In Devon everything in the countryside takes on the colour of the soil; and that colour is often red. The Devonian red sandstone here colours everything. The wind-blown red desert sand which formed these rocks has kept its colour over hundreds of millions of years. When I last visited Paignton Zoo the animals were coated in it. There were naturally Pink Flamingoes with their feet in muddy red Devon pools rather than beautiful blue lagoons. Even the Zebras had pink and black stripes.
Today, on Exminster Marshes near Exeter the Mute Swans have red heads:
It’s a ginger swan.
Dinosaur feet - Seeing a scaly foot emerging from this Mute Swan’s plumage is a great reminder of the evolution of birds from theropod dinosaurs. It’s 320 million years since this swan’s ancestors and your ancestors were the same living being. We’ve both come a long way since then. S-bend - Evolution doesn’t result in perfection, but in ridiculous compromises, recoveries from enforced limits and the sheer variety of difference achieved using the same basic pattern. Take necks. Humans have seven bones in their necks. These vertebrae are standard for almost all mammals, whether you’re a mouse or a giraffe, seven … White wedding - Swans are exceptional birds. I particularly like Mute Swans, but that’s because I’ve yet to see a Bewick’s Swan or a Whooper Swan. One of the most frequently visited posts on my blog is this one about the Mute Swan’s basal knob: I suspect that’s because Google searches put my … Bird portraits at Daisy Nook - Birds have evolved a wide range of faces. Here’s a Coot with that large white faceplate: And a Mute Swan with a large basal knob: A moorhen with a red and yellow face: And a Woodpigeon with the most bizarre face of them all. Amazing what evolution has done, and … The Swan’s nest - I’m walking through a narrow walkway in the reeds, looking for Reed Warbler’s nests, when I come across a Swan-made clearing in the centre of the reeds. It’s an enormous pile of reed stems to keep the eggs and chicks out of the river at the highest of high tides … Waterbed - Have you ever tried making love on a waterbed? Ask a swan what it’s like. Archimedes could have predicted the outcome; you are far less buoyant with a swan on your back. The male has to get a move on or his long-term mate will drown. He has to grab … There are no words - If you ask this swan what species it is, it won’t tell you. It’s Mute. The river walk - Here are a few familiar faces from my social distancing walk. This Mute Swan is one of the aggressive pair which have eggs to incubate. I’m looking forward to following their journey. There’s a sleek Magpie, one of a pair which have built a couple of nests, the first in … A grey day on the Teign - I’m out with my son in the early morning. He has a camera too and takes a photo of me. As we walk along the River Teign I spot a Cormorant approaching. It doesn’t see me until the last moment and veers wildly to avoid me: There’s an Oystercatcher in …