other Animals” by Gerald Durrell, it was a baby Scops owl that he found as a young boy and smuggled home. One of my all-time favourite books!

“Facebook Update” © by the wildlife photographer Marsel van Oosten, whose other work (as that of other photographers featured on the page) is well worth checking out.

Another great share from Gatorindo (David) (I really recommend clicking his tag above, as well as visiting his pages).

Nice desktop wallpaper, probably taken in Bay of Islands, New Zealand... reminds me of the great time we had here on the Florida Keys.

Wonderful photography © by our own 007Sue1

"Eagle's flight", a White-Tailed Eagle in the Czech-Moravian Highlands, © by the Czech photographer Zdenek Ondrasek

One of many treasures to be found on the fine pages of Toetie.

“Monkeys in Pashupatinath - the largest Hindu temple complex, located on either side of the Bagmati river on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu, capital of Nepal.

“Pashupatinath is considered the most important temple of Shiva in the world... Pashupati is an incarnation of the Hindu Lord Shiva as "Lord of animals", so the monkeys feel very comfortable with this complex of temples, and live their own lives paying virtually no attention to the pilgrims coming here.

“In the background you can make out the outlines of one of the 108 temples of Shiva Lingam, located in the temple complex...”

—adapted from an automatic translation of information provided by the photographer, Anton Yankovoy (whose other work is well worth checking out) and Wikipedia

*Broken link fixed!*

A wonderful surreal film by Nicolas Devaux, whose other work is well worth checking out, e.g. here

(My personal prize for the most cretinous comment seen so far this year on YouTube, an award for which there is fierce competition, goes to the person who saw a few minutes of this film and triumphantly announced that it was "a fake".)

Thanks to romancinme and ensemble5 for this one!

From the National Trust Knightshayes:

“Some of the lovely wild art created over the weekend in one of our 50 things before you're 11¾ themed acivities:”

Click the picture, or go here, to see the rest of the wild art from these activities

(the "50 Things" referred to are featured in my previous post)

"Two lives, one leaf" - author unknown

Found on the very fine pages of Toetie.

Once in a while, we are lucky enough to get a movie that provides an experience like no other. Last year, for me, that was Hugo. This year it was Life of Pi, directed by Ang Lee.

Apart from being a great story of spirituality and adventure, the movie contains what must be among the most beautiful images ever seen in the cinema, and some of the most awe-inspiring visions of the ocean in all its moods and variety. Like Hugo, it can't be fully appreciated except on the big screen, and like Hugo it really needs 3D.

Not to be missed!


If you're interested in the technology of film making, Scot Byrd of Rhythm & Hues Studios corrected an article in Time Magazine as follows:

Just to be clear, motion capture was not used in "Life of Pi." Key frame animation was the technique employed by the digital artists at Rhythm & Hues, the visual effects company responsible for production of the computer-generated animals in "Life of Pi." (R&H also created the photorealistic skies and oceans during the open ocean scenes. London's Moving Picture Company - MPC - was responsible for the shipwreck sequence.)

Motion capture technique uses sensors to capture a single performance, usually performed by a human being. (Imagine putting motion sensors on a living tiger!) Key frame animation works like puppetry inside the computer. The animator sets a pose, which the computer remembers as a key frame. The performance is created as the artist sets a multitude of key frames/poses and the computer moves the character rig from pose to pose to pose.

The origins of key frame animation go back to traditional 2D cell animation, as seen in any Disney animated feature going all the way back to Steamboat Willie, followed by most Saturday morning cartoon shows and the modern animated incarnations up to and including those produced by Pixar, Dreamworks Animation, BlueSky, et al.

For Rhythm & Hues, the actual line of ascension runs from the Coca Cola Polar Bears to "Babe", "Cats & Dogs", "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe", "The Golden Compass", "Alvin and the Chipmunks" to "Life of Pi."

While it may seem an academic distinction, in the world of animation, the key frame technique has a long tradition, and the artists who have spent a lifetime developing their craft deserve their recognition. The added challenge and critically acclaimed success of melding photorealistic, computer-generated characters with photorealistic computer-generated environments demonstrates just how groundbreaking the technology and artistry of "Life of Pi" is.

If you like this...

[My movies page]

"Who goes there?" from an original painting by the wildlife artist Roy Chaffin

Roy sent me this picture recently as an electronic Christmas Card. I am lucky enough to receive one of his paintings each year in this way, and thereby hangs a tale (which you can read here if you are interested, especially if you like aircraft or flight simulation).

(Meerkats, BTW, feature in a surreal and beautiful sequence in that awesome movie, Life of Pi - if you haven't seen it then I highly recommend it!)

A beautiful fox picture (author unknown), one of a set shared by Elegantlady - thanks, Roberta!

It's been raining here for what seems like forever... I wish it would snow!

And if by any chance you haven't seen it already, don't miss...

[The funniest, coolest Christmas video ever]

The author, Troy Lim, writes:

"This was taken in December 2010 during my first trip to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. It took me four days, waiting in the cold weather an hour before sunrise. On the fourth day, everything fell together. The gorgeous sunrise, wind direction, and snow geese all took off right in front of my lens. "

The author, James Haskins, writes:

"This bear had been fishing in the river on this morning. It climbed onto the bank and laid down in the grass. This photo was taken about an hour after sunrise just as the sun was starting to clear the trees. The temperature was near the dew point and steam was rising off its body. It didn’t seem at all concerned by the fishermen in the river or the photographer on the bank."

If you like this...

["Bear Feet" by Bill Lockhart - Grizzlies snoozing in the sun]

From the page:

This young barn owl is one in a million after being born with a rare genetic condition that has made her feathers jet black.

Sable, who is two years old, suffers from melanism, a 100,000-to-one gene mutation that makes her the exact opposite to an albino.

Dark-hued owls are normally killed at birth by their confused mothers but Sable was born in captivity and so she survived, meaning she is one of only three in existence in Britain.


This is the current avatar of Toetie, a lady from the Netherlands (and another SU refugee) whose pages are filled with great art.

This marvelous site provides free ambient sounds, with your own mixer desk to customize them, in a whole range of categories, many of them very relaxing, and often educational as well.

You can listen to them online, or for a small charge you can download the audio (after you have customized it, if you like).

If you don't like this one (you can turn off the lion's snore if it's too unnerving!) try Summer Forest, with bird song, animal calls and a gentle wind sound, or choose from a huge number of others.

(The image above is actually my composite of one of the images from the site and its mixer desk.)

Thanks to Elegantlady (Roberta) for another of her many generous and excellent shares.

A wonderful bird portrait by the Thai photographer Navin Nowvapong, whose other work is well worth checking out

"Sheewa IV", one of many beautiful wildlife pictures by the Russian photographer and nature enthusiast Lilia Tkachenko

(Original post: August 26th, 2010)

A wild-long tailed macaque monkey has adopted an abandoned kitten at Ubud's Monkey Forest in Bali.

There are 6 amazing and heartwarming photos here.

"Moon, Bird and Tree" by Carlos Gotay Martinez, an excellent photographer with many themes

I found it on this nice collection of unusual bird photos

(Original post: July 14th, 2010)

"Petrified sand dunes and reflection, Paria Canyon - Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona" by Jack Dykinga

"Twilight of the Giants - African elephants at twilight, Chobe National Park, Botswana" by Frans Lanting

From a collection that represents a wide range of styles and genres and spans over 100 years of the history of photography, nominated and chosen by members of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP), a fellowship of the world's top professional conservation photographers.

(Original post: May 16th, 2009)

"Spirit of the Jaguar" by the wildlife artist Roy Chaffin

Roy sent me this picture last year as an electronic Christmas Card. I am lucky enough to receive one of his paintings each year in this way, and thereby hangs a tale.

Roy is not only a talented wildlife artist, he is also one of the brightest stars on the Flight Simulator horizon. He and a small team of equally talented people, collectively R.C.S. Panels, produced among other things one of the best aircraft/panel combinations for Microsoft Flight Simulator that there have ever been.

The picture below is not a painting. It is the flight sim model of the R4D, a military version of the DC-3 aircraft. You can walk around it, get in it and sit down in one of the most amazingly realistic cockpits ever produced for the flight sim, and fly it. Whether you view it from inside or outside as you fly, it looks, sounds and behaves like the real plane. And it is freeware - a true labour of love, the result of countless hours of dedicated, unpaid work.

Roy and his team supported aircraft restoration projects at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum (MAAM), Pennsylvania, with a "donationware" CD containing a special collection of flight sim models. I made a small donation... and have received a wonderful Christmas card from Roy ever since.

BTW: Roy has some interesting views on what has happened recently to Microsoft, which you can read if you click the aircraft picture.

[MAAM's "World War II Weekend" with restored aircraft, attended by Roy Chaffin]
[The R4D flight sim package with details of cockpits]
["Fantasy of Flight", Florida, an amazing collection of privately restored aircraft]
[My "Flight Simulator" page]

"Rockface Descent"

"Ocean Rhapsody - Killer Whale"

Wonderful wildlife paintings by Robert Bateman

There is some excellent information from the artist that goes with each of these pictures - click the images and you will see what I mean.

Bio details of the artist [from]:

"Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1930, Robert Bateman was a keen artist and naturalist from his early days. Bateman painted wildlife and wilderness in a representational style until his teens when he began to interpret nature using a variety of contemporary styles including post-impressionism and abstract expressionism. In the early 60s, Bateman rediscovered realism and began to develop the style that would make him one of the foremost artists depicting the world of nature. In the 70s and early 80s, Bateman's work began to receive critical acclaim and to attract an enormous following...

"He was commissioned by the Governor General of Canada to do a painting as the wedding gift for HRH The Prince Charles from the people of Canada. His work is also included in the collections HRH The Prince Philip, the late Princess Grace of Monaco and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands..."

I was introduced to this artist by my friend bonbonnie (Bonnie) - see here for her own choice from this artist. Thanks, Bonnie!

"Red Shouldered Hawk", a truly wonderful photo by Cary Maures

Thanks to my friend skip2mylou for this one.

"Bear Feet" © by Bill Lockhart

I have a weakness for bears! If I were a bear, and a big bear too, I would like to add myself to this warm pile of fur and snooze the afternoon away...

Thanks to serendipity7 (Raine) for leading me to this great wildlife and landscape photographer.

A penny for your thoughts...

taken by Natalie Manuel.

P.S. It's hard not to believe that we are somehow related, especially if you compare this photo to "Childhood" below...