Well, it’s another bank holiday here in the UK, or should I say dank holiday! It’s certainly dark and dank this morning but I actually love the rain as it freshens up the garden after several dry and very windy days which saw many of my perennials almost flattened. I opened up the patio doors which lead onto the back garden and the scent of the fresh rain on the plants was just heavenly. Looking down onto a small planter to see how the newly planted nasturtiums were coming along I noticed this little fella in the photo. He was upside down and clinging effortlessly to the underside of one of the nasturtium leaves, wings folded, with a few grains of pollen and water droplets visible on his furry body. I tried to look up what he was, I assume he is some kind of bee……but could not identify him clearly, however he seems to be well prepared for an English bank holiday…..using the leaf as his umbrella!!
The humble bumble bee, threatened from every angle, lack of habitat and mites that destroy hives this little miracle of the insect world is struggling to survive. But have you ever watched a bumble bee going about it’s business? it really is a feat of nature’s engineering as when you look at the design of a bumble bee it really shouldnt be able to fly at all! With its large rounded body and tiny wings in comparison to its body size its a wonder they even get off the ground. But look a little closer and you will see that their wings don’t actually flap up and down for lift, they move backwards and forwards, creating a small vortex of pressure that enables them to keep airborne. I watch the bees working on the lavender bushes at my parents house, they work tirelessly collecting the pollen to take back to the hive, but to also feed their energy levels, no wonder when they have to put so much energy into simply remaining mobile. When you see a bee on the ground it probably one of two things, it is either exhausted and in need of nectar, or in the case of the bumble bee’s working on the lavender they are drunk! Many times I have seen them falling over trying to extract as much nectar as they can, dropping to the grass and rolling around for a few seconds before getting back on their feet and catching their breath, only to fly in a less than perfect line back to the flowers, and resume their feast! Simply fabulous!
Now the intention as I left home was to photograph butterflies, which to some degree I managed although the effort outweighed the results (more practice required!) but during the session I was distracted by a rather stunning little fella who was making the most of a thistle flower. Zooming in a little closer I was struck by the vivid black and red markings of this not so small bug which I have been told is a Six Spot Burnet. It spent quite some time clambering over the feathery flower head, at times losing it’s footing and clinging on until normal service could be resumed, pausing to look up occasionally and have a quick clean. One of it’s friends hadn’t been quite so lucky and it’s tightly bound body was being hauled upwards by a rather determined spider, not an easy task as the prey was 4 times his size and the fine threads of the web shook under the effort, threatening to free the incumbent from his bonds but I fear the struggle would have been futile as just below sat another spider casually waiting for the bounty to fall into his lap! Amongst all this dining the Burnet took flight but within seconds had landed somewhat un-elegantly on a blade of grass, clinging on for a moment before deciding it wasn’t quite so comfortable and so took flight once again. At this stage I reverted to the butterflies, but happy to have captured such a vivid insect going about it’s business.
Or should that be blooming butterflies?? After quite some time in sweltering heat, yes British Summertime seems to have arrived, I walked back down the lane toward my car somewhat frustrated. I haven’t actually spent much time trying to photograph butterflies so didn’t appreciate just how difficult it is. Garden varieties seem much more at home in front of the camera, more interested in the nectar that lies within the flower they land upon, but the field varieties seem much more nervous, edgy almost frantic and definitely more challenging as they don’t appear to ever pause for breath or land for any more than a nano second. Here are a couple of subjects, please accept my apologies in advance for the slight blur, but hand holding a rather heavy 35-350mm lens whilst focusing on these acrobats proved to be a lesson in weight management and spur of the moment focusing!!
Im always fascinated by the small things in life, the things that go unnoticed, yet carry on regardless of whether they are seen, heard or touched. Now spiders are one thing that frequently go unnoticed, that is until a rather hefty one makes its way across my carpet or ceiling!! They are there, hidden for the most part, going about their life cycle quietly, stealthily, achieving what nature set out for them to achieve and of course web building! If you have ever taken the time to look really closely at a web it is a real feat of natural engineering. Consider the size of a spider and then consider the size of the web it has built, super constructions of the insect world, fatal to anything that wanders in unawares, a sticky larder cupboard for fast food, and a real nightmare to us humans wandering into one and spending the next minutes trying to un-stick ourselves from it! In early Autumn my garden becomes a stage dressed in cobwebs, the star of the show waiting for their prey to wander into the trap! All I can say about this photo is that the spider who worked his magic on the barrier into work must like the colour red…or are spiders colour-blind?? Either way, Mr Spider…take a bow!
As soon as I arrived home tonight I was determined to photograph something, even though it had started to rain quite persistently. So, I wandered around the garden looking for something, anything, but then turning around to have another look I saw this little chap flutter from the safety of a conifer tree and land un-elegantly on to the wet grass. There he (or she) sat for some minutes, at first quite still, almost statuesque, stuck like glue to the bubbles of rain before managing to find the energy to launch back towards the conifer and disappear into the thick foliage. So, having got a couple of quick shots I too headed for the shelter of my house, and disappeared like the butterfly out of the rain!
I’m back! After a short break normal service is hopefully resumed! Boxes have been unpacked and my new abode is looking more like home by the second! Having finally got the computer re-installed and running and decided to get on with the blog, and so seeing that the weather wasn’t exactly at its best I chose to go for a wander round Alvecote Wood, thinking that if the rain arrived I could at least gain some shelter from the trees. The wood was purchased by a couple a few years ago and they are in the process of replanting and bringing the ancient wood back to life, opening it up to the public on open days and photo workshops (which I intend to attend!). These are just a few of the images taken today and rather than post landscapes I thought I would share with you some of the locals that I found dwelling amongst the foliage and undergrowth!