Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Great Banana High-Jacking

All of a sudden there was a gust of wind and everything went dark!

“Neo, Neo?” called Mandisa. 

“Where are you? What’s happening?” she cried out.

“It’s alright Mandisa, I’m here.” Neo replied. 

“What’s happening?” she worriedly asked. 

Their setting seemed to be shifting which gave a sense of a certain level of the familiar weightlessness of taking flight. The next moment they were jolted by a thud as their surroundings seemed to come to a dead halt. There was another bang of vibrations, and another before a brief and eerie moment of stillness.

Mandisa and Neo remained completely still without speaking a word when the low rumble started and their trapped environment began an all-encompassing steady vibration... What was going on?

They tried to flit around the enclosed space but continually met with a hard surface with each try. After several attempts, Neo finally fell sideways next to Mandisa. Exhausted from their continual failed efforts to escape they sat defeated and tried to regain their strength…

Saturday, 7 December 2013

delayed post...

Hi Everyone!

This week's post will be a little late. But be sure to also come by the Alphabeasts page after next weekend to meet the Jaguar!

Hope you're all having a splendid day!!!

Saturday, 30 November 2013


“A final comfort that is small, but not cold: The heart is the only broken instrument that works.”

― T.E. Kalem

As she stared across the wide expanse of the dry desert landscape she longed to be bonded once more with the pieces in her that were still missing. The barren plains of her ancestral homeland were a harsh and unforgiving place. Amore knew her Amado was waiting for her. She could feel the pull of the calling deep within her soul. 

As her hooves struck the cracked dirt it stirred up clouds of dust like the memories of the past and dreams of the future. She continued her stride, as with each step she could feel the rhythmic union growing stronger as they drew nearer to one another. She longed for that moment, that single instant in suspended reality when their necks interlocked in a twist of playful excited nuzzling or the intimate request of sharing a breath. 

These thoughts welled in her that low and soft nickering expression of her happiness. She had been captured for too long and needed to break free from the bridle that had restricted her for many years.

However, although she was going toward her true origins, she feared that she may remain close in the coupling, but like two species bonded, the divide between them would keep at bay the reality that they could ever fuse.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Good things come to those who wait....

“See, that wasn’t so bad now. Was it Molly?” asked Andrei.

She slowly looked around at all the hustle and bustle of the platform at the station as people hurriedly made their way to work and appointments. She was so hungry. Her last real meal had been before leaving the house with Lucy the day before. Molly was really looking forward to this feast that Andrei had talked so much about on the ride over to East Putney Station. Molly still felt a little wobbly on her legs after riding the tube. As she had stepped off the train she had taken a few unsteady steps and then sat for a break to look around at her new surroundings. It looked quite bare compared to Richmond Park and Bluegate Pond but felt oddly familiar at the same time.

The streets were dotted with the odd tree and the pace of the environment was overwhelming. It felt much like the walk along High street that Andrei had taken her on to get to the train station. Andrei gave Molly a moment to absorb her surroundings and then led her eastward along the A205. The street was lined with food markets, restaurants and shops and upper level flats. There were so many smells wafting out from the various eateries that Molly was drooling at the thought of her upcoming meal... They walked to the corner of Oxford Rd when Andrei motioned Molly the two adjoining pizza shops.

 "This is a great spot!" said Andrei.

 "I am so hungry... How are we going to get anything to eat from out here?" Molly asked.

"You'll see." said Andrei.

They walked up to the front of the shop and Andrei told Molly to sit patiently and watch him. 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

This is no Teddy Bear Picnic...

Forest elephant at Mudumalai National Park
What comes to mind when you hear the word elephant? In most case, the image that is conjured is of a lumbering gentle grey animal that saunters across the vast expanse of the golden grasslands of the African Savannah.

But, if you go out to the woods today you’re sure for a big surprise…

How many of you are familiar with the Forest Elephant? This particular distinct species inhabits the dense west and central African Rainforest. They are smaller than the Savannah elephant and have only recently been recognised as a distinct species. The forest elephant is the species I have chosen to introduce into William’s story and the Beautiful Creatures series.

Forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) in the Mbeli River,
Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, Congo.
Elephants are a species that have a highly complex social system which have endured trauma at the hands of humans through mass culls, imprisonment and poaching. Humans can often overlook the ability of other species to experience the deep bonds that we feel with our own kin. However, Daphne Sheldrick, who was recently interviewed by Chelsea Clinton is one that knows all too well the trauma that young elephants suffer from witnessing unimaginable atrocities that we would not question would scar our own children if they were to be an eyewitness such acts. Dame Sheldrick has worked with orphaned elephant over the year in the efforts to rebuild their ability to trust after shockingly disturbing events that has orphaned them. However, these gentle giants do have their list of famous supporters which are working toward conservation efforts to ensure that this species is not wiped out by human shortsightedness.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Flightless Beast

It was mid-January and on the tail end of the rains when William made it to the African coast. He was exhausted from the journey. As he settled in to rest for the night he could feel the uneven rhythm of the raindrops as the shook the foliage that surrounded him. Thinking about the distance of the travel that he had accomplished was a lot to absorb. The adventure had been one dotted with flashes of sorrow, but equally with playful interludes and moments of joy and excitement. The African forests reflected the supports and comforts that he had overcome on his voyage to the coast. The forests in which he now found himself were like green islands sanctuaries in a vast golden sea. His life at Bluegate now seemed so far away. His missed the familiarity of the pond now more than ever. Although he had said goodbye and would never see the beings that had given him the courage to continue on his quest, he did have his memories. As William thought back to the stories that Seymour had told him about the great migration, this is what had kept him strong when he felt that he could no longer go on.

Just then he felt a shudder radiate through the branch upon which he was resting for the night. Far larger than any raindrop, this shudder nearly knocked him from his perch. Again, again, again and again… The pounding grew closer and closer in a four beat sequence until he noticed a shift in the light cast from the moon. And, before he could even focus his attention, he caught sight of the enormous creature as he trudged along passed William's new leafy accommodation.

Along his journey William had met many creatures. However, this was probably one of the most remarkable. Looking at this huge lumbering beast, William wondered why he moved so slowly when he had what looked like two large wings attached to his body that flapped, but that did not seem to take him into the air...

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Radar Love...

Good things come in small packages...

As I research the characters of Beautiful Creatures I get to embark on my on journey of discovery. The Beautiful Creatures series is one that weaves together stories of perseverance, determination, kindness and adventure through the lens of other species. However, through these journeys the stories are equally infused with lessons about biology, history, geography… The research that I do for the characters is one that nourishes my own need for intrigue by looking to popularise specific lesser, or unknown facts about species that I can weave into the tapestry of my narratives. One of these facts is the concept of nuptial gifts in arthropods. This week I have been researching the practice of how male spiders sweeten the courtship deal by offering females what is known as a nuptial gift. These gifts enhance the likelihood that their advances will be accepted by the female they are courting. The way that this occurs is by boosting a female’s “friendliness” by tapping into her foraging instincts through such offerings. The study in question that I am writing about here, relates to a specific neotropical spider known as Paratrechalea ornata.

So what are some of the reasons for why these spiders gift at all?

The nuptial gift giving behaviour has been explained as a way to both increase male reproductive success by attracting females and facilitating coupling. Some scientists also agree that the nuptial gift is a way for males to invest in the reproductive endeavour by providing females with a nutritional offering that will “increase her reproductive output”. So what exactly does this mean? From an anthropocentric perspective, the nuptial gift makes a female more approachable and amenable to the male’s flirtatious efforts. And, from the male’s point of view, his gifts help to ensure that he will father more offspring and that he has contributed by providing the nourishment that the female needs to reproduce.

But what makes these gifts so appealing to the female? And can they really tell the difference? Well, in the neotropical species analysed in the article by Brum et al. the nuptial gift contains a prey item that the male has wrapped in a special silk that he only uses for this purpose. So what attracts the female to accept this gift? Is it the “pretty” wrapping or the contents of the package? As it turns out, these spider gals were not interested in any visual cues (aka the “pretty” package), but rather the chemical signals that are found within the silk layer of the gift. So it seems that “spidey love” is somewhat “silk deep.” Something to think about…

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Living Kaleidoscopes

One not need look far to be inspired by the beauty of nature

I am lucky to be surrounded by so many talented and amazing people that share common interests and connection with the natural world that surrounds and is a part of us all. Every once and a while I am reminded of the lovely work that they do, and so I wanted to take a moment to share this with all of you…

Scrub Jay in Watercolour By Emily Soden
In no particular order, the first I will begin with is Elsa Mora. She does some absolutely lovely paper-cutting work but one of my favourite images is of a girl and a dragonfly that you can find in her drawings gallery. Next is Emily Soden, who comes from an extremely talented group of siblings, and her character illustrations echo childhood memories of animal characters and wild imaginations.  A couple of the soulful paintings by Britt Fuller can be seen here and John Viljoen’s landscapes will lead you into a visual escape from all the chaos that may surround you or you may simply like to gaze at the amazingly vivid portraits and wildlife images by Tom Middleton.

Along my journey working on the Beautiful Creatures project I have also come across a fair number of wonderful artists and writers. One of my favourites is Liz Climo. Her charming illustrations are peppered with colourfully imaginative commentary. Her illustrated animals speak to with real life issues in a light homouristic way that is bound to brighten your day. She references childhood stories, fables and games which create a delightful collection that is sure to bring back your fondest memories. One of my favourite of her illustrations is of Larry the Narwhal, a species I have written about myself. All the while, James Suhr teaches some important lessons with his charming and amusing animal sketches. Meanwhile, Jo Marshall’s Twig Stories will take you on a delightful adventure captivating you through D.W. Murray’s spectacular illustrations.

This is just a brief selection… However, I hope it will encourage you to gaze around your own web to appreciate all the creative influences that inspire you.

Friday, 23 August 2013

The enchanted tree of voices

Bluegate pond was relatively secluded from the concrete ground cover that was slowly engulfing the scarce greenery of this diverse habitat of interconnected lives. However, the gentle urban drone was increasingly penetrating the forest wall. Nonetheless, despite its proximity to the city, the pond was relatively quiet, and from time to time the odd new visitor would fall upon this natural oasis of peace. For the most part, people would flock to the larger parks like Richmond and Wimbledon, where there were wide expanses for their companions to run in pursuit of one another under the warm summer sun.

However, now and again, children may wander into the thicket of greenery that protected Bluegate from most passers-by. Little Benjamin was one of those visitors that had discovered the pond on his afternoon adventures into the park that bordered his Parkside home. Benjamin was at that lovely age where inventiveness could be inspired by the slightest sounds, where sticks were swords and the rustling of the leaves was the arrival of invisible dragons…
On this particular day, Benjamin had run to the edge of the pond to search for magic stones to ward off these invisible dragons. He had begun his quest at the enchanted tree of voices making his offering of the glass berries to the inhabitants for their magic potions. As he drew near to the edge of the pond, he knew that he may not have enough time to find the stones that could only be collected in twilight…

Saturday, 27 July 2013

It's in the dance

They sat for a moment while Mandisa looked around the inside of the packing shed. She watched as the workers sorted through the fruit and quickly packed it in the crates. As the sun grew stronger, it pierced through the slates of the wooden walls and cast blinding highlights across the dimly lit sorting stations.  Beams of light flickered across the scene in a quick and rhythmic dance as the workers kept their steady pace. The interplay between shadow and sunlight cast what seemed like choreographed silhouettes foreshadowing the morning ballet that Mandisa had been so eagerly awaiting…   

“So are you ready?” asked Neo.

“Am I ready?” Mandisa responded cheerfully.

“Okay, then… Follow closely!” and like a bolt from the blue Neo was off!

Mandisa was in hot pursuit of Neo, but he was so fast and a far more experienced flyer! She quickly dashed forward with the phased-stroking and the ‘clap-and-fling’ of her wings, using both techniques to generate the lift that she needed and thrust to catch up with Neo. As she carefully alternated each of her strokes with the calculated twisting between the supination and pronation of the ends of her wings, Mandisa quickly gained momentum. Neo was aware of her effort and began to synchronise his stroking until his wings halted their careful beats and fell into an updraft glide so that she could catch up and join in the pulse of his aeronautical adventure.

“Well hello again!” said Neo once more as they met up side by side.

“Hello…” responded Mandisa coyly.

“So, shall we race to the end of the slow-movers?” ask Neo in his ever so charming tone.

Mandisa, besotted with Neo even before he had asked her to join in the morning’s adventure, hesitated out of shyness.

“Well, come on then!” said Neo playfully tempting her.

She then excitedly joined in his good-natured rivalry “Alright then…On your mark, set…” she called out, and before shouting ‘go’ she was off!

But it wasn’t long before Neo caught up and appeared right in front of her in a masterful stunt combining asymmetric wing strokes which spun him on his axis and into a free glide bringing him face to face with Mandisa. He hovered for a moment and began reflecting her forward motion in his own backward counter-stroking flight before dropping off in another synchronised stroke to the left. As he rushed back up, he circled Mandisa before racing off into the chain of swaying legs and arms of the workers. With a quick clap-and-fling, she charged forward and regained her momentum as she followed closely behind Neo.

As they glided through the legs of the first worker and shot up to the right, they flipped on their axes and twisted their way up between the tight opening of the next worker’s arm and the crate he was holding.

Although she was a novice in this game of Neo’s, Mandisa was an exceptional tracker. However, her curiousity and naiveté was something that Neo had not accounted for as he continued along unaware that he had lost his pursuer. Mandisa’s curiousity often got the better of her, and in this moment, as she breached the tunnel between the worker’s arm and his crate she came face-to-face with the slow-mover and could not resist a closer inspection. She glided toward the orbs of the giant being and gently darted from side to side and swayed back as the slow-mover took its labouring steps toward her. At that moment, Neo sensed the loss of his partner and as he retraced his flight caught sight of the giant being’s arm rising up to swat Mandisa out of the way.

“Mandisa move!” shouted Neo as he darted towards her.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Welcome Alphabeasts

“If you will learn to listen to the wind when it calls,” she said, “and discover the language of other animals than ourselves, you will never lose the center of yourself.”

Interview with Frank Water, 
Lessons from the Indian Soul
Psychology Today, May 1973.

This marks the first week of the Alphabeasts series. Hop, skip, swim, fly, jump, run, walk, swing or simply wander on over to the Alphabeasts page to meet the Aye-Aye...

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Flight of Fancy

via Wikimedia Commons
It was early morning on the farm and the workers were busy packing fruit for the midday shipment before the heat of the afternoon sun. It was hard and heavy work stacking the crates into the truck. There was a packing shed where the shipments were closed up before they were passed on to the first in a string of workers that made up the supply chain for the delivery. Each worker would walk a short distance to hand off the crate to the next. As they walked, they kicked up the undergrowth beneath their feet and tiny clusters of flies would be disturbed along the path. This was a great place to find an easy meal and a bit of a hidden adventure for a group of dragonflies that enjoyed the game of weaving in and around the slow-movers.

This was Mandisa’s first time out accompanying the slow-moving animals that disturbed the little flying insects that would be her morning meal. Neo, who was a regular adventurer, had invited her along with some of the others. He had lured her in with his thrilling stories about diving through the packing shed and zigzagging through the supply chain that were the slow-movers. She had only just recently met Neo and his friends, but had specifically taken a shine to him and was quite flattered to have been invited along for the morning’s escapade! When they arrived to the site Neo told Mandisa to stay close to him. He would show her around the place and essentially teach her the rules of the game. They sat together on a nearby branch on the edge of the plantation as Neo described the surroundings and the course that should be followed to ensure a great hunt.

As Neo described in detail all of the directions to Mandisa, she sat in awestruck excitement at the thought of beginning this thrilling chase. She always enjoyed a good hunt and this new site for a foraging game that Neo had brought her to was abundant with exhilarating feats of flying prowess and narrow escapes.

“Now, Mandisa” said Neo “watch me as I go through the sequence and then meet me at the packing shed.”

Mandisa was always ready to take on a challenge and this new game was nothing different. She had had narrow escapes in the past but she was known as one to chase a quest. She reluctantly stood on the branch and waited to watch Neo go through the sequence of the course. She was eager just to jump in, but he knew better, he’d done this before and rather than take haste she thought maybe she should take a moment to experience the chase through sight before taking it on through flight!

In a flash, Neo burst through the opening of the packing shed rising up above the slow-movers before he dove down behind them and followed just inches from them as they sauntered along the path… Then, without warning he veered to the left and Mandisa could see he was clutching a wriggling fly before he quickly devoured it in mid -flight. Her wings twitched with excitement as he shot the right and resumed the pursuit of the slow-movers. As he snaked through their legs, he made his way along the supply chain and hovered for a moment motioning to Mandisa to meet him back at the shed.
She was so flooded with the anticipation that her flickering wings beat so fast that her legs nearly didn’t have the chance to fully let go of the branch before she rose to the air. She hung above the branch for the briefest moment before whizzing forward to meet up with Neo at the shed!

As she soared through the air she could not contain her enthusiasm. She rose to heights and dove down at staggering speeds before coming to a pause and hovering gracefully in a way that made her feel like everything around her was standing still. The whirr of her wings was all that she could concentrate on when Neo playfully darted behind her.

 “C’mon Mandisa! I’ll make it there before you!”

She quickly snapped out of her momentary trance and quickened her flight to catch up with Neo. They flew side by side before splitting their paths just before meeting the front of the shed and raced at either side to meet up at the other end. They were completely in sync and arrived together as though they were a mirror image of the other and softly landed on the pile of bright green tubes that the slow-movers were placing in the crates.  

Monday, 8 July 2013

Is it a dream…?

"We live in a world made up more of story than stuff. We are creatures of memory more than reminders, of love more than likes." ~Jonathan Safran Foer 

In my post before last, I mentioned two seminal works that had shaped my connection with nature. One was E. B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan, but the first was Watership Down by Richard Adams. This week, I was reminded by a friend’s blog and through the class I teach about the importance of stories and how they connect us in our relationships. And so, I wanted to share my connection to Watership Down. This particular narrative by Richard Adams is quite personal and touching for me as it is associated with the bond I had with my grandmother. While The Trumpet of the Swan was one of the first books that I read that really impacted my ecological beliefs; Watership Down was the first film that I remember having a similarly profound influence on the values I would carry with me into adulthood. I read Watership Down years later, but the film rendition is quite heart-wrenching for me. I remember going to see it in the theatre as a child; one of those lovely evenings when an outing to the movies was a rare and treasured experience. 

There a few scenes in the film that deeply moved me and that remain in my psyche to this day. The first scenes are in reference to Fiver’s dream and Captain Holly’s telling of the destruction of their warren. This first scene is the one that led me to critically examine our actions as human beings and how they affect the well-being of both the environment that surrounds us, and all of the beings within… The scene that has an interpersonal connection for me is the first introduction of the rabbit of death when Fiver is guided to Hazel after he has been shot by the farmer. The lyrics from the song in the background of the scene sung by Art Garfunkel are equally powerful. Before my grandmother passed, I put together a tribute book to her from her children and grandchildren. The lyrics from Bright Eyes were part of a quote that I included in this book of family narratives honouring my grandmother for her role in our lives. We each wrote our cherished moments and accompanied our piece in the book with a picture of our youthful selves. It’s been quite a while since she has passed and that clip and the song on its own still move me to tears… 

Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Gossamer Adventure

As the sun rose, Lila would search for a great spot hidden beneath the leaves where she would spend a motionless day of watching the comings and goings of the residents of Bluegate Pond. She was much like any of the other dwellers that lived by, around and in the pond. She knew about family histories, and had witnessed both joys and tragedies. But Lila didn’t have the luxury of time like some of the others to learn about all the stories that made up this vibrant community of beings. Rather, her knowledge came from patient observations during her daytime “thanatosis”, otherwise known as “death feigning”. As the sun would break through the clouds, Lila would fold her legs and antenna close to her body so as to mimic a stick. This position helped keep her safe from her many predators around the pond.

In the early morning hours when Lila was settling in to her safe spot for the day, she began her routine of motionlessly watching the other beings as they went about their daily regimes. On this particular morning, it was a nice breezy day at the pond and two male spiderlings were preparing for their aeronautical adventure. Lila remained still, and watched as each spiderling slowly and gently extended a limb as though to test the wind direction. As they stretched out “tiptoed” on the tip of a cattail, both spiderlings raised their abdomens to the air and began to release their gossamer silk threads, creating the parachute that would balloon them to their new destination. 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Trumpet of the Swan

The Trumpet of the Swan
The Trumpet of the Swan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“An egg, because it contains life, is the most perfect thing there is. It is beautiful and mysterious” (E.B. White, The Trumpet of the Swan, p.23).

The stories we read as children and young adults can follow us into adulthood and shape our beliefs about the world that surrounds us. There are two seminal works that have shaped my connections with nature. The one I will write about here is E. B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan.  

For those of you who are not familiar with the story The Trumpet of the Swan, it is the tale of how a mute cygnet finds his voice and his relationship with a young boy named Sam Beaver. As you begin to read the first few pages of the story you are drawn into Canada’s wilderness. White describes in vivid detail the song of the different birds, many of which remain in my subconscious as symbols of my childhood, such as the chickadee and the iconic red wing black bird.

As a young child both my brother and I would spend our days outside, whether we were in the city in the winters or at a cottage by the lake or my grand-parents’ farm in the summers. Like Sam, we would embark on long hikes and explorative journeys watching, observing and delighting in the environment around us. If we were in the city, there were many parks nearby; or even our backyard where you could find fascinating caterpillars and various other insects. Whereas when we were in the country it was a setting that offered a cornucopia of larger, furrier, feathered or amphibious character to appeal to both our yearnings to explore these worlds beyond our own. My brother and I carried our sketch pads with us wherever we went. We could spend hours drawing and creating stories while observing the vivacity of the beings within our sight. As such, Sam’s escapades were a wonderful way to revive the fond memories of the day as I lay in bed reading. Although The Trumpet of the Swan was intended to be read by young boys, the character of Sam that E. B. White created for his story was an integral reason that I was so drawn to the story.

Mute Swan

Mute Swan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My father was raised on a farm and his background influenced how we were brought up. Even in the city my father had a garden bursting with flowers, fruit and vegetables. As such, the chance to be close to nature was at arm’s length. As children that spent a great deal of time in natural settings, my brother and I also loved to care for nonhuman animals, and as a consequence, we lived with many different types of companion animals. We had fish, mice, rabbits, newts, cats and dogs, to name a few… I was also quite shy as a child, and I preferred to observe than to speak. And while our pets never could respond in English, these companions always had a patient ear to which we could reveal our secrets and share our sorrows. In this way, the character of Louis (the mute swan) was both like a mirror for my own sense of feeling voiceless and how I would express myself through art.

Throughout the story of The Trumpet of the Swan there are several mentions about the different expeditions in the Canadian wilderness that provide a rich canvas for Sam to fill his notebook with his numerous observations. There are also countless references to the friendship between Sam and Louis. In several passages White describes ways in which we must be aware of our holistic place in the world and respect the space of nonhuman nature. The story touches on the concepts of species extinction and how humans can play a part in contributing to the protection of endangered wildlife. Moreover, White brings to the forefront the idea of equality between species. This is best illustrated by the example when Louis is shot and the town-folk fetch the ambulance to save the injured swan.

The Trumpet of the Swan is a beautiful guide for young readers that truly fosters a deep connection to nonhuman nature through a narrative that is engaging and entices one to want to go out and experience similar personal adventures through respect and observation. Now there is no doubt that Louis highly anthropomorphized but this lets a younger reader connect more easily which allows one to foster empathy for the character of Louis…

Saturday, 8 June 2013


After the frantic realisation that she had been lost, the running through one forest to another and along unknown paths, Molly was exhausted from the day’s adventures. As she drank and quenched her thirst all she could muster up the energy for was to find a safe and comfortable spot to sleep. She took a few more laps of water and stepped back from the pond. The sun had almost completely set at this point, and the sky was a deep red on the horizon. She stood quietly by the water for a moment and looked around. The moonlight reflected on the pond enabling Molly to see her surroundings a little bit better. She could also see that the bird that had led her to the pond was just a few steps away. He was wading in the water and taking a drink himself.

“I don’t think I told you my name, but I’m Molly” she said.

“Well, it’s nice to meet you Molly. My name is Jet” replied the bird.

“Where are we?” she asked.

“Why, you are at Bluegate Pond!” Jet replied.

“I am so tired, is this where you meant for me to sleep?” she asked, her body slumped from fatigue.

“Look over there, there is a hollowed out tree where you can lie down and rest” answered Jet.

Molly glanced over to the wooded area next to the water and made her way to the hollowed out tree that that Jet had brought to her attention. It was dark and the air was damp. She sniffed at the inside walls of this natural den that would be her bedroom for the night and started to circle and scratch at the ground. As Molly patted down a bed for herself with this circular dance, beetles and spiders scurried for safety towards the edges of the hollowed tree. A few more steps should do it, and around she went once more until she plopped down and sank into the softness of the decaying vegetation beneath her.

“Hrrmphh!” Molly let out a wearied breath as her eyes gently glanced upwards to the open sky and the twinkling of fireflies above…
It had been a long day, and with all the uncertainty of being separated from Lucy, Molly was relieved to be lying down for a rest. Tomorrow she would continue on her quest, but for now she desperately needed to sleep. Closing her eyes, Molly could hear the gentle sounds of rustling leaves, the croaking of the toads in the pond and the rhythmic chirp of crickets. Gently she faded away from the outside world and welcomed a deep slumber. Molly’s legs began to twitch and she let out a few little whimpers as she relived the day’s adventures in dream.

“Kronk! Kronk!” Jet called out.

Molly woke with a jolt. Looking from side to side her gaze finally fell upon Jet. It felt as though she has only closed her eyes a moment ago but the sky was beginning to brighten with the new day. She felt an empty pit in her belly. She was famished!

“Kronk! Molly!” said Jet. “Up you get! If you want to settle that hunger we have to be up early to find something to eat!” he ordered.

Molly got to her feet, stretching her legs one at a time and then she took a deep bow and stretched out her neck with a relaxed groan. A little shake, and she was ready to go!

“Where are we going to find something to eat?” she asked.

“Well that is where the search begins, and you have to be up at the crack of dawn before everything is gone!” Jet informed Molly.

So off they went to circle the pond when Molly caught a glimpse of something in the reeds. Her head sunk and paralleled her spine as she took gentle calculated steps toward the edge of the pond. Jet watched closely thinking that perhaps she may know more than he thought. As she approached the reeds she carefully gauged each step until, pounce! She disappeared into the stalks and stems that lined the water’s edge. Jet swayed back and forth in quiet excitement of her hunting prowess when suddenly Molly’s head popped up with a big toad whose webbed feet dangled from her mouth.

“Kronck!” shrieked Jet.

In tandem with Andrei’s deep bark as he witnessed the scene.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Results from the Polling Station...

On April 6th, 2013 I sent out a link to a poll to find out what types of animals the public would like to read about in novel. This week I have decided to share some of the results. The poll will remain open for those that may still like to participate. I always love hearing your feedback!

So far, the majority falls into land based animals (58.49%) with an even split (20.75%) between aquatic and species in the air...

There have been some interesting suggestions for species to include in the stories. Equines were the most popular choice for the land based animals. Cetaceans for any aquatic species, and corvids for species in the air… There have also been some great suggestions for topics to address in the series which equally fall into my own vision for Beautiful Creatures.

Here are a few samples of the comments. 

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

“I've just returned from a camping trip … and watched a talk on raptors. As evil and dangerous as they are to rabbits, mice, cats, and small dogs, they are also victims of their own environment: desert = struggle for survival. I think a tale featuring different perspectives of what it takes to survive in the world would be interesting. What is a danger and villain to one is doing all it can stay in the game...”

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

“Reptiles - snakes specifically. No hands/arms (try eating without such aids) - try relying on your ribcage for traction/mobility. So vulnerable to damage by larger species. Yet they survive and thrive. Beautiful.”

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

“A land animal is more likely to have a human animal bond, but this is a very difficult question, and hard to restrict because all creatures have great purpose on earth to balance it that are not directly involved with mankind specifically. So hard question, but if it is for kids, they like to hold things that are huggable, and in my opinion this would be the best place to start, with something they can really hug!”

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

“No species in particular but the idea of existing in a place that I cannot is exciting. I love the idea of soaring, of seeing the world from a bird's eye view and relishing in those descriptions. Therefore Aquatic would be my second choice!”

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

“Barracuda and or Whale specifically, while the Whale would be the nicer of the two. Like what you've done thus far.”

Monday, April 15th, 2013

“something with mythological connections perhaps”

I want to thank all the people that have participated in the poll so far. It's wonderful to read your thoughts and to be able to incorporate them into the series. I have only included a handful of all the brilliant ideas and comments that you have shared with me. I look forward to reading more along the way… Together we can make Beautiful Creatures a series that will speak to all.

If you have not had a chance to cast your own vote, click the link below to voice your opinion!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Under a Blanket of Stars

April's last blog post left off with Molly at the busy intersection of the A3. Last week I posted my mind map for the character development of the ravens. And so, this week I thought I would share with you one of the feathered personalities from the Beautiful Creatures series.

Under a Blanket of Stars...

As she walked along Molly soaked in her surroundings. She absorbed the moistness of the air, felt the softness of the ground beneath her pads and was overwhelmed by all the smells! Molly’s nose was flooded with the scent of countless different leaves, rotting vegetation and the many woodland creatures that lived and traveled along the same path she was following. All of these fresh experiences distracted her from the hunger and thirst that she had felt when she was walking on the hard concrete alongside the traffic. She continued down the path as it grew dense with trees and then noticed that she was once again coming close to an opening in the forest. It seemed quite similar to the park she had been playing in earlier in the day with Lucy but now the sky was starting to darken. Oh Lucy, she sat down sighing heavily and whimpered softly. Molly paused for a moment and then resumed her trek along this unknown path.

“Kronck! Kronck!” called out a big black bird above her.

Startled, Molly turned around to locate the being that was making such a loud racket.

“Kronck! Up here! Above you! Look up! Look up!” shouted the big black bird.

Molly gazed up as the bird swooped down. The bird perched in a tree just above Molly and twitched his head from side to side as he looked at her.

“What are you doing alone in these parts?” said the bird.

Molly recounted her adventures in the park with Lucy and how she got separated from Lucy when she chased the hare.

“Hmmm, I see.” said the bird.

“And now, I’m just so tired.” said Molly.

Molly lay down in the path. The bird glided down from his perch and pecked her on the head. Molly recoiled in surprise and looked at him hesitantly.

“You can’t sleep there!” cried the bird. “Follow me! I will show you a good place nearby to rest and get a drink” he stated.

She got to her feet and quickly picked up her pace to keep up. He was right! It was just a few minutes away when the path opened up to a shimmering pond. Molly clumsily splashed through the reeds and lapped up the cool refreshing water…

Friday, 10 May 2013

Captivating Corvids

This week I enrolled in an online course through Stanford University. In the short time since I have joined the class, I have already "met" some wonderfully creative and inspiring people from all over the world! One of the assignments we have had to do so far was the creation of a Mind Map. This is a method that I use quite often when writing. However, it has been quite fun in this class to push the method a bit further by visually illustrating the process. My specific mind map was connected to the raven, and how characters from the species will figure into the Beautiful Creatures series. Here is the mind map I created for my Beautiful Creatures character exploration. Any ideas for raven character names?

If you are interested in using the mind mapping technique yourself, here are a couple of helpful links to get you on your way:

Friday, 3 May 2013

All Aboard! get the tube for his daily commute to the city, Andrei had to follow the grassy path along the A219. It was a relatively pleasant trot if he got up early and beat the morning rush hour. Once he reached High Street, there was a little more hustle and bustle with the streets now lined with shops and cafés as opposed to the tranquility of the tree-lined path closer to Bluegate pond. When the Dog and Fox, a local pub, was in sight, Andrei knew he had to navigate the roundabout and make his way to Church Road. High Street was by far the most stimulating part of the route, and one could easily get distracted with all the action! However, upon turning onto Church Road there was a little less energy and excitement as the cafés turned into local galleries, and the pubs became homes for the people that scurried around High Street. If it was a nice day, and Andrei had risen before the traffic, he would often continue along Church Road and hop on the tube at Southfields.

However, today he was running a little late since having met Molly, and he decided that the route along Arthur Road to Wimbledon Park Station would probably be the best choice. The nice part about taking the tube at Southfields was that one could stop along the way in Wimbledon Park and take a swim in the lake on those hot summer mornings. But for today, Andrei continued along Arthur Road to Wimbledon Park station. Since this was to be her first trip on the tube, Arthur Road was definitely a better choice with Molly. It had the wider walkways and usually less traffic.Once Andrei saw the roundabout in the distance along Arthur Road, he knew this was the cue that they were almost there! He could tell that Molly was tired and a little out of sorts from the morning trot... 

"One more block and then we will be able to rest Molly" she looked up at him with uncertainty; "it's just on the other side of the roundabout." 

Wimbledon Park Station was a red brick building with several chimneys and a news shop at the front facing the street. There were a group of swirly stands spilling out postcards that stood in the front of the shop window. Andrei and Molly crossed the threshold of the building and made their way down the staircase to the platform below. Andrei remembered his first trip on the tube, the unfamiliar noises, strange faces and smells. 

"It's okay Molly, you'll see, once we get on we'll be able to lay down and rest for a bit."
He had to keep reminding himself how new this was for her. Perhaps today they would simply explore the area around Putney. It was a shorter ride and this way she could get used to this box that would close its doors, shakes a little and opens them to a whole new place. Besides, the area around East Putney Station was as good as any for finding a good meal. There were school kids ready to toss you a chunk of their afternoon sandwich when you tilted your head at just the right angle, or kebab stands where a well-timed bark could startle a customer into dropping their warm lunch!  

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Dog Day Afternoon

Hans Hoffmann (ca. 1530 - ca. 1591) 

Molly hadn’t realised how far she'd run until it was too late. She stopped in her tracks, and looked back to the open breadth of greenery and forest. Where was she? And where was Lucy? Two steps forward, sniff sniff, nothing familiar! She had been playing in Richmond Park with Lucy and caught sight of a hare hopping by in the distance. Like an arrow she shot forward! Molly had run and run and run following the hare to a hiding place way beyond where she had been playing with Lucy. Molly saw the hare disappear into a hole in the ground and had been digging furiously to gain access to the hare's underground refuge. But now that she stopped digging, she realised that Lucy was nowhere in sight! Sniff sniff, nose to the ground but she could not pick up her scent. What was she going to do? She didn’t know the park, the area, or even where she and Lucy lived in relation to the park. She slowly started to walk along the grassy region, and looked back and forth hoping that she might see something familiar. It had been midday when they had left the house and headed for the park. They had played, and met other dogs and people that day. Why did she have to chase the hare into the woods? Maybe if she tried to turn back into the direction from which she had been running, she'd find Lucy. Why didn’t she think of that before! "Silly Molly" she thought to herself and started to trot along feeling better that she was headed on the right track… She continued to walk along trying her best to retrace her path. As the sun was fading, the air began to cool. The woods that she had seen in the distance started to get closer and closer. She would be reunited with Lucy in no time!

“Molly! Molly!” “C’mon girl!”

“We’ve been looking for hours Lucy. I think we may have to come back tomorrow and start searching again.”

Lucy’s eyes welled up and her chin began to tremble. “She doesn’t know these woods mummy. She’ll be scared! We can’t leave now!”

“Molly! Molly!” cried Lucy.

They continued walking in the direction of the woods in which Molly had disappeared while chasing the hare.

“Honey, I know you’re upset. We’ll come back first thing tomorrow and I am sure that she will turn up.”

It was hard to pull Lucy away. She and Molly were such great friends. It was heart-wrenching for Lucy to be apart from Molly.

“Come along honey, we’ll go home and come back tomorrow with posters that we can put up as well. She has a collar, someone is bound to find her and give us a ring.”

Slowly they turned toward the path and started to leave the park. Lucy continuously looked back as the tears rolled down her distraught face.

“Just on the other side of these woods, and then I’ll be back with Lucy!”

M-F Boissonneault 2012
What Molly didn’t realise is that she had strayed a fair distance from Lucy when she tore off into the woods just above Pen Ponds. After running through the forest in mad pursuit of the tantalising hare, Molly had been turned around so that when she exited the woods at the other end, she was actually to the left of Pen Ponds rather than above it. At this end of the forest exit, Molly could not see Pen Ponds, and so when she entered the woods in front of her, she confused the woods of Killcat Corner with those of Duchess Woods. As Molly crossed the threshold of the small woods of Killcat Corner, it was as though the lights had gone out. The trees were thick and the air was damp. She stopped for a drink of water from a puddle and then quickened her pace in anticipation of reuniting with Lucy. The walk through the woods seemed much shorter this time, and as Molly left the woods of Killcat Corner, she was dismayed to discover that the landscape did not resemble the area around Pen Ponds. In fact, there were no large ponds in sight! She sat for a moment and exhaled deeply. Looking around, Molly saw a ridge of trees and then another forest. Perhaps those were the woods she had entered in her enthusiastic chase! That must be it. She ran off eagerly toward Victory Plantation. All the while poor Molly had no idea that she was getting further and further away from Pen Ponds.
D. Sharon Pruitt
adapted by M-F Boissonneault
As Lucy and her mum entered the car in the Spankers Hill Woods car park, Lucy sorrowfully gazed through the window in the hopes that she may catch a glimpse of Molly as they left the park. Her mum drove slowly so they could call out on the chance that they may intersect Molly as they drove away. As they turned onto the A3 to make their way back home to Southfields, Lucy began to sob. 

Meanwhile, Molly had completely lost all sense of direction. She had crossed through Kingsfarm Plantation only to find herself on an unfamiliar road. She decided that rather than get lost in the woods once again, she may as well follow this unfamiliar road… The road that Molly now found herself on was perpendicular to the A3, a main thoroughfare. It wasn’t long before Molly reached the juncture to the A3. Cars whizzed by her as she looked from one direction to the other. There was a center wall that separated the traffic, and it looked like it was a bit high to jump over. Molly decided that it would be better to follow alongside the A3 until she found a safer place to cross.

Share your ideas for more adventures with William, Tom, Felicity, Molly and many new friends!

The Beautiful Creatures project is looking to the public for a new characters...I
f you have a moment please click the "Take our Survey" link below to participate in an EXTREMELY brief 10 second survey. 

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Saturday, 20 April 2013

Felicity Flees the Belly of the Beast

Share your ideas for more adventures with William, Tom, Felicity and many new friends!

The Beautiful Creatures project is looking to the public for a new characters...

If you have a moment please click the "Take our Survey" link below to participate in an EXTREMELY brief 10 second survey. 
It would be wonderful to have your feedback! Feel free to pass the link onto others...

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Spiders and Dragons and Toads... Oh My!

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While most of the other spiders within his network were a dark brown in their colouring, Seymour had a lovely velvety gray tone that made him stand out from the rest. As Seymour made his trips to the surface to gather air bubbles in the tiny hairs along his body the sun would cast a rays of light upon him creating the illusion that he was a sparkling piece of polished silver. With his superior swimming ability and glittering body Seymour looked like quick-silver as he sliced through the water.

Unlike the females in his family Seymour had to make less frequent trips to the surface to gather air for his underwater shelter. He usually only made a daily trip to replenish his diving bell air supply. Yet, this did not mean that he was without stories from the surface. In his younger days, Seymour was far bolder and would cross the watery threshold to molt rather than creating a separate bell for the purpose. He was now an older fellow approaching his 22nd month. And, as time went on, his trips above the water decreased and his network of underwater air bells became more complex. Like the other diving bell spiders, each air bell within the network of Seymour’s shelter had a specific function. One bell was for eating, one bell was for sleeping, one bell was for mating and raising young and another bell was for molting.

lowered in a glass diving bell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)His trips to the top were a great opportunity to learn about the creatures that lived in the habitat. Creatures like the flyers that flashed in the night or the bouncing and shuffling beasts with the swift sticky tongue! He often reminisced about his life these days, remembering such stories like the one of a giant creature with four legs that also used a diving bell. He had seen this creature on land one day while molting. It lumbered along on two legs with the other two dangling by its sides. Most of the stories of this creature involved its visits to the water. Over the countless seasons the stories left behind by ancestors were complemented by each generation, leaving the contemporaries with a storehouse of knowledge about the world they lived in. The giant diving bell creature  that sometime visited the habitat was one of these many stories. This particular creature had seemed to mutate from having a large gleaming diving bell to a long tube that emanated from its head, to what Seymour had observed was a cylindrical tube on its top half and a smaller head that leaked bubbles with feet like the beast with the sticky tongue… Although Seymour had many stories about the world he did not recognise that this Goliath that visited the habitat was indeed known above the water as a human.

As he sat on this stagnant summer’s day within the safety of his retreat Seymour thought about William and the world above the water. This was his second summer in the habitat after the overwinter and he had said his final goodbyes to William the night before. Seymour had been an active hunter, but in the recent months he had slowed his pace and was beginning to feel his age. In his prime, he was a fabulous swimmer darting out and catching prey with swift strokes in his watery abode. Seymour was a confident huntsman who he had developed a taste for crustaceans and tadpoles, leaving the nymphs, mites and mayflies to the less aggressive hunters in the habitat. His taste for crustaceans and tadpoles was how Seymour came to befriend William. William was an inquisitive youthful burst of energy that reminded Seymour of his younger days. Full of questions, requests and eager to begin an adventure was William’s approach to learning about the world around him. His eagerness to act, investigate and explore was a wonderful quality in William but it was also one that had put him in unnecessary danger on more than one occasion. This was how he came to wander into Seymour’s sanctuary. As an older chap, Seymour had welcomed this little nymph with the endless supply of queries. William had been a welcome distraction from the realisation that Seymour was nearing the end of his cycle and gave him the occasion to hark back to his own youth as a hatchling adventures living in a snail shell before he learned to make his own proper shelter.

As Seymour sat contemplating his visits with William he noticed that his shelter was starting shrink. It was time that he journey to the surface to gather air to refill his homespun sub-aqua web to avoid it from collapsing. It was a relatively safe time to journey to the surface, between sunrise and daylight, the hopping shufflers with the sticky tongues had fled after a long night of feasting and the giant feathered flyers were just beginning to stretch their wings. Without further delay Seymour made the familiar voyage to the surface…

Share your ideas for more adventures with William, Tom and many new friends!

The Beautiful Creatures project is looking to the public for a new characters...

If you have a moment please click the "Take our Survey" link below to participate in an EXTREMELY brief 10 second survey. 
It would be wonderful to have your feedback! Feel free to pass the link onto others...

Friday, 5 April 2013

A Toad by any Other Name...

“The world has held great Heroes,
As history-books have showed;
But never a name to go down to fame
Compared with that of Toad


The clever men at Oxford
Know all that there is to be knowed.
But they none of them knew one half as much
As intelligent Mr Toad!”

― Kenneth Grahame (The Wind in the Willows, 1908)

To most he was known simply as a common toad. However, as far as Tom was concerned, there was nothing common about this *bufo bufo!  A bigger chap than most with a penchant for the spotlight made Tom the centre of attention. Nonetheless, when breeding season was over, he was left to his own thoughts without a captive audience… As an older fellow, he had stories collected from the generations before him. Tom was a wonderful fabricator of intrigue and suspense and always looked forward to sharing his knowledge and stories during the yearly spring time migration to the breeding sites.

Like many toads, Tom led a relatively solitary life. The occasional interactions he would have with other toads were usually restricted to the breeding season. Although he pretended to enjoy the peace and quiet of an independent life, he often felt the pangs of loneliness that troubled some of the other species that surrounded his habitat.

By Ernst Haeckel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Now almost all of his fellow brethren toads had learned early in life to discriminate between glowing and non-glowing prey, but Tom had developed a taste for the bioluminescent treat known around the habitat as the firefly. The unpalatibility of firefly larvae was a flavour he had learned to ignore. Since, with the ingesting of these flashing beings came a far better reward than a tasty meal!

It was an ordinary evening like most of them. Tom had spent his day in the cool dampness of his lair. The place he called home was a hollowed out root that had served his purposes well over the past few months. The lair had gone relatively undetected by any of the local rodents and even by most of the resident cats that often patrolled the area. Tom looked forward to the evening hunt for prey. With the unmelodiousness of crickets chirping the sun gently fell beneath the horizon. It was time! He could hardly contain himself as he crossed the threshold of the safety of his lair. Generally Tom would slowly walk to his hunting grounds for his evening meal, but tonight was going to be a story-telling night. On story-telling nights Tom was excited to get to the hunting grounds and took quick awkward hops in an effort to hasten his journey.

As Tom the toad made his way to his familiar podium to tell The Tale of the Toadstone, William was just
By David Eickhoff from Pearl City, Hawaii, USA (Dragonfly naiad skin  Uploaded by Tim1357) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commonsdiscovering his new surroundings. William was new to this unfamiliar world of flashing light and excitement. Seymour had told him a little about the world beyond the surface of the water, but nothing had prepared him for the reams of new sights and the crispness of this world above water. During his larval stage William had fed on other invertebrates such as mosquito larvae. He also fed on small fish and tadpoles. However, when it came to feeding on tadpoles that was an art in itself! In order to avoid the toxic secretions of toad tadpoles, if they were to be a meal, dragonfly larvae needed to puncture the skin and suck out their juices. This was going to be William’s first hunt above water and he wondered about finding his meal. He had molted for the very last time and cast away his *exuviae. As a *teneral adult, William was pale and extremely vulnerable. He had been vigilant about finding a safe place for this final metamorphosis as Seymour had warned him about the dangers beyond the aquatic habitat that he had grown so accustomed to as a nymph. It would take time for the blood to travel through the network of veins in his wings and for them to harden before he would be able to fly. Even his new legs felt weak and it would take a few days for his body to fully harden. Until that time, William needed to be ever so watchful of his environment since he would also need a few days to hone his flying skills. He sat quietly on the stem and patiently waited for the moment when he would be able to fly.

By Inconnus [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsIt was a marvellous night for story-telling. The sky was ablaze with the flash of fireflies and Tom knew he would easily attract an audience. As he settled in on his podium he began to prepare for the night’s oration! Tom’s podium was a rock at the water’s edge. The back side was surrounded by vegetation that allowed him to blend with his surroundings. At the front was an opening that had a view of the water and surrounding stones and vegetative platforms for his onlookers.

It was a great spot to find all sorts of prey, spiders, crickets and caterpillars were abound, and even tiny fish and tasty animals could be found. But for tonight Tom had made up his mind, and fireflies were all he was looking to find! He sat ever so still and waited for his meal to come to him. The first catches were easiest and so it was always essential to snag as many fireflies as he could before they caught on to his game. Tom unfurled his tongue with a mighty thrust and extended it to snap up the first flashing light for the night! One after the other he whipped out his tongue and caught his unsuspecting prey by surprise. It was a good night for fireflies, and it wasn’t long before Tom was ready to tell his tale. As he filled his belly with the bioluminescent firefly prey Tom began to glow! He didn’t need to call out to gather an audience, the afterglow of his evening meal created a splendid luminosity that attracted connoisseurs of his evening narratives of legends and stories and sparked the curiousity of newcomers. As the night went on Tom recounted The Tale of the Toadstone.

Shiokawa Bunrin [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsMeanwhile, a short distance off William had been sitting on his perch and enjoying the twinkle of the night sky. Some of the lights seemed to flash brighter than others, and as the night went on he noted how the sky gradually lost the vibrancy of these flashing lights. All but one, there was one flashing light that seem to grow stronger as the night sky around him lost its sparkling glow. William had extended his wings and could feel they were getting stronger. His legs were getting harder and no longer felt as weak as they had when he first emerged from his nymph shell. He had taken a few steps to the tip of his perch and looked closely toward the glowing light. He watched this bioluminescent blob throughout the night and had decided he would investigate as soon as his wings were ready.

Tom’s belly was a really crowd gatherer. At the beginning of the evening it appeared to sparkle but it slowly took on a synchronistic flashing that he used to add flare and oomph to his tale. This was not Tom’s first appearance on the podium and he had learned over the years how to thrill and delight his spectators to the point of Oohs and Ahs! He would weave his story around the synchronised belly sparkles of light and methodical glows. Each flash of light played eloquently into highlighting a moment that would excite, startle or keep the *knot on baited hook! Dawn was creeping in and as
Tom’s belly glow began to dwindle he drew his story to a close.

The sun was not yet up but William felt the strength in his wings and was eager to uncover the source of the methodical radiant glow that had captured his attention. It was time. He was so enthralled by the night’s luminescent display that he couldn’t wait for the sun to warm his body for flight. With a gentle flick he shook the dew from his wings and moved his stiff body. It wasn’t long before he fired up his wings and that they began whirring and his muscles started to warm.

Tom had a voracious appetite like most of his chums. However, on story nights he never did get quite enough to eat. After he took his bow, and the *knot dispersed to return to their lairs, Tom was keen to catch a few more insects before retreating to his humble abode. He lingered on the rocky podium and watched for unsuspecting prey.

William had been slowly warming his body for his maiden voyage while Tom patiently waited for a final snack. As the dawn had crept in, William wiped the morning dew from his eyes, all the while his wings worked to heat his body in preparation to take to the skies for a day full of adventure! His wings swiftly fluttered, gradually pulling him from his perch. Before William could notice he was aloft! He bounced and fumbled slightly in the air but was determined to stay on course to discover the origins of this mysterious glow.

The sun was slowly rising and Tom was growing impatient postponing his return home. “One more catch and then I’ll be off…” As William closed in on the site he had been watching all night he couldn’t see any glowing mass. The sun had risen and there was nothing here but a bumpy fat creature with an oversized mouth. William was disappointed that he had not figured out the mystery and turned around to fly back toward his perch when he felt a shift in the air around him...

* bufo bufo is the scientific name for the common toad
* Exuviae is the nymph shell that the dragonfly leaves behind
* A teneral adult is the first dragonfly adult stage
* A knot is a group of toads

STAY TUNED for more adventures with William and many new friends!

Share your ideas for more adventures with William and many new friends!

The Beautiful Creatures project is looking to the public for a new characters...

If you have a moment please click the "Take our Survey" link below to participate in an EXTREMELY brief 10 second survey. 
It would be wonderful to have your feedback! Feel free to pass the link onto others...

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