Thursday, 19 October 2017

Ready for hibernation

There are still a few bumblebees around in the garden but not for much longer.  In the past week I have seen tree bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum), common carder bees (Bombus pascuorum) and buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus terrestris), such as this one.

I find bumblebees difficult to photograph.  They are usually head down in the flowers and their black is so black it is a very high contrast with the flowers.  At least at this time of year they don't move as quickly.  This one will soon be asleep until next spring and is already dozy.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Starling air display

Starlings are starting to warm up for their air show season.  This was a fairly small murmuration but fun to watch.  A few jackdaws got caught up in the excitement.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

WoodmouseCam in the garden

I put the trail camera out in the garden last night, this time looking for smaller things than the foxes.  There were seventy-eight 30 second recordings, all of a wood mouse.  Most of the time it was sitting chewing, or dashing out of shot.  Here are the best three clips.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

A couple of ichneumonid wasps

I came across this little beast a while back but have only just got round to looking it up.  It is an ichneumonid wasp and I think it might be a female Ichneumon sarcitorius.  However, I could be wrong(!) as there are 2500 British species and they are notoriously hard to identify.

Ichneumonid wasps account for 10% of all British insect species and are parasitoids, meaning that they lay their eggs in or on another insect and the larvae eat and kill the host species.

Here is another one I spotted near my bee house in the summer.  It is a female with a very long ovipositor but I haven't worked out which species.  It might be Rhyssa persuasoria, the sabre wasp, but then again it probably isn't.

I found a beautifully illustrated guide to the commoner ichneumonid species from the Natural History Museum which you can download here.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

A last walk round the pond

I went with David S for what I expect will be my last visit to the pond this year.  It was cooler, greyer and breezier than forecast but there were still a few dragons about.  We saw only one hawker flying - I presume it was a male migrant hawker - but it didn't stay within view for long.  We did see several common darters including this male.

I tried some flight shots without much success.

We also saw a pair ovipositing in tandem.  This is the female resting afterwards.  Her colouration shows she is quite mature.

Also on the pond was a pair of swans, the first I have seen for quite some time.

I expect that's it until next year.  I think I'll try to make at least a weekly visit all season next year and post a report on what I see.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Still more kingfisher photos

When I took up wildlife photography I used to keep most of the hundreds of photos I took, even though many of them were very similar.  As time has gone by I have got better at deleting most and keeping only a few.  I took quite a lot of pictures of the kingfisher the other day - here are the rest that I have kept.

At one point she was joined by a young male, probably her brother.  they seemed quite happy in each other's company.

One task for this winter will be to go through the files and delete all the photos that aren't worth keeping.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Still at it

Common darters are still busy producing the next generation.  Eggs laid now may not produce new dragonflies until two years from now.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Another night with BadgerCam

It's about time we had some more badger photos on the blog so I went off to the woods again with the trail camera.  I chose a path which has been good before and set up the camera with peanuts as bait.  The camera took my photo as I left, suggesting it was set up well.

When I got back the next morning all the peanuts had gone, which is always a good sign.  The first photo was of a wood mouse.

The first badger photo wasn't until after midnight.  The camera took nine badger photos in all and unusually none of them was a dud (there are usually a few with half a badger or it is too close to the camera). 

At one point this badger headed off

but the next photo was less than a minute later.  I suspect this is a different badger as it looks bigger with a broader head but it is difficult to be sure.  Perhaps the first one moved away when it heard the second one coming along the path.

Badgers are very active at his time of year, fattening up for the winter.  I'll have another go soon and try with the video camera as well.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Hunting for autumn migrants

Talk of autumn migrants brings to mind the annual influx of birds from Scandinavia and Europe but this is a dragonfly that I have been looking out for in the last couple of weeks.  It is the migrant hawker (Aeshna mixta) and is the last of the hawkers to appear.  Despite its name it is an established resident.  As soon as I got to the pond this time I spotted a female in the reeds.

She was busing laying eggs close the the water's edge and I watched for 15 minutes or so,  hoping she would tire and rest in a more classical position.  But she didn't.

Eventually she moved out of view so I set off to look for a male.  There were several on the wing but to start with none of them settled within range of the camera.  Eventually I saw one go down into the scrub some metres from the water.  I ran over and found it at rest.

Later there was another that let me get close with the 100mm macro lens.  I could only get this one view but was able to experiment with the aperture (and depth of field).  The first photo is at f/16, the second at f/5.6 and the third at f/2.8. You can see the effect on the depth of field.

I also tried a few flight shots without much success.  These were the best I could manage.

Migrant hawkers will be around for a few weeks yet.  There are still common and ruddy darters to be seen but everything else has now disappeared until next year.