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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 4: Building
An update on Team A.
Last year, these girls built a nest in my mum’s greenhouse (bottom photo). They’re not keen on using it again, instead preferring to start from scratch. This year, though, there seem to be different factions - at least three different nests have been started - all within a foot of the original nest.
My mum’s happy with them being there - she talks to them when she goes in to water the plants and (*fingers crossed*) they seem like a pretty docile bunch :)
As for Team B, they have also re-started their nest (though as this is in the lid of the wood burner, it’s likely to be a short-lived venture once again).
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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 4: Blossom
Spring time = cherry blossom time! I so very much enjoyed seeing everybody’s blossom photos earlier on this year. There are still some left, but they are definitely the last of the bunch.
I offer these as a reminder of the beauty of Spring and the delicate loveliness of these beautiful flowers :)
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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 4: Succulent
I have always loved succulents (and not only because they’re so easy to grow). The slight squishiness, the vivid green and the seemingly prehistoric shapes all press the right buttons for me.
My mum has many in her garden, but for some reason, I only have pictures of these three. One day, I will have a room full of succulents and I will spend all my time just looking at them :)
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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 3 (continued): Snake Eyes! (2)
This is my final installment from the Ile aux Serpents. I had a lovely time :)
Stay tuned for the delights and wonders of Day 4!
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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 3 (continued): Snake Eyes!
I remember once, when I was a very young Quango-Bingo, we visited family in Germany. It was the Summer time and we went to a lake for a swim. In the reeds, my uncle (let’s call hum Uncle Awesome) found and caught about 5 baby grass snakes.
He brought them back in a sandwich tin so that we could all get a better view. They were tiny, thin, very lively and absolutely fascinating. I was in awe of their beauty.
Since then, I have never again seen a snake in the wild. This despite always looking out for them and occasionally finding old snake skins whilst out and about.
One day I will, but until then, I will have to be content with going to see them in such places as the lovely Ile aux Serpents.
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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 3 (continued): Scales
Of course, the main attraction at the Ile aux Serpents are the… well, the serpents!
I will let them speak for themselves.
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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 3: Reptiles (continued)
To the Reptile House!!
There is a place - a tiny, warm place - where they have the most lovely little collection of reptiles. It’s called the Ile aux Serpents and it’s well worth a visit! I spent a whole afternoon there, snapping away at the very obliging animals. Here is a selection of their lizards. Apologies if one or two are slightly out of focus.
The snakes will come tomorrow… and the day fater that… and the day after that!
You cannot say I didn’t warn you!
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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 3: Reptiles
Day 3 was all about the reptiles. As I have previously mentioned: there will be snakes - but not yet. Today’s post is all about the lizards!
I love lizards. Mainly because they are the the reptiles I have had most contact with in the wild. They are quick - too quick to catch - but you can get some really nice shots with a bit of patience (and a good zoom!).
I like their cheekiness and the fact that they look like dinosaurs.
I am easily pleased :)
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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 2 (continued): More Tiny Things
The final shots from Day 2, featuring Spring buds, a tiny egg, soft leaves and more lichen.
The egg is my favourite - protected from foraging ants by an incredibly sturdy silk strand and from the elements by the cutest little fluff. No idea what’s in it, but it has a good start in life (or would have if it hadn’t been laid on the lid of the wood-burner. Hope it hatches before my mum does her Spring tidying…
I also really like the leaves - so soft! I could have spent all day just fondling them ;)
Finally, a quick warning about day 3: There will be snakes (lots of snakes). Be warned!
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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 2 (continued): Textures and Patterns
Featuring lichen on a terracotta roof, the remains of Team A’s nest from last year, star-shaped nails on the greenhouse door and soot in the wood-burner.
Aside from miniature worlds and tiny beasties, I really love finding patterns, textures and shapes when I’m out with my camera. I really think that, when you get in close, things take on a whole new aspect. Truly magical.
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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 2 (continued): The Pine
There is one pine tree in my mum’s garden and, whilst it never has as many tiny creatures living in it as I would like (as far as I can tell), it is both beautiful and magnificent.
I love the way that it always gives a touch of colour to the place and (yet another) one of my favourite Spring things is the fresh, smooth, bright green of new pine needles.
This post is a tribute to evergreens.
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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 2 (continued): Hunting
Now this is the real reason I enjoy exploring my mum’s garden so much. I am - and always have been - a hunter of tiny animals.
I seek them high. I seek them low. I seek them under things and behind things. I stalk them, chase them and I wait patiently for them. I know where they live and I know where they hang out. I recognise the signs of their presence and I know what they like. To find your quarry, first you must understand it.
That is the first challenge. The second is to take a picture! I have seen many wonderful, beautiful, shiny, spiky, colourful, mysterious and exciting beasties in my time, but capturing them in a (half-way decent) photograph has often eluded me.
Some are too fast. Some are too tiny. Some refuse to face the camera and some won’t sit still. Some are flighty while others vanish underground. Some - I am convinced - come back in the night and alter the images on my camera so that, on closer inspection, they turn out not to show what I thought they did.
To be fair, though, it’s not always their fault. Sometimes I cannot focus my camera in time. Sometimes my battery runs out. Sometimes I forget to take the thing altogether!
Sometimes - just sometimes - it all works perfectly.
Like I said - it had been a very cold Winter and many of the usual bugs and critters in my mum’s garden hadn’t yet woken up. Undeterred, I went on the hunt. Something must be out and about! There were many flying things buzzing the Spring blooms, but all were too fast for me. I needed more sedantry prey.
I changed tack and searched the bushes and small plants. Even after spotting the signs of this little guy’s presence (half-chomped leaves and a scattering of droppings) it took me half an hour to locate him - completely motionless - amongst the leaves. Luckily, this meant that I had all the time in the world to poke my camera in his face (sorry, little guy!) and get the shot.
Needless to say, I felt like quite the hunter after this :)
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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 2 (continued): Minature Worlds
There are many trees in my mum’s garden - some are provide fruit, some provide shade, many are simply lovely and (almost) all are covered in the most amazing lichen.
Whenever I go out & about with my camera, I am always drawn to the small spaces - the tiny worlds and the epic miniature landscapes. Luckily, this garden is full of these often-overlooked wonders and I can happily spend hours exploring them - getting up-close and personal with a myriad beautiful ‘hidden’ gems.
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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 2: Acclimatisation
My first full day in France and a chance to properly ‘be on holiday’. However, the first thing to do (in order to properly feel like I had arrived) was to tour my mum’s garden, camera in hand, to see what was new and what was about.
I have mentioned before that my mum’s garden is my favourite hunting ground for macro photography and, once again, it didn’t disappoint - despite the fact that everything was only just waking up from a very (very) cold Winter.
There follows a brief tour…
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Quango-Bingo Travels: France, March 2012 - Day 1: Arrival
Arrived in Le Havre early in the morning after driving down from Sheffield to Portsmouth to get the 11pm ferry the night before.
Adventures included losing 5th gear (somewhere near Oxford) and waking up on a ferry in the middle of the night to find a French man staring at me - inches from my face.
Highlights included lots of driving, my car not completely dying and the wonderful sunrise over Le Havre’s industrial district.
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