feather brained

The village is running an ornithological photography competition.

mantis close-up of head and antennae. Probably Empusa pennata adult male
Sadly, although many birds visit the garden – blackbirds, hoopoes, azure-tailed magpies, jays, warblers, black caps, treecreepers… – not to mention the herons down by the river and the hawks and eagles who share our airspace, they all have a nasty habit of flying away before I can get my camera out, let alone focus it.

So unless I build a hide in the greenhouse and stalk what I think must be a pair of black redstarts who are nesting there, or set up the step ladder on the verandah and try and peer into the swallows’ neat adobe home, neither of which seem to be recommended courses of action, I don’t think I’ll be entering the competition.

I have, however, had a little more luck taking pictures of this marvellous creature with his spectacular feathered antennae. (Go on: click the photo and check him out close up!)

It’s clearly a mantis, and a little time with Google leads me to believe it’s an empusa pennata – the conehead mantis or mantis palo in Spanish. I gather those magnificent antennae indicate that it’s an adult male. Which is just as well as, if it were female, it’d probably die of a “does my bum look big?” complex:

mantis. probably Empusa pennata

As may be apparent from the blog, birds loom large in my life; if only the village would run an ornithological poetry competition, I’d be in with a chance.

Here’s a repost of one from few years back when the swallows were first nesting here:


with primaries taut, they finger-tip
the contoured air, screeching
a splay-tailed upward glide to peak

then tuck – dip – swoop –

and skim the puddled mud,
gape-mouthed and hungering.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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