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Thursday 12 August 2010

Tree Wasps

Wednesday last week was a warm, sunny morning, so I took my first cup of tea and went outside to enjoy. In the rough pasture, not far from the garden gate, is an old decaying log under an Oak tree. It's so soft inside that when you sit on it, it's like a big, comfortable cushion which I've used occasionally to watch the start of the day.

The midges weren't on the warpath so I sat down and relaxed for a moment; but it wasn't long before I was aware that there were rather a lot of wasps gathering and giving me a lot more attention than I would have preferred. They were being fairly nice but persistent, so taking the hint I stood up and moved away. These were Tree Wasps rather than the larger Common Wasp which is probably why they didn't sting me, because I'd unknowingly sat right on top of the entrance to their nest.

Tree Wasps generally hang their nests from the branches of trees and bushes, but also in holes in trees; and it obviously doesn't matter if the tree is standing upright or laying down. It's probably a good thing they weren't Hornets.

Not wishing to miss the opportunity, I returned later in the day to see if I could get some photographs of them moving in and out of the nest and the shot below is one that worked fairly well.

Taking photographs is great at focusing your attention and while I was working, I realised that the wasp on the left, was staying in the entrance and greeting other wasps as they returned. On another occasion, a returning wasp partially entered the crack above the nest and then hovered with it's abdomen curled under it's thorax. It then did ninety degree turns whilst bobbing gently up and down for several seconds before going inside the nest. There seemed to be plenty of communication going on but not being an expert, I can't offer any explanation.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who can shed any light on this behaviour.

I'm going to take some more photographs of them when the weather brightens up a bit.

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Fires and Litter

I will never understand why it is that certain people think it's perfectly OK to go into the country, find a quiet spot, build a b****y great fire, sit round it drinking beer and whisky and then breaking bottles and throwing tin cans all over the place.

Don't get me wrong. I've got no problem with a safely sized and located fire, or with sitting around it and eating and drinking; but why do they think it's OK to just dump there left overs without a thought for possible consequences.

To anybody with half a brain cell the issues surrounding this sort of behaviour must be blindingly obvious.

I can only think that people who do this sort of thing are mindless, hedonistic, self centred, idiots who's only pursuit is their own indulgence. In future I would hope that they spare a thought for the people and animals that live and work in the places they would despoil.

Take rubbish home and leave as you find.


Monday 2 August 2010

Dogs dinner

A few days ago, I was along the river with the dogs while they had their daily walk. Kali is a six year old Collie and George is an eight year old Springer Spaniel.

George is happiest when he's in the water and doesn't mind how deep it is, but Kali really dislikes getting out of her depth; so they've worked out a partnership where every time I throw a stick into the river, George goes and gets it. While he's doing that Kali waits in the shallows and he brings the stick to her. She then takes it from him and brings it to me, whereupon I have to throw it into the river again.

It's a bit like perpetual motion until I get fed up and walk away. They don't give up easily though, because Kali follows me and repeatedly throws the stick at my heels; which is really annoying when it's a big one.

So off we go, and I'm crossing the meadow on the way back to the cottage, when a Scotch Argus butterfly obligingly settles on the grass in front of me. Ah, I thought, grab the opportunity; so I'm busy taking a few photographs.

I'm using a long lens so I'm able to stay about three feet from the butterfly, and had just taken this shot when it disappeared from view and was replaced by George's head. I looked past the camera and was in time to see him swallowing the butterfly.

He'd obviously been paying attention and looked really pleased with himself!

Anyone want a dog?
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This web site is about the wildlife, particularly the mammals, of the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve area in the north west Highlands of Scotland, UK; and the equipment I use to search for them, which is chiefly trail cameras.

I provide a technical support and parts service for the Ltl Acorn range of cameras and the income from this provides for the upkeep of this site and the purchase of cameras for my own surveying.

I hope you find the site useful and informative; and please contact me if you have any questions that I haven't already covered.