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.
I went to Woodwalton Fen nature reserve for an evening walk. Right by the entrance I came across this Mink. It didn’t run away straight away, we stood staring at each other for a while which gave me the chance to get a couple of photo’s.
I must admit I’m not a lover of Mink due to the damage they can cause to our native wildlife. A Mink will prey on small mammals, birds and fish so can be a real menace. They are actually American mink that escaped from fur farms and have bred. Mink prefer to live by water so Woodwalton Fen is an ideal habitat for them. There is a European species of Mink but we’ve never had these in Britain.
I believe Natural England who maintain Woodwalton Fen will check for signs of Mink and trap them. Typically a Mink raft is used to capture these mammals.
It looks like this Mink has got a serious infestation of ticks!
Had an afternoon out at Upwood meadows in Cambridgeshire. The meadows are one of sixty meadows across the country that have been designated as a ‘Coronation Meadow’.
This is a project led by the Prince Of Wales that will take seed and green hay to recreate new meadows. Meadow habitats have decreased by 97% in the UK since the 1930’s so this is an important project.
Upwood meadows are awash with wild flowers during the spring and summer. There are also three ponds but one has dried out completely and the water levels on the other two are extremely low – just shows how little rain we get in Cambridgeshire.
After a walk around meadows taking a few photographs me and my wife settled under the shade of a tree for a dose.
Some Of The Wildlife At Upwood Meadows
Common Blue butterfly
Speckled Brown Butterfly
If you want to visit the meadows yourself click on the link below for more information:- Upwood meadows
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.
For best quality select HD from settings
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.