This is the best photograph I’ve ever seen

Obviously, it’s not one of mine. First off, that would surely be the best photograph I’ve ever taken (although I suppose that technically it could fall into both categories if I was feeling particularly boastful) and secondly, it’s laughable anyway because mine aren’t anywhere near this standard. I am merely a microbiologist with a camera.

And I didn’t come up with this title on a whim, either. Sure, I was wowed when I first saw the photo, but it’s taken me a while to realise that I don’t think I’ve actually ever seen anything better.

So, step forward Steve Ward, nature photographer, and his mind-blowing photo of a diving gannet (Morus bassanus) just microseconds before it hits the water:

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Just. Wow.

What you might not realise is that this guy (the gannet, not Steve) is moving at anywhere up to 100kph. That’s 27.78 metres per second. And so I really wasn’t joking when I said that it was literally microseconds away from entering that glassy ocean. That’s what makes the photo all the more incredible for me: it’s not like the bird saw the camera and was like:

A photo? No, sure, that’s fine. Happy to help. I’ll just defy the forces of gravity for a while until you get your setup absolutely right. Must I smile? No? OK. Any time you’re ready then.

Because gannets are known to be particularly uncooperative in that regard.

That link above will take you to much more of Steve’s amazing work, lots of birds (some amazing owl pics) hares, voles and some lovely landscapes too. But this gannet still stands out as something rather special.

Many thanks to Steve for his permission to share this photo.

Name that bird

We were down at the Waterfront today, terrorising sealife in the aquarium, watching eco-friendly puppet shows and drinking chocolate milkshakes.
While I was enjoying a coffee at the pub [shurely shome mistake?], I spotted this little fellow, who later tried to defaecate on me. Despite consulting Sinclair, Hockey and Tarboton’s Birds of Southern Africa (which, after all, is where I are finding myself today), I have no idea what sort of bird this is – anyone able to accurately ID it for me, please?

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As there is nothing to relate the size to, I can tell you that it was about… this big. And it was only while reviewing the day’s photographs this evening that I noticed that it was ringed. I’m pretty sure that makes no difference to what species it is, though.

Answers on a postcard, please.
Or just leave a comment.