Wonderful Wildlife

Singing in the snow: capercailzie.

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A photograph by Valeriy Maleev, perhaps the best contemporary Russian wildlife photographer. It is a very rare shot, because capercailzie don’t usually do their spring mating song when the weather is that bad.

Valeriy started out as a hunter, a trophy hunter even, before he put down the guns and took the camera, and it might have nothing to do with the images he takes – his blog deserves a visit from anyone who enjoys pictures of wildlife – but there’s one thing that I can’t get out of my mind: all hunters turned photographers claim that you can no longer kill the species you take pictures of. There’s something very significant in this that I can’t put my finger on.

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Wonderful Wildlife

So much for not asking directions.

“I told you we had to go straight to that island, not turn right!”

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Dmitry Dorofeev, my LJ pal and fellow Russian Hunting Magazine writer, reports a Great Knot sighting in the Persian Gulf. O.K, so what? So that the bird got that yellow band in Kamchatka, some 8,300 km as the crow flies. And a Great Knot ain’t no crow, besides, there are the Hymalayas on the straight course – the birds must have been going along the Pacific, and then the Indian coasts, some 13,000 km of flapping one’s wings to spend the non-breeding season in the warm.

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Insignificant as it may seem, this sighting marks a real scientific discovery – this. population of Great Knots has been recorded in the Persian Gulf for many years, but nobody was sure where they came from. Now they do. Normally these birds winter in Australia, but one flock leader must have failed to ask for directions and took a wrong turn once.

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