Flycatcher in the rye?

Not quite. On the rocks in fact. I remember this bird extremely well. I photographed it in December 2005 in an area I used to check regularly. It is called Ho Chung. There is a small stream that flows alongside a path and sometimes I would find birds drinking or bathing there. On this particular day a flash of blue alerted me to this Verditer flycatcher, Eumyias thalassina. It is not a rare bird but neither is it one to be found on every bush. Its official status is scarce winter visitor. We have had a couple in the garden but it always cheers me up when I find one.  They are not particularly approachable in my experience. This one however was different.

I was using a 500mm lens on my Canon 1D2 and I set the tripod up with a view to approaching gradually and with hope for better frame fillers as I did so. The VF had a very different plan of campaign. It charged me. I exaggerate (again). But indeed it went on the attack, hopping ever closer. From rock to rock. Pausing perhaps to take an invisible insect somewhere, but advancing nonetheless. Until I suddenly realised it was too close for me to focus on. I had to retreat. I don’t recall how long this lasted but certainly a good twenty minutes until the VF became bored and flitted off.

And here is the bird in all its glory.

What a dreamy bird. Nice soft evening light, a catchlight in the eye and still as a HK traffic jam. And that was going to be it. But as I typed the last sentence a Laughingthrush popped up in the hedge opposite my study, where I sit to bang out these blogposts.

The trusty SX50 HS was whipped out and here we are, handheld at 1200mm, not quite the same quality I fear, but a passable record shot. I must ask Bob Thompson how he gets such sharp images with his.

Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Garrulax pectoralis. Widespread but scarce resident population of captive origin.

That’s all folks.

Black is white

I changed the theme to the blog as I am sure you noticed. I have long since felt that the text did not lend itself to easy reading, assuming that anybody actually reads it, yet I liked the way it showed off the photos. Nevertheless, until I am convinced that there is enough demand for a Premium format I am holding out against paying for one.

What make us so convinced that the internet should be free? We do not pay directly for our Googles, our blogs, our news, even our Facebook. Now of course we pay indirectly as these channels are either a vehicle for delivering advertising to us or act as teasers to persuade us to upgrade. We don’t have to though and my resistance to paying for a premium blog theme is evidence enough.

What finally led me to change themes was simply a comment that the font size and visual challenge of text against background might reduce the number of hits I get. I am not chasing hits but I do occasionally wonder what transforms the traffic volume on a blog. I imagine that you need strong content but when I look at some high traffic blogs I see that is not necessarily the case. Presentation certainly counts. A consistent style perhaps? The reader knows what to expect. Hmm. I fail miserably on that one too. Quality content certainly helps but I see no direct correlation between quality and quantity.

To illustrate the inconsistency in my content I jump now to what I read on the web and indeed off it. Recently I shared with someone the financial sites I visit regularly and some of the books that aid my thinking. I reproduce them here:

The blogs I follow most closely are these:

This is one that is very data focussed although Jeff Miller does trade as well as invest.

The Big Picture – good commentary and insights and sometimes some non financial content to lift the gloom.

This is as it appears in the url, Calculated Risk. Good content.

Horan Capital. I don’t recall how I found this but it is one I have hung onto.

This one tends to look more at individual companies but is also a good feed aggregator, morning reads etc.

Simply a good site I enjoy and find useful.

The Kindle has ruined me. I have it installed on my iPad and download far too much.

I do recommend the following:

When China Rules the World                Martin Jacques

Breakout Nations                                    Ruchir Sharma

Deng Xiaoping                                          Ezra F. Vogel

The Next Decade                                      George Friedman

Red Capitalism                                         Carl E. Walter & Fraser J. T. Howie

The Age of Deleveraging                         A. Gary Schilling

Endgame                                                    John Mauldin

Extreme Money                                        Satyajit Das

This Time is Different                             Reinhardt and Rogoff

I also have a multitude of photography feeds and shelves full of books on photography.  Currently I am reading The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum, recommended to me by my web-soulmate, Steve Gingold (see link below and visit his site at

None of which has so far made be a better investor or a better photographer. But it all passes the time of day and sometimes night. I am the world’s greatest theoretician and the world’s worst practitioner. So my November 25th resolution is to swap these two over.

Tomorrow I have to go to the office. Not  my office anymore of course but where I used to work. I am sure the nostalgia will swamp me as I ascend to the 23rd floor and wash away rapidly when I remember what led me to retire. So no outings to into the field tomorrow and that may not be a bad thing as the rain has set in and I am something of a dry weather snapper. By the time you next drop by, if ever, I may have changed the theme again. On a more serious note, if you have a recommendation for a theme, free or premium, do leave a comment but it needs to show off images and text at their best. I have always been a simple man of simple needs.