Tag Archives: osprey

Another take on writing what you know

Picture of RavindraIn the last few days I’ve been writing a short story to do with one of the major characters in my Morgan Selwood series. Admiral Ashkar Ravindra is commander of the Manesai fleet which ‘rescues’ Supertech Morgan Selwood and her shipmate, accountant Tony Jones, from a slow death on their freighter Curlew, which had a failed shift drive. Having a failed shift drive means the ship can’t go to hyperspace and is stuck with traveling through real spacetime, which means you’re going to run out of air, food and water long before you’re likely to get anywhere. That story is told in Morgan’s Choice.

Anyhow, back to Ravindra. He comes from a very regimented society, where everyone belongs to one of four classes, which are unable to breed together. The original intention of the people who genetically engineered the Manesai may well have been “a place for everyone and everyone in their place”. But as I’m sure you can appreciate, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Ravindra is a member of the military class, the Mirka. Naturally, each class had developed its own sub-classes (because people are like that) and Ravindra’s family is part of the Darya group – from which most Manesai admirals are recruited. His father was an admiral, his grand-father was an admiral, young Ravindra is going to be an admiral, he will marry the daughter of an admiral. His path is mapped out for him.

And yet, Admiral Ravindra has a tattoo. Not some small, discrete bit of ink that people wouldn’t notice. He has a bloody great vulsaur tattooed all over his right shoulder, down his back and over his bicep. That photo at top left doesn’t really do it justice, but you get the idea. So why does that matter? Ah, you see, Mirka – and most especially Darya Mirka – don’t have tattoos. Troopers have tatts, admirals don’t. So what in the wild world would have resulted in eighteen-year-old Ravindra, with school finished and the acceptance to the Fleet Academy in his pocket, having a tattoo?

You’ll have to read the story to find out.

However, I’m not giving much away to tell you it concerns a vulsaur, which looks a bit like our mythical dragon. In one scene in the story, I need to have the vulsaur take off from quite a low start. Large flying creatures (on our planet, anyway) either leap off high places and glide or they need a long takeoff. But I didn’t want to do that. So rather than emulate an albatross or a swan, the vulsaur acts like an osprey.

I took this series of pictures down the beach a couple of years ago. The osprey has gone for a bathe in the shallows. Now he’s finished and he wants to take off. Basically, with his wings raised vertically, he jumps, then brings those wings down hard. And he’s off.

Osprey lifts its wingsIMG_0684IMG_0685IMG_0686IMG_0687IMG_0688

And this is just one more example of ‘write what you know’.

A specially awesome day

Photo of rain over Fraser islandI always take my camera to the beach and today was a specially awesome day with the camera.  We went early, to escape the heat, more than anything. As you can see, there was a shower around.

picture of perched osprey We said ‘good morning’ to the osprey looking down at us from his favourite perch

and waved to the Brahmani Kite high up in the pine tree.picture of Brahmani kite in tree

Then we were treated to the spectacle of an osprey hunting. It came in low over shallow water. Dived so deep it disappeared, then came back up again, fighting for the sky. I say ‘fighting’ – I think they do it pretty easily with those huge wings. The fish caught securely in its talons, it headed back up the beach to find a place to eat.

If you’d like to see more of my eagle pictures, you might like ‘When the universe tugs at your lead’ or ‘photographing Brahmani kites’.

aggregate picture of hunting osprey

picture of Brahmani Kite carrying a fish

When the universe tugs at your lead…

I hadn’t intended to write a photography blog so soon after my debut yesterday. But sometimes the universe jerks your lead and you just have to go along with the tug.

I went to the beach this morning, my trusty camera in hand. It looked like a nice day and I hoped I might catch up with a few of my feathered friends. Some of them have become friends, although I’ll forgive you for not believing me. Some, I swear, love to have their picture taken and seek me out when I arrive.

Eagle with snake in its talons

Today the Brahmani Kite was out on the tidal flat at Tooan-tooan creek but he’d caught a sea snake for dinner and was soon off to a safer haunt, no doubt to a perch above the creek where he often goes.

So I wandered on, up the beach. In the distance a bird bathing in the shallows caught my eye so I went to see. It was another friend, one of the pair of ospreys, a largish sea eagle. I’d been hoping to catch up with it this morning but I hadn’t anticipated the treat I had in store.

Osprey bathing

He flapped around in the shallows just like any duck, getting the water through his feathers, preening between dousing.

Osprey Drying wings

When he’d had enough, he set about drying his wings, flapping them about while he stood in the water

The osprey leaps into the air

Then he was off. A mighty leap into the air with a massive down beat of those powerful wings

Osprey flying

He swept away, over the beach and around the bay to search for lunch, I guess.

I’m so lucky to see these things. Share by all means – but acknowledge my copyright.