Monday, May 26, 2008

Rosemary Leaf Beetle

I found these amazing metallic beetles on some lavender plants.

It turns out that they are Rosemary leaf beetles , Chrysolina americana, and they are native to Southern Europe despite the 'americana' name.

I loved the metallic green and purply stripes but they were quite difficult to photograph because they were so shiny. The last time I had such problems with strange reflections was when taking photos of a highly polished vintage car at a wedding.

It was very hard not to be reflected in the metallic gloss- in fact, the dark blob on this beetle's back, is my reflection. I suppose it makes the camouflage very effective.

The beetles are very beautiful but can be annoying for gardeners as they can cause some damage to herbs such as rosemary, lavender, thyme and sage plants. Relatively recently, they have become established in the UK

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Photo Friday-difficult shot

I spent a couple of hours in Parc Phoenix recently. Parc Phoenix is a sort of botanic gardens cum animal park with a huge lake for water birds. Most of the birds are varieties of duck but there are a few black swans and some pelicans.

I am quite fascinated by pelicans so I try and photograph them when I visit. Its not always easy to get decent shots because its hard to properly frame them -they are really big, odd-shaped birds.

I started photographing this one when it suddenly bolted out of the water.

I ran backwards up the slope as the pelican rushed at me with its huge wings outstretched. I thought I must have annoyed it by taking photos.
I think Pelicans have a close resemblance to pterodactyls - so there it was a strangely freaky experience having one running towards me.

The pelican veered off past me and i discovered that I hadn't been its target...
...the pelican had spotted a potential mate.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Baby Gull

I looked out on the neighbouring roof today and saw that the gulls had a fluffy grey baby. I'm puzzled as to how they managed to get the chick out of the chimney where they were nesting , as its several feet above the level of the roof tiles.

Unfortunately, it was raining, very windy and getting dark so the photos are not the best but since chicks grow really quickly, i didn't want to miss my first glimpse of this one.

The baby opened its mouth and begged for food.
And mum obliged by regurgitating something delicious for tea.
I took a video with my camera -this is the first attempt at putting a video up here - I don't have much video experience but I thought the baby was cute.

Mum went off to see dad who was standing guard about 10ft away further along the roof ; the baby decided to follow her . You can just about hear the little mournful cheeps as it tells mum to come back
The chick sat down and waited for mum to return - but the female gull didn't leave the chick alone long- some humans could learn thing or two from her.

Photo Friday - Professional

Ant society is very well organised . many ants have specialised roles such as nursemaids, farmers [of aphids and fungi], hunters, workers and soldiers.

The least known ant specialism is the probably that of the undertaker ants, who carry the dead bodies of their colleagues out of the ant nest and bury them in a safe place.

This is important to prevent the spread of infection and epidemics within the ant nest.

I watched this undertaker ant carry the body up and down rocks before eventually burying the body and covering the burial place with dead leaves.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Photo Friday - my little secret

A male herring gull Larus argentatus guards his little secret...

His partner [top of head just visible if you look closely] is nesting inside a chimney.

Up pops the female's head and the male squawks to warn off a rival who has come too close to his nest.

Luckily, the chimneys around here aren't in use

Edited to add-
It turns out that these gulls are actually yellow legged gulls Larus michahellis - a Mediterranean sub-species of the herring gull that is now considered to be a full species of its own -also known as the yellow-legged gull or Goéland leucophée in french