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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 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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Scavengers and Predators
These are a couple of old pictures - taken in France a few years ago. The top one is a scorpion fly. They aren’t the best at flying, but they specialise in stealing dead insects from spider webs (and looking mean!). This one actually turned up while I was simply trying to take a photo of the poor ant in the web. I must say that it was quite a surprise to have it suddenly turn up in the camera’s display - all zoomed-in!
The bottom photo is a robber fly. These little predators take out their prey (often much larger than themselves) in mid-air. I saw this one swoop in on the butterfly and bear it to the ground with incredible speed and accuracy. It then obligingy sat there while I snapped away…
Nature is sometimes gruesome, but always interesting.
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Loads of ladybirds this year! Look out, all you pesky aphids!
How many spots can you spot!?
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I’ll be bringing you the contents of pockets and bags tomorrow, so there’s still time for more submissions!
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Mystery (dead) bug..?
Edit: Wingless green bottle fly - Expert ID courtesy of Textless. Still no idea how it lost its wings or got stuck to a blade of grass, though…
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Long way to go…
Caught this guy catching some rays before his mammoth migration from Maine to Mexico!
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Bugs on the deck
Such a marvellous hunting ground. All I had to do was relax on the deck all afternoon with my camera and let the subjects come to me!
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‘The Lion of the Undergrowth’
This is how someone once described the Ground Beetle to me as a kid. I’ve never forgotten it!
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