Wednesday, August 30, 2017

'Curiouser and curiouser' -Through the Lenses in Our Garden

First a Common Darter that has perished in the pond and is being consumed by all stages of Pond Skaters from very small juveniles to an unusual trio - the top one couldn't reach the prey so this did not last long.
The Leaf-cutter Bees have made holes in all our rose bushes and are busy stuffing their nest tubes with leaves.  They glue them together with saliva in order to build the 'cells'. Each cell contains a ball or loaf of stored pollen and a single egg. The larvae hatch and develop, pupating in autumn and hibernating over winter. 
Even more curious is this fly found when photographing a bee wrapped in a Garden Spider web. It belongs to the Milichiidae family (Jackal Flies). The adults of some species act as kleptoparasites, feeding on bodily fluids of the prey of various invertebrates including spiders. They penetrate the thinnest cuticle of a bee in a spider's web, extracting tissues that the enzymes in the venom of the spider have reduced to a fluid state. The "jackal" habit has been widely documented, with many pictures and references to Millichiidae assembling on the prey of spiders. However, they are fussy and most prey insects do not attract Milichiidae - they seem only to follow the scents exuded by killed prey such as Hemiptera, Heteroptera, and Hymenoptera.  It is suggested that their chosen 'host' hunt prey that release a dramatic and characteristic olfactory signal. In support of this, some species seem to operate in the dark, and photographs of approaching flies seem to show them flying upwind. I haven't found any information on how they avoid getting stuck to the web!!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Flying Bees and Friends at Barton

A few insects from an early visit to Barton. Honeybees were busy collecting different coloured pollen from flowers while Hoverflies and Common Blue butterflies were getting on the wing. Particularly liked the colours of the Geometrid caterpillar and the small Hemipteran bug.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Rugby Preseason Bishop's Stortford v. Cambridge Rugby Union Football Club

It was good to get the Canon gear out for a change and the weather was perfect with slightly hazy sunshine for most of the time. The 400mm lens was a bit long for some shots but is a great length for isolating the action. CRUFC managed a narrow victory with plenty of tries on both sides.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Hummingbird Hawkmoth and Flying Companions at Gamlingay Wood

There were plenty of insects on the wing on a warm still afternoon at Gamlingay Wood including this Hummingbird Hawkmoth (too brief a visit to get more than half a dozen shots), three Volucella Hoverfly species and lots of butterflies. I tried to get out-of-focus backgrounds with the Red Admirals and Commas.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Pictorial Images from Paxton Pits - Migrant Hawker, Convolvulus and Cormorant

Four extra images from yesterday's visit to Paxton - a migrant Hawker, conveniently on a plain background and a very pristine Convolvulus flower. I liked the colour and patterns in the water around the Cormorants

Grey Heron Fishing Paxton Pits Cambridgeshire

There were not a lot of birds around yesterday morning at Paxton but we did watch a Heron fairly close catching a fish and swallowing it. Dull conditions so only 1/1000th and iso1600 (Fuji) but good enough for story board images


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Nosey Cat Helps With Infrared Testing

Ian has lent me his infrared converted Fuji XE-2 and so took it for a walk round Toft with three different lens to see how I got on as my infrared conversion (known as 'The Brick')  is of a Canon 1D mkII which is definitely not a travel camera. All three lenses proved ok when a monochrome profile is applied (8mm Samyang fisheye and 23mm and 35mm Fuji). The results are different to my Canon conversion - in monochrome they are very reminiscent of the back and white infrared film that I used for years and I liked this. I didn't get on so well with colour images - the first is the only one in this set I liked and there I have desaturated everything except the eyes. I made a custom profile for conversion but was not able to get a colour rendering that I liked and the two wider lenses showed 'hot spots' in the central areas - see last three images. 

Ann Miles Photography - My Favourite Images of the Past10 years or so