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Eye To Eye

Eye To Eye

The mountain village of Pyli, on Kos Island, is a favourite haunt of ours when we visit. The fresh water springs and public fountains are a relaxing spot with an abundance of wildlife. This dragonfly was good enough to stay posed while I manoeuvred to get face on with it and stared straight down the lens into those amazing eyes!

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The Emperor’s Salute

Emperor Dragonfly

The Emperor’s Salute

My specimen might be a bit tatty around his wings but these male emperor dragonflies are the real spitfires of the insect world, fighting hard and fast over their territory. He almost seems to be saluting me but I know that this behaviour is actually about cleaning and protecting those incredible and complex eyes! This close-up view was captured in the late afternoon last week, when the tired fliers start to roost in the reed beds. I’m putting this into the mix for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge.

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ShareMondays2018 – CAPTION COMPETITION!

Cian with parakeets in Hyde Park

ShareMondays2018 – CAPTION COMPETITION!

Three…two…one…GO!

Firstly, I must thank Cian for agreeing to let me use this candid image I captured of him, covered in parakeets, in Hyde Park on Friday. I hadn’t met Cian or his family before! If I am planning on posting recognisable images of complete strangers, I try my best to actually speak to them, get their permission and just explain what I am using them for. It’s a great way to start a conversation with people. Sharing a bond with wildlife is another fantastic ice breaker!

I was in Hyde Park, for some nature therapy, after a London Hospital appointment and followed the sound of parakeets toward what I assumed was a roost. Just through the trees a shady glade was filled with people, parakeets, laughter and smiles. Everyone was chatting and sharing bits of fruit or birdseed to offer up to the equally chatty parakeets. Hyde Park itself is a wonderful oasis in the big city but here, in this little glade, it was almost as if I had been transported out of London and into a jungle paradise. Here, within the city that never stops, where people are always in a rush, tempers are frayed and patience is just a card game, we all stopped and lost track of time.

I have so many different potential titles that I decided to throw it out there and see if any of you can guess any of mine! So here’s my challenge to everyone on WordPress and those also taking part in ShareMondays, Wex Mondays and the Fotospeed challenges. Gold stars to anyone who guesses correctly!

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ShareMondays2018 – On The Boardwalk

Common Lizard

ShareMondays2018 – On The Boardwalk

I had a fantastic meet-up with Natural England National Nature Reserve managers, Leo and James, last week at Thursley Common NNR in Surrey. I think coming around with me in my wheelchair was a bit of a revelation to them both, as they discovered how so many little things that you just wouldn’t notice on a ramble, can become the most frustrating obstacles when you’re on wheels or have reduced mobility. We have made some good plans to improve access on the main way-marked paths, increase signs, add disabled parking, add Braille and embossed symbols to signposts, create more passing areas on the boardwalks, firm up the bridleway surface at crossing points, investigate installing more seats and rest points, addition of more railings on certain parts of the boardwalk and getting regular visitors to report any obstacles or loose boards directly to the ranger. Phew!! That’s a lot of work. Some of it should be reasonably easy to get done but with only a few rangers and a big reliance on volunteer workparties, many of our plans could take some time to achieve.

I’ve got my own set of tasks to be getting on with! Plenty of research to start with. One big goal is to actually create a PDF downloadable map. I think that would help all visitors to Thursley, not just those of us with disabilities. After all, getting totally lost is actually pretty disabling for anyone! So, I’m looking forward to meeting with Leo and James again, as well as with others who could help us in this project and I absolutely can’t wait to visit Thursley again! For now it will have to be with some assistance but there is a clear path ahead of us. Earlier today, BBC Springwatch retweeted a quick-edit photo I had taken of a tiny common lizard spotted on the Boardwalk at Thursley so I shall lead this post with a full edit of a larger, adult lizard spotted on the very same Boardwalk. This one’s for ShareMondays2018 and the Wex Mondays challenges. A gallery of more seen from the boardwalk is below:

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ShareMondays2018 – Emerald

Downy Emerald Dragonfly

ShareMondays2018 – Emerald

Downy Emerald Dragonflies are found mostly in the South of England. They’re on the wing now at Thursley Common National Nature Reserve. I was able to watch a number of them flying around the edge of The Moat Pond next to the reserve car park. They’re very territorial and quite mesmerising to watch, darting about with the metallic greens and golds flashing in the sunlight! I’m sharing this image today for ShareMondays2018 and the Wex Mondays challenges. Good luck to everyone taking part!

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Watching Wisley’s Wagtails – Feed Me!

Feed Me!

Watching Wisley’s Wagtails – Feed Me!

There are five hungry little chicks in the nest in the Wisley Growers Glasshouse! Joe and I are continuing to collaborate in filming and photographing these little bundles of fluff as they grow to adulthood. These images were taken last Monday when the chicks were a mere four days old! By Thursday they had already grown significantly and I could see the start of feathers forming. I have been away over the weekend and strongly suspect that when I get back to see them tomorrow they will be practically spilling out of that neat little nest! The biggest chick is always the one to open up it’s beak widest and quickest but all five are getting regular feeds from the adults and seem to be doing really well. I can’t wait to see them again! This adult’s eye view into the nest is my enty for Wex Mondays this week and I hope to update you all further next Monday.

Hungry Wagtail Chicks

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Watching Wisley’s Wagtails

Pied Wagtail Nesting in The Glasshouse

Watching Wisley’s Wagtails

Earlier on this year I got to know one of RHS Wisley Garden‘s Glasshouse gardeners on an RSPB birdwalk (wheel in my case!) around the grounds. Joe and I often chat when I’m visiting the glasshouse and he told me about the pair of pied wagtails that nested in his growing area last year. Birds are far from stupid and the pair have returned to the safety of the glasshouses to nest again. I was delighted when Joe invited me to visit, behind the scenes of the public glasshouse, to see these wonderful little birds bring up their latest brood.

It gave me an idea fo a project that might be just the right motivation for me to finally overcome my difficulties in mastering Premiere Pro. As well as photographing the birds, I’ve started to do some short videos that I hope to edit together to create a little educational documentary about the Wisley Wagtails. I hope that it can be used in the Clore Learning Centre, attached to the Glasshouse to inspire the many children who visit Wisley every year. I think grown-ups will rather like it too!

Last week the female was brooding a total of five precious eggs. It’s an unusual situation for a bird lover in that these adult birds are used to staff walking right by them, even moving their nesting pot around, while pruning and watering. I wouldn’t usually get anywhere near as close to a nest for fear of upsetting the adult birds! The shrub in the pot they have chosen has now started to wilt as it can’t and won’t be watered while the birds are in the nest. The plant will be a sacrifice to the safety of the birds and the joy of being allowed to watch the chicks grow.

I’ve been back today….

There are five beautiful baby wagtails which hatched last Friday!

Watch this space each week for further wagtail tales.

This is my entry for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge. Next week I hope I can share the fluffy chicks with you all!

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SQUIZZLE!

Red Squirrel at the British Wildlife Centre

SQUIZZLE!

The sight of red squirrels at The British Wildlife Centre in Surrey instantaneously turns me into a small, exciteable child! That’s a good thing. I think we should all embrace our inner-child and revel in the simple delights of the World around us far more often! Especially when it comes to wildlife and nature. It’s the best therapy ever! Supporting places like the British Wildlife Centre is also the ideal way to help secure a future for our precious British wildlife, as well as providing a fantastic educational resource for schools. I hope this dear little squizzle will bring a big smile to everyone who follows my blog and more smiles over at Wex Photo Video, as this is my entry for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge.

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Pause For Perfection

Comma on blossom

Pause For Perfection

This comma butterfly really did make me pause to enjoy it’s beauty in the bright, Spring sunlight. The lighting brought those wings to life as it posed on the tree blossom on Battleston Hill at RHS Wisley Gardens. Such joy! I just have to share this perfect moment for Wex Mondays today. Good luck to everyone entering!

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Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis Beneath The Sea

Photosynthesis

Most reef-building corals contain photosynthetic algae, called zooxanthellae, that live in their tissues. The corals and algae have a mutualistic relationship. The coral provides the algae with a protected environment and compounds they need for photosynthesis. In return, the algae produce oxygen and help the coral to remove wastes. Most importantly, zooxanthellae supply the coral with glucose, glycerol, and amino acids, which are the products of photosynthesis. The coral uses these products to make proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and produce calcium carbonate. (Source: NOAA Ocean Service Education)

We got to see these coral polyps and their symbiotic algae photosynthesising, under UV light, in the educational Underwater World aquarium at Birdworld in Farnham. It’s mesmerisingly beautiful! The colour that we associate with coral reefs is derived from the algae living within the tissue. When a reef is put under physical stress, the coral polyps actually expel the algae leaving the structures a stark white. This is the tragic, mass death of large areas of reef that we call “bleaching”. Seeing the living coral made this disatrous phenomenon all the more real to me. I’m posting this image for Wex Mondays this week and I hope that it will lead others to think about the plight of our precious coral reefs.