Good Reading : June 2006
JUNE 2006 ı goodreading 47 coffee table Light on the Earth is published by BBC Books, rrp $79.95 When male rattlesnakes compete for mating rights, they do so in a most grace- ful and ritualised way. Photographers Robert and Virginia Small of the USA watched these western diamondbacks grappling in Texas in 1999 for more than an hour — an encounter usually seen only by female rattlesnakes. Australia’s Andrew Davoll took this remarkable photograph of Western Australia’s flat wattle in 2003, five years after he began his search for the perfect shot that would display each of the plant’s reproductive stages: a golden globe fresh with pollen-bearing stamens, a flower ripe with rays of the female stigmas, and coiled pink seedpods. Seven little bee-eaters, huddling together for warmth, were captured on camera by Peter Blackwell of Kenya in 1997. It took him a week of dawn vigils before he got this ideal eye-level view, with the sun low enough to light their breasts. The last one on the right presents a perfect end point to the line-up.