Birds, zebras and hydrants (among other things!)

I was reproached last week by an old friend who has recently–[fairly recently, I might add]—become a reader of this blog.  She told me that the anger that I feel inside of me is palpable in the words I write; in fact, it’s too strong.  I guess that she didn’t have to be over-preceptive to detect that, and as I no longer have a live-in toner-down of what I write, I do tend to go overboard sometimes.  And yes, I do get angry from time to time, mainly as a result of the actions and the inaction of politicians and the general way in which in a democracy, many of them are incapable of seeing past the next election.  Still, I think I prefer to be in that situation rather than to suffer what unfortunates in dictatorships have to live through.  Nevertheless, having written that, as I was walking home through the park this morning, as is their wont, my eyes fell upon a sign, which, for the non-Hebrew readers of this blog, reads: “Danger! Constructing a Dictatorship here!”

Notwithstanding aberrations such as thuis, as I wrote over five years ago when I began writing this blog, I’m basically a likable and essentially a happy individual (I hate to think of myself as a chap)—it’s just that as I grow older, unlike some fruit and other things, I appear not to mellow and I feel increasingly frustrated with many events that are happening around me and over which I have no influence whatsoever.

At any rate and come what may, I’ve decided to refrain from any further comments on Israel’s upcoming election and the people and parties contesting it——at least until after the coalition talks appear to be concluding and then, who knows what?  So what do I do meanwhile?  Well, I revert to the aims I set out with over five years ago, i.e., use the blog as an outlet for some of my photographs.  As  I wrote then, “… an SW photography blog — something where I could show and explain some of the many images I have taken over the past few years”.  And now, to my horror, I find that I have 44,000 to choose from, which, in itself, means that I’ve got a lot work to do thinning these out or else the new disk that was installed recently on my computer will be full before I know it!  So that being the case, I’ll use the next few weeks at least to mix some recent photographs (taken over the 10 days or so prior to each post) with some of my favourites from through the years, with short appropriate comments on why I took the photo and what there is to see in it.

So as the announcer on the BBC Light Programme used to say 70 years ago at a 1.45 p.m. for Listen With Mother, “If you’re sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin.”

It’s a Tuesday morning but two days ago, at breakfast, I looked out of the kitchen window and saw a small bird perched on the railings. There was nothing particularly unusual about that; birds often fly in and then fly out.  This one—I think it’s a wagtail—didn’t fly out and it’s been there for three days already!

Not being sure what to do to convince the birdie that I would prefer that s/he not hang around, I thought that it might be hungry so I took a Pringle’s potato crisp from the packet (I very occasionally indulge) and put it on the window ledge.  The little thing  pecked and pecked until it had bite-sized pieces to match, consumed them in front of my very eyes and then looked at me longingly as if to ask for more.

Later in the morning, when I came into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, s/he was still there and then as I sat at the table, I heard a “ratatattat”, which continued without any discernible rhythm and I looked up to see the nudnik (because that was it was rapidly becoming) pecking away at the window.   And when I went to look, I saw that not only was there a “ratatattat” but the little pieces of Pringle’s that s/he had pecked down to size, after which it had flown off for a few minutes to help its digestion, had flown back only to leave on the window ledge a generous deposit that perhaps had been Pringle’s so that in addition to the ratatattat, there was a generous helping of shittyshatshat!

By afternoon, the knocking was still going on.  Where this tiny being found the energy to peck away at the window is beyond me; there’s obviously no word for “glass” in Wagtailese.  In short, it was beginning to get the better of me.  And then I hit on the idea of closing down the kitchen blinds.  Alright — that meant that I would have to turn on the lights but maybe it might have stopped the little bugger from looking in.  And when I returned to the kitchen a little later and peeped through the blinds, there was nothing there and I regarded myself as triumphant.

No way!  Next morning, there s/he was again going through same act.  Not only that, but while flying off to take a break from looking in through the kitchen window, s/he returned with two friends and there were now three of them outside the window.  So I was left with no alternative but to close the blinds again and hope that the issue might have vanished.

It hadn’t, in that today (Tuesday) the third day, there she was again.  Note that I have applied a gender to the bird not because I know how to distinguish between the male and female of the species but because I was convinced that no male bird would have brought two buddies to stare in through the window at an aging male member of the human species.  (And if you think that the birdie is sweet just from looking at the photographs, I beg to differ!)

However, I decided to put the male/female issue to the test.   So after my shower this morning, having dried myself, I went into the kitchen wrapped only in a bath towel.  I waited until she looked at me face to face and then I dropped the towel briefly (ensuring in the process that I was visible only to Winny Wagtail and not to any of the neighbours).  And imagine my shock when this bird, which had hitherto just sat and shat, suddenly perked up and went into an ecstatic frenzy, wings fluttering at an incredible speed as she flew up and down in the small space between the bars and the window, feathers flying all over the place.  I’d never had much success with birds before and never such an effect on one—and I didn’t even have the camera to record this little incident.  Were I a Buddhist and a believer in reincarnation, where the soul of a person transmigrates to another body after death, I might have thought something else… but unfortunately, this is not the case.

And these weren’t the only bird pictures of note this week. (Somehow, in the general absence of people doing “interesting” or just mundane things, I seem to have a plethora of avian photographs.  Anyway, last week walking home after a morning walk to the sea and back, I came across three crows perched on a bar near the first playground I encounter on entering the park (which is, coincidentally, the last one on the way home.  Normally, three crows don’t interest me and in general, crows have little to commend them.  However, I noticed that one of them had a twig in its beak so I got the birds into focus.  Then, the two unencumbered ones flew off and the crow with the twig remained and, more importantly, remained in focus.

Knowing that these birds don’t generally remain still for long periods, I just waited with the object of my interest in focus until the decisive moment arrived, which is when I got the picture I wanted!


So much for the past week.  However, as I had promised some older favourite photos, I wondered when I took my first picture of a fire hydrant. It turns out that with the exception of one below, which I took on weekend trip to Pennsylvania with an older friend in the summer of 1978 and which I kept all the years because, kitschy though it is, I liked it …

… the first one I took in the “modern era” dates from February 2008.  Long since passed on to wherever ancient fire hydrants are disposed of, I find that I’m attracted to these things because I see faces in them.  This one at Tel Aviv Port, and this is what attracted me, just looked so old and sad that I had to record the picture and I photographed it several times as the rust caused its demise and destroyed any “life” that had been in it.  And once I had detected the “faces” that are part and parcel of the character of the fire hydrants, I was up and running and now have a “collection”about 1,500 of them.

Tel Aviv Port, February 2008

However, there is a problem in that I tend to see faces everywhere and in all sorts of places you don’t expect to see them!

Chocolate Yogurt top





I’m not what you think I might be!!!!!


Corporate Man, City of London

It’s not just fire hydrants that have attracted me.  Although most of the photos I took before I retired pretended to hav some sort of didactic logic to them, there were some that were just decent photos, was photos go.

Jerusalem. Pre-Six-Day War, 1966. High density living

Then, years ago I was fascinated by this road sign that appeared on Parkhill Road, in Belsize Park, in London.  What could it mean?



A visit to the zoo and little manipulation of the image solved the issue for me …

Humped-back zebra 

and eventually led to the image below,

Humped-back zebra crossing

And several of the photos found their way into the “book” that I wrote with grandchildren in mind.

Faces on the Street Draft 4 March 2018

Bottoms Up!!!

Regent’s Park, London

And by the way, in case anybody’s interested, the little birdie is still at the kitchen window — and it’s 16.30 on Tuesday afternoon!



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