Looking out of the bathroom window a few mornings ago I saw a bobbing crested head of the first hoopoe of this year, crazily skewering ants on a path we had strimmed the day previously. A few days before there was a yak, yak, yak so familiar it took a while to realise that the wrynecks in the oak trees were back with us…in a matter of days the nightingales should be in full voice with orioles and our local bee eater squadron.
It is the repetition of these things year after year from which I draw comfort in this unpredictable, demon-haunted world as the late, much missed Carl Sagan called it. And just two days ago in the rain I found the first Italian orchids of this year – tiny rain-drenced specimens of The Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera).
And, guilt-ridden I did some shots for MYN (and have been doing a lot more) and thus changed from passive observer to active participant – my apologies, Niall and Clay for taking so long: thank you for your ‘forbearance’. At times I find my fragmented existence ‘confusing’ (poor old sod!…) other times it is stimulating to switch from writer to photographer, to tour leader and not forgetting occasional carpenter and cook! I hate starting something if I cannot do it properly and devote time to it.
I am putting this post up from Crete having found a decent internet connection – much better than Italy. I am back here for the first time in a decade – to run a private trip and also help with a conservation project about which more details soon. I’ll post about some finds soon. The island has a special draw for me since it was there in April 1974 that I accepted my path must change and that it made sense to follow my first love – natural history. It had something to do with arriving at a hotel after lengthy travel and going out in a storm… to find rain-beaten monkey orchids on the path.
One of the places in Italy which has the same effect on me is not too far away from us – about 2.5 – 3hr where flowers abound with the kind of numbers that fill a landscape and in 20 minutes I can take people from photographing Mediterranean orchids to a hillside where brilliant blue trumpet gentians dominate a scree slope. If I had not discovered the Sibillini – land of witches and necromancers (to say nothing of truffles) If you want to see more then you can download a 1.9MB pdf here.
I would have hesitated over coming to Italy if I had not been to Sibillini. It is timeless with the best walking I know and an abundance of plants, insects and birds…we shall be leading our annual visit there from and there are a few places left – details are on my website but I have also written a longer essay my paen of praise to a place where I just love spending days in meadows wandering and taking shots of anything and everything likely to make an appealing image.