Afghani mullah rapes ten-year-old girl; family wants to kill her

There is no explicit statement in the Qur’an (I don’t know about the hadith) urging or sanctioning “honor killings,” but it’s now become a feature of Islamic culture, and has been justified on religious grounds (in Jordan, attempts to strengthen laws against honor killing were opposed and turned back by Muslim leaders for religious reasons).

Virtually every case  (I’ll add here “that I know of”) of “honor killing” is done by Muslims, and is committed against women, either for being raped (the excuses here are that a raped woman must have been a temptress, provoking the uncontrollable lust of men, or that a raped woman is no longer a virgin and thus not a candidate for marriage), for consorting with an apostate, for having extramarital or premarital sex, and so on. Often young members of the family, like boys, are assigned to do the deed, with the idea that they’d get off easier if they were young.

Such women (men, of course, aren’t often the subject of honor killings) are killed in a sick and perverted attempt to restore “honor” to the family defiled by, say, having one of its daughters raped. One would think that if you have to restore honor through violence (something that I do not favor, of course), you’d kill the rapist, or at least men involved in such episodes. But that rarely happens. That’s because it’s women’s sexuality that is supposedly besmirched, not the male’s; and that cult of “purity” also comes from religion.

Now, in Afghanistan, which has become increasingly more radical and misogynistic since the ultrareligious Taliban has made gains, comes one of the most odious cases of incipient honor killing I’ve heard of.

As The New York Times reported on July 19, a ten-year-old girl, weighing just 40 pounds and prepubescent, was raped by a mullah (a religiously educated Muslim man, usually with high standing). His name is Mohammad Amin.

The rape was so violent that it nearly killed the girl. The mullah has confessed, but said that he thought the girl was 17 (yeah, that explains why she weighed 40 pounds and had no secondary sexual characteristics), and has offered to marry her.  The girl was placed in an shelter for women to protect her, as her family threatened to “honor” kill her. But, and the idiocy continues, now the police have taken the girl out of the shelter and returned her to her family.  Unless somebody intervenes, she’s doomed to die—for the “crime” of being raped by a much older man. One can’t even use the excuse that she “tempted” him.

Here are some facts (these are direct quotes from the Times). It’s unbelievable that people can behave this way:

  • The girl’s own testimony, and medical evidence, supported a rape so violent that it caused a fistula, or a break in the wall between the vagina and rectum, according to the police and the official bill of indictment. She bled so profusely after the attack that she was at one point in danger of losing her life because of a delay in getting medical care.

  • The case has broader repercussions. The head of the Women for Afghan Women shelter here where the girl took refuge, Dr. Hassina Sarwari, was at one point driven into hiding by death threats from the girl’s family and other mullahs, who sought to play down the crime by arguing the girl was much older than 10. One militia commander sent Dr. Sarwari threatening texts and an ultimatum to return the girl to her family. The doctor said she now wanted to flee Afghanistan.
  • Most of the anger in Kunduz has been focused not on the mullah but on the women’s activists and the shelter, which is one of seven operated across Afghanistan by W omen for Afghan Women, an Afghan-run charity that is heavily dependent on American aid, from both government and private donors.

    “People know this office as the Americans’ office,” Dr. Sarwari said. “They all think the shelter is an American shelter. There isn’t a single American here,” she said.

    “W.A.W. is not American-run,” said Manizha Naderi, its executive director. “Every single staff member is an Afghan. They are from the communities we work in. Our only concern is to make sure women and girls are protected and that they get justice.”

  • When Dr. Sarwari, who is a pediatrician, arrived to pick up the girl at the hospital, a crowd of village elders from Alti Gumbad, the girl’s home village on the outskirts of the city of Kunduz, were gathered outside the hospital; the girl’s brothers, father and uncle were among them. Inside, Dr. Sarwari encountered the girl’s aunt, who told her she had been ordered by her husband to sneak the girl out of the hospital and deliver her to the male relatives outside. “She said they wanted to take her and kill her, and dump her in the river,” Dr. Sarwari said.
  • In the hospital room, the doctor found the girl’s mother holding her child’s hand, and both were weeping. “My daughter, may dust and soil protect you now,” Dr. Sarwari quoted the mother as saying. “We will make you a bed of dust and soil. We will send you to the cemetery where you will be safe.”
  • Dr. Sarwari has accused prosecutors and religious officials of siding with the accused rapist and ignoring the child’s plight.

    “There are a lot of powerful people behind the mullah,” Dr. Sarwari said. The girl’s family knows they cannot do anything to Mr. Amin, she said, but “the girl is easy. They can get to her; she’s their daughter.” She said she feared the girl would either be killed, or forced to recant her accusations against the mullah.

    Women for Afghan Women arranged for the girl to get medical treatment, and after she healed, she was returned to the shelter in Kunduz, about two weeks ago, until the police returned her to her family last Tuesday. Those caring for the girl said she had been terribly homesick and wanted to return to her family, but no one had the heart to tell her they had been conspiring to kill her.

I don’t see any way that this girl’s life will be saved now that she’s in the hands of her family. The girl is doubly victimized: by a pedophilic imam who uses his position to rape a child, and by her family, who doesn’t care very much about the rapist iman, but really, really wants to kill their daughter. It makes me weep that people can be so bestial—so twisted—that they can do this. And blame religion, too, for this is an endemic trait of Islam, though it’s also sometimes seen in non-Islamic cultures (I’m having a hard time finding cases of honor killings not involving Muslims, but citing one or two won’t disprove the relationship).

The imam has been arrested, but he’ll likely either get off or get the usual very light sentence. All we can do is fight against the forms of religion that sanction this behavior, and donate to Women for Afghan Women.  Their numerous programs are described on the site, and this video shows some of the suffering inflicted on Afghan women:

You can donate here; I didn’t hesitate a second.

 

Wednesday: Dobrzyn

These are, as usual, photographs from yesterday, a day that started with a glass of fresh cherry juice and a cuddle with the Feline Princess of Poland.  Oh, Poland were paradise enow! (Click pictures to enlarge.)

A selfie:

Selfie

 

I was interviewed  in the garden by Kaja Bryx and her partner Jacek Tabisz, who work with the Polish Society of Rationalists and produce a series of videos with humanists, atheists, artists, and politicians. There were about six 10-minute videos that will eventually be posted in bits, and with Polish subtitles. The “tunnel” is a child’s toy, which blew back and forth during the interview, but wasn’t visible. It was in that tunnel that Hili set her famous trap using an apple as bait.

Interview

The interview gave me my first chance to wear the Official Hili Shirt™, which I’ll be wearing again in October at a very special event that I cannot yet announce. I posted this picture yesterday but it is so nice that I will post it again.

Hiroko, the shirtmaker and embroiderer, has now posted my review of this shirt, and a closeup of it, as well as the details, at her shop GoGo5 on Etsy (note that there are six views of it).

Jerry and Hili

Hiroko’s photo which shows the tail (not visible above):

il_570xN.615288246_6nov

Hiroko’s description: “Embroidered brown tabby cat in the pocket with her tail. The fabric is blue cotton pinpoint oxford.”

Cyrus gets a substantial meal of “dog sausage.” (In the morning he gets dry food.)

Cyrus dinner

Cyrus had his teeth cleaned today (Wednesday) at a vet in Wloclawek (pronounced Vwote-slaw-vek”). The other day the lodger Gosia noticed that when Cyrus fetched a tennis ball, there was blood on it. So off to the dog dentist he went. He had a lot of plaque, but his teeth were healthy and none needed to be removed. He is now out of it, having been anesthetized for the procedure, and is sleeping it off at home:

Cyrus

Cyrus, out of it

Another 9 kilos of cherries were picked for the second batch of jam. 

Pitting

A pre-dinner snack (as I said, Poles are like hobbits, eating five or six times per day). This consisted of homemade cheesecake, a sweet challah (Jewish braided loaf), spread with butter and homemade apricot jam, and cherry pie, washed down with coffee. Dinner was two hours later.

Snack

Pre-dinner walkies by the river. Andrzej has a chat with Kaja and Jacek:

Friends

Sunset on the Vistula river, down a forested slope from the end of the orchard:

Sunset

Dinner: “Swedish lasagna” with pork and beef, served with a salad and a French red wine.  Chocolate from the Ukraine (!) followed for dessert.

Dinner

And, of course, the Princess is available in the evening for cuddling and photography:

Hili recumbent

 

Reader’s wildlife photographs

We have two readers contributing today. First, Mark Sturtevant sent an email headed “Picture of HUGE INSECTS,” and indeed it was!

His notes:

Here is a picture of some Cecropia moth larvae that I had raised a few years back. The Cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is the largest native moth in North America, with wing spans up to 6 inches. It belongs to the family Saturniidae, which is the family of giant silk moths that include other familiar species (Luna moths, Polyphemus moths, etc.). I am sorry to say I have no pictures of the adults that came from these monster larvae, although I had a lot of the moths flying around the house about 8 months later. I am working to rectify that as I am now raising another batch of cecropias, and am documenting the process with lots of pictures.

Sorry that this picture is a bit out of focus. The cecropia larvae were not happy with being off of their food plant, and they were crawling around frantically. That is a lot of insect weight, btw!

How did I get these? One can purchase eggs and pupae (for cheap) of pretty much anyNorth American species of Saturniids from a person named Bill Oehlke. He maintains a web site here. I have no affiliation there, btw. The site also contains instructions for rearing, food, etc. It is very easy and fun to raise Saturniids, as the food plants for most species are very common. I raise Cecropias from our lilac bush, but they will accept over a dozen other common species of tree or shrub.

Sturtevant

And a few photos from Sarah Crews. Sarah’s a biologist, and her notes (indented) reflect what a biologist needs to know about each species!

Columbian ground squirrel (Urocitellus columbianus), the species I mistakenly called a prairie dog last week.

Yoho NP, BC

Columbian Ground Squirrel

Desert harvestman (Eurybunus sp.):

desert harvestman

Rosy boa and its leg “spurs.” Those “spurs” are actually the vestigial legs of the snake, which, like all snakes, evolved from four-legged “lizardlike” creatures which were not the ancestors of modern lizards. If you dissect them, you’ll see that the spurs have other bones homologous to the leg and pelvic bones of four-footed land creatrues (tetrapods). I’ve put a skeleton at the bottom. This constitutes evidence for evolution, as the spurs are of no use to the snake. Further, in some early fossil snakes you can see that the legs are larger than these spurs, and were almost certainly in the process of disappearing.

Lichanura orcutti – Anza Borrego Desert SP

Rosy Boa

Rosy Boa spurs

Photo and caption below from caving.uk.co:

PythonLegs

Screen shot 2014-07-23 at 2.09.37 AM

“Legless lizards” are true lizards that have either lost their legs completely or have similar vestigial limbs, but they are not in the same group as snakes, though both descended from four-legged ancestors. In some species the legs are more developed than those of the rosy boa above, but are still clearly useless, and perhaps on the way out. For pictures of legless lizards, go here.

Finally, again from Sarah, a snake fly:

Snake Fly: Order: Raphidoptera: Fam: Raphidiidae, Agulla. sp. – used to be Neuroptera – all the neuropteroids are really cool – esp. the juvenile stages – CA: Lake Co., Kelseyville

SnakeFly

 

 

 

Wednesday: Hili dialogue

A rare situation: Cyrus is in the garden by himself (with Hili), while his humans remain on the porch, This gives him some anxiety and a need for reassurance. Hili, however, reacts differently!

Hili: We have the garden all to ourselves.
Cyrus: They won’t disappear, will they?
Hili: Don’t worry. You can easily ignore them.

10351239_10203870491910024_2485675610968415617_nIn Polish:

Hili: Mamy cały ogród dla siebie.
Cyrus: Ale czy oni nam nie znikną?
Hili: Nie martw się. Możesz ich spokojnie ignorować.

 

Two cartoons for Tuesday

A different take on evolution vs. religion, from Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller:

nq140720

 

And, out of the mouths of swine. . .From The Atheist Pig, a great webcomic that has gone defunct, as the artist appears to have lost interest.

alien+abductions

The last panel reminds me of the “one god less” trope of Dawkins and others.

h/t: Linda Grilli, jsp, Mark

Huge mayfly emergence captured on radar

From the Lacrosse, Wisconsin office of the National Weather Service, via reader Gregory, we see Doppler radar capturing a massive mayfly emergence on June 23 (a description of how Doppler radar works is here). I believe the species is the giant mayfly, Hexagenia limbata, though I may be wrong.

On Saturday evening, June 23 2012, a massive mayfly emergence occurred along the Mississippi River beginning just after 9 pm. By late evening, mayflies were swarming in La Crosse, La Crescent, and points up and down the river. While the emergence of mayflies from their river bottom mud dwelling can occur at various times through the warm season, this particular event was one of the best seen on radar yet. In the radar time lapse loop from 9 pm to just after 1030 pm (below), the yellows and oranges indicate a large magnitude of airborne mayflies.

June232012

 Also very evident was the northward track to the mayfly radar ‘echo’. This movement was due to the south wind direction over the area at emergence time. The radar would indicate the bugs were carried north, off of the river, into Blair and Taylor Wisconsin. The radar beam over these locations are detecting mayflies at over 3000 feet above the ground! Their existence was confirmed on the ground north into Trempealeau county near Galesville.

dvn_radar_loop

There is more information at the site.

Mayflies are in the order Ephemeroptera, meaning, in effect “short-lived winged things.” (They aren’t really flies, which are in the order Diptera.)  The Freshwater Blog details their life cycle; here’s a short extract:

A mayfly’s life cycle starts with the males forming a swarm above the water and the females flying into the swarm to mate.  The male grabs a passing female with its elongated front legs and the pair mate in flight. After copulation, the male releases the female, which then descends to the surface of the water where she lays her eggs. Once mated she will fall, spent, onto the water surface to lie motionless, with her wings flat on the surface, where fish pick them off at their leisure. The male fly rarely returns to the water but instead he goes off to die on the nearby land.

Because they live only a day, they cannot feed, as their mouthparts are vestigial (explain that, creationists!). In the species Dolania americana, females live less than five minutes as adults, the shortest life span of any adult insect. What a life—if you can call it that!

Here are some pictures taken the next day in Wisconsin, also from the site:

IMG_5765

More from the Freshwater Blog:

Some species exhibit great synchronicity in their hatching.  The North American species Hexagenia limbatahatches in huge numbers from the Mississippi every year.  The total number of mayflies in this hatch are estimated to be around 18 trillion – more than 3,000 times the number of people on earth.  The newly emerged insects are attracted to lights in riverside towns and villages and the local authorities deploy snow clearing vehicle to remove their rotting corpses.  Ironically, what is seen as a nuisance in America is seen as a gift in Africa.  Locals around Lake Victoria gather adults of the mayfly Povilla adusta together with Chironomid midges to make a type of patty called ‘Kungu’.  This protein rich food stuff is an important part of their diet.

IMG_5745 IMG_0719 IMG_5768

Station KARE from Minneapolis/St. Paul reports:

The La Crosse, Wis. office of the National Weather Service (NWS) says this year’s mayfly hatch on the Mississippi River was so prolific that it created a bow echo on radar, similar to one that would be made by a significant rain storm. A NWS employee went out after his shift and captured some amazing images of the short-lived pests covering street lights, gas pumps, buildings, stairs — nearly anything in their path.

The mayfly hatch was a problem up and down the Mississippi. Police in the town of Trenton say a large hatch of mayflies may have triggered a three-vehicle crash on a Wisconsin road.

and adds a picture of the insects at a gas station:

1406032376007-TrempGasStation

Mayflies at a Trempealeau, Wis. gas station (Photo: National Weather Service/La Crosse, Wis.)

 

 

 

Ken Ham calls U.S. space program a waste, since the Bible tells us that alien life doesn’t exist (and would be damned anyway)

Young-Earth creationist Ken Ham has said plenty of dumb things when it comes to evolution on our planet, but in a new post on his website,  Around the World with Ken Ham, he’s extended his lunacy to studies of the solar system and Universe. The U.S. space program, says Ham, is fruitless, for it has as its aim the discovery of terrestrial life, and the Bible has simply ruled that out!:

Of course, secularists are desperate to find life in outer space, as they believe that would provide evidence that life can evolve in different locations and given the supposed right conditions!  The search for extraterrestrial life is really driven by man’s rebellion against God in a desperate attempt to supposedly prove evolution!

A UK news site recently reported, “Aliens are out there. We’ll find a new earth within 20 years.” Recent technologies have developed new space telescopes that will be used to study exoplanets (planets orbiting other stars) with the hope of discovering habitable, earth-like worlds that might contain life—at least that is what they hope for!

You see, according to the secular, evolutionary worldview there must be other habited worlds out there. As the head of NASA, Charles Borden, puts it, “It’s highly improbable in the limitless vastness of the universe that we humans stand alone.” Secularists cannot allow earth to be special or unique—that’s a biblical idea (Isaiah 45:18). If life evolved here, it simply must have evolved elsewhere they believe.

The Bible, in sharp contrast to the secular worldview, teaches that earth was specially created, that it is unique and the focus of God’s attention (Isaiah 66:1 and Psalm 115:16). Life did not evolve but was specially created by God, as Genesis clearly teaches. Christians certainly shouldn’t expect alien life to be cropping up across the universe. (There are other theological problems with intelligent alien life that you can read about here).

Well, the Bible said it, Ham believes it, and that settles it.

But in his diatribe Ham conflates “life” with “intelligent life.”  If life didn’t evolve, but was created by God on Earth alone, then we shouldn’t even find microbes on other planets, much less brainy creatures capable of apprehending and worshiping God.

The thing is, the vast bulk of money in the U.S. space program is not spent looking for extraterrestrial life, but simply exploring outer space and seeing what it’s like on other planets or in other galaxies, as well as unravelling the history of the Universe. Yes, Rovers have features that enable us to look for life, and people get excited about the possibility of life on Mars or even the moons of Saturn. But that wasn’t why the space program was created, or even its main goal. It’s very unlikely we’ll find life in our solar system.

It gets worse, even by Ham-ian standards. There can’t be aliens—at least smart ones—because they’d be damned to Hell!

 Now the Bible doesn’t say whether there is or is not animal or plant life in outer space.  I certainly suspect not. The Earth was created for human life. And the sun and moon  were created for signs and our seasons—and to declare the glory of God.

And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. [JAC: does the Bible actually say this? If so, where? Ham doesn't quote a verse from scripture, which makes me suspect he's dissimulating about the universality of Adam's sin.] This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth. God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ, the “Godman,” to be our relative, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin—the Savior of mankind.

I thought sin came from being one of Adam’s descendants, who received the sin as if it were genetic. How do aliens, which couldn’t be related to the fictitious Adam, get afflicted by sin? Perhaps a reader can help me here.

Ham goes on, producing a hilarious passage:

Jesus did not become the “GodKlingon” or the “GodMartian”!  Only descendants of Adam can be saved.  God’s Son remains the “Godman” as our Savior.  In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we see the Father through the Son (and we see the Son through His Word).  To suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong.

. . . An understanding of the gospel makes it clear that salvation through Christ is only for the Adamic race—human beings who are all descendants of Adam.

This is bordering on lunacy—the sheer waste of a human mind speculating about meaningless questions. But it puts Ham in a difficult spot, for if we do find life elsewhere in the universe, what will Ham say? Will he admit that the Bible is wrong?

Although garden-variety theologians might say that life elsewhere was just part of God’s plan to be “creative” and “artistic” (yes, they have said stuff like that about God), they’d still face the question of “Why did God create any life at all if it couldn’t be saved by God? What would be the point?” And that question also goes for all the products of evolution that are of no use to humans, like obscure bacteria under the Antarctic ice cap. If we’re the object of God’s creation, and God created everything, and no species besides us can be saved (i.e.,no d*gs in heaven), why the vast superfluity of life?

Michael Ruse, the atheist philosopher who likes to tell religious people how to preserve their faith in the face of science, has written at length about how alien life could be saved. I mocked his answer when I reviewed his book Can a Darwinian be a Christian? in the Times Literary Supplement:

 [Ruse] has to muster all his rhetorical and intellectual skills to herd every stray Christian belief into the Darwinian fold. Indeed, the book is a splendid example of how a trained academic can extract himself from a philosophical thicket through the relentless chopping of logic. For example, in a chapter on ‘Extraterrestrials’, Ruse wrestles with the implications for Christianity of life having evolved elsewhere in the Universe. Would this life be human-like and blighted with original sin? If so, who would save the fallen aliens? Ruse floats the possibility of an ‘X-Christ’, who could redeem sinners throughout the Universe – an intergalactic Jesus shuttling between planets and suffering successive crucifixions. ‘One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that,’ George Orwell wrote (in a quite different context). ‘No ordinary man could be such a fool.’

I would love to see Ruse debate Ham on this issue! For, indeed, Ruse often acts—as he did in the book I reviewed—as a theologian. Here we have two theologians manqué giving different answers to the same question.

Further, to those who say there is no conflict between science and religion, how do you respond to Ham’s claim that there can be no extraterrestrial life because scripture rules it out a priori? (Of course, the mere existence of religious creationism disproves that NOMA position from the outset, but Gould, in a breathtakingly evasive move, didn’t regard creationist religions as “proper” religions.)

Finally, Ham claims that salvation through Jesus answers all of life’s questions, apparently including my science questions:

The answers to life’s questions will not be found in imaginary aliens but in the revelation of the Creator through the Bible and His Son, Jesus Christ, who came to die on a Cross to redeem mankind from sin and death that our ancestor, Adam, introduced.

And the footnote to his piece says this:

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s [Answers in Genesis's] research team.

What “research,” I wonder? Finding the relevant Biblical verses?

h/t: Barry, Thaddeus

Life imitates art

I’ll invent a dialogue here, and since it’s mine there is no Polish translation.

Jerry: Hili, do you like this shirt with you embroidered on it?
Hili:  Yes, but it makes me look too fat.

Jerry and Hili

Embroidery by Hiroko Kubota. You can order one through her Etsy shop (GoGo5) with any animal of your choice, but be prepared to wait months, for she not only does the embroidery, but makes the shirt to your measurements.

Dobrzyn: Monday

The pickers came yesterday at 7 a.m.—at least most of them (a few cycled in later). They were a mixture of adults and schoolkids on vacation, with males and females in roughly equal numbers (Andrjez told me that the young men vie to pick next to the young women!)

The cherries were ripe for plucking (they are all “sour” cherries, destined for pie, syrup, and the like):

Cherries

And the truck, filled with plastic pallets, was ready to receive its haul of fruit:

Picking truck

The pickers largely disappeared into the trees, with only their legs visible. (There were also small ladders to reach the tops.) They were quite efficient: after they had been through a tree, nary a cherry remained. They have a plastic box strapped around their waists, which they fill rapidly, for they get paid by the basket. Each basket holds about three kilos.

Pickers

A harder tree:

Picking 2

After several baskets are picked, they are brought to the truck, where each picker’s haul is totted up, put into larger plastic pallets, and sorted to remove rotten fruit, leaves, and other debris:

Sorting

Sorting 2

After a while, the cherries begin to accumulate on the truck. The day’s haul was, I’m told, about 3,000 kilos. But there are at least two days of picking left:

Truck

The best cherries are reserved for sale in the local market, while the rest are sold to factories that freeze them. As there was a glut of cherries last year, and they’re still frozen, the price for this year’s crop was very low: 1.05 zloty (about 35 cents US) per kilo.

For market

Pre-lunch walkies to the Vistula. Cyrus the d*g came along, though Hili remained behind. Here he nobly surveys the river:

Cyrus

Time for lunch, appetite whetted with a glass of fresh cherry juice:

Juice

Lunch was an assortment of Polish charcuterie: ham, local sausages, including the skinny ones (kabanosy), and cheese:

Lunch

Then, jam and pie making. The batch of half-cooked jam from yesterday was brought out, cooked down further, and then put into sterilized jars. There were about twenty at the end:

Jam

Jam, and the makings of PIE:

Jam completed

Malgorzata made another pie with cherries I’d picked and pitted just an hour before. Many pies are required since I eat about four pieces per day. (It’s a great breakfast food!):


Pie

A close-up, only moments before it entered my alimentary canal:

Pie slice

For dinner Malgorzata made a recipe of her own devising: a sort of Chinese vegetable-and-pork stir-fry served over noodles. I washed it down with Zubr (“Bison”), my favorite Polish beer. And, of course, another piece of cherry pie to finish

Dinner

The baskets and ladders were put away in the garden, ready for today’s picking:

Ready for tomorrow

 

Readers’ wildlife photos

Surprise! More birds today. (Where are you insect folks?)

Reader Mal Morrison from Devon sent pictures of  Common Swifts and some information:

For some time I’ve been trying to get some decent photos of Swifts (Apus apus) in flight. This is partly because I find them fascinating but mainly because capturing images present a real challenge. There are difficulties because of their speed and erratic flight and also with exposing a dark bird against a bright sky. These were taken just outside my home in Plymouth, Devon. While the birds are quite often high on the wing, they occasionally return to their nesting area and fly at low level over the rooftops and trees. Whether they do this just to check out ‘home’ or maybe for orientation I have no idea but they were doing this when these were taken. Swifts eat, mate and sleep in the air. (According to this site, they can sleep/fly as high as 10000 feet!)

image-1

Mal added this:

These were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mk 3 camera using the 100-400mm lens with an exposure of 2000th of a second.

image

And what is a set of bird photos without one by Stephen Barnard from Idaho?  This one came in an email titled “Swainson’s Hawk starting a dive for prey.”

Swainson's hawk starting dive

Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) is found in the western U.S. and Canada and overwinters in southeastern South America. Here’s its range from the Cornell Ornithology site:

bute_swai_AllAm_map

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