A Seven image study of a Heron as it rests and hunts for Fish, standing on a stone at the river bank ……
Hairy Wood Ants (Formica lugubris) photographic project
Over the last few years I been involved working on a project around county Tipperary,Ireland involving photographing nests of Irish Wood Ants (Formica lugubris), this has been one of the most interesting photo project I have ever worked on.
The images in this post are captured between 2014 and 2017 ….
These Ants are on the international endangered species list and exist in locations that are kept reasonably private, just to find and get to see these nests themselves is a task and an amazing feeling.
When you get closer to the nests for the first time you will notice just how large they are (3 feet off the ground) and how many Ants that each colony contains, each nest can hold tens of thousands of Ants, the entire surface of the nest is on the move with Ants coming and going from small entrance holes. This flow of movement is 24 hours long during the months that the Ants are active.
They create a clear trail through the woods as they clear a path, traveling both outwards from the nest and returning again with food for the Queen Ant living deep in the ground under the nest itself.
It is thought she lives in a protected area some two meters underground.
In order to protect themselves and nest with its queen, they can shoot out acid some four feet from their bodies.
I will be working on this project most of this summer and look forward to each return, watching these wonderful Wood Ants is an amazing experience and working around them with a camera is great fun.
When you plunged
The light of Tuscany wavered
And swung through the pool
From top to bottom.
I loved your wet head and smashing crawl,
Your fine swimmer’s back and shoulders
Surfacing and surfacing again
This year and every year since.
I sat dry-throated on the warm stones.
You were beyond me.
The mellowed clarities, the grape-deep air
Thinned and disappointed.
Thank God for the slow loadening,
When I hold you now
We are close and deep
As the atmosphere on water.
My two hands are plumbed water.
You are my palpable, lithe
Otter of memory
In the pool of the moment,
Turning to swim on your back,
Each silent, thigh-shaking kick
Re-tilting the light,
Heaving the cool at your neck.
And suddenly you’re out,
Back again, intent as ever,
Heavy and frisky in your freshened pelt,
Printing the stones.
Familiar little pink flower from April to November, Herb-Robert is a hairy, unpleasant-smelling plant which grows on banks, bases of walls, shingle and shady places throughout the country. Its pink flowers (8-15mm across) have five un-notched petals and in the centre of the flower are orange anthers. Each petal is marked by small lighter-pink lines running into the centre of the flower. The hairy, stalked leaves are often tinged red and have three to five deeply cut lobes. The fruit is hairy and beak-like. This is a native plant belonging to the family Geraniaceae.
This plant has been introduced into North and South America from Europe and Asia. In traditional medicine in the Americas it has been used to stop nosebleeds. Its leaves are also made into a herbal tea which is recommended as a gargle and an eyewash.
One wonders who is the ‘Robert’ of this plant. Maybe the name comes from the Latin word ‘ruber’ meaning red which may have referred to the colouring of the leaves and stems.
Hover Flies, such as the this one above, look at the world in quite a different way than humans do. The structure and function of a flies eye are completely different from ours, and so they see shapes, motion and color differently. Flies are also able to see light in a way humans cannot.
Structure of a Compound Eye
Compound eyes are made up of thousands of individual visual receptors, called ommatidia. Each ommatidium is a functioning eye in itself, and thousands of them together create a broad field of vision for the fly. Each ommatidium is a long, thin structure, with the lens on the outer surface of the eye, tapering to a nerve at the eye’s base. When the ommatidium receives light, it is filtered through the lens, then a crystalline cone structure, pigment cells and visual cells. Every ommatidium has its own nerve fiber connecting to the optic nerve, which relays information to the flies brain.
Flies Can’t Focus
A human’s eye is attached to muscles that allow it to move, expanding the field of vision and making it possible for the eye to gather more information about its surroundings. Instead of moving their eyes, flies receive information from several different points simultaneously. A flies eyes are immobile, but because of their spherical shape and protrusion from the flies head they give the fly an almost 360-degree view of the world. In a human eye, the pupil controls how much light comes into it, which is focused by the lens onto the retina. The retina then relays information to the brain via the optic nerve. Because fly eyes have no pupils they cannot control how much light enters the eye. With no control over how much light passes through the lens, the fly cannot focus the image it sees. Flies are also short-sighted — a visible range of a few yards is considered good for an insect.
The Mosaic Effect
The best analogy to describe a flies vision is to compare it to a mosaic — thousands of tiny images convalesce, and together represent one visual image. Each one of these pictures represents information from the fly’s individual ommatidium. The effect is much like how we see stippling or newspaper print — up close the image is a lot of tiny dots, but take a step back and it’s a complete image. The more ommatidia a compound eye contains, the clearer the image it creates.
There’s a reason why flies are especially jumpy creatures that take off at the slightest flinch. A flies vision is nowhere near as clear or effective as a human’s, but it’s especially good at picking up form and movement. As an object moves across the fly’s field of view the ommatidia fire and stop firing. This is called a flicker effect. It’s similar to how a scrolling marquis works — with lights turning on and off to give the illusion of motion. Because a fly can easily see motion and form, but not necessarily what the large moving object is, they are quick to flee, even if the moving object is harmless.
Flies have limited color vision. Each color has its own wave frequency, but flies have only two kinds of color receptor cells. This means they have trouble distinguishing between colors, for instance discerning between yellow and white. Insects cannot see the color red, which is the lowest color frequency humans can see. However, houseflies have the ability to see polarized light, but humans cannot differentiate between polarized and unpolarized light. Polarized light is light in which the waves travel only in one plane.
Wolf Spiders are members of the family Lycosidae. They are so named because their method of hunting is to run down their prey like that of a wolf. Wolf Spiders are robust and agile hunters that rely on good eyesight to hunt, typically at night. Wolf Spiders resemble nursery web spiders (family Pisauridae), however, they carry their egg sacs by attaching them to their spinnerets (instead of by means of their jaws and pedipalps).
Wolf spider Characteristics
Wolf Spiders range from about half an inch to 2 inches in length. They are hairy and typically brown to grey in colour with a distinct Union Jack impression on their backs. The spiders undersides are light grey, cream or black, sometimes salmon pink.
Wolf Spiders have eight eyes arranged in three rows. The bottom row consists of four small eyes, the middle row has two very large eyes and the top row has two medium-sized eyes.
Wolf Spiders depend on their good eyesight to hunt. Their sense of touch is also acute. The sides of their jaws may have a small raised orange spot or ‘boss’.
Because they depend on camouflage for protection, Wolf Spiders do not have the flashy appearance of some other kinds of spiders. In general their colouration is appropriate to their favoured habitat.
Wolf Spiders eyes reflect light well and one way of finding them is to hunt at night using a flashlight strapped to ones forehead so that the light from the light is reflected from their eyes directly back toward its source.
Wolf spider Habitat and Webs
Wolf spiders can be found in a wide range of habitats both coastal and inland. These include shrub lands, woodland, wet coastal forest, alpine meadows and suburban gardens.
Wolf spiders are commonly known as household pests as when the weather starts getting colder, they look for warm places to overwinter in homes. Wolf Spiders are commonly found around doors, windows, house plants, basements, garages and in almost all terrestrial habitats. Wolf Spiders do not spin a web, instead, they roam at night to hunt for food. Wolf spiders are often confused with the Brown Recluse spider, however, they lack the violin-shaped marking of the Recluse. The wolf spider is shy and is most likely to run away when disturbed.
Wolf spider Diet
Two Wolf spider species are known to be predators of cane toads. Lycosa lapidosa will take small toads and frogs while Lycosa obscuroides has been noted biting and killing a large toad within one hour.
Wolf spider Reproduction
Mating takes place outside the females burrow at night. Some adult male Wolf spiders of smaller-sized species are known to disperse by air in order to find mates. The male is attracted by scent markings left by the female, often associated with her drag-line silk. Males perform a courtship ritual prior to mating, often involving complex leg and palp signaling to the female.
The female Wolf spider constructs an egg sac of white papery silk, shaped like a ball with an obvious circular seam, which she then carries around attached with strong silk to her spinnerets. When the spiderlings hatch, they are carried around on the females back until they are ready to disperse by ballooning or on the ground. Such a high degree of parental care is relatively unusual among spiders. Wolf spiders live for up to 2 years.
Wolf spider Venom
The Wolf Spider is not aggressive, however, it will inject venom freely if continually provoked. Symptoms of its venomous bite include swelling, mild pain and itching. Though usually considered harmless to humans, its bite may be painful.
Green Veined White Butterfly, feeding from a herb Robert flower, County Kilkenny
The dawn is smiling on the dew that covers
The tearful roses; lo, the little lovers
That kiss the buds, and all the flutterings
In jasmine bloom, and privet, of white wings,
That go and come, and fly, and peep and hide,
With muffled music, murmured far and wide.
Ah, the Spring time, when we think of all the lays
That dreamy lovers send to dreamy mays,
Of the fond hearts within a billet bound,
Of all the soft silk paper that pens wound,
The messages of love that mortals write
Filled with intoxication of delight,
Written in April and before the May time
Shredded and flown, playthings for the wind’s playtime,
We dream that all white butterflies above,
Who seek through clouds or waters souls to love,
And leave their lady mistress in despair,
To flit to flowers, as kinder and more fair,
Are but torn love-letters, that through the skies
Flutter, and float, and change to butterflies
Primrose – Poem by Patrick Kavanagh
Upon a bank I sat, a child made seer
Of one small primrose flowering in my mind.
Better than wealth it is, I said, to find
One small page of Truth’s manuscript made clear.
I looked at Christ transfigured without fear–
The light was very beautiful and kind,
And where the Holy Ghost in flame had signed
I read it through the lenses of a tear.
And then my sight grew dim, I could not see
The primrose that had lighted me to Heaven,
And there was but the shadow of a tree
Ghostly among the stars. The years that pass
Like tired soldiers nevermore have given
Moments to see wonders in the grass.