Some wildlife species are drawn to wooden fence posts and gates. But why? It’s all to do with the sun and heat. During the day the sun heats up the wood which retains the heat in the late afternoon and early evening. Not only that but fence posts and gates offer an elevated position to bask in the last rays of the sun. The best time to see wildlife on fence posts or gates is late afternoon. The best locations are ones that are still getting the sun later on in the day and protected from any chilly breezes. I have found such a place at my local nature reserve and there can be a really varied amount of wildlife to be seen.
Of course, tree trunks are made of wood and can attract wildlife too.
This grass snake is sunbathing vertically on a tree trunk
This common lizard has found a sunny spot.
All the above photo’s were taken at Woodwalton Fen.
Posted in Insect, Nature Reserve, Reptiles And Amphibians, The Great Fen
Tagged butterfly, cricket, dragonfly, grass snake, grasshopper, pied shieldbug, purple emporer, red admiral
I visited my local nature reserve with the intention of getting some timelapse video footage from one of the hides.
View from the Rothchilds Mere hide.
I set up my camera to take a shot every 6 seconds for 40 minutes. After 15 minutes a Kingfisher landed on an old wooden landing stage right in front of me. I was tempted to cancel my timelapse and get some shots of the Kingfisher but before I had time to make up my mind the Kingfisher flew off. This colourful little bird returned a few minutes later. This time I decided to cancel my timelapse and start photographing the Kingfisher. I’m glad I did, I got some great shots and video footage of the Kingfisher fishing.
The red patch on the lower beak indicates that this is a female.
On my walk back to the car I noticed something out the corner of my eye. When I looked I found it was a tiny Small Copper butterfly. I hadn’t seen one of these butterflies at Woodwalton Fen before so I stopped to get a couple of photographs.
Small Copper butterfly at Woodwalton Fen.
All in all not a bad afternoon. For those of you who were wondering…yes I did get my timelapse as well!
Reptiles like young grass snakes and small lizards need to find safe hiding places if they want to avoid being eaten by predators. But where would they hide?
This small grass snake has found a hiding place in the bark of a tree trunk
This lizard hasn’t found the safest of places to hide – it’s tail can still be seen!
Lizards have a trick though. They can delibarately lose their tail to avoid getting caught by a predator. Amazingly the tail will grow back again.
The Lizard below has lost it’s tail.
A lost tail will start to grow back.
Fence posts make great hiding places, good for basking in the sun and the cracks in the wood make quick hiding places.
All the above images taken at Woodwalton Fen nature reserve.
‘Rothchild’s sunflower’ was originally planted to re-introduce Large Copper butterflies to the Woodwalton Fen nature reserve. Unfortunately Large Copper butterflies didn’t return but Bee’s and other insects are attracted to the large yellow flowers .
The reserve was onced owned by Charles Rothchild hence the name ‘Rothchild’s Sunflower’ It is rumoured that Charles Rothchild himself planted these flowers.
The plant is actually called Heartleaf Oxeye and it flowers for a couple of weeks during the summer.
Heartleaf Oxeye is a perennial herb that is part of the Daisy family. It grows to a height of 60-200cm and flowers in July and August. It certainly adds a burst of colour to the nature reserve.
There is a nature reserve in Cambridgeshire called Woodwalton Marsh. Basically it’s a small field next to the east coast mainline and is maintained by the local Wildlife Trust. Most people visit to to look for Grizzled Skipper butterflies but there is more to this field than meets the eye. Amoungst the wild grass and flowers my favourite wildlflower can be found – the Bee Orchid. These orchids can be seen every year although this year there didn’t seem to as many as usual. While I was looking for a Bee Orchid I discovered a Pyramidal Orchid and a Common Spotted Orchid all within a few metres of each other -amazing what you can find when you start looking!
Common Spotted Orchid.
Summer is a good time for photographing spiders. Spiders aren’t too nervous so if you’re careful you should be able to get close enough to get some great closeup shots. Below are photographs of some of the spiders found at Woodwalton Fen at the moment.
Nursery Web Spider.
In the summer you will find this spider sunbathing on leaves. These spiders use strength and speed to catch their prey rather construct a web. The female carries her eggs in a ball shaped egg sack, just before the baby spiders hatch she builds an enclosed silk web and put’s them inside for protection. I will be posting a photograph of a Nursery Web spider with an egg sack in a later post.
Common Fox Spider
This spider does not spin a web instead it waits to ambush it’s prey. I watched this spider catch the fly it’s eating in this photograph. Once it decided to pounce it moved at lightening fast speed.
A strange looking spider when seen from the front, this is another ambush predator that doesn’t spin a web either.
Long-Jawed Orb Weaver Spider
There are loads of these spiders around at the moment. They are easy to identify due to their long legs. They catch their prey by spinning webs.
I have an ongoing project to photograph and film Chinese Water Deer. They’re not easy animals to photograph, they generally spend the day in a reedbed coming out to feed in the early evening just when the light is fading. You can sometimes grab a shot during the day if you are lucky. They have excellent hearing, if they hear the shutter of your camera fire they will run for the reeds. If you are completely still they don’t seem to notice you but they are very sensitive to movement. There is a healthy population of Chinese Water Deer at my nearest nature reserve – Woodwalton Fen in Cambridgeshire. I have a lot of photographs of these deer so I have started to try and capture them on video.
Unlike ‘traditional’ deer they don’t have antlers, instead they have tusk-like teeth that protrude from their mouth
A male Water Deer photographed at Woodwalton Fen
I will post regular updates on my Chinese Water Deer project, so come back and have a look to see how I’m getting on.