Monday, January 21, 2013

I think the cold may have affected my brain?

As January continues to be pretty bleak and even today there is more snow in the forecast, macro photography,especially involving invertebrates is just not worth the risk of damaging the camera.

Instead I have taken to using the little Lumix point and shoot for a while. The photos will probably not be a match for the DSLR but it makes for a good substitute until things improve.



CLICK ANY PHOTO TO VIEW ON BLACK




I said in my introduction that January has been 'pretty bleak' and that sums it up quite well-it is both of those things.







As well as the compulsory snow pictures I have also been keeping an eye out for any wildlife that might be braving the weather...



This little robin was flitting around in one of my favourite woods today and settled just long enough for a quick snap.


A grey squirrel that was climbing a small tree right beside one of the footpaths decided that,as there were no other nearby trees to escape to, the best form of defense would be to freeze in one position and hope that it wouldn't be noticed.

Each time I held the camera up to get a photo, it immediately scurried round the other side of the tree. I'd then move to the side where it was and back it would go to the previous side! Eventually I was quick enough to get this shot before it disappeared once more.






Meantime, the lane that leads to the woodland mentioned above was looking very pretty again today...



Back in the woodland and right at the base of one of the trees beside the pond featured in the second photo in this update, I found what appears to be a fallen wasps nest? I imagine it had been higher up inside this hollow trunk at one time.

Hmm..looking at it again,could it be bees?





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Changing tack for a second-here's something to consider...

Which path to choose?

Sometimes in life we get offered a choice of paths to choose and it's so easy to get it wrong isn't it. Should I choose the familiar safe,comfortable path that means I'll remain in my comfort zone? Or should I go for the one that I have never walked before and might offer excitement and even danger before I reach my destination?

Personally,I have been offered a choice of paths several times in my life and always opted for the safe, familiar one. The result of that is,I now have regrets and  'what might have been' moments. Isn't it better to walk the unknown path with all it's promise of what you may discover than continue to trudge the familiar path,knowing what's around every corner?

Wow! What happened there? I forgot for a moment this is a nature blog; I thought I was back in the psychiatrists chair!

Anyhooo...



Speaking of chairs,or at least benches-here's a sad,lonely and cold bench that is longing for a nice warm bum to come sit on it! Apologies, I just don't know what's gotten into me of late, I think my mojo has backfired? At least I didn't have the courage to follow the sentence about the 'bum' with what went through my mind!


Ahem...


I'm not sure what happened with this shot. I took it around the same time as t'others but it seems to have some very strange colour effects going on. I kinda liked it for all that and so decided to include it anyway.




Everyone seems to be photographing snowmen and so I thought that was a bit sexist and I should have a snow-woman instead!

I kind of like this one and actually had quite a conversation with her and she didn't interrupt me once!

Note: All complaints regarding this statement should be directed to Mrs Mary Whitehouse c/o Highgate Cemetery, London.
Well, I've never forgiven her for her stand against the permissive society!

Back in the real world-Herbie the terrier has been lovin' the snow and has gone from asking to be carried everywhere because of the amount of saturated ground, to running around until his feet, that he seems to have forgotten are sore, are so clogged with snow and ice that he's on the way to turning into a walking ice-sculpture.




I'll take my leave of you now and go sit down in a quiet corner until my brain stops giving me a hard time and encouraging me to spout all this nonsense!

Until the next time then...

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Leopard slugs and Rat-tailed maggots anyone?

Does anyone else find fog melancholic?



Not that this particular picture is in anyway melancholic, in fact,I'm wondering why I took this shot now, it's not my normal subject matter.

Let's try that again then....


Erm, at the risk of repeating myself, "Does anyone else find fog melancholic?"

I don't know,perhaps it's the mood I've been in over the last few days? There's a sadness associated with fog that I can't pinpoint-but that's probably because I can't find it!

We've certainly had our share of it over the past weeks here in Kent and together with the rain,everything seems to now be coated in varnish, or dipped in honey,if you prefer a more poetic analogy.

Which reminds me (apologies I'm going of piste here for a moment) of the old Spike Milligan poem that goes something like...


I eat my peas with honey;
I've done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny,
But it keeps them on the knife.

I think Spike may have pinched this from Ogden Nash but anyhow...

                   
Everything's wet!
I mentioned in my last update (t'was last year now!) that I often come across patterns and shapes on my woodland walks and the other day I espied another. 


Quite cool I thought-s'pose I should have photo'd it at a funky angle or something for maximum impact but, it wouldn't be nature in the raw then would it?

Another 'spot' in the local woodland was this tree damage...


This I am fairly sure is grey squirrel damage, and interestingly enough and by pure coincidence, there is a piece in today's Telegraph newspaper where Prince Charles is voicing his concerns over this very issue.
As patron of a new charity, The Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST), the Prince has spoken out about the damage greys can cause. Grey squirrels strip the bark from native broadleaved trees like beech, oak and sweet chestnut.

More damage higher up the trees

And the evidence on the ground below



Away from the woodland areas that I love to spend time in,there seems to be a growing movement amongst local farmers to want to keep Llamas as livestock...



At least, I think they are kept as livestock for their wool? I do know they are also used for llama trekking.
I'm assuming (probably in ignorance) that this is a llama and not an alpaca? All I know is that llamas are larger (I think!)


I'm still finding lots of fungi too...




Not sure this'll be on the menu,even if it is an edible one.




Tell you what,I'm always narrating  my way around these woodland walks and relating how much I enjoy them, but how do you fancy joining me for a 'virtual' walk right now?

You'll need to make an effort to keep up though, I don't hang around-hold on tight then...

video
Please keep in mind if you view this in your email only, it probably won't show up.

Whew! Not sure just how much wildlife I would see if I really did move at this speed? BTW I so wanted to add some Benny Hill music to this!



Back in the garden, I came upon this strange critter under a shard of broken flowerpot...


Drone fly larva?
I think this must be the larva of a hoverfly species called Eristalis and possibly E.tenax?

I haven't seen one before but it seems to fit the description-not sure about the 3 black eggs(?) at the left hand end though.

If I'm right about the identity,the tail is used as a breathing tube whilst they spend their early life in water. They only leave to pupate I think and so possibly that's what's happening here, as this was not in water, but was close to a bird bath.

Another thing worthy of mention here is that this 'thing' also resides under the  beautifully descriptive name of 'Rat-tailed Maggot'


Besides finding the 'ugly stuff' (sorry Mr. Hoverfly)  I have also been watching a family of springtails that have made their home on the rain water barrel...



I'm not too sure what this one was doing, grooming maybe?



Ramping up the cuteness levels even further, there is also an extended family of sparrows that call the garden home...


This one was taken with my little point and shoot camera, through glass and so I guess the colours are a tad distorted.



Well, much as I'm tempted to extend this blog update yet further, I'm sure there must be more valuable things I ought to be doing with my time. If only I could remember what they are! Anyhow, just before I take my leave until the next edition, I wouldn't want you thinking that I've decided cute is the way forward, and so I'll make my last photo here a slug!

Leopard Slug
Until the next time then...