Art or life?
Photographed by a friend — thanks David ‘Ikey’ Jones
It is in fact a plume moth, alive and not in anyway damaged or poorly!
I never seem to understand the limitations of my eye-sight or reaction-time and today I’ve been trying to photograph dragon flies again. I have many pictures of their wake — the disturbed but empty air just above the water where, just recently, they were — but wait… What is this?
Can you see what it is yet? Sorry! It’s what I call a water-boatman but when I look that up I find the term is ambiguous — it covers a multitude of sins — this needs clarification –I rummage in the shed for a fishing net and plastic punnet — the one without holes and bingo!
It is a Back Swimmer (Notonectidae glauca) Known in Britain as the Greater Water Boatman. It swims upside down (according to our prejudices) just below the surface of freshwater ponds, attracted to prey by the agitation of the water — the waves on the surface. It has a nasty toxic bite and probably ate all our tadpoles. It’s a proper bug and can haul itself through the surface and fly away though it didn’t when I hoicked it out to photograph it. I think its eggs develop directly into adults.
What about the Lesser Water Boatman? I hear you ask. He is called Corixa punctata — he swims the right way up near the bottom of the pond, is less agressive (a bit of a veggie) but is otherwise quite similar unless you have a macro lens — I shall look for him tomorrow.
It’s August — the silage is made, the lambs are weaned — the hill farmer’s fancy can fly!
Amser siow — Showtime!
He and she will disport themselves with their neighbours ( please note the youngsters in the background sloping off into the bushes).
Or he may just watch the people and think vaguely of finding a mate.
Young bucks can pit themselves, one on one, in the shearing ring.
Challenging their elders —
While in the produce tent there is combat of a more serious nature — the carrot wars.
The children meanwhile are introduced to a tarantula by an entertainer with a mission — he hands a scorpion out absent mindedly to a little boy, ‘ Here, hold this!’ the boy looks uncomfortable and hands it to the even smaller girl next to him who squeals and drops it. It scuttles towards the flaps of the tent where the parents are huddled nervously, they all jump backwards. The man with the mission scoops it up and plonks it on another child’s eager out-stretched hand.
Later he opens box after box and, in the same casual way, hands out the snakes — puts the curled up corn snake down on the head of a convenient child and festoons his bag of snub-nosed snakes on the shoulders of another group who stand very still — but not for long. Soon there is a milling of excited kids all with reptiles about their person — pythons and a skink, which makes them squeal louder because it poohs. There is a beautiful green chameleon and for those who are scared of rats there is a giant Gambian pouched rat.
Gradually the grown-ups start to creep in to the back of the tent and he says, ‘Do you mind?’ to a wary looking man, ‘this is rather heavy,’ and without waiting for a reply, drapes him with a huge king python.
Now the nervous parents are stroking the rat and the reptiles which nestle happily in the arms and hoods and up the jumpers of their relaxed children — mission accomplished!
Out in the sunshine the donkey racing has started — a lady who does not ride horses and who has just drunk a significant quantity of fruit cider is loaded into a metal chariot which is attached to a mule. The race is on — she valiantly lashes the mule with the reins, the chariot corners precariously, it does not tip and she comes second in her heat — everyone cheers.
Time for the final —
and genes will out. The final of the Donkey Derby is fought out between a mother and her daughter who unmistakably demonstrate the same joyful vitality — though Mum has just a bit more grit.