Word in Edgeways…..(shut up and listen!)

Have you ever had one of those conversations when you just cant get a word in edgeways? When the person opposite you seems to not even take a breath…..and you know that they will not stop until they have said their piece? I love a good conversation especially when the person you are with is interesting but who is also interested in you and what you have to say. There is nothing worse than not being part of a conversation but simply being on the end of a lecture and feeling like you have not been heard. Is the art of conversation dying….are we becoming a society of people who would prefer to stare into their screens in silence and when confronted by another person they are simply unable to interact? Recently I have experienced this situation, whereby the other person displayed the inability to have a 2 way conversation and the net effect is that nothing is achieved and you feel completely ignored and frustrated. If only we had a little more time for each other, to listen to one another and to be heard. Maybe next time I find myself in this situation I will follow the lead of the Jackdaw in this photo and  simply shout SHUT UP and LISTEN!

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Generalist, Specialist or Opportunist….which one am I?

You may wonder what has an image of 2 birds on a birdfeeder got to do with the title of this post, well yes I agree it may be a little tentative but let me see if I can explain my thought process….

So today I was sat at my desk considering job titles, roles and responsibilities and the necessary skills that fulfil them. What is it that leads us to believe that one person may be a better fit for a role than another? In the acting world people audition for roles, in the business world people interview for roles, so what is the difference between an audition and an interview? Stay with me here….in my opinion they are one and the same, to some degree we all act out the part that we think others want us to be. During an interview the candidate will behave in a certain manner, provide answers that they assume are what the interviewer wants to hear. In an audition you do the same, you play the part in a manner that you believe fits the character, only in an audition it is a little easier to distinguish between the actor and the character. In an interview the lines are more blurred.

Back to the title of this post, the question is during an interview are you seeing the generalist, specialist or opportunist at work and how do you ultimately make a decision? Does the person define the role or does the role define the person that you inevitably choose? Do you go with the individual who has all the skills on paper but who may lack the right personality, the person with the personality that fits the environment but who has less experience, the specialist who knows much about less or the generalist who knows little about much? It’s a tricky question and one that can lead to a bad decision.

My own preference would be to go with the generalist, someone who has a little knowledge about many areas as I believe that these individuals display a talent to absorb and utilise in a broader spectrum, with the ability to diversify and build on their knowledge. Of course it depends upon the role, but there is never a perfect fit and like the birds in the image, one may be the perfect build for birdfeeder,agile and fast, the other a perfect fit for the woodland environment camouflaged and stealthy, but as these 2 demonstrate, a willingness to learn new skills from another and adaptability are the key to success!

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On A Wing and A Prayer

Last Sunday I was treated to lunch at my parents house which thankfully is only a few miles up the road from where I live. They have a beautiful garden with many mature trees and shrubs, but the most magical shrub is the Buddleia or to use its more common name Butterfly Bush. On first glance it looks to be the most unruly of plants, growing upwards in excess of 15ft and spreading sideways regardless of fences or sheds, with a somewhat bedraggled appearance as the weight of the flower heads lowers the branches towards the lawn. But you only have to look for a few seconds to realise it’s real beauty, it is a magnet for butterflies, bees and flies of all shapes and sizes, offering a one stop shop for nectar and pollen and a source of endless entertainment to the onlooker. Against the sunlight the butterflies appear like silhouettes, rising and falling onto the many flower heads, busy and energetic, some remaining still for a short respite, others fighting over territory and even the odd brief love affair in midair. After only a few moments my eyes were drawn to an unusual colour resting on flower head of pale purple, a much brighter visitor, almost yellow from a distance, not the dark brownish red of the Admiral or spotted giveaway that is the Peacock butterfly, no this was much brighter……approaching calmly towards the plant, phone camera at the ready, I realised that this was a Comma, the telltale shape of the wings, almost bat-like in design. After a few moments it took flight over my head and landed directly behind me on the twisted Hazel tree, without wanting to scare it away i managed to take several quick shots before it took to the air once again to return to the Buddleia where it was joined by another Comma. having never seen these at close range before I was overjoyed, Mum and Dad also really suprised to see them in their garden. A few seconds later we were treated to a second visitor, a beautiful Brown Speckled Wood butterfly which landed again right in front of me offering another opportunity for a photo shoot at close range! Both of these butterflies are making a slight recovery after years of being in serious decline, so it really was a treat to be able to get close to them. As they took to their wings once again lets hope that they continue to thrive, if you can plant a Buddleia bush, you will be helping these beauties to survive and will be entertained for hours.

My Favourite Insect of All

The humble bumble bee, threatened from every angle, lack of habitat and mites that destroy hives this little miracle of the insect world is struggling to survive. But have you ever watched a bumble bee going about it’s business? it really is a feat of nature’s engineering as when you look at the design of a bumble bee it really shouldnt be able to fly at all! With its large rounded body and tiny wings in comparison to its body size its a wonder they even get off the ground. But look a little closer and you will see that their wings don’t actually flap up and down for lift, they move backwards and forwards, creating a small vortex of pressure that enables them to keep airborne. I watch the bees working on the lavender bushes at my parents house, they work tirelessly collecting the pollen to take back to the hive, but to also feed their energy levels, no wonder when they have to put so much energy into simply remaining mobile. When you see a bee on the ground it probably one of two things, it is either exhausted and in need of nectar, or in the case of the bumble bee’s working on the lavender they are drunk! Many times I have seen them falling over trying to extract as much nectar as they can, dropping to the grass and rolling around for a few seconds before getting back on their feet and catching their breath, only to fly in a less than perfect line back to the flowers, and resume their feast! Simply fabulous!

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Garden Delights

Some time ago I purchased a box of wildflower seeds so having a rather empty border to one side of the garden I decided to simply scatter them and wait to see what if anything appeared. Within a few weeks I had what looked like a border full of weeds….but having left them to their own devices they have transformed into the most delicately beautiful display. The most wonderful thing about this patch of wildflowers is that you never really know what is going to flower next and the array of butterflies and moths as well as bees that have been encouraged into the garden by this tiny patch is amazing. Every day new flowers are appearing and every day more and more insects are coming in to feed and rest, including a very large dragonfly that seems to like the new bird bath and has dipped down onto it a few times. It just goes to show what you can achieve with the smallest of effort in an otherwise suburban garden, birds are coming in to drink and bathe, butterflies are stopping to feed and rest and bees are plentiful on the meadow mix of flowers and lavender, something I wouldn’t have expected just a few months ago. I have my own small patch of wildflower meadow, and a little piece of nature heaven.

41 Day 273 – Butterflies & Blooms

Or should that be blooming butterflies?? After quite some time in sweltering heat, yes British Summertime seems to have arrived, I walked back down the lane toward my car somewhat frustrated. I haven’t actually spent much time trying to photograph butterflies so didn’t appreciate just how difficult it is. Garden varieties seem much more at home in front of the camera, more interested in the nectar that lies within the flower they land upon, but the field varieties seem much more nervous, edgy almost frantic and definitely more challenging as they don’t appear to ever pause for breath or land for any more than a nano second. Here are a couple of subjects, please accept my apologies in advance for the slight blur, but hand holding a rather heavy 35-350mm lens whilst focusing on these acrobats proved to be a lesson in weight management and spur of the moment focusing!!

41 Day 260 – Race to the Top

I just had to capture these two cheeky fellas whilst I was out and about in my local park. They began by charging past me at speed as I was walking through the woodland section and they really were on a mission,  disappearing in and out of the trees, undergrowth flying around as they scampered through the grass. Just as I focused my camera on them they vanished from sight, but reappeared travelling vertically towards the canopy, one on one side and one on the other! A high speed game of chase, equally matched in pace and each outwitting the other! Hilarious!

Squirrel Relay

41 Day 220 – Winter White

This is another of the images taken last weekend whilst out enjoying the recent snow. I wanted to keep the theme of white whilst trying to go a little off the beaten track, those of you who have followed me for a while know that I have tended to stay with tried and trusted methods but with the sheer brilliance of the snow I tried breaking a few rules and wanted to achieve something different. Some time ago I posted a shot of a swan sleeping, in colour, detailing the feathers and highlighting the colour in an otherwise white bird. This time I have photographed this very willing subject with the emphasis on the whiteness of his plumage. He was an absolute star, preening and posing to perfection, a beautiful Swan indeed, white as the snow around him, not in the least bit bothered by my constant fiddling with the camera and recomposing the image! So here he is in all his winter white glory…