In the Garden at eight am
I witness the end of Springtime
flowers of green, blue and purple
falling all over the table top
I place my cup of tea down
a moment frozen, soon moves on
as more of these blooms fall all around me
soon it will be summer time
clearly the flowers know, against all hope !
time moves on
never pausing for anyone ……
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.
Dolycoris baccarum Hairy Shieldbug
A large and distinctive purple-brown and greenish shieldbug which is covered with long hairs. The antennae and connexivum are banded black and white. During the winter, the ground colour becomes uniformly dull brown.
This bug overwinters as an adult, emerging in the spring. Larvae, which are also hairy, may be found on numerous plants, particularly those in the Roasaceae. The new generation is complete from August onwards.
Common and widepsread in many habitats throughout Britain, particularly hedgerows and woodland edges, becoming scarcer and mainly coastal in the north.
Adult: All year
Length 11-12 mm
By Jane Taylor
Down in a green and shady bed,
A modest violet grew,
Its stalk was bent, it hung its head,
As if to hide from view.
And yet it was a lovely flower,
Its colours bright and fair;
It might have graced a rosy bower,
Instead of hiding there,
Yet there it was content to bloom,
In modest tints arrayed;
And there diffused its sweet perfume,
Within the silent shade.
Then let me to the valley go,
This pretty flower to see;
That I may also learn to grow
In sweet humility.
Taken at Lunchtime today, this Spider was hiding in the hollow of a garden tree. I am not sure what kind of spider she is but am going through lots of websites and wildlife books I have.
At the moment I am keeping my Macro lens on my Camera all the time, I am missing taking some more general landscape images but truly enjoying spending sometime getting much closer to the nature that I find at home or very close to home. Macro photography is not easy and a true skill, so the more macro’s I find myself taking the more confident I am feeling in this area 🙂
The world we live in is full on the most amazing things, some of these things we see everyday around us in a very clear and detailed way, others we have to stop and take a little more time in order to observe. This is why when I get this time I love using a Macro Lens, you can get in close to the small things of life, getting a view that is hard to get from a distance.
This summer more than ever before I want to use my macro lens in order to record the small things in nature 🙂
A Gallery of images taken over the last four days here in county Kilkenny and Tipperary, Springtime has almost arrived 🙂 ….
Happy St Patrick’s day to everyone 🙂
To celebrate this St Patrick’s day, I am sharing a very full collection of images from my Blog, all of them taken over the last couple of years or so. I feel they show this land, a small part of the European continent at its very best.
Ireland a St Patrick’s Day collection ….
Last weekend while on walk between Clonmel and Carrick-on-suir, both in county Tipperary, We came across a family of Otters, they had made one of the rivers contributor’s their home ( A Holt or Couch in otter terms ). We spent about an hour with them watching as two adults and four pups hunted and play in the waters. One of the Pups managed to catch a fish and then share this food with the other three pups on the river bank.
For a long time I have hopped to have an encounter with these otters, I knew they were around this location but had never been in luck when it came to seeing them, so this hour was a truly special time and one I will not forget 🙂 , it changes the way you feel about a river when you have the chance to view its wild life for such a long period of time.
Here are some basic facts about the otter in Ireland …..
Written by Dr Mathieu Lundy
The otter (Lutra lutra) is regarded as one of Ireland’s most charismatic native mammal species.
The otter is highly secretive and although widespread people tend to only get rare glimpses of the species in the wild. Otter populations declined throughout Europe after the 1960s and the species is now very rare or absent from many parts of its former range. The Irish otter population appears to have remained largely stable and is regarded as a European stronghold. In Ireland otters are found in a diverse array of aquatic habitats, from small streams to major rivers, upland lakes to coastal lagoons and sandy beaches. However, otters that live at the coast do need access to some freshwater habitat to bathe. Within these habitats otters feed on a range of both aquatic and terrestrial prey. Much of the information regarding distribution, habitat use and diet comes from spotting otter tracks and signs. Individual otters are highly territorial, using droppings called spraints to mark their home ranges. Favoured locations for leaving spraints are in-stream boulders, bridge footings and grass tussocks, these are called seats. These territorial signs are an ideal way to tell if otters are using an area. Within its territory an otter may have a number of resting sites, called couches and underground denning sites called holts, which can be a considerable distance (up to 1km) from a river, lake or the seashore.
The species of otter that occurs in Ireland is called the Eurasian otter and is found in Europe and across Asia to China and Japan. In other regions the otter shares aquatic habitats with species specialised to different habitats such as sea otters, but in Ireland the otters that live at the coast and those that occupy our rivers are the same species.
In Ireland the otter population is geographically widely spread. In local areas its presence will depend on the provision of suitable aquatic habitats, sufficient food and cover for resting and breeding. During different seasons male otters and juvenile otters will disperse and otter signs may be observed in areas where they have not been present hitherto.
Home ranging behaviour
The territories of otters can stretch for several kilometres; the total length of the home range depends on the availability of food. The smallest territories are thought to occur at coastal sites, where territories may be as small as 2km. The longest territories occur in upland streams where an individual may have to range more than 20km to find sufficient food. The territories of males tend to be larger than females and indeed may overlap with a number of female otters. The availability of suitable territories along the coast and inland at lakes and rivers is thought to maintain the otter population of Ireland. The entire population is estimated to be in the region of 10,000 adults.
Within their territories an individual otter may utilise a number of holts. These tend to be natural crevices, associated with the roots of trees growing along river and lake banks. These natural recesses provide the otter with a holt that has multiple entrances from which the otter can escape if disturbed. Whilst individual otters rarely dig their own holts they will use burrows made by other animals such as rabbits and foxes. It is possible to build artificial holts to attract otters to use certain areas. Artificial holts are built to resemble natural holts, with a resting compartment and multiple entrances, these are particularly important where the natural bank side vegetation has been removed.
Other resting sites are also used, frequently in dense vegetation and may be associated with frequently used runs and slides into the water.
Although otters can breed at any time of year most seem do so in spring or early summer. Scent markings by the females signal to male otters that the females are ready to mate. The pregnancy lasts for around two months after which a litter of cubs is born, usually two or three, but as many as five have been seen. The cubs remain in the natal holt for up to two months before venturing out on their own, although the mother may move the cubs between holts within her territory periodically. Unlike other resting sites the natal holts do not tend to be marked with spraints. The juvenile otters remain as a family group for around six months or longer before the young otters disperse to establish their own territories.
Otters that live in rivers and lakes tend to be completely nocturnal, described as being crepuscular – activity peaks at dusk and dawn. Foraging at night or in ‘muddy’ water is aided by their highly sensitive whiskers, which detect their prey items. Otters are principally piscivorous, relying predominantly on salmonids (salmon and trout), but also eel and small fish species such as stickleback. However, otters are not limited to fish and feed opportunistically on a range of prey when available: frogs are frequently eaten by otters, and the remains of invertebrates (crayfish), birds and small mammals have also been found in spraints. Otters that forage at the coast may have flexible foraging times linked to the tides. At low tide otters hunt in the exposed rock pools and seaweed covered rocks for fish and invertebrate prey.
The Irish otter population remains one of the most stable in Europe. There is some evidence to suggest that since initial national surveys in the early 1980s there have been declines in the prevalence of the species. It is hoped that the reasons for these declines will be addressed by the designation of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), ongoing national assessments and by targeted intensive surveys. The risks to the current otter population are the availability of sufficient food within their habitats and provision of resting and denning sites. This species is protected under the Wildlife Act (1976) and Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000.
Otters have been found dead in illegal snares, which may not be intended for otters, but which still pose a threat to individual animals. A significant number of otters are also killed on our roads. There is some evidence that the incidence of these accidents increases during periods of flooding when fast flowing rivers at bridge crossing become impassable and otters must venture onto roads to find alternative routes. The occurrence of otters at any site relies on a complex interaction of the characteristics of the wider landscape and local site specific habitat factors. Broad-scale intensive agriculture and urbanisation of catchments reduces the likelihood that otters will occur, along with reduced diversity of river banks and lake shores. Maintaining prey populations and preserving the natural features of rivers, lakes and coasts will benefit the Irish otter population and ensure that the Irish population remains a European stronghold.
Winters on a farm are a hard time of year, dealing with the weather and the cold, the dark evenings and early mornings. Life as a farmer must have many great moments but its not hard to imagine that there are less of these in the winter months than in the summer.
I took these images while out on a walk yesterday and as you can see, on this farm some of the cows are still out in the fields while some have been returned to their winter shed, soon all of them with be inside. In the Barn close by is stored some of the feed that will be used for the cattle over the next few months. In an area of the barn next to the feed is the farmers haybob that would have been used only a few weeks back to help get the hay bales ready.
The next few weeks are all about rest for the land and keeping the live stock warm and health in the sheds, life slows down and less work out in the fields is needed. While welcome in some ways you can imagine that this lack of activity can at times feel a little to slow but this is farm life.
Here in county Kilkenny each year you develop a great sense of the farming seasons and the activities that go along with them.
You would think that in the first week of December, it would be hard to find anything interesting in the local landscape nature wise to get good and close to with a Macro lens, however there are still some amazing thing to be seen and captured 🙂
Here are just a few macro images taken this week …….
The end of November and you would think that all the wildlife has vanished from the landscape , however you only need to take an early morning walk to realize that there are lots of wild creatures still around.
This morning on a walk through the hills near Kilmoganny, county Kilkenny, I was accompanied by this little Robin who hopped from tree to tree in front of me 🙂
Here is a little folklore about the Robin from an Irish point of view …….
If the soul and symbol of the old sun and the Oak King was the Wren, the Robin represented the new sun. The wren was said to hide in the Ivy, the Robin in the Holly. The Pagan Neolithic Festival of the birth of the new sun, symbolized by the Robin, was at the Winter Solstice (21st December). The Robin (the new sun) killed his father the Wren (the old sun) and that is how he got his red breast, ie, from the blood of his father. A Robin coming into a house was supposed to be a sign that someone was going to die there in the near future. Despite this association with death, the Robin was praised for being the only bird capable of singing all the notes of the musical scale. And furthermore, the Robin can sing for half an hour without repeating the melody, unlike the other birds.
Winter Is Coming once Again
The sky is filled with broken light,
The Sun is hidden by deep snow filled clouds,
There’s a chillness to the air,
I feel it everywhere,
All through the days and nights;
Winter is coming.
The Crows fly above Slievenamon
hunting harder then before, and the ground below
Is hard beneath wing and claw,
The trees stand bare of leaves and fruits,
And all around
Is still, Silent;
Winter is coming.
The sun will soon be gone,
Obscured by cloud,
The rivers and lakes begin to freeze,
The wind will bend the trees
Until they’re bowed
Winter is coming, once again.
Only the dead will feed hungry crows:
Mice, rabbits, sparrows.
The light fades from the Sun
Now darker days have come,
for the high crow, cold bites to the marrow,
And Winter is here.
This winter I want to spent sometime getting in close with nature and the local landscape, with a macro lens. I feel that even though the summer and even Autumn are almost over there are still lots of subjects that will be fascinating when captured close up.
Water and rain drops are just such a subject and when we get more frost and ice I will spend lots of time outside in the early hours capturing as many images as possible.
The image above was taken with the help of an LED ring flash gun, you can see the lighting effects produced in each drop of water…..
Water, giver of life
Water, is a great necessity, without it nothing can live. Only earth and water can bring forth a living soul. Such is the greatness of water that spiritual regeneration cannot be done without it.
Thales of Miletus concluded that water was the beginning of all things and the first of all elements and most potent because of its mastery over the rest. Pliny said “Water swallow up the earth, extinguishes the flame, ascends on high, and by stretching forth as clouds challenges the heavens for their own, and the same falling down, becomes the cause of all things that grow in the earth.
Water is a cleansing, healing, psychic, and loving element. It is the feeling of friendship and love that pours over us when we are with our family, friends and loved ones. When we swim it is water that supports us, when we are thirsty, it is water the quenches our thirst, another manifestation of this element is the rainstorms that drench us, or the dew formed on plants after the sun has set.
The power of the energy of Water, can be felt by tasting pure spring water, moving you hand through a stream, lake, pool, or bowl full of water. You can feel its cool liquidity; it’s soft and loving touch, this motion and fluidity is the quality of Air within Water. This Water energy is also contained within ourselves, our bodies being mostly composed of Water.
As well as being vital for life, within the energy of this element is contained the essence of love. Love is the underlying reason for all magic. Water is love.
Water is a feminine element, it also the element of emotion and subconscious, of purification, intuition, mysteries of the self, compassion and family. It is psychic ability; water can be used as a means of scrying or as an object for meditation. Water is important in spells and rituals of friendship, marriage, happiness, fertility, healing, pleasure, psychic abilities and spells involving mirrors.
The element of Water and the pagan Irish Goddess : Boann and the Irish God : Nechtan
eltic (Irish) Goddess of the River Boyne and mother of Angus Mac Og by the Dagda. She was the wife of Nechtan, a god of the water. Likewise, Boann was herself a water-goddess, and one of her myths concerns the water. According to legend, there was a sacred well (Sidhe Nechtan) that contained the source of knowledge. All were forbidden to approach this well, with the exception of the god Nechtan (as was noted, Boann’s husband) and his servants. Boann ignored the warnings, and strode up to the sacred well, thus violating the sanctity of the area. For this act, she was punished, and the waters of the defiled well swelled and were transformed into a raging river, a river that pursued her. In some versions, she was drowned; while in others, she managed to outrun the currents. In either case, this water became the river that was known henceforth as the Boyne, and Boann thereafter became the presiding deity.
Another aspect of the myth of Boann is that she bore Angus. She and the All father of the Tuatha De Danaan, the Dagda, engaged in an illicit affair that resulted in the birth of this god of love. However, since both Boann and the Dagdha wished to keep their rendezvous a secret, they used their divine powers to cause the nine month gestation period to last but a single day – or so it seemed, for the sun was frozen in the sky for those nine months, never setting and never rising. On this magical day, Angus emerged into the world. She held the powers of healing. Variants: Boannan, Boyne.
Ref : Pagan elements of Water
Its A Sheeps Soul
By : fayaz bhat
O cherisher! Of hairy goats, rocky ridges,
Still vales and white-woolen sheep;
Of my love, of melodies, of muses, of her beau;
It’s the soul of a forgotten sheep
Looking for her poor pastor, his white drove
And, the rest in shade;
Or ‘tis a shepherd, a shepherdess more,
Singing in solitude, rhyme, underneath a tree
In the relaxed midday of jubilant springs,
Ballads, lounged beside the sitting slept sheep.
Or; ‘tis that boy in the wild highs
Playing floyera reclined on the mossy rock—
Goats bleat and forget to graze;
Waking up the beasts, waking up the breeze,
Eared by the deer, cheered by the crows,
’lauded by the woods, echoed by the vale.
Free her! Guide her! For it says so sweet:
My abode’s among the weeds,
The wild flowers grow, the stony meads live.
This Morning while walking through our local woods, I came across a Gorse bush and noticed that its was decorated with spiders webs. Each web was covered in early morning dew, so I started to take a few photographs, while doing so I noticed that the spider who had most likely spent most of the night creating these amazing structures was still at work.
It was a great moment! just to stop and watch her as she continued to work on finishing just another one of so many of her webs, I managed to captures some close up images , some of which I share here – 🙂 🙂
“The Spiders web” by E.B. White
The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unfolds a plan of her devising,
A thin premeditated rig
To use in rising.
And all that journey down through space,
In cool descent and loyal hearted,
She spins a ladder to the place
From where she started.
Thus I, gone forth as spiders do
In spider’s web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken thread to you
For my returning.
Spiders web Gallery
by Tom Splitt
The calm quiet strength of a tree
Anchored deep in the earth
Reaching high in the sky
The calm quiet strength of a tree
The calm quiet strength of a tree
Full of life from its roots
To the tiniest branch
The calm quiet strength of a tree
And oh, how it comforts me
How it teaches me
Without a sound
Then I realize at once
That this tree and I are one
The calm quiet strength of a tree
From the weight of its trunk
To its delicate leaves
The calm quiet strength of a tree
The calm quiet strength of a tree
Showing anyone near
All the secrets of time
The calm quiet strength of a tree
To be an Insect ?
Very often when I am out in our local woodlands with a Macro lens, I like to get in close and find all kinds of Insects to photograph. Its like a completely different universe down at this level, I find that I also end-up studying what these little creatures are doing in-order to keep existing day to day.
I often wonder how they see the same world that we share with them, what perspective they have on life without our daily activities and life styles.
Life without News and Media communication, life without TV or Radio and the latest phone, Life without Cars or Vans and Motorways – No Banks or need for Money with Tax to pay.
I wonder if we could even for one moment, a single day, begin to understand just how much of life in our world exists without all the things that we surround ourselves with, thinking that we actually need then in order to exist?
I also wonder when capturing nature with a camera, if its possible at all to capture these questions, to get across the true existence of a bee or a hover-fly, not only showing the outwards wonder of these insects but capturing the life that they are actually living ?
By : Ted Hughes
(1930 – 1998)
Against the rubber tongues of cows and the hoeing hands of men
Thistles spike the summer air
And crackle open under a blue-black pressure.
Every one a revengeful burst
Of resurrection, a grasphed fistful
Of splintered weapons and Icelandic frost thrust up
From the underground stain of a decayed Viking.
They are like pale hair and the gutturals of dialects.
Every one manages a plume of blood.
Then they grow grey like men.
Mown down, it is a feud. Their sons appear
Stiff with weapons, fighting back over the same ground.
At this time of the year our local woodlands here in county Kilkenny fill with new life and colours, one of the the wild flowers I love the most are the Violets.
They are a familiar little wildflower of the woodlands and grassy hedge-banks, this plant is quite similar to Early Dog-violet and is easily confused. The unscented, blue-violet flower is always solitary on the stem, and is open with five petals, the lower of which has a stout, blunt, pale, curved spur which is notched at the tip.
The mouth of the flower is absolutely wonderful to view through a hand-lens or magnifying glass. It has a pattern of deep purple lines which run into the throat over a paler violet patch, becoming white. The upper petals have a fringe which is over the opening. The dark-green, heart-shaped leaves are on long, slender stalks. This native plant which blooms from April until June is a larval foodplant of the Dark Green Fritillary. It belongs to the family Violaceae.
‘Look at us, said the violets blooming at her feet, all last winter we slept in the seeming death but at the right time God awakened us, and here we are to comfort you’.
Edward Payson Roe 1838-1888
‘I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died.’
William Shakespeare 1564 -1616
Last week we took sometime to visit my Family in a holiday home in South Wales, it was a great week together and very special as we have a new baby in the family 🙂
Before we left for Wales, spring was just staring but on our return it was in full flow with so much new life all around, the cycle of life continues in so many different ways 🙂
The old dead tree stood
gnarled weather torn;
its limbs were now brittle.
What stories could it tell
of the centuries it had lived,
the passing lives it had seen,
and the storms it had weathered
when it was young and strong.
When its foliage was green
and gave shelter from the rain.
Now it stands bare and broken,
a sorry sight to be seen.
It must have been beautiful
when it was young
with its canopy of green,
and a nesting place for little birds
among its evergreen.
Now they only used it
as a resting place whenever they pass by.
The old dead tree,
which had seen so much life.