Wildlife and natural history photographer David Boag was the dynamic speaker at our September monthly meeting, writes Peter Crook
Beginning with a picture of masses of Monarch butterflies congregating in Californian woodland, David explained how these small, frail creatures were able to undertake migrations over thousands of miles. This was followed by a discussion of the various forms of seed dispersal evolved by plants and trees using wind, birds and animals.
A series of amazing bird photographs followed, illustrating a range of avian behaviour concerned with nest building, and it was fascinating to learn that no two species of bird construct the same type of nest. It was of particular interest that both the kingfisher and the puffin, which nest deep within earthen burrows, produce precocious chicks which are immediately able to fly once they emerge into the light of the wide world. The eccentricities of some other birds’ nesting behaviour included the excavation of tree trunks by woodpeckers and the intricate hanging basketwork structures of the appropriately named weaverbirds.
Further beautiful pictures showed marvellous features of bird diversity, including the tiny jewel-like hummingbird, which requires a very high energy diet in order to hover in still air, and the Arctic tern which, from the age of four months, is able to fly from its breeding grounds in the Arctic all the way to the Antarctic.
Symbiotic relationships were illustrated by stunning images ranging from those of the Adonis Blue butterfly and its relationship with ants to the expanses of the African plains where zebra, giraffe and buffalo all receive the attentions of oxpeckers to remove their bloodsucking ticks.
David rounded off his presentation by discussing various forms of communication in the natural world. The structure of plants such as the bee orchid replicates the female bee in order to attract the male bee for pollination purposes, and animals such as the ground squirrel have evolved a range of alarm calls which indicate which predator is on the hunt.
Robert Edmondson’s vote of thanks paid tribute to David’s enthusiasm and his ability to share with us his broad spectrum of knowledge of some of the wonders of our natural world.