Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Life in the Undergrowth...Mainly Macro.

29th/30th June.  Well, there goes another half a year and I still haven’t gotten around to refreshing this blog site.  June was another excellent month and compared to June 2012 it felt like it really was summer much of the time.  Highlights for me were the trip to the dramatic cliffs and seabird colonies at Bempton, a day of great birding with TSB and most definitely the Photographic Workshop on the Farne Islands.  What a day that was!  I will try and get some more images up soon from that special day.

The month was brought to a close with a trip with Sam to Martin Mere organised by Washington WWT.  In truth, apart from the Avocets, summer plumage Black-tailed Godwits and a few other waders, there wasn’t too much in the way of wild birds.  We had a very enjoyable day anyway and I enjoyed looking at captive wildfowl, some of which I have seen in the wild and some of which had me latter checking my books in order to identify them.  I enjoyed the journey and we had had good sightings from the coach of Common Snipe, Redshank, Curlew, Lapwing and of course Common Buzzards!

Captivity makes it no less a beauty!  Ruddy Shelduck.
Sam and I spent the following day on patch and in Gosforth Park Nature Reserve.  The breeding pair of Great Crested Grebes on Killy Lake had moved from the smaller lake to the large lake.  The two juvenile birds appear to have already dispersed.  This follows the pattern of last year.  We are wondering if a second brood will be raised again.  Perhaps not, as bad weather and the management of the lake ensured that the pair got off to a late start this year.  The lone third adult Great Crested Grebe remains on the lake also.  Sam got his eye on a single Wigeon in bright new plumage.  This is the first Wigeon I have seen on the lake for some years and I think a new patch tick for Sam.  The lake is full of algae.    The single male Goosander remains.  There were numbers of House Martins and Swifts flying over the lake.  The Swifts in particular have been seen in large numbers so far this year.  We took a walk to an interesting area for insects and although initially finding little of interest, it wasn’t too long before we had captured images of Large Skipper and Meadow Brown Butterflies, the later being involved in flight courtship.  A very nice orchid was found on lakeshore.

 Probably Common Spotted/Northern Marsh Orchid hybrid.

Meadow Brown Butterfly and one of many fascinating eyes seen today!

Large Skipper Butterfly

After a very long day yesterday we decided that a short trip to Gosforth Park Nature Reserve would be a good idea and I was hoping to catch sight of the Coralroot Orchids.  I’m pleased to say I did, but found that the parasitic lifestyle of this orchid is far more interesting than the actual plant is attractive, although I’m guessing the ones I found were past their best.  The visiting Ant species was not easy to photograph as it scuttled around constantly in poor light.  Although insects visit this plant it is almost entirely self pollinating.   A lifer orchid for my list.

Coralroot Orchid

Ant species on Coralroot Orchid

Sam and I did a bit of searching in the undergrowth and found interesting species to use the macro lens on and I have included some below.  It has been interesting and rewarding to focus in on some of these images and really look closely at the structures of them.  All fascinating stuff.  Sam and I had spoken a little about art and I now reflect upon how much inspiration artists must receive from nature.  To be truthful I think we would have been happy to stay in and with the undergrowth all day, but we were hoping also to catch sight of the Bittern!

Common Blue Damselfly

Natures art

Spider species.  Those eyes are watching me!

Beetle species

Spider species

Centipede Lithobius forficatus.  The structure of this insect is fascinating.  Not easy to photograph as this particular species runs for cover when found.  Having looked at it closely I'm not surprised everything else was attempting to get out of its way!  I've just read that there are thought to be 8,000 species of centipede and that only circa 3,000 have been described.  Not certain that I want to begin a centipede list.  Also interesting is that it seems the pairs of legs are always an odd number...e.g. they may have 15 or 17 pairs but never 16 pairs.

Slug species

Leopard Slug Limax maximis.  Apparently when mating the pair form a thick mucus and hang from a branch of a tree or similar object.

Froglet.  Image courtesy of Samuel Hood (Underthehood Photography).

In terms of birds the reserve was very quiet although the Common Terns and Black Headed Gulls, both species now feeding chicks, ensured that it wasn’t completely silent.  We spent some quality time in the hide but we found no Bittern.  I noticed the odd orchid near to the reed beds and lots of Ragged Robin.  After a chat with Paul D we headed home.  It had been a great way to see the month out.  Bring on July!

Common Spotted Orchid

Ragged Robin


  1. The last orchid looks good for common spotted. The earlier ones are some of those that could be a hybrid common/northern marsh. If you want to learn how to identify flowers, don't start with orchids? Nice shots.

    1. Many thanks Andrew. I'll alter my headings accordingly. I find orchids very interesting, but the commoner species are so very difficult to get to grips with, not helped by hybridisation. I'll get the book out again! Cheers.

  2. A good variety of photos and nice how the macro lens pics up such close detail.