A young Lappet-faced vulture tastes freedom of the skies for a few minutes before being returned to his captive state.
This raptor is among the most fear and respected of the many species of carrion feeders that provide an invaluable service to us and nature by being one of the few living things to be able to digest all but the most foul and pestilent bacteria on earth. With their beaks hard as diamond-tips, the huge lappet-faced vulture provides the vanguard role in disposing of a corpse, being one of the only raptors to have the strength and design to tear at tendon, sinew, and even cartilage.
A soapstone impression of Istanbul’s world-renowned Blue Mosque, this one, the second-largest in the Emirates, is going to wear its lines most handsomely into old age.
In fact, when all around is but an historical artefact seized back by the hungered and encroaching desert, geologists of the distant future will be looking upon the defiant structure of its mighty minarets (by then three will be fallen but one will still be standing tall and proud). As for its architectural centrepiece – the dome – the birds might have moved into the cracks of its pocked surface, but the dome will still be a dome while the world remakes itself.
Some things in life were built to last.
At Little Loch Broom, the clouds quite literally roll in to let the light fall in stripes over the iron hills, so ancient and half-asleep they don’t even notice any more.
At Gairloch, the bracken has died but not before showing its true colour of rust.
The bare rocks that protrude slate grey are the worn down teeth of primordial giants, megaliths that did battle through the Scotch mists of time.
At the Assynt, the peaks have given in to solitude. When the sun occasions to shine on them, they espy one another from afar. They talk in ancient riddles across the glen but of what we still haven’t deciphered.
The leaf that refuses to yield long after the rain has turned to snow.