Nature Photography, seasons, Wales

Spring Fever

We know it must be spring because the cock pheasants are rutting, fighting beak and nail while the hens pretend not to notice. These two are spoiling for a fight —

and it all kicks off!

Getting quite violent but balletic!

After several skirmishes the newcomer takes off with indecent haste leaving the resident cock to strut about guarding his territory while the eight females under the bird feeders, seemingly oblivious, continue to excavate the ground for peanuts thrown down by the picky nuthatch.

One hundred yards further up the valley another drama enfolds as the unusually sunny weather is drying out a shallow pond threatening the lives of several thousand tadpoles.

Enter International Tadpole Rescue with a bucket and dust pan!

All re-homed to a bigger pond further up the valley.

Over the road in our neighbors pond things are equally torrid as the toads, who pair later than the frogs, are only now laying their spawn. Here they are, photographed by Sue Whitehead (all rights reserved).

See how different the toad spawn is from the more familiar clumps the frog spawn.

We know that the mud at the bottom of these ponds is full of ferocious dragonfly nymphs and hungry newts and the surface today was sparkling with the ripples of a hundred pond skaters excited by the prospect of a juicy tadpole. How many adults will emerge from all this spawn?

Lyrical, Nature Photography

Where does the river start?



P1040648 (4)

Today the air is oozing — it is absolutely still — not a single raindrop, nor a whisper of wind, but everything is wet,reflecting the mist.

P1040632 (2)

Every blade of grass carries a pearl of moisture that swells and drops into the soggy ground.




Water condenses onto every surface — all day dew…  Dew (the Welsh for God) that seeps through the sloping fields, that runs down ruts and overflows the puddles into ditches and culverts where it gurgles and giggles to the jingling stream.



The land sings with water — not falling rain, not today, but water that’s a sacrament, a mystery and a power.

Golitha Falls, Cornwall.

Golitha Falls, Cornwall.


Ecology, Nature Photography

Backswimmer in the wake of a dragon

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?

?????????????????????????????Something lurking just below the surface — not clear enough to see.

?????????????????????????????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.

Ecology, Nature Photography

New Worlds above the Flood

It’s been raining quite a lot.  Between storms I’ve been having a new look at the world.

The stream is swollen and down the valley they complain that the drumming of the river keeps them awake at night.


We’ve moved our flock to higher ground to keep their feet dry and when the low winter sun comes out, which it has been doing quite often, every sheep has a silver lining:

?????????????????????????????We’ve been making the most of the sunny periods by cutting back the hedge rows so that the grass can grow with more light although we still need shelter for the beasts and privacy for lambing; behind the hedges we’re cutting back  the low branches and brambles that will whip us in the eye and snag us as we give assistance in the spring.

Winter working reveals aspects of the wildlife with which we share this land that are overshadowed or covered at other times of the year. Hover over these pictures for details:

Today I have been looking in a bit more detail at the moulds and fungi that surround us, if any of you recognise the species I’d love to hear from you – leave a comment.

Here are some mosses and lichen.   After the fall, some of the hawthorn and damson trees reveal so much lichen that they seem to be in blossom!

A whole world can exist on the top of a gatepost!

Gatepost with mini rain-forest

Gatepost with mini rain-forest of lichens and moss