Posts By Falk

Kestrel nest

A hot tip from a photographer in one of my Facebook groups (thanks Thomas!) gave me the pleasure of visiting a kestrel nest from relatively close up.At first the nest box was deserted, because the “little ones” are already quite big and are already flying around. The whole family was sitting on the roofs all around. I think I counted 5 animals.

I lay down behind a bush for 20 minutes, opposite the box, and at least two came by. You a see how tense and  concentrated the youngsters still are, when flying. The morning would be the right time to take photos there, because then you would have the sun at your back… but you have to work. 

Beautiful animals and somehow there is a connection: I’m buying an “e” and would like to fly with it.

Barn swallows hunting

Honestly, this is the hardest thing I have tried to photograph so far. Swallows in flight. Small, as fast as an arrow and always hooking. Neither my hardware, or time nor my skills are sufficient. Here are a few “snapshots”, because there is no other way. Keep your eyes on it if you can, hope, pray and push the shuttler. 99% of the output was blurry or the bird was already far out of the picture. To make matters worse, clouds came up and the light faded. I wonder if that would be a case for a light barrier. But how to get this positions over a lake about 10m wide? No, I will need more than 30 Minutes of time and better light and probably a camera that can do more than 6 frames per second.

At least, thanks to the use of some AI tools, you can still see something in the pictures. I think I have a new task. So this is not a quality post rather than a call to action, to do it better next time.

The thief in the cherry tree

A raven black with clever eyes,
in the neighbor’s garden flies.
There stood a tree so proud and grand,
with cherry fruits in sunlight’s band.

With cunning gaze and swiftest flight,
he took a fruit, a quick delight.
One bite, two bites – sweet and bright,
soon the tree was bare in sight.

This was chatGPT not me!
I swear I can do it better,
if I only had the time to type those kind of letters.

I promised to come up with a pretty post, after those alien insects. 😉

 

Great Capricorn Beetle

Back on the artificial turf field at BSC where Josh found the head and remains of a stag beetle a week earlier, this time the front part of a large Capricorn beetle was lying. And when I say big, I mean it! Wiki say it reaches up to 55mm length, but this was definitely of a bigger scale. The shocking thing was that he was still alive, even though everything from the wings downward was missing.

I picked him up and he held on tightly to my finger and sat him on the edge of the hockey rink. Let’s be honest: The animal looks like alien queen from Aliens. The next picture will be something nice again… I promise.

 

Stag beetle

There are animals that you only see a few times in your life. My first encounter with a stag beetle was at a tennis tournament when I was probably 14 years old. I hit the ball… at least that’s what I thought, but there was a large stag beetle sitting on the fence, rearranging its limbs in a somewhat disturbed manner. During Corona we discovered one in the forest and then yesterday… he or better she came padding towards me in the middle of the road, because no antlers means it’s a female. The lady wasn’t shy at all and then obediently let me sit her down in the next bush. However, I was so taken aback by the encounter that I once again didn’t adjust the camera correctly. Well… next time, because I hope I see more of these micro-giants.

Father’s Day in a different way

Father’s Day, oh yeah. I wished I could spend a few hours in the forest with my family, without any appointments. Last fall I discovered a few small pools in the forest and wanted to show them to the children, so we set off with our bikes and picnic basket.
No large animals to be seen and the drowned mandarin duck from two weeks ago had also disappeared. Marie then spotted this dragonfly that was just hatching. We watched her spellbound. A laborious process, but beautiful. After a good 20 minutes she had made it, but had fallen off her blade of grass and was lying on a leaf, like on a platter on her back. She was happy to accept a helping finger. We eyed each other and then set her down in the tussock further down, next to the leaf. Really pleased that my kids had the chance to witness this little wonder… 

 

Mr. Quark

The frogs and toads are on the loose again at the Weilbacher Kiesgruben and although a lot of visitors get lost there when the weather is nice, these amphibians are anything but quiet. Shy, yes, but not quietly! If you sit quietly in the reeds for 10 minutes and wait, they start their concert again and if you move in tai-chi-mode, i.e. very slowly, they trust their camouflage and only hop away at the last second. So I was able to get very close to this table frog with my macro. I see you!

Those rats

They are considered dirty, unclean, nasty and carriers of disease, but honestly… can those eyes hide any bad? It’s no secret that almost all animals can perform the “puppy dog look”. This one has brought the whole thing to perfection and lives on Friedrichsweiher, around the corner. No, it is shy, doesn’t beg – unlike all the birds – she zooms into her burrow and waits for old grannies to empty their bread basket there, or for the ravens to empty the garbage cans.

I really like rats and Orco, the rat that lived with me for a few years was very clean and was like a little dog. He – actually a she – came when you called, she was cheeky and funny. Unfortunately, she came out of a lab and got cancer very soon.

Mandarin duck murder mystery

I only had an hour, but luckily I was already close to the forest. My senses were not deceiving me and I was near a small hidden clearing in the forest where there are a few water holes – no bigger than garden ponds – that I had discovered last year in autumn. The sun was already low and the fresh, green grass at the edge shone magnificently.

There was a Mandarin duck swimming in one of the lakes and something bright in the water next to it, which at first I thought was a thick birch branch. Looking through the telephoto, I saw that the branch had two strange, very symmetrical little cantilevers…. Wait, those look like bird legs an the feathers fit to a female mandarin duck! And indeed the male seemed to be guarding her.

It turned out that there were two males, but it was the one that kept coming back and was occasionally chased away by the other one. I have no idea what really happened here; probably a case for the bird CSI…. but the light was great and even dead water birds look elegant.

Sparrow, not Jack…

The house sparrow. Not shy… on the contrary, quite bold. First a wild look from the bushes, then a quick hop onto the table and then ingratiating myself to get piece from my cake. Gave some nice pictures, so he got some crumbs too.

wasp

The icy grip of winter is still felt and with temperatures below 5 degrees in the evening, clouds and lots of rain, the whole of spring is slightly delayed. This wasp looked anything but fit when I found it. I placed her in the sparse rays of the sun and soon she was gone. Before that, she posed nicely for me.

 

Lord Shen

A few days off and out to the Edersee, in a small hut, on the beautiful paradise campsite. Turns out that there are not only the usual farm residents, but also two male peacocks and one of them is this wonderful albino. No matter who came by, no matter what squeaked and whistled… he answered and courted. Take a close look at him… if it weren’t for his jewelry, he would actually be pretty ugly. Nature knows how to package things beautifully.

 

One and a half woodlice

First foray into the macro world. Anyone who follows my posts knows that I’ve wanted a macro lens for a long time, but was always too stingy. With the prospect of grey, cold, wet winter days with little light and mood, I bought this Sigma used. Except for two test photos, it stayed in the closet because the little creepy crawlies don’t really like the bad weather either. Then yesterday, while I was putting the pot back on the balcony, I came across this isopod, which was either sitting next to half of its relative or had just shed its skin. Sometimes I’m glad that I’m a big person and that these creatures don’t meet me at eye level.

Bussard in the rain

Today I put all my obligations and appointments aside and went out into nature. The weather was suboptimal, as they say. It seems like April was a little early this year because it was raining heavily when I stepped outsid. Thanks to great apps, you can look at the cloud bands directly above your location and see when the rain takes a break, but of course that doesn’t save you if you’re in the middle of the forest and it’s pouring.

After the first 500m there was another shower and the idea of limiting the tour to a short lap creeped into my head, but then there was a big boost of motivation: This nice Mr. Buzzard was sitting on the other side of the street, right on the sidewalk. When I discovered him, passers-by came only about two meters past him and I was already cursing inside. They didn’t see him and he noticed that very clearly and stayed. On the other hand, he spotted me straight away, but it was another one of those magical moments where the animal realizes that I meant it no harm and reacted with curiosity rather than fear. I got within 3 meters of him and he posed and eyed me and the thick lens. Thank you, dear Buzzard, for these three minutes. Made my day! This gave me the motivation to continue my trip and I spent four fantastic hours in the forrest.

The Cormorant Machine

Down on the Main is the old loading terminal of the former Höchst/Clariant Chemie. The cormorants have taken over it and are drying their feathers high up above the water, in the sun.

It’s nice when old man-made things are conquered by animals and nature.

 

Splash!

While the heron tends to move around with a gentle flap of its wings, it takes out the smallest and fastest animals when hunting: mice, frogs, hamsters… but it’s not called the “Fischreiher” (fish heron) in German for nothing, as it  actually lives on banks and floodplains. The increased rainfall and resulting floods in recent years have created new wetlands – both voluntary and involuntary – and the heron population has increased significantly.

The big guy I was watching here took at least one fish out of the water during the 20 minutes and came away empty-handed twice.

Be water!

It is a fixed rite for all animals that they practice body care. In swimming poultry, it is even fundamentally important that the fat from the gland specifically designed for this purpose is incorporated into the feathers. Because without this treatment they would simply perish. This Canada goose was bathing and kept diving head first into the water and letting it run down her back. Caught just as she lifted her head and the water was still running all over.

Mighty wings

I’m back where I didn’t really want to be: too little time to do things right. How do you notice that? In this specific case, I no longer had enough daylight until I could go out with the camera… but whatever? The birds stay with me and this buzzard also allowed me to take a few nice photos, albeit with too high an ISO, which is why this picture was more of an attempt at art than a pure photo. Too many branches, but otherwise okay.

Common kestrel

There are times when photography is easy and beautiful and there are times when the circumstances are anything but good. I have often met my special friend, the krestel, in his hunting grounds on the Fechenheim meadows or on the Bürgel side of the Main. This time I was out quite early and the sun remained in its bed of clouds. With a little software magic, you can still see it easily and yes, it is still winter when the birds prefer to pounce on the flattened menu on the street instead of hunting. 😉

Röiven

There is something gracefully magical about them, the ravens. Always dressed up in their black feather tailcoats, they are everywhere. The common raven itself lives up to 28 years and we know from fairy tales and legends that they are clever. But even on the street you can see them cracking nuts by placing them on rails or dropping them from a height onto hard ground. Here are four beautiful pictures of the raven.

Kingfisher #3 – colourful ghost

The day started with a headache and body aches and the children weren’t enthusiastic about going outside either – too cold, too grey and too unfit. With little hope of getting something great in front of my lens, I grabbed Spike and the camera and wanted to walk for an hour towards the forest, along the Hainbach. And suddenly he was, flying past me like an colourful arrow and sitting on a branch 30m behind me. I dropped everything, dog leash, gloves, bag and fumbled out the camera as quickly as I could so I could at least take a few pictures before he moved on. The disappointment came at home: ISO 18000. Thanks to a lot of post-processing, it is now “vieawble”. .. at least significantly better than the last attempt. I’m getting closer, yessss!

Gray eminence

Is it wildlife when untamed birds come to the zoo to steal some food? Somehow yes and someway no. Scatter food to attract wildlife is often frowned upon in many places in the scene. On the one hand, it’s almost like the old trappers when you lure the animals with treats. On the other hand, the food that comes from humans is sometimes contaminated, treated with additives and, in short, of poor and dangerous quality. Well, since this gray heron came to the Frankfurt Zoo when the seals were being fed, I assume that this is a gray area 😉 : Yes, he is wild and no, he is half tame if he knows where he can steal his fish every day. He has also largely lost his fear of people. … and the frontal shot shows what I said a few posts ago: herons are graceful animals, as long as they don’t look at you head-on.

Woody

Since I started wandering through the forest more consciously, I see them often. It used to be something special to see a woodpecker. Is this due to my training, or are there simply more woodpeckers in the forest? He diligently and diligently worked on the branch and got a few delicacies from the bark.

Robins singing

High and shrill with some modulo early in the evening. I like the little robins. They are curious and not exactly shy and if you approach it with a little calm and caution, they will come to you on their own and turn the tables. They then watch you and slowly sneak closer and closer. Here I was the one who sneaked up and even unnoticed.

Buzzard for lunch

It looks like I have a connection with buzzards. Even though it’s really cold today, I took my camera to work and went out into the field during my lunch break. After 15 minutes I was almost frozen and decided to call it a day and was about to tuck away my gear, but decided to do in the warmth of the office – I was lucky, because this buzzard was sitting at the bridge over the Nidda, right a the entrance of work. He was just tearing apart its prey, so it was lunchtime for him as well. I wouldn’t have noticed his sight if a large dog approaching, who was just taking his master for a walk, hadn’t stared at him as if spellbound. Suddenly he flew close to me and crouched in the tree above me. Well… pictures turned out to be quite nice portraits, but the gray weather, dull colors and the trees in the background dampen the experience. I need to practice more here.

Breath of the gooses

This is what it looks like when the goose cry… not quite Prince like. 😉 Sun! For what felt like an eternity everything was just grey, wet and cold. It was cold today too, but the sun was there. After breakfast, I quickly went to the Friedrichsweiher, sneaked around the corner and looked at how the animals defy the weather. Your Egyptian geese do what they usually do: make noise! Thanks to the low sun and low temperatures, her breath was visible.

Gray heron and the mouse

It is the most common heron species, according to NABU, and yes, there are some in Karben. On my lunchtime walk I pass a field where two herons have been hunting for a week. I missed the big spectacle because I didn’t have a camera with me, but the 10 minutes yesterday were worth it. First he strutted across the mown field with his head held high and caught a mouse for lunch, then he preferred to move on.

Jay does his thing.

On an abandoned ice rink, which is currently just a meadow and only has a loudspeaker mast and a small one, a not shy fellow was looking for food stretchers. He cleared leaves, moss and other things around again. Until he finally found the food that gave him his name. But it seemed to me that wasn’t enough, because he continued to collect diligently.

The jay again

Hard to miss and the most magnificent among the corvids, as it belongs to this genus. This makes him one of the smarter fellows in the forest and he likes to steal the biggest chunks from the feeder – but with his up to 35cm tall appearance he can do that too. This one waited obediently until I pointed my camera at him before he flew away from this big, black eye.

Kea

Keas are considered one of the smartest bird species in the world. They use tools and recognize their own reflection, they are playful, bright and take everything apart… including sheep. Yes, exactly. Keas have been observed attacking sheep in packs, scratching the fur and skin with their sharp claws to get at the body fat. This resulted in an estimated 150,000 kea being killed by the early 1970s.

In the Frankfurt Zoo they live somewhat hidden, behind the large playground and are definitely worth a visit.

Humboldt penguins

The Humboldt penguins at Frankfurt Zoo are a funny bunch. One of the things I particularly like about them is that you can read their expressions and see what they’re up to. They are far from being cunning and if something doesn’t go right, they complain loudly and even throw some slaps. The one on the big picture was dozing in the late october sun.

30 minutes with the grey heron

Gray herons are not an uncommon guest on my blog, which is because they have been reappearing in our cities in recent years – you just see them more often. I can’t say exactly what it is, but there’s something about these animals: while they look very graceful and beautiful profile, they look a bit dumb and weird from the front. This fellow here wasn’t shy, but kept his distance when I got too close to him.

Roe deer

After my heart attack in January, I had to slow down and load up less. Instead of being stuck in front of the screen, I went out with the camera and was outside for several hours almost every day and that’s what my body needed. The animals seemed to sense that I was no longer so hectic, so charged, and they remained so. Some of the most beautiful pictures were taken because the subject I was photographing found me just as interesting as I did. Impatience and lack of time are the death of good photos, as I have now learned after 17 years, and it is therefore clear why the results are better now than all the years before. On the one hand, I was traveling alone and didn’t have to take anyone into account. No children making noise and running ahead, no partner impatiently waiting for me to take the picture… just me, the animals and the camera. It’s a shame, because my two children are very fond of animals, but they are too impatient to wait long for something.

This deer was no exception. It was preening itself in the evening sunshine and initially didn’t notice me as I approached slowly, but after work I’m usually busy too and so it noticed me quite quickly. A wonderful indicator that I need to spend more time outside to find peace. On the other hand I would love to go on a trip with a likeminded photographer. Always nicer to share adventures. 

 

Squirrel

I really dig those little critters and I am happy that they become common guest in our gardens and parks. Don’t know if it was me, neglecting my surrounding when I was younger… but no!… they seem to invade the city en masse, lately.

Spent 20 minutes with this one that was very busy jumping around, collecting nuts at Schlosspark/Bürgel. Sadly the light is vanishing quite early already and so there is not much time after work. These fotos were shot on highes ISO and they turned out to be soooooo noisy that I would have kicked them in the virtual dustbin, but once more Topaz Laps turned them into something to show… at least when you don’t zoom in.

 

Gorillas

Browsing through my photos of this year and sorting out massive amounts, as space is scarce I found these two pictures of probably the boss of the lowland gorillas. Impressivly strong animals. Would have loved to spent much more time with them, but family dragged on. A truth about photography: it takes time to do it right. As much as I love to have the kids with me on a photo-trip, I don’t think it going to happen anytime soon. And so the clock often runs in favour of the family which is absolutely correct decision, but the images suffer. Probably I love being surrounded by animals, even kids. 😉

Comoroant in the wind

As common on islands you get a fair bit of wind and storms. The last three days have been up to “Orkanböen” (hurricane), hence wind up to 10-12 Beaufort at times. Sun and rain kept coming and going in the usual 5 minute turns and I had a hard time to keep my lens out of wind direction, as it blew up a lot of sand which acted as flying sandpaper.

Animals are used to be outside the whole time and can deal with harsh conditions better then we humans do, although the cormorants don’t seem to be happy about the flying sand either. They kept shaking off the sand and rather stayed ashore. Only could get a few shots from behind, as they were sitting in a restricted breading area where passer were asked not to step in.

Arctic tern

The name derives from their breeding area, high up around the north pole. During the harsh winters, it travels all the way down to the south pole which makes it the the migratory bird with the longest travel. I watched them hunt, over at Ellenbogen/Sylt until the rain came. Would have loved to stay longer, but I wasn’t alone and had to catch the ride back. Great flyers and wonderful to observe. This pictures do hardly justice to their skills…

Strandskade

… so the oystercatcher is called here in Denmark, which literarily translate to beach magpie. Indeed it’s black an white feathers provoke similar names in other countries. In Germany it fun name is “Halligstroch”. Once again the similarities to an ostrich are bound to its black and white appearance and its storming around in the mud.
I had to find a spot where I could approach them better and faster than in the muddy wadden sea. Luckily Rømø is connected to the mainland via a huge dam that even has a bicycle path. I rode out there and along the dam birds were sitting in lager flocks… and off course they took off whenever I got closer than fifty meters. Anyway, light was good and they seem to know that they didn’t have to go far to be out of my reach.

Actually, I got out there in hope to find some bald eagles hunting. Yes, their population is growing and they found out about the wadden sea and its festive table of food. Somewhere I read that they often can be observed from the dam Off course no eagles too be found but that kind of endeavor takes more than one spontaneous cycle ride to be successful. Enjoy their oystercatcher in flight. I did and the challenge I posed to myself in the last post… well, check!

Bar-tailed godwit

Wikipedia states that they are an endangered species, although noting that they tend to show up in large flocks of ten thousand birds a more in the wadden sea. Here on Rømø they do appear along the shallow shores of the madden sea quite frequently. Took me few hours and dirty cloth to get near enough to get some decent pictures. There is nothing to hide when water is gone and the flat, muddy ground with its inhabitants that are used to spent half a day under water and the next in the wet mud. When I was farest from the shore the rain set in and it was about than that they partly started ignoring me and seem to care more about digging for foot than running away from me. Before I wasn’t able to get closer than 30 meters, as one of them hissed its waring call and all flew off. This was the first session and there is more to come. The oystercatchers are far more sensitive and shy away earlier….. challenge accepted. 😉

 

Sunny cricket

A field cricket! You hear them, but you rarely see them, as they tend to hear you first and stop making the chrirping sound when you get near. For me they are the messengers of summer and sun. This fellow was crossing the street on which I was riding my bike and was kind of stunned when I parked sprawled on the ground a few meters away. After it got it self together it turned quickly and rand away from me, but I was quicker and so we spent a couple of minutes till I finally managed to get it heating in the right direction with best lighting. A new step for me as well: I knew that getting on eye level with you subject results in better and intimate pictures, but I barely did – here I had the chance. New lesson learned… you need to get dirty to get better pictures. …and yes, I do need a macro lens for sure.

water strider

Fossil findings show they were here about a 100 Mil. years ago and they are still around. They are fast – up to 1,5m/s and they can jump as far as 35cm and that all on the surface of water. You have to be somehow impressed, right?

 

 

talking to a buzzard

Not much time left for the fine things in live when you gotta job to do. Yesterday I rushed home, grabbed my camera, hopped on my bike and got to the Carl Ulrich Brücke where I got a flat tire. Walking from here, only left me with  one hour for getting to the renatured grounds on the Fechenheim side – not much, but it turned out to be worthwhile.

I already could hear this buzzard scream, while I was climbing down the steep steps at the bridge. A few meters away there was a tiny path leading to another billabong that I never noticed. Bushes flanked both sides, so I had kind of a natural cover. Of course it noticed me first and flew off, screaming all the time. I started to whistle an answer, trying to imitate its call and suddenly it flew right above the small trees, right over my head. This game continued for a couple more rounds and ended, while lady with a huge dog appeared and shied it away.

Guess, I never got that close to a buzzard and it was a really touching experience. While looking through the net, I found a recent article from NABU, saying that buzzards are known to protect their nests against jogger, even attacking them. It was screaming before I got near and so I want to believe that it was calling for its offspring and not shouting at me to get lost.

 

Mariapeel

We fell in love, right the first time we went to the Netherlands about 20 years ago. The people unpretentious and just great, the landscape is nordic flat though changeable and along all those white sandy beaches on the southern part… I guess we will have to get there when we retire. For autumn of 2021 we did not go to the beach, but to Everstoot with its absolutely stunning natural park Mariapeel nearby. The wind beaten rustic trees, tall grass and spectacular weather… Mariapeel is a pearl and I will have to come back. Those images were all shot with my than new iPhone 12 and a little processed in Lightroom and now scaled up with Topaz Gigapixel, although apple does something right with its settings. Pictures out of the camera look really good. At this time I was tired of carrying my big DSLR and also did not post much on my blog. But now they are here… 

 

red admiral – 15 minutes with the butterfly

I must have been around 4 or five years old. It was summer and I was sitting with my granny in the garden watching the butterlies. I always wanted to catch one and this very day I managed it. It was sitting on a flower, wings closed above is head an I just walked up to it and crabbed it with two fingers. So happy that I ran up to my granny showing it to her. The next thing I noticed was a strange power on my fingertips. It had the the same colours as the the wings of the butterfly. My Grandpa walked by and explained to me that the butterfly now has to die, because of my touch. I was devastated and since then I only observe them. This red admiral is probably on his big trip and seemed to be as curious as me. He only flew off when I got to close, circling me and landing again in short distance, observing me.

beauty goose

Beauty shot of a Canadian goose – not quite a duck face, 🙂 I like them much better than the Egyptian goose that flood our seas and rivers over the last years. Wonder if this is due to the fact that they are loud an pushy, tend to embark on the other water birds and are loud, where as its Canadian counterpart is gentle and seldom aggressive, though losing its habitat to the “stronger” fellows. This is a problem I am still struggling with my own kids: Shall I raise them to be reserved, generous and helpful in any way and probably get run over and pushed aside by the rude other ones that just don’t care about others or should I tell them to go bully and grab what they want? Guess the truth is that even if I opt for the latter I couldn’t pull it off as I was raised the polite way. At the moment it seems a little outdated but I hope for the long term effect….

black-crested gibbon

This gibbon is part of a family living Zürich zoo. Love to watch them swing through their territory – soooo fast and with such ease – just elegant. They are monogam and defend their territory against threats, which renders them one of the big loser species that really suffer under the vanishing rain forest.

demoiselle

It is so much life around the rivers and meadows. Seems to be a good year for dragonflies – they are everywhere and overall. Here are some pictures of banded demoiselles, minding their business.

starlings

I find those to be very sociable, funny birds. Always in groups and never alone, they march over fields and meadows in order to find insects. In Bieber the field was mowed and between the cutoff excess the starlings were jumping around, hunting the insects that were not fast enough to find shelter. Happy yummy yum.

mighty ducks

One thing I like about being out and capturing the animals around me is the fact that you look more closely to animals that are very common, e.g. ducks. They can be seen on any bit of water around here, no matter if in the center of the city or in a remote river hidden in the woods. Especially the male ones are very nice to look at with quite some color palette on their feather dress. Here are a some shots showing how this drake prepares itself and later starts to orchestrate….

muscovy duck

There are creatures that radiate a certain authority and seem to be dangerous by nature. Ugly or interesting? Can’t make up my mind on this muscovy duck. It’s face and look are rather of nightmares, isn’t it?