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ShareMondays2020 – A Feast Of Thistles

ShareMondays2020 – A Feast Of Thistles

Only a few photos this week! I had a very brief spell outside with the camera last Wednesday, but the goldfinches at Heather Farm put on a good show for me, feasting on the thistle seed heads. On Thursday evening I started coughing. It was a bit concerning! I followed the guidance and immediately started the process of booking Covid tests for both myself and Simon. It is a bit of a process, but you just have to stick with it and keep refreshing the booking site, until you are able to get a nearby drive-through appointment, or order a home testing kit.

Simon got straight in touch with his employers, to arrange working from home, and I contacted my care agency and the carers I had seen that week. Although they all wear PPE and observe good hand hygiene, they have the closest contact to me (after Simon!) so I needed to alert them to the possibility that I may have contracted the virus. After a while I was finally able to book us tests close to home for the following day. I’ve got to say the test centre was really well run, staff did everything possible to make us feel reassured, and we were all done in just ten minutes. Our results were emailed and texted to us on Saturday morning, just under twenty four hours later, and I am delighted to say that we’re both negative!

Goldfinch on thistle seed heads

I still have no idea how, or where, I have picked up this virus. I have been sticking to strict social distancing ever since shielding was paused. I’ve not been meeting up with lots of people, going to pubs or into shops. I’m still classed as extremely clinically vulnerable to complications if I catch Covid-19, so I’m not ready to take big risks. The fact that I am already taking so many precautions, yet have still managed to pick up a virus, just goes to show how easily they can be spread. None of us should start being complacent, especially as the Winter flu and cold season approaches and more sectors are being opened up to the public.

Even if you’re not in a high risk category yourself, there are plenty of clinically vulnerable people out there, around you, who need your help to stay safe. You can’t tell how vulnerable a person might be from looking at them. Some known risk factors like age, gender and ethnicity might be more obvious, but you can’t see chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, COPD, diabetes, severe asthma, organ transplants, certain blood disorders, to name but a few!

Bull Rushes ICM

The person standing behind you at the checkout for the supermarket could be vulnerable. Did you wash or sanitise your hands before you touched any of the surfaces they might then be touching? Maybe you thought it was okay because you’re wearing your mask? Hand washing is still the most important thing we can all do to protect one another! The next most important thing we can do is to get tested as soon as possible if we develop symptoms: a fever, a new, continuous cough, a loss or change in sense of smell or taste. Self-isolate as soon as symptoms appear and follow procedures for contact tracing if you receive a positive result.

For now I am clear, but I am still feeling pretty rotten with the virus I have! I hope my depleted immune system can deal with it soon, so I can get back outside with the nature and wildlife I cherish so much. Take care and stay safe everyone x

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#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Gone To Seed

Gone To Seed

#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Gone To Seed

Gone To Seed

All has gone to seed
Precious repositories
For the years ahead

This is going to be my last in the series of images from my archives with newly composed haiku. I wanted this image to be the last one as it’s all about hope for the future. I can actually leave the house again, so I really want to make the most of new encounters with wildlife and engaging with plants and nature. I hope that you have all enjoyed a moment of mindfulness through these creations. Can’t quite believe I managed about a hundred in total! I hope the future will start to look brighter and safer for us all. Keep enjoying the simple pleasures in life, in the natural world around you, stay safe and do whatever you can to help keep others safe too.

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ShareMondays2020 – Skipping Through The Meadows

Small Skipper

ShareMondays2020 – Skipping Through The Meadows

I ventured out of the house for the first time since March 22nd last Friday! I’m still shielding, but we have been advised that we can go outside once a day, for health benefits, as long as we follow strict social distancing. It was so nerve-wracking, but the wildlife at the Heather Farm Wetlands area welcomed me back with what felt like a huge hug to the senses. The sights, sounds, scents, space and the feel of the breeze was just the therapeutic boost I needed. It’s peaceful in the wetlands, with only a few visitors, who were all keeping a good distance. I felt safe and that was really important!

Skipper and Flower Beetles

I didn’t have to go far before seeing skippers flitting about all around me among the grasses. It was magic! A mix of both small and Essex skippers were so abundant in this perfect habitat. One obliging small skipper allowed me to get close-up with the macro lens and I hope this shows you why I just adore them. So fluffy, with the most enormous eyes! They were adorning the thistles along with thick-legged flower beetles, spiders and froghoppers (the larvae produce cuckoo spit!). See if you can spot them!

Skipper on Thistle

Grasses are so important to skippers! Small skipper larvae usually feed on Yorkshire-fog grass, and Essex skipper larvae will usually be found on Cock’s-foot grass. Both species will also use Timothy, False Brome, Meadow Foxtail and Creeping Soft grass. Aren’t they just the most wonderful names? Both the Woodland Trust and Wildlife Trusts have great information about grasses and sedges!

Essex Skipper on grasses

It’s really difficult to differentiate between the small and Essex skippers! It’s actually a bit early to be seeing the Essex on the wing, they would usually appear in July. Many of our butterflies have been emerging early this year, after the hot month of May. I am pretty sure that a number of the skippers I saw were the Essex, as a head-on view showed me the black-tipped antennae. The small skipper has an orange-brown tip.

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ShareMondays2019 – Going To Seed

Going To Seed

ShareMondays2019 – Going To Seed

I think this is my favourite image from last week! Firstly, it’s a butterfly, secondly it’s on a seed pod and last but not least, this was the moment the sun came out after a pretty wet and miserable day. I love this time of year, the sunlight has become golden again, the plants are all coming into their Autumn colours and structure. I’m really enjoying having a decent macro lens again, allowing me to get up really close to my favourite things. Have a great week everyone!

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ShareMondays2019 – Dragon Flight

Migrant Hawker dragonfly in flight

ShareMondays2019 – Dragon Flight

Male Migrant Hawker dragonflies are on the wing, defending their territories. I love watching them! They have a flight pattern and favourite areas to hover. That’s the trick to photographing them in flight! Of course they don’t always stick to the pattern exactly so it can take a bit of patience. Of all the flight images that I’ve captured over the weekend, this shot taken from above is definitely my favourite. It’s a perspective that I haven’t managed before. Standing on the boardwalk at Heather Farm allowed be to get above this particular dragon. It was late in the day so I used a slower shutter speed than normal (1/200th) in the fading light, but it gave a really pleasing effect to the wings.

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ShareMondays2019 – Spotted

Six-Spot Burnet Moth on Knapweed

ShareMondays2019 – Spotted

A six-spot burnet moth feeding on knapweed at Heather Farm Wetlands Centre, on Horsell Common, last week. A little haiku poem to accompany it:

Six-Spot Burnet

In this purple haze,
Spotted, your glittering form
Captivated me.

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ShareMondays2019 – Sweet Skipper

Small Skipper at Heather Farm

ShareMondays2019 – Sweet Skipper

Heather Farm, a wetlands centre and SANG (Suitable Alternative Green Space) on Horsell Common, was absolutely brimming with butterflies after my return from Kos last week! What an absolute joy to behold. This small skipper was one of the few resting in the shade on a warm and sunny day. The lighting really lent itself to a more muted and soft image of this delightful little butterfly. I felt that it was quite perfect to show off the features of the skipper that I am so drawn to! Those huge eyes and furry face are quite simply adorable. It was very hard to leave our beloved Kos, but I did feel welcomed back by these beautiful butterflies!

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ShareMondays2019 – Spider For Supper

Spider For Supper

ShareMondays2019 – Spider For Supper

I really had such fun watching the busy whitethroat adults bringing in food to their young at Heather Farm last week! So much on the menu; moth, caterpillar, damselfly and this rather magnificent spider. Good thing there are lots of these arachnids around the grassland! A few of the whitethroat families seem to have fledged already but these parents were still busy feeding today, when I visited briefly for 30DaysWild. I will miss the fledging as we will be going to our beloved Kos in Greece this week! I probably won’t get a chance to blog, but I will be posting a few photos on my Twitter feed @MiradorDesign. So, I’m posting late at night, or early in the hours of Monday morning, to enter this one into the weekly challenges and give myself more packing time tomorrow! Hope you all have a great few first weeks of Summer and I will catch up when I return.

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ShareMondays2019 – Jewel In The Grasses

Male Banded Demoiselle

ShareMondays2019 – Jewel In The Grasses

I’m taking part in the Wildlife Trust’s challenge 30DaysWild this June. The challenge is to do something wild every day! There are lots of ideas for exploring wildlife and nature on the website and app. I like to get outdoors as much as possible but, sometimes my fatigue stops me from doing much.

Having a lot of local nature reserves is a big help! If I can manage to spend just an hour or so at Wisley or Heather Farm on Horsell Common, I feel so much better, physically and mentally. It gives me the opportunity to survey the areas for the wildlife that I love and just to breathe fresh air and relax to the peacefulness and sound of birdsong.

This male banded demoiselle was my first challenge image that I shared straight to Twitter. Everyone has really loved it so I’m sharing it again today, with a wider audience and for the ShareMondays, Wex Mondays and Fotospeed challenges.

The females are quite stunning little jewels too!

Female Banded Demoiselle