Common Darter by Scott Guiver

Enter the Dragon

Darter by Scott Guiver

Yeah I know, the title’s not very original but it’s all I could think of.

This year I’ve made the effort to try and identify more of the creatures that own four wings. I believe this beauty is a Common Darter, but please do correct me if I’m wrong.

The picture below isn’t aesthetically one of the best shots I’ve taken of a creature with four wings this year, but hey, who cares – it’s definitely a Norfolk Hawker!

NH

Kingfisher by Scott Guiver

Halcyon lunch

Kingfisher by Scott Guiver

 

I try and get out for a walk every lunchtime, stretch my legs and let my eyes focus on something further away than my computer monitor. I always go to the same place – the Millennium Green in Halesworth, Suffolk.

 

Kingfisher by Scott Guiver

 

If you go to the same place all the time then you get to know the flora and fauna that lives there day by day and season by season. So after catching several glimpses of a Kingfisher lately, I’ve become aware of it’s favourite fishing perch.

 

Kingfisher by Scott Guiver

 

Today was a hot day, there were dog walkers and families on the green…and there was me , camera in hand, crawling across the grass. As my fellow park goers looked on,  I ignored self-dignity and the fact that I might look a bit dodgy,  I didn’t care, stealth was the only way to get close enough to photograph this beautiful creature.

 

Kingfisher by Scott Guiver

Adder by Scott Guiver

Ol’ blue eyes is ready to shed

Adder by Scott Guiver

Yesterday on the heath, Westleton Heath that is, something caught my eye through the vegetation, a pile of Adders. I counted five, but there may have been more as the pile moved separately but as one, interweaving itself under roots and a carpet of dried gorse needles.

As ever, moving as quickly and quietly as possible without one of the above adverbs being compromised, I tried to get shots of the snakes through the grass. I would have liked some beautiful crisp shots of the Adders in the open, it wasn’t going to happen, they knew very well that I was there and they weren’t going to break cover.

The silver lining is that I paid more attention to the snakes that I had the clearest shot of. One of those happened to be the blue-eyed beauty in the photos above. Adders usually have red eyes (see pic of photo-bomber, below) however, when they are about due to shed their skin, fluid builds up between the outer(old) and the new inner skin, which gives the appearance of the adder having  blue eyes. The fluid seems to act as a lubricant aiding with the shedding process and also as a moisturiser, nice, it’s always good to moisturise after exfoliation!…. that’s what my girlfriend says anyway!. Maybe I should finish up with trying to use the correct terminology here – the process of skin shedding in snakes is known as “sloughing”.

Adders by Scott Guiver
Red eye moves in for her big photo opportunity…or to see what I taste like!

Adders by Scott Guiver

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee Durrell and Scott Guiver,photo by James Hope

An inspiring day

About twenty years ago I decided that I would never visit a zoo again. Last Monday I broke that vow for the second time, at the same zoo…..zoo? Actually, it’s known as the Durrell Wildlife Park, but what really allowed me to override my conscience is the knowledge of what sets this place apart from most other animal collections. Infact, I think it’s more appropriate for me to use the name that greets you as you arrive at the main entrance “Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust”.

Gerald Durrells vision was that zoos should not only be somewhere that members of the public could view and learn about animals that they wouldn’t otherwise experience, but that zoos should aid in conservation and be centres for research and education. This vision certainly became a reality on the island of Jersey and the effects have been far reaching. The Trust achieves it’s goals internationally by  gathering scientific information from field programmes and animals in the wildlife park, by successful captive breeding programmes for endangered species and by running a conservation academy providing a seat of learning for todays and tomorrows conservationists.

for more detailed information, please see: Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust ).

Lee Durrell and Scott Guiver

 

So, on Monday, my good friend James  and I met up with Dr Lee Durrell MBE. Lee gave us a guided tour of the “Gerald Durrell Story” exhibition and made us both feel relaxed, inspired and contemplative with her affable nature and utter dedication.

I’m not going to try and relay  Gerald Durrell’s story or go into great detail about what a great team Gerald and Lee have been or indeed the amazing work that Lee and her colleagues do now, but I will try and convey the abiding thought that I was left with. It’s the example that some people set to the rest of us, that their desire and dedication  to stick to their guns and do what they want to and what they believe in can make an enormous positive difference and not only that, can pave the way for many others to join in the same cause and efforts, it’s a legacy that will live on in this example, forever I hope, but then that’s down to the rest of us too.

Meerkat by Scott Guiver

Common Lizard by Scott Guiver

Amphibious reptile

Common Lizard by Scott Guiver

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a newt swimming , then I turned my head, refocused and…oh hang on a minute…..no, it’s a lizard.  I’m no stranger to seeing Grass Snakes swimming but this is the first time I’ve seen a Common Lizard having a go. I’ve witnessed Basilisk Lizards running on water in Central America, and surely they don’t always manage that feat without the odd dunking, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. Infact, after a quick bit of Googling  I found that it appears to be quite a regular occurrence for the C.Lizards to have a dip, they can even swim under water.

Common Lizard by Scott Guiver

So, there it is, I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m surprised by nature again, there’s always something new to see and new to learn.

Hoverfly by Scott Guiver

The humble Hoverfly

 

Hoverfly by Scott Guiver

I used to work in a factory, actually I’ve worked in quite a few, but the memory that I’m trying to describe is of a factory in Ipswich, England. It was a warm environment to work in anyway, but on a hot summers day it was really hot in the factory. It was on one of these uncomfortable hot days that I was sweating angrily to myself wondering what the hell I was doing working in a bloody hot factory, when a hoverfly  which must have found it’s way through the propped open fire exit appeared . This little creature just hovered there in front of me, what did it want “haven’t you ever seen an underpaid, overworked, hot, pissed off human being before?”, the hoverfly didn’t answer, I carried on working.

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I looked up from my work sometime later and the hoverfly returned, in silence we stared at each other. My attention was now completely taken from what I was supposed to be doing, I held out my hand and the amazing little creature landed on my index finger. Without even realising, my inner peace had returned and my wealthy boss and his deadlines no more leant pressure on my being, in a special moment I was freed by a hoverfly.

There are approximately 276 species of Hoverfly in the UK and if you’re into scientific geekery trivia – they beat their wings approximately 120 times a second!

Hoverfly by Scott Guiver

photo by Scott Guiver

“It’s all about refraction ” said the dragonfly to the beetle.

photo by Scott Guiver

Why do so many insects have beautiful metallic colours?

I typed this question and various forms of it into Google , I expected the results to contain either brief and precise explanations from insect forums or detailed scientific papers from studies into this question. Maybe I was being lazy, I only looked at the first couple of pages of each search – does anyone look any further than that!? But I didn’t find a satisfactory explanation. I found out how they appear coloured this way by the refraction of light on features in the structure of their exoskeletons and that maybe the resulting effect may confuse some predators  (the Common Lizard in the photo below was aware of the beetle, but did not attempt to catch it. I could only speculate on the reasons why).

photo by Scott Guiver

But then I found myself asking another question that could not be answered by another lazy google search: Could this feature also be a non visual one , i.e. sound waves refract just like light waves do, therefore could this feature  be a good one to avoid being munched by a bat? If anyone can answer these questions or point me in the right direction, I’d love to know. Thanks.

gold

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