Here and there

  • May 17, 2015 8:45 pm

Over on the Fen first thing this morning, the Sedge Warblers were quiet again, but the Reed Warblers were singing away. Their song is softer than the harsh, scratchy tune of the Sedge Warblers, more bouncing, more musical. They were busy collecting nesting material, hopping up the reeds to choose a few strands of fluffy seedhead, then dropping them, perhaps not suitable for requirements, and then choosing a few more. Try as I might I couldn’t get any photos as they bounded around the swaying reeds. I did capture one though, peering though the reed stems at me.

Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus scirpaceus, perched amoungst reeds, Fen, Norfolk, May, Spring

Leaving them to it, I wandered on and spotted the local Roe deer, distant, but relaxed, munching away amongst the sedges. Over on the dry fen margin, tiny young Rabbits scampered away with wide, dark eyes and trembling whiskers. This one sat at his burrow entrance calmly observing me as I tried to take his picture.

Rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus, young rabbit in undergrowth, Fen, Norfolk, May

The sun was already warm and around the next corner I found a beautiful jewel of an animal, a Common Lizard. I’ve wanted to do more reptile photography, they are such fascinating creatures, what a treat to find one happy to pose in the open for me. Not the best photo in the world, far too distracting a background, but so lovely to see.

Common lizard, Zootoca vivipara, basking on corrogated iron sheet, fen, Norfolk, May

Back home, this weekend I’ve been trying to photograph some Red Mason Bees which have been making my solitary bee box home. These cute little insects with their russet red fur have been very busy, collecting pollen which they deliver to a chamber containing a single egg, before sealing the nursery with mud and repeating the process again and again until that particular bamboo burrow is filled.

I highly recommend this article which shows inside the Red Mason bee burrows and describes their life-cycle in-depth – very interesting: http://nurturing-nature.co.uk/solitary-bees-2/red-mason-bee-osmia-rufa-life-cycle-part-1/

These images are still a bit of a work in progress, I’ve not quite got the photos I want yet.

This bee is prospecting for a nest site, trying to find a hole not already occupied. They defend their nests from other bees vigorously, fascinating to watch their behaviour.

Red Mason bee, Osmia rufa, at entrance to nest hole, bee nest box, May, Norfolk

Here is a bee entering it’s nesting chamber, you can see it’s abdomen is fully laden with a load of pollen, while another bee is just flying in.

Red Mason bee, Osmia rufa, entering nest hole, with another in flight, bee nest box, May, Norfolk

This little bee has just popped it’s head out to ward off a rival bee which had landed at the entrance.

Red Mason bee, Osmia rufa, at entrance to nest hole, bee nest box, May, Norfolk

Finally, this bee is reversing into her burrow to offload all the pollen she has collected.

Red Mason bee, Osmia rufa, at entrance to nest hole, bee nest box, May, Norfolk

These bees are perfectly harmless, and incredibly fascinating to watch. As you can see from the amount of pollen they carry they are important pollinators, just like all bees. If you have a little room for a solitary bee box, simply a box filled with bamboo canes, I highly recommend installing one. A simple, yet extremely beneficial act of kindness for nature.

 

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Magic Macro

  • July 18, 2012 8:07 pm

Visited the Fen for the first time for quite a while yesterday, it’s looking incredible lush right now, and full of insect life despite the rain. The first find was this brightly coloured Common Blue Damselfly. There were quite a few of these around, this one is just finishing his aphid meal.

Walking around the long way I had my closest encounter yet with a Buzzard on the Fen, as the large brown raptor soared over the treetops ahead being mobbed by Carrion Crows.

Numerous butterflies were on the wing, some looking slightly worn due the terrible conditions we’ve been having, not a great year for these. Here’s a Ringlet butterfly amongst the wildflowers.

 

I decided to head through the woodland, which was quiet and humid. I had a sense of being an explorer in a tropical jungle with the bracken growing taller than me in some spots. The saturated peaty path combined with the dense tree canopy made it a perfect place for midges and I found myself being eaten alive. After ten minutes of hasty slipping and squelching through the quagmire and a bit of bad language I eventually made it out of the trees back to the relief of the open fen. A beautiful sight greeted me as a Hobby swooped across one of the scrapes after dragonflies.

I found this Soldier beetle by the path.

The fen is full of plant-life too, the delicately perfumed Meadowsweet growing alongside the dusky pink flowered Hemp Agrimony gives a vintage strawberries and cream edging to the path. Purple Loosestrife sends spikes of colour through the reeds, and myriad other plants that I can’t identify are in flower too. The striking red and black day flying Six-Spot Burnet moths elude my camera, but creeping along the boardwalk I spy a little dinosaur basking in the sun.

 

A handsome male Common Lizard poses for me. This characterful creature was seemingly curious about the noisy one-eyed creature looking at him.

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