Tuesday 18 March 2014

Week 9: My, What a Long Tongue You Have!

…"All the better for drinking nectar with," says the Garden Bumblebee…

I was out and about for a gentle stroll on Monday afternoon this week. I started off around the Bulbourne and Harding’s Moor area. The Grape Hyacinths (Muscari) are flowering now and this Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) was probing each of the delicate little bells for nectar.

Clumps of Red Dead-Nettle (Lamium purpureum) are in full bloom (right). These are easily overlooked as a roadside “weed” but, nevertheless, are rather lovely and one Garden Bumblebee (Bombus hortorum) was busy making the most of it...

Little did I appreciate that I was watching a master at work. This dinky fella (photograph below) has the Mother Of All Tongues (I kid you not)! In fact, it has the longest tongue of all bumblebees in central Europe (ranging from 1.5 to 2cm in length). I can’t say that I’m jealous but owning a tongue as long as your body is nothing if not impressive! It seems eminently sensible that it doesn’t always bother retracting this Whopper of an Instrument when moving between flowers.

Elsewhere, a Chiffchaff was singing, a Mistle Thrush was picking at the earth for food and, overhead, 2 Red Kites and a Buzzard were soaring on the thermals.

The Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are flowering

Finally, I made my way to Dellfield. This week’s shot of the Oak isn’t for the purists. My vague plan was to go for “nature framing nature”. This involved finding a suitable “frame” in Ryders (the field next to Dellfield, west), and, as I was to discover, kneeling in fresh and particularly vicious stinging nettles (nothing like suffering for your art). Ultimately, I quite liked the composition but the image was flat and, after a bit of playing, I opted for the Graphic Novel filter in PSE to achieve my ends.

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