Month: September 2016

Southern Hawker Dragonfly

Haze went up to Tessier Gardens yesterday and within minutes one of these was flying around the little pond.


A Southern Hawker dragonfly. Not uncommon, but mightily impressive. Almost double the size of the Red Darters we’d seen mating around the pond a couple of weeks ago,


Haze has made the wings yellower and less transparent than they are in reality.

This was a female. She was ovipositing her eggs not into the water, but onto the mossy stones around the pond.

A marvelous moment. Haze, hands shaking with excitement, was thrilled to have got these pictures with her mobile phone.


We’re going up again to Tessier Gardens on the weekend. To see if we can see, and film, this beauty again. Hope so.

Words: Ian Nisbet; Photos & Drawing: Hazel Brown

Zoos Blues

We got plenty of cuddly cute value out of Paignton Zoo (see the other vid)
But, at times, we were also feeling a bit chastened, and saddened.

Paignton Zoo is not shabby. They keep their animals well fed and watered.

But it’s not possible to see the solitary cheetah cooped up in its little pen and not feel dismayed; where’s it’s mate? where can it sprint?
It’s lonely life seems redundant, pointless.

And the rhinos. Hardly any left in this world. We’re rapidly slaughtering them into extinction.
The safest places for them appear to be locked away in zoos.
These rhinos look at you with their ears. And they hardly seem to be there at all. As still as soft stone. Forlornly disappearing into their within, sorry for themselves almost. Bereft.

In the vid I’ve also included a weary emu; close up, s/he seemed comical at first, but slowly became parodic, pathetic.

There’s plenty of harmless fun to be had in a zoo.
But there’s also much sorrow.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

Nicey nicey Zoo zoo

Off to Paignton Zoo today (last time i visited was 2009; for Haze it was more than 20 years ago)

There were lots of Gold Medal Moments

A couple of 3 month old lion boy cubs tumbling about, pestering their nice dad (Lucifer)
A tiger cub bouncing between her mom (Shakira) and dad (Fabi).
Meerkats squabbling under a spot lamp.
An emu’s lidded eyes (see next post/vid)
A pure white albino lechwe sat still up on the hill.
An anaconda sloughing off its skin underwater.
A emperor tamarins tufty tufts.

The sweetest moment was saved till last: the red panda.
We had to wait for him/her to wake up and climb down out of his/her fir tree. A keeper had come and stuck bamboo in the top of the roof hut. The sleeping panda, awakes, friskily climbs and circles, racing across right in front of us.

Then we went and had one last look at those little lions cubby bubbing about so cutely.

Here’s the vid.

We were in the zoo all day (5 hours plus)

Come the end, Haze was still bubbing about. Like a cheeky lion cub.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

Her Ladders of Death


This common spider
weaves her web of tensile steel
Dewdrop ladders..thin threads
Outwit the wasp, the fly..
Outwitting all who stumble by.

Long silvered cables stretch
Across the unwary eye.
Stuck..sticky stretches of
A wished for prize…
Wrapped ..stung..sucked dry.

Satisfied..smug in her dull brown coat
Full bellied, pompous ..prim,
She attends her ladders of death
As September sunbeams warm her prey!

Drawing & Poem: Hazel Brown

Torre Abbey

Over to Torre Abbey to look in the gardens for butterflies. But the day is too dull. And anyway, the Abbey could be interesting.

It was. We spent all afternoon in there. Impressive seeing all the innovative ways used to animate the exhibits: a ghostly holographic model; video monologues of various medieval characters associated with the Abbey; a large white dining table set out with filmed recordings of Lord and Lady Torre, Horatio Nelson, et al speaking out of their silver platters; monks chanting their plaintive plainsongs.

In addition there was a gallery of Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones sketches for a set of windows depicting the ‘Planets’; and a collection of plaster reliefs, busts, statues and bronzes of the Victorian sculptor Frederick Thrupp.

An amusingly animated afternoon.

Words & Video: Ian Nisbet

The Chagford Clangers

It’s Haze’s unofficial birthday today (birthday not actually until Monday)

We’ve driven down to Kingswear and gone up a dry creek (without a paddle, or wellies)

There’s been some top class Hazey waving at puff puff trains again.

There was a big seal chomping down mackerel by the quay; unfortunately, we were ferrying over to Dartmouth so I couldn’t see him/her very clearly.

Church bells had been clamouring away all afternoon. Why? Turns out it was a bell ringing competition in St Saviour church: the 8 Bell Final featuring teams of local campanologists.

Here I am swaying around and around to the Chagford Ringers (or Clangers). Made me go all swirly giddy them did.

(Ear muffs will be required when listening to this vid).

I don’t know if Chagford were victorious though.

But they won my Gold Medal Moment of the afternoon award.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet.

The Rooks Flyjoy

I’ve posted quite a few films of the rooks/jackdaws that fly into town every night.

This is what they were up to last night. Hundreds of them circling and dancing around, totally appropriating the sky above.

As if showing off. As if not wanting to go to bed.

And then, just as the evening turns dimpsy, they turn in, furiously rocketing into the alders, squawking and squabbling over who gets the best branch to sleep on.

This was one of the best ‘flyjoys’ I’ve witnessed here.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

Dragonflies mating in Tessier Gardens

Finally, what we’d been waiting for arrived – the sun!

So now we can get over to that little pond, for sure enough, here they are, flying about.

Dragonflies. Red Darters. Dozens of them. Flitting around like helicopters.

Males looking for females. And when they find females they are locking the ladies in.

Into a heart. Grabbing the girls around the neck and joining them fast to their ‘ovipositors’; then aggressively yanking these hapless females around the pond, dipping and dunking them into the water, trying to get them to deposit their eggs (holding fast, so as to prevent other likely lads shunting their sperm in)

I was only hoping to see one or two again, to supplement the fleeting footage I’d got yesterday afternoon with a bit more fleeting footage – of the beating of wings hovered over the lily pads in the pond.

But I got much much more! This was being extraordinary. I was totally transfixed, as locked on to the whole spectacle as the males were locked on to their females. It was intensely absorbing, exhilarating. I shot about 55 minutes of vid clips, of which this film is just the merest 4 minutes.

We were made up me and Haze. We’d just witnessed, and experienced, and shared, yet another Gold Medal Moment together!

Words & Vid : Ian Nisbet

Squirrel in the Sun Temple

We were up to Tessier Gardens this morning, trying to chase after the sun.

Sat in sun temple eating our brown bacon baps, waiting.

Waiting for the sun to re-appear from behind a grey blanket of cloud.

Not waiting for this squirrel to show up. But I’m glad she did.

She was glad she showed up too. Stuffed herself with bap!

Vid & Words: Ian Nisbet