We’ve all heard the saying “as bald as a coot” to refer to someone who is bald, but where does the saying come from? If you search online you’ll find that bald has several meanings. One of which is streaked or marked with white which could describe the colours of an adult Coot. Personally I think the saying is referring to a Coot chick. Like a lot of chicks a Coot chick is an ugly looking thing. If you look at the photo’s below you can see a Coot chick is bald and that’s where I think the saying comes from…that’s my theory anyway.
The photo’s below taken at Woodwalton Fen showing a Coot chick – looks pretty bald to me!
The short film below shows a couple of Coot adults fussing around their chick. The video footage was taken at Gordons Mere on Woodwalton Fen.
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Thought I’d give timelapse a try using the setting sun at Woodwalton Fen. A timelapse is a series of photo’s taken one after another that are then combined into a video clip. Typically it’s used to speed up time, you may have seen video clips where clouds are rushing across the sky, that’s one example of timelapse.
The clip below used photo’s taken at 6 second intervals for an hour with the exposure locked from the start.
It’s the time of year when caterpillars are around, like this Garden Tiger moth caterpillar below. They can make great photographic subjects as you can get close to them. I was lucky when I found this one as a fly was in it’s hair (not so lucky for the caterpillar though!) which added a bit of interest to the image. This photo was taken at my local nature reserve – Woodwalton Fen.
What does a Garden Tiger moth look like? See the photo below.
Question: What word goes in front of spit and flower? Answer: Cuckoo.
Below are a couple of photo’s of cuckoo spit and a cuckoo flower.
Of course cuckoo spit isn’t actually spit from a cuckoo. It’s a frothy substance created by froghoppers, their nymphs live in the protective frothy mass of bubbles. An adult froghopper is an expert jumper and is able to jump 70cm into the air – a greater height than the flea and similar to a human jumping over a tower block!
The cuckoo flower, also known as Lady’s smock, flowers in May & June about the time cuckoo’s return to the UK. At least at Woodwalton Fen this seems pretty accurate.
Your next question may be “what is a froghopper”? Well, a froghopper is a small invertebrate. There are various species of froghopper in the UK. The easiest one to spot is the red and black variety(Cercopis vulnerata) shown below.
Woodwalton Fen in Cambridgeshire is an ideal habitat for Grass Snakes. Lots of long grass and reeds to hide in, open places to bask in the sun and water filled ditches for hunting. Grass Snakes aren’t poisonous, they are excellent swimmers and their favourite prey are frogs and toads. Immature Grass Snakes would prey on tadpoles and insect larvae. The best time to see them is early morning when they find sunny spots to bask in.
The photo below was taken in Spring 2016, there were five or six snakes entwined together. I also got some video footage of this amazing event.
Don’t panic! I’m referring to Scorpian flies that can be found in abundance at Woodwalton Fen this time of year. They make great subjects for macro photography. Look in the nettles and you’re sure to see one of these flies.
The photo above shows how the Scorpian fly got it’s name. The red is the end of a scorpion-like tail.
The local Wildlife Trust have asked if they can use the image below in a guide for nature reserves in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. I didn’t have any photo’s of this nature reserve but as I lived locally I popped down and took some photographs. It’s not a very photogenic nature reserve and this was the best of several shots.