Wednesday, 20 May 2015

JUST BUGS


As you will have noticed from my last post I’ve been trying out a new way (for me) of photographing bugs. When I’ve been out walking and spotted any bugs, instead of photographing them ‘in situ’, I’ve captured a few in pots and brought them home to photograph on a plain white background. I’ve still not perfected the technique but I think it does help to show up more of the intricate details and colours that you would not necessarily see in a ‘standard’ photograph…..I’ll be interested to read your thoughts and comments!




Bug 1 Brass bug

Crucifer Shield Bug / Brassica Bug  (Eurydema oleracea)  At 7mm long x 4mm wide this widespread and fairly common little bug is found in a wide variety of habitats and as it’s name suggests is mostly associated with, where it feeds on the flowers and is classed as a pest, cruciferous plants such as cabbage, radish, turnip, oil seed rape and nasturtiums as well as wild cruciferous plants. It comes in a number of colour forms..black with white spots is the most common form but the spots can also be yellow (young adult)…..

…or red.
Bug 2 Brass bug


Bug 3 Mint Go

Mint Leaf Beetle (Chrysolina herbacea) This 10mm long iridescent green/gold beetle is native to the southern half of the UK where, from May to September, it and it’s larvae feed on the foliage of plants of the mint family…
…a greener one!
Bug 4 Mint Gr


Bug 5 Soldier

Soldier Beetle (Cantharis livida) At 10mm to 15mm long this is one of the more commonly seen Soldier Beetles of the 40 or so species found in the UK. In the summer months they can be found, sometimes in large numbers, on thistles and umbelliferous flowers.

Bug 6 Soldier


Bug 7 Scent

Scentless Plant Bug (Rhopalus subrufus) This 7mm long close relative of Squash Bugs is widely found in woodland clearings and low scrubby areas in the southern parts of the UK where it is associated with a great variety of plants but tends to favour St. Johns-wort (Hypericum perforatum).


Bug 8 Thick Leg

Thick-Legged Flower Beetle (Oedemera nobilis) This 10mm long beetle is found in most habitats throughout the UK but is more abundant in the southern parts. It feeds on the flower pollen from April to September.  It’s the male only that has the swollen thighs from where it gets some of it’s other descriptive names such as..Fat Legged Beetle and Swollen Thighed Beetle.

Bug 9 Thick Leg


Bug 10 Rasp B


Raspberry Beetle (Byturus tomentosus)  Part of the fruitworm family this 4mm long beetle is classed as a pest in most parts of Northern Europe where it lays it’s eggs in the flowers of both wild and cultivated raspberry, loganberry and blackberry plants, the resulting larvae then feed on and destroy the developing fruit.

Take off…

Bug 11 Rasp B


Bug 12 Net W

Nettle Weevil (Phyllobius pomaceus) This 9mm long beetle is covered in metallic green scales however, these are easily rubbed off as the beetle gets older leaving it with a black appearance. Notice the large ‘tooth’ on the front femurs. Found from April to June, as it’s name suggests, on nettles throughout most of the UK except in Scotland where it is scarce.
Another flier!..

Bug 13 Net W  

NB…After photographing them all the bugs were returned to the area where I found them and released…except the Raspberry Beetle which somehow disappeared!!




Monday, 27 April 2015

FLASH BUGS



A couple of weeks ago, in a moment of sheer indulgence, I became the proud owner of a new ‘toy’…

Flash Box

…and I’ve been practising my flashing ever since…er?..let’s move on!
After confusing myself by reading the book of words that came with it I decided that the best way to get to know how it works was to start taking photos.
I paired it up with my 100mm macro lens and have been amazed at the results..not perfect yet, but getting there slowly.

Progress so far…a few bugs…

G Lace 1
Green Lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea)  15mm long.

C Woodlouse 1
Common Shining Woodlouse (Oniscus asellus) 10mm long.

Weevil - Common Leaf  1
Common Leaf Weevil (Phyllobious pyri) 10mm long. Apparently they come in various hues, this one has a red tinge. The colouration can wear off leaving them almost black.

The one below doesn’t have the red tinge and the black is starting to show through.

Weevil - Common Leaf  2

Weevil - Common Leaf  3

The final set of images are of a Lily Beetle (Lilioceris lilii) If you grow lilies this is not a good beetle to find in your garden as both the adult and the larvae chomp on the leaves and flower buds from April to August and are classed as a serious garden pest. They grow from about 6 to 8mm long. They do look pretty though!!

Lily B 1

Lily B 2


What’s happening here?

Lily B 3

Take off!…

Lily B 4

…and again!

Lily B 5



Still a work in progress but I’m happy with the results so far.


Sunday, 15 March 2015

AS LOW AS A SNAKE’S BELLY…



…Yep, that’s how low I had to get when I went out and about for a couple of days last week looking to photograph some Moss, Lichen and, as it turned out, some rather special Fungus.


Lowdown6   Broom Fork 1
I’m still not up to speed on the many different types of moss but I think this is Broom Fork-moss (Dicranum scoparium). It caught my eye as the sun was sparkling through the water droplets left over from the early morning frost although, I must confess, I didn’t make the best job of portraying that in the photograph.

Many species of moss are ‘fruiting’ at this time of year where they throw up long stalks (seta) topped by strikingly colourful seed capsules (sporangium).

Lowdown8   Str Hair 1

Lowdown8   Str Hair 2
Strict Haircap (Polytrichum strictum)

Lowdown7   Cap Thread 1
Capillary Thread-moss (Bryum capillare). The seed capsules of this common moss will turn a dark red colour as they ripen.

Next up (or should I say down!) are these three different looking Lichens, or to be more accurate Lichenised fungi. If you want to give your brain a bit of a work out and learn more about what Lichenised fungi are..have a look here

Lowdown4   Clad pyx 1

Lowdown5   Clad pyx 2
Cladonia pyxidata  with cup shaped fruiting bodies.

Lowdown1   Clad flo 1

Lowdown2   Clad flo 2
Cladonia floerkeana with red tipped spore producing bodies.

Lowdown3   Clad unc 1
Cladonia uncialis with antler like branched fruiting bodies.

These three commonly seen lichens all favour heath and moorland habitats.


And now for that something rather special…..


While crawling about (yes, really!) looking for moss and lichen I encountered quite a lot of pony/horse poo, they use ponies for habitat management in this area during the winter, and on one particular ‘pile’ something small and unusual caught my eye….

Lowdown9   Nail 1
…I instantly recognised it as Nail Fungus (Poronia punstata) a small quite rare and declining fungi that only grows on the dung of horses and ponies. This aptly named fungus that, when young, closely resembles a small rusty brown nail will grow to around 80mm tall with a cap diameter of 15mm.
As you can imagine I was rather pleased to find this little gem and so far it’s got to be the highlight of my nature watching year. (yeh, I know I’m a bit sad!)

So, the next time you’re out and about and you come across some old piles of horse poo give it a closer look…you never know what you might find?

Lowdown10   Yell Web 1
Also growing through some horse dung I found these Yellow Webcap (Cortinarius delibutus). This widespread but uncommon fungi is associated with mixed woodland and grows to around 100mm tall with a cap dia of 80mm.

Lowdown12   M Puff 1
This is all that’s left of one of last years Meadow Puffball (Lycoperdon pratense)..a fragile, hollow paper like shell.


Did I mention a snake’s belly? Well….


…less than ten feet from where I’d earlier been laying prone on the ground taking photos of the Nail Fungus I came across three of these…


Lowdown11   Add 1
Adder (Vipera berus) basking in the mid morning sunshine. Not easy to get a clear photograph though as they were partly concealed by the heather and bracken.



Spring is slowly arriving and nature is starting to ‘wake up’ after it’s winter slumbers and hopefully there’ll be many more photo opportunities over the next few weeks….take care and have a good one.














































































































































Sunday, 22 February 2015

A SELECTION



It’s been a while since my last post so I’m guessing that it’s about time I did another one?


Here’s a selection of images taken on my recent wanderings.


Selection One 1 BB
Female BLACKBIRD not black at all but, in the right light, showing subtle shades of brown.

Selection One 2 H
A GREY HERON not looking too happy on a frosty cold morning.

Selection One 3 GLG
Greylag Geese on final approach.

Selection One 4 HG
Immature Herring Gull  As I still find the ageing of gulls beyond me I’ve labelled this one as immature!

Selection One 5 C 
A COOT no doubt on it’s way to a fight somewhere?

Selection One 6 J
The JAY, with it’s stunning markings and colourful plumage, is one of my favourite birds to see.

Selection One 7 J
And another.

Selection One 8 K
A female KESTREL with the sun on her back.

Selection One 9 MS
Not an ugly duckling but an already elegant and graceful juvenile MUTE SWAN.

Selection One 10 S
A STARLING captured in my garden in the late afternoon light showing off it’s beautiful plumage.

Selection One 11 W
A WIGEON flyover.


And finally……


What am I…..
Selection One 12 GL CG
A CANALAG or maybe a LAGCANA?



And….

Selection One 13 Barry BHG
Barry the BLACK-HEADED GULL who’s regretting listening to all his pals when they assured him that doing a barrel roll was easy peasy lemon squeezy.