Things are looking up

The one with the funky camera angles at Newby Hall…


30DaysWild #Day4

A day out at Newby Hall, North Yorkshire began with a picnic beneath a huge spreading walnut tree. Looking up into the canopy inspired me to look for some striking and unusual camera angles around the woodland gardens.

Naturally first port of call was the adventure play garden (our party today including three boys from six to nine years). So after a sufficient spell of play in the fountains, paddleboats and pirate fort etc. we set of for the woodland and rock garden. I found lots of tempting photographic subjects simply by getting down low and looking up at leaves backlit by the bright sunshine.

Some of my favourite results came from the interplay of shadows and light and the variety of leaf shapes and veination. I particularly liked the reddish Ligularia leaves with silhouettes cast by shrivelled blossom collected within their concave form.

Do have a go at getting down low with your camera for an ant’s eye view. As these pictures, grabbed hurriedly amid the woodland hide and seek games attest, it’s not always best to shoot with the sun behind you!

Swallows at the swim pool

The one about the divebombing swallows…

Day 3 of #30dayswild.

Our usual Saturday morning routine takes myself and the boy to a swim lesson at the community pool. Today when we arrived the pool was locked. (No doubt I’ve missed an email somewhere telling us it’s not on today.) Anyway while peering through the windows to see the covers still on I was almost divebombed by a swallow which swerved away deftly as it saw me.

Looing up for a nest I saw not one but two mud and grass cups of typical swallow construction beneath the overhang of the roof.

We moved a few feet away and quietly sat down in hope that the bird would return. Presently a swallow circled around and after a few minutes’ prevaricating it briefly swooped up to the closest nest.

It soon became clear there was a another adult bird in the nest, perhaps incubating?  We stayed for a little while watching the comings and goings of the swallows to both nests, a blackbird collecting worms on the grass and a pied wagtail catching flies on the school field nearby.

I took a few photos but the Swallows are fast and not the most obliging…At least I know of two nests to keep an eye on and report to BTO on my Birdtrack app 🙂

Doing the Doodlebug

The one about the May-bug rescue…

#30DaysWild Day2
Dropped my son off at holiday club today and had to stop short of the school door and stoop to rescue a sizeable insect. The staff member sent for another bug-loving kid to come and see this sloth-some beast upon my finger tip…. it was a rather sluggish May Bug, otherwise known as Cockchafer Beetle, or my favourite vernacular, Doodlebug. I could not be sure if it was a male or female, recalling something about antennae, but at the suggestion of one of the children we placed it on a convenient shrub in the school garden a few feet away, safe from trampling feet in the doorway.
Just as I was explaining how the males can detect female pheromones on the wind and speculating that the security light over the door had been on overnight and attracted it, something wonderful happened. We watch as the beetle, now safely balanced upon a viburnum bush unfurled its antennae (I did not know they did this) and sure enough there were feathery brown appendages rippling as if tasting the air.
Now, I did not have my phone camera on me, (foolishly – its #30DaysWild for goodness sake, #Day2 no less!) but I was contemplating my options. Could I nip back for the phone? A crisis interrupted us as ‘Pikachu’ had fallen out of son’s rucksack en route, so I hurriedly retraced steps, rescued the yellow Pokemon and reunited him with a grateful six year old.
Meanwhile, and this was only minutes, the Cockchafer must have taken to wing for it was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he (for I now suspected this to be its gender) had detected the whiff of a female of the species…..Perhaps, since it was after 8am and broad daylight, he had simply flown away to a safer hiding place until nightfall.
Here is a link to info on Cockchafers or Doodlebugs found on Arkive.
And below, since I failed to get my own pics, some images sourced via Wikipedia:

Bumbling into my first blog post of 30 Days Wild

The tale of the soporific bumblebee and the sugar water…

#30DaysWild #Day1 

Today arriving at work I popped my head in the polytunnel used for surplus plant sales at the council nurseries only to find a soporific bumblebee on a pelargonium leaf. 

20170601_094752Leaping straight into action I went into the office, prepared a teaspoonful of sugar water and attempted to persuade the dozing bee to imbibe. It was a pretty hefty one too, Bombus terrestris or Bombus hortorum perhaps? Anyway, whether it took up some sucrose or merely  rallied as the sun had come out and begun to warm the polytunnel, the creature found its buzz again. In moments it was taking off and bumbling from bloom to bloom, soon climbing bodily into fuschia flower for a lengthy drink of nectar. It very nearly collided with the phone on which I was was recording the moment!