Monday, 22 April 2019

Mad March Hare pays a visit.... in April!

Well, what a surprise just now.... a mad March hare in April.... at the backdoor [almost]....

I was just about to take some compostables outside when I spotted a hare lolloping towards me, out in the potager... it then turned down towards the big rhubarb and out of my site.
We do get hares from time to time... usually in the field next door or out in our watermeadow.
But always too fleeting, or too fast...

"Compost be damned!" I thought, as I grab camera and carefully open latch on back door...
and lo, the lievre comes lolloping back round the corner of the wall.... and towards me... WTH!
So I start taking photos as it comes right up to the grassy side of the Woodchipio®, pausing only to taste the grass... it was a wet hare... needed a blowdry?
It would have come via the roadside fence... so had probably been in the Winter wheat or barley on the other side of the road... 

Until this morning, I hadn't really appreciated just how big they really are...
the normal view being, always, from a distance... with little to give scale!
It was as large, possibly larger than Baron our small black panther....
as long in the body, the head was half as big again as Baron's...
and the hoooooge ears, amazing....
it may not have weighed Baron's eight kilos, but I think it was possibly not far off!

So, please... share in my "wet hare" moment....
I rather like the punkish topknot!

This was the closest it came... and I couldn't fit it in the frame!

This, however, was what I thought would be my closest view... the inspection hatches for the fosse filter bed!
Was I about to be surprised... it suddenly turned towards me just as I had zoomed out to get a better shot...
so, I got this...

Terrible picture.... ears all cut off, but still somewhat magical to me!

After having a nibble of the grass along the edge of the Woodchipio®, it turned and lolloped away towards the potager... much the way it had come... but, as it went... it did the Mad March Hare routine....


I had zoomed back out enough... but it decided to keep exploring..
so off it went!

This is a more normal "hare shot"... going away!!
As it lolloped it showed a clean pair of heels... but muddy feet!


Then... it stopped, sat on its haunches and did a bit of "shadow boxing"....

Followed by getting really "wild" with its opponent...
standing on tiptoe... and really throwing those punches!!

And then away it went.... much in the opposite direction to which I saw it arrive...



Although it may look to be in the classic "hare at speed" pose...
it is, still, just lolloping along...

.... and, after this last shot, it stayed around for about five more minutes.... having a nibble here, a nibble there... not, seemingly, worried by being near habitation!
So, an Easter Monday Mad April Hare came to visit.......


Sunday, 21 April 2019

A happy Easter surprise...

Happy Easter everyone...
We had a rather nice surprise yesterday... after seven years of feeding the birds here.... a male Great Spotted Woodpecker [Dendrocopos major) Pic Épieche discovered, after around twenty minutes of hesitation and failed attempts.... how to use the bird feeders... well, the fatball feeder.
And he was back this morning... rather a lovely sight... and very interesting to see how delicately it feeds. But I suppose that is down to not having to chisel its way to the grub!

So, here's a picture post.... with captions to tell the story as events unfolded....

I suddenly saw him arrive... they never usually come this close...



He then moved even closer to the feeding station....


Then he moved up onto the feeder....
you can clearly see the red patch at the rear of his cap...
that clearly shows he's a he!
Females have no red on the head.

He hopped closer to the fatball feeder...
watching what the female sparrow was doing.

He hopped all around the feeder, studying it....
and watching what the sparrows were doing....

He made an attempt to reach the feeder, but he branch...
well, twig actually....
was too thin and he lost his balance!!

He let go and flew to the other end...
he was a little shocked I think and raised his crest!

He then hopped back and forth along the main feeder branches...
he spent quite a while doing this....
when, suddenly everything seemed to click....

And he was there....
and stayed for quite a while...
and came back twice today!!

This is a cropped area from the previous shot...
you can very clearly see the long, thin tongue that woodpeckers have...

So a rather nice Easter weekend treat... even if I was taking photos through the double-glazed kitchen window.... a today, a female has also been seen closer to the house than normally... spotted by Pauline that one....
other bird news, we think we must have robins this year... there are two still around and seem happy in each other's company... so probably a pair.
This year's dominant male Black Redstart is one of last years brood and still looks like a juvenile/female but with a noticeably darker face.
The male Stonechat is not impressed and keeps chasing him!!

Saturday, 30 March 2019

I like Lichens

But I don't lick lichen!
It is all in the pronunciation....
anyway.... no matter how you say it...
lichens, and mosses for that matter...are a lovely macro photography subject.
These are just a few from here.... and there....

 Physcia leptalea Lichen.... with thanks to Susan Walter for the ID


Lichens are first colonisers... the mix of fungus and algae allow them to get a foothold on bare rock....


This is one of the so called "Stag's Horn" lichens... along with a yellow Xanthoria species or similar.


Physcia leptalea Lichen.... along with another type of Xanthoria species or similar



Also, lichens look different in dry or wet conditions.... this, and the following one are one and the same....
a Lecanora species... this is when it was wet


... and this after it had dried out!


These are more "Stag's Horn" lichen... taken looking up a tree in the Brenne


And this is perhaps one of the best known types.... "Pixies' Caps"... a Cladonia species..
but, when you start looking....
you will realise that the Cladonia group has more than one species that can be called "Pixies' Caps"
Here it is growing amongst a Polytricum species moss

This is another Xanthoria species or similar lichen, growing with moss... possibly a Hypnum species.
Where lichens lead, mosses follow!
And, if it is damp enough.... along with the mosses, come Liverworts...
this is a Marchantia species... often called Birds Nest Liverwort

And in 2016, it was discovered that lichens are not the symbiotic relationship between an algae and a fungi.... no, indeedy....
it is a relationship between two different groups of fungi... and an algae! See here.




Friday, 15 February 2019

Hello once more.....a change to the blogging style!

Yes, it is over six months since anything was posted... but things keep getting in the way....
So for the time being, I will just post pictures and a smidgin of text!!

Firstly... Pauline was awoken at 1AM by an overflight in the moonlight of thousands of cranes...
they didn't wake me... too tired these nights.

So, although it was impossible to take pictures anyway.... here's a gratuitous shot of some cranes headed in the same Northwesterly direction....


A flight of four....
{part of a much bigger one!!}

Last year was spent trapping and photographing moths....
These are just a couple from a series....
"Invertebrate on a stick!"
....trying to take "non-textbook pictures that show the beauty of these creatures we live amongst....




A Barred Sallow [Xanthia aurago]
{quite a cutie}
A European Hornet [Vespa crabro]
{these also hunt at night and I frequentlyget them in the trap!}


So... just a couple... but I have hundreds of pictures to work through!

As Arnie said....
"I'll be back!!"




Sunday, 22 July 2018

To prey or not to prey... that is but Nature... raw in tooth or mandible!!

I was strolling round our watermeadow, early doors...
looking for interesting pictures of the wildlife...
when this scene occurred in front of me...
I was just about to take a picture of the "Pea Penny-pipes" when it was pounced upon by this Blue-tailed Damselfly...



Quite a tussle occured until, very suddenly the Blue Featherlegs stopped resisting...



....and she crawled forwards onto a dead plant... where I could see through the viewfinder what was happening.



The reason Pennipipes had suddenly become subdued was very clear... the female Common Bluetail that attacked her had chewed through the thorax and consumed her flight muscles!



You can see from the side shot here that her thorax has been chewed from start to finish...



...and that was enough for the smaller damselfly... who, having fatally crippled the Featherlegs... went off and rested just above on a dying nettle!!



I moved Penny Featherlegs to a wild carrot flowerhead where she would be more visible to predators... doubting that the Common Bluetail would be back for more.




and this final photo is a close-up I took before leaving, which shows the extent of the damage.




Sorry, Nature isn't nice and twee.... it is nasty... but with beautiful moments!
Given the number of warblers we have here...
and the swallows, tits, wolf spiders, big bushcrickets...
and my favourites... the huge wasp spiders... carnivores all...
the Bluetail itself could have bought it by the end of the day!!
Even sparrows and other seed eaters hunt insects at this time of the year....
to feed their growing young.

This whole episode lasted... taken from the time of the photos...
09:54 18 - First shot - pounced a few seconds earlier.
09:54 44 - 26 seconds to cripple her.
09:56 24 - Finished meal in 2 minutes & 6 seconds!

The protagonists... or the diner and her meal are...
Common Bluetail / Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) l'Agrion élégant  [female]....
Blue Featherleg / White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes) l'Agrion à larges pattes [immature female]
all taking place in our water meadow / flood plain of the Aigronne River.

And no apologies for the title!