Andrew Berry,who teaches and advises students at Harvard, is an old friend of mine. He’s also a great photographer, has traveled widely, and now favors us with a few of what he calls his “holiday snaps”. The commentary is also his. Click to enlarge.
Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica). Flannan Islands, Scotland. June 2008. The Flannans are among the most remote of the UK’s islands, lying NE of St Kilda and some 20 miles W of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Since the automation of the lighthouse in 1971, the islands receive very few visitors. A grand, lonely place to be on bright Scottish summer afternoon.
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus). Great Saltee Island, Ireland. June 2008. There is a small and easily accessible gannetry on Gt Saltee; perfect late afternoon conditions when I was there. Gannets are the most magnificent of all N Atlantic birds; it’s a special thrill to see them hunting fish, arrowing vertically into the ocean.
Here’s a YouTube video of gannets fishing (I don’t think they’re Northerns because of the plumage, but the hunting technique is the same). Amazing what natural selection can do: they go completely underwater, emerge avec poisson, and then take off again.
Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus). Serengeti, Tanzania. Jan ’09. A group of four young siblings took a shine to a safari vehicle as a vantage point; makes a change, I suppose, from termite mounds. They look positively domestic sprawled on the roof of the vehicle, but I saw the same group in action a couple of hours later, and ‘domestic’ was not the term that came to mind. Certainly the Thomson’s gazelle they took down (with assistance from a fifth, the mother; see below) was not given much opportunity to be confused on the issue.
Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). I was about to head out of the house a month or so ago, when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something hurtling earthwards in my neighbour’s back garden. Turned out that what I’d witnessed was the demise of a squirrel. The hawk was unfazed by my approach, camera in hand: no way on earth was I going to displace him/her from his/her squirrel meal.