Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Bumbling Bloodsuckers

I'm fairly new to photography and my main motivation is just to document what is around me. I'm vacillating between trying to learn more specialised techniques where greater control is available, or whether to make a point of keeping it snappy and real. I guess it's something that can be done on a project by project basis, but certainly at the moment there's plenty of things around me that I've rarely or  never seen and many are not ill-disposed to my camera - so long as I'm quick enough.

A Zebra Spider

Last week a friend lent me a macro lens for close up photography and I've been making frequent use of it to document some of the residents and visitors, welcome and unwelcome, that can be found here at Tyntesfield at this time of year.

First up are the villains. I've lived here at Tyntesfield for over a decade and until 3 years ago I rarely encountered a tick, but for these recent summers they have been numerous. Deeply unpleasant, in the picture you can see the mouthparts and the empty abdominal sack waiting to be filled with my blood.

A tick crawling uninvited up my wrist

I'm well schooled in correct removal measures if I find a tick attached to me, but every so often I flip and attack the unwanted appendage in a frenzy, desperate to be rid of it. I know so very well that this is the wrong thing to do (don't traumatise the tick), that it makes me wonder if I'm briefly under the control of an alien invader? I've always been fascinated by the ability of numerous parasites to influence the behaviour of their hosts, perhaps some organism is directing me to make a mess of myself and the tick as a means of spreading infection? Best not to lose sleep over these things though...

The next garden rogue is the Horse-fly. These hypodermic biters really like to make a nuisance of themselves. I'm still waiting for a realistic alfresco movie sex scene where proceedings get interrupted by these pesky bloodsuckers. They've given me a real dilemma as I've been maintaining a vigilant wildlife rescue service for any animal that falls into my daughter's paddling pool. Every time I fish a Horse-fly out my inner voice is screaming out indignantly 'why? why? why?'. I guess the spiritual answer is that by saving Horse-flies I'm avoiding coming back as one in a future life.

What's not to love about this Fly?
Happily, not everything in the garden is out to get me. I'm aware there are lots of different bee species buzzing around at the moment. My current expertise goes about as far as telling the difference between a Bumble and a Honey, but I intend to resolve this particular knowledge gap this summer.

White-tailed Bumblebee on Clover flower

These three picture (above and below) are all White-tailed Bumblebees. The white tail alone is not enough to identify them, but the similar Bombus hortorum (I only use the Latin name because my book tells me no other) has three yellow bands. My favourite bit of observed behaviour is when, upon leaving the clover patch, the bees do a short orientation flight in all directions to register exactly where they are. 

White-tailed Bumblebee with very fine wings

White-tailed Bumblebee with not so impressive wings

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